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Newest Domestic Threat: “Sovereign Citizens”

It’s nice to see the FBI is keeping its eye on the real homegrown threat in America — Ron Paul fans:

Anti-government extremists opposed to taxes and regulations pose a growing threat to local law enforcement officers in the United States, the FBI warned on Monday.

These extremists, sometimes known as “sovereign citizens,” believe they can live outside any type of government authority, FBI agents said at a news conference.

The extremists may refuse to pay taxes, defy government environmental regulations and believe the United States went bankrupt by going off the gold standard.

Routine encounters with police can turn violent “at the drop of a hat,” said Stuart McArthur, deputy assistant director in the FBI’s counterterrorism division.

How large has this epidemic of “sovereign citizens” grown? According to the FBI, 18 sovereign citizens were convicted of mainly white-collar crimes in 2010 and 2011, up from 10 in 2009. Two of these sovereign citizens were involved in two separate police shootings in 2010 and 2011.

So there’s certainly been some violence coming from these anti-government activists. But based on the data provided by the FBI, is this really a threat that warrants a major press conference?

It’s hard to reconcile this report with the one in the New York Times today, which claims homegrown terrorism by radicalized Muslims poses “little threat” to the U.S. The evidence? According to a new study, there were only 20 Muslim Americans charged with terror attacks or plots in 2011 – down from 47 in 2009:

A feared wave of homegrown terrorism by radicalized Muslim Americans has not materialized, with plots and arrests dropping sharply over the two years since an unusual peak in 2009, according to a new study by a North Carolina research group.

The study, to be released on Wednesday, found that 20 Muslim Americans were charged in violent plots or attacks in 2011, down from 26 in 2010 and a spike of 47 in 2009.

Charles Kurzman, the author of the report for the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security, called terrorism by Muslim Americans “a minuscule threat to public safety.” Of about 14,000 murders in the United States last year, not a single one resulted from Islamic extremism, said Mr. Kurzman, a professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina.

Left-wing blogs have been touting both of these stories, warning about the danger of sovereign citizens and declaring that the threat of homegrown Islamic terrorism is overblown, and largely invented by Rep. Peter King. But clearly, if you consider 20 Muslim American terrorists trying to carry out large-casualty attacks on U.S. soil over the past year a “non-existent threat,” then it’s hard to argue that 18 libertarian wackos refusing to pay taxes and flouting environmental regulations is the latest great danger to the nation.



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