US Extremists Conflicted over War on Terror ; Right-Wing Radicals Fret over 'Homeland Security,' as American Anti- Semitism Rises

By Brad Knickerbocker writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, June 18, 2002 | Go to article overview

US Extremists Conflicted over War on Terror ; Right-Wing Radicals Fret over 'Homeland Security,' as American Anti- Semitism Rises


Brad Knickerbocker writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


The war on terrorism is conflicting for antigovernment radicals in the United States. Paradoxically, it has the potential for both dampening their sentiments and making them more dangerous - rhetorically, if nothing else.

Extreme militia and "patriot" types (especially white supremacists of the Christian Identity movement) are likely to want to defend against attack by non-European foreigners - and in fact see this as justification for their existence as independent militias.

But there is the possibility that "lone wolves" (such as Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh) might be lured into supporting foreign terrorists - perhaps to precipitate the kind of race war envisioned in "The Turner Diaries," the anti-Semitic, racist, and apocalyptic novel many on the extreme right see as prophetic.

Experts tracking antigovernment radicals also note their shared interest with Muslim extremists in opposing what they see as this country's pro-Israel foreign policy. This is often voiced as opposition to, as the most militant call it, "ZOG" - the "Zionist- Occupied Government" of the US.

At the same time, the new push for federal "homeland security" is firing up the camouflaged crowd in ways that have some militia- watchers worried.

'Cogs in the wheel of tyranny'

Internet discussion sites frequented by conspiracy promoters and far-right adherents are boiling with alarm. "Isn't it time to take the republic back?" asks one e-mailer.

To some antigovernment and millennialist types, the Pentagon's new "Northern Command" covering the US, along with the FBI's expanded powers to spy on Americans, is highly suspicious.

It's a move they see as a precursor to the dreaded "black helicopters" and "jack booted" agents of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms - those blamed for the attacks at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and Waco, Texas.

And the most passionate opponents are already voicing this view faster than you can say "New World Order" or "Trilateral Commission."

"Look for a major hit in the coming weeks to justify this last cog in the wheel of tyranny," predicts one member of the "underground patriot" Internet discussion group.

Menace of federal intelligence

Such attitudes are spreading, according to experts who have tracked such groups for years.

"The homeland security proposals have already been seen by a number of right-wing extremists as proof of their conspiracy beliefs," says Mark Pitcavage, a historian of extremist movements and advisor to law-enforcement agencies.

"Many antigovernment extremists have come to believe that 9/11 was a conspiracy by the government in order for it to get dictatorial powers, or that 9/11 really was a terrorist event, but the government is nevertheless using it as a pretext to get more and more power," says Dr. Pitcavage, who also works for the Anti- Defamation League.

"Right-wing extremist 'patriots' opposed the USA Patriot Act, and they surely oppose this," he continues.

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