While recent years have seen a dramatic increase in militia groups, the bombing in Oklahoma City has brought these usually faceless groups, notoriety and worldwide attention.
Many of the militia groups were formed out of a genuine belief that the US government had gotten too big, too unwieldy, too intrusive into the private lives of its' citizens and is out of touch and often hostile toward the very people who voted them to govern.
Contrary to popular belief, most militia members are hard-working, average Americans who are loyal to the United States, the Constitution, and the rights granted thereunder. However, there are also many who can accurately be described as right-wing extremists, terrorists or racists; sometimes... all three.
Presently there are over 441 militia groups active in the United States. By far the largest group is the Michigan Militia which claims membership of over 10,000 with units in nearly all of Michigan-s 88 counties.
Every militia is anti-government to some degree. Some, like the Michigan Militia, advocate armed resistance to federal authority. They see international trade agreements (like NAFTA) and peacekeeping operations involving US troops as evidence of a sinister international movement toward one world government.
For decades Americans have seen terrorism all over the world-but not in the US. Even after the Oklahoma bombing, the American public still found it incomprehensible that Americans could perpetrate such a horror against other Americans. Even after Timothy McVeigh-s conviction, the general mood has been that terrorism is over. It was some kind of aberration.
The militia movement, however, continues to grow.
The Michigan Militia, with which Timothy McVeigh is alleged to have had connections, was formed by Norman Olson, a former US Air Force Officer. Police Against the New World Order is led by a former police officer, Jack McLamb, who was present at the Ruby Ridge incident along with James Gritz, a former Green Beret officer.
The leader of the Mountain Militia, Floyd Looker, recently stood trial in West Virginia for conspiracy to bomb three federal installations, including the FBI-s national Fingerprint records complex. Seven members of the Southern Kansas Regional Militia were arrested after their plans to attack Fort Hood in Texas came to the attention of the FBI.
Members of these ultra right-wing extremist militia do not fit the profile of the typical terrorist as Americans have seen them portrayed for decades. They are police officers, sheriffs and deputies, attorneys, doctors, and other professional and business people; even members of the US military.
A very potential dangerous group about which little is known is the Special Forces Underground (SFU), a clandestine organization within the United States military. Their existence was first discovered shortly before the Oklahoma City bombing by Klanwatch/Militia Task Force (a watchdog organization of the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama which tracks militia and hate groups) through postings on the American Patriot Fax Network.
The SFU was formed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, on August 23, 1992, and is conservatively estimated to have between 100 and 300 members; though no one can say with any accuracy how many members it really has. They are recruited almost exclusively from active duty and former military personnel with training and experience in covert operations.
They do not recruit like other militia groups. They have patience born of their training. They wait, watch, and listen. Once they identify one or two potential recruits, they move in.
Today they are centered in Kansas City, Missouri and have a quarterly publication called THE RESISTER- The Political Warfare Journal of the Special Forces Underground. In their 'Statement of Policy,- they claim: 'We do not advocate the overthrow of the US government. We do advocate resistance to government tryranny. We do not advocate the initiation of force in doing so. We do advocate appropriate force-in-kind retaliation. We advocate active resistance against the United Nations.-
Most militia operate on similar principals but their members are fairly well known to authorities. Many have their own websites with names like, LogoPlex, Sovereignty, American Patriot Network, etc., to spread their beliefs and attract recruits. These websites are also excellent intelligence sources for law enforcement.
In stark contrast, the SFU maintains a very low profile. Most members are unknown even to each other. Even their address is deliberately low profile; a 'Boxholder' P.O. Box in Kansas City.
Most militia follow traditional military lines the 'troops' at the base and echelons of command up to the leader. This makes it easy for law enforcement to destroy an entire group by arresting its leadership.
SFU has no confidence in the 'aboveground' militia groups; 'The Patriot Movement in general and militia groups in particular need to get a firm grip on the realities of resistance and underground operations.' They follow the concept of secret cells and 'leaderless resistance' proposed by Louis Beam in February, 1992, which makes it almost impossible for the group to be infiltrated. At best, only an individual cell or cells, can be infiltrated.
Beam's concept of secret cells for the Patriot Movement is nothing new, however. Cells have been the standard structure for international terrorist organizations for nearly three decades.