WASHINGTON (AP) - Homeland Security officials are warning that
right-wing extremists could use the bad state of the U.S. economy
and the election of the country's first black president to recruit
members to their cause.
In an intelligence assessment issued to law enforcement last
week, Homeland Security officials said there was no specific
information about an attack in the works by right-wing extremists.
The agency warns that an extended economic downturn with real
estate foreclosures, unemployment and an inability to obtain credit
could foster an environment for extremists to recruit members who
may not have been supportive of these causes in the past.
Homeland Security spokesman Sean Smith said the report is one in
a series of assessments issued by the agency's intelligence and
analysis unit. The agency describes these assessments as part of a
series published "to facilitate a greater understanding of the
phenomenon of violent radicalization in the United States."
In February, the department issued a report to law enforcement
that said left-wing extremist groups were likely to use cyber
attacks more often in the next 10 years to further their cause. And
in September, the agency issued a report that highlighted how
right-wing extremists over the past five years have used the
immigration debate as a recruiting tool.
The latest assessment started making its way into the mainstream
press after conservative blogs got wind of the analysis. In this
report, the agency warns that imposing new restrictions on firearms
and returning military veterans who have difficulties assimilating
back into their communities could lead to terror groups or
individuals attempting to carry out attacks. The returning war
veterans have skills and experience that are appealing to
right-wing groups looking to carry out an attack, according to the
The agency cites the April 4 killings of three Pittsburgh police
officers as an example of a the type of violence spurred by
"Despite similarities to the climate of the 1990s, the threat
posed by lone wolves and small terrorist cells is more pronounced
than in past years," the report said.
In the 1990s, the report said, a resurgence in right-wing
extremism was brought on by the poor economy and the outsourcing of
jobs, with extremist groups targeting government facilities, law
enforcement officers and banks.
The growth was slowed after intense government scrutiny of the
1995 Oklahoma City bombings, according to the report, but the
Internet now gives extremists more access to information about
making bombs and weapons training. The new technologies also make
it easier for extremists to communicate, the report said, and make
it more difficult for law enforcement to detect or prevent an
In November, after Barack Obama's election, law enforcement
officials were seeing more threats and unusual interest against a
president-elect than ever before.
One of the most popular white supremacist Web sites got more
than 2,000 new members the day after the election, compared with 91
new members on Election Day, according to an Associated Press
count. The site, stormfront.org, was temporarily off-line Nov. 5
because of the overwhelming amount of activity it received after
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