WASHINGTON — There’s a lot of anger out there. But the alleged plot by Midwestern militants and violent outbursts by scattered individuals don’t signal any coming wave of extremist violence, federal investigators say.
There’s more fizzle than fight among self-styled militias and other groups right now, they say, and little chance of a return to the organized violence that proved so deadly in the 1990s.
There is always a risk of a lone wolf launching an attack, and law enforcement officials cannot rule out the possibility that they have failed to detect larger, more organized plots still unfolding. But the FBI bulletin – it was issued to police departments – underscores that authorities have not yet detected clear signs of a revival of organized violence that would require a strong federal response.
Federal agents have seen an increase in “chatter” from an array of groups, which can include radical self-styled militias, white separatists or extreme civil libertarians. That information includes everything from public posts on Web sites to intelligence gathered through informants.
But such violent talk appears unlikely to lead to action, authorities believe.
One key: Law enforcement officials say the lack of an armed, deadly confrontation in last weekend’s arrests – as there was in the 1993 standoff in Waco, Texas – made it less likely any groups would attempt new violence.
Anti-government anger flared in some quarters after Congress passed the massive health care overhaul this month, and a few lawmakers received threats or even suffered vandalism. And the angry political rallies of conservative tea party members have been well publicized. Lost jobs have given millions plenty to be upset about.
The Southern Poverty Law Center recently reported an increase in what they define as right wing extremist and hate groups around the country.
In comparison, outbursts of violent extremism are minuscule.
Law enforcement officials point out that the extremist groups they do track are so diverse, with so many different motivations – anarchic, anti-tax, racist and on and on – that there is no defining principle other than a kind of general distrust of the government.
(Listed if other than Religion News Blog)
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This post was last updated: Mar. 31, 2010