A new Department of Homeland Security report is warning law enforcement officials of a growing threat of “right-wing extremist groups.”
“The consequences of a prolonged economic downturn — including real estate foreclosures, unemployment, and an inability to obtain credit — could create a fertile recruiting environment for right-wing extremists and even result in confrontations between such groups and government authorities,” the report warns.
The report explains that threats so far have been “largely rhetorical,” but points to the April 4 shooting of three police officers in Pittsburgh as a “recent example of potential violence associated with right-wing extremism.”
The document points to both the economic downturn and election of President Barack Obama as potential recruitment tools for militant groups.
“Many right-wing extremists are antagonistic toward the new presidential administration and its perceived stance on a range of issues, including immigration and citizenship, the expansion of social programs to minorities, and restrictions on firearms ownership and use,” it reads.
The report also highlights anger directed at illegal immigrants and perceived threats from foreign countries as potential recruiting pitches from the groups.
The department is especially concerned with attempts to “radicalize returning veterans in order to exploit their skills and knowledge derived from military training and combat.”
“The willingness of a small percentage of military personnel to join extremist groups during the 1990s because they were disgruntled, disillusioned, or suffering from the psychological effects of war is being replicated today,” the report reads.
Throughout the document comparisons are made to the 1990s, a period when the country was rocked by several acts of domestic terrorism including the 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City.
“Paralleling the current national climate, right-wing extremists during the 1990s exploited a variety of social issues and political themes to increase group visibility and recruit new members,” the report reads. “During the 1990s, these issues contributed to the growth in the number of domestic right-wing terrorist and extremist groups and an increase in violent acts targeting government facilities, law enforcement officers, banks, and infrastructure sectors.”