Domestic terrorismGrowing concerns in U.S., U.K. about domestic terrorism

Published 11 March 2010

Law enforcement and intelligence in the United States and the United Kingdom are concerned with increased intensity on the extremist fringe: the number extremist groups is rising, their ranks are swelling, their rhetoric is becoming more vituperative, and there has been an increase in violent activities

United Kingdom

A British white supremacist has pleaded guilty to producing the deadly poison ricin and preparing for acts of terrorism. USA Today reports that truck driver Ian Davison and his teenage son Nicky were arrested in June in northern England. Police say traces of ricin were found in a jam jar at Davison’s home. The poison has no antidote and can be lethal in very small amounts.


Davison pleaded guilty Monday at Newcastle Crown Court to producing a chemical weapon — ricin —- and preparing for acts of terrorism. Details of his targets were not released.

Nicky Davison has been charged with possessing information likely to be useful to a terrorist and has been released on bail until his trial next month. The judge said Ian Davison would be sentenced after his son’s trial.

United States

A U.S. civil rights organization that tracks hate and bigotry says that the steady growth in right-wing extremist groups is worrisome. “The radical right caught fire last year, as broad-based populist anger at political, demographic and economic changes in America ignited an explosion of new extremist groups and activism across the nation,” writes Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).


In a report called Rage on the Right, published in the SPLC’s Spring Intelligence Report, Potok says the number of U.S. hate groups increased by 54 percent between 2000 and 2008. The trend continued into 2009.

Matthew Harwood reports that the SPLC notes that there was a slight uptick in the number of neo-Nazi groups last year, even though the most powerful organization — American National Socialist Workers Party — fell apart after its founder was arrested for threatening his opponents. Anti-immigrant “nativist” groups grew by 79 percent. The most dramatic growth in right-wing extremism came in the form of the wider Patriot Movement, antigovernment organizations that include the militia movement and oppose “one-world government.”

Now, the latest SPLC count finds that an astonishing 363 new Patriot groups appeared in 2009, with the totals going from 149 groups (including 42 militias) to 512 (127 of them militias) — a 244% jump,” says the group.

The SPLC finds this growth “a cause for grave concern” because elements of the Patriot Movement were responsible for widespread violence during the 1990s, the most destructive example being the Oklahoma City terrorist attack by Timothy McVeigh that murdered 168 people. Current developments, the SPLC warns, portend a return to the 1990s. Harwood reports that since the inauguration of President Barack Obama, right-wing extremists have murdered six law enforcement officers and skinheads have been arrested in plots to assassinate Obama.

Napolitano: Stack not a terrorist

A suicide plane crash that killed the pilot and an Internal Revenue Service worker at an office building in Austin on 18 February was not a case of domestic terrorism, DHS secretary Janet Napolitano said Tuesday in a radio interview. The pilot, Joseph Stack, 53, “had his own personal issues and personal motives” and was carrying out a personal agenda, said Napolitano, interviewed on WAMU-FM’s “Diane Rehm Show.”


p>”To our belief, he was a lone wolf. He used a terrorist tactic, but an individual who uses a terrorist tactic doesn’t necessarily mean they are part of an organized group attempting an attack on the United States,” she said.


The Washington Post’s Spence Hsu writes that in Austin, Representative Michael McCaul (R-Texas), a member of the House Homeland Security Committee who represents the Austin area, told Fox News, “I think when you fly an airplane into a federal building to kill people … it sounds like [terror] to me.”

Napolitano distinguished Stack from Timothy J. McVeigh — who was convicted and executed for carrying out the 1995 attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City that killed 168 people — citing McVeigh’s “tactics, organization, motivation and the like.”

When you get to a lone wolf, which is what really the Austin issue was, it’s very debatable whether you would put them in the same bucket,” Napolitano said.