The FBI calls them the latest threat to law enforcement, extremists who disregard their U.S. Citizenship, do not pay taxes and blatantly ignore authority.
According to the Counterterrorism Analysis Section of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in the last three years, sovereign citizens have become a growing domestic threat to law enforcement. The FBI believes these particular citizens have a propensity to react violently when confronted with government officials, and because of that, the agency says it will now pay close attention to this latest, additional threat.
The FBI considers sovereign citizens as comprising as any other terrorist movement. They are scattered throughout the United States and have existed for decades with such known members as Terry Nichols, who helped plan the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.
The blast tore apart the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and claimed 168 lives, including 19 children under the age of 6, and injured more than 680 people. It was considered the most destructive act of terrorism on American soil until the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on the World Trade Center.
Law enforcement officials say sovereign citizens do not represent an anarchist group, and are not part of a particular militia like Nichols, however they have been known to use or buy illegal weapons.
Deputy Assistant Director Stuart McArthur of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division explained, “We started to notice a heightened potential for violence.”
According to the Washington Post, McArthur added, “The thing about generally sovereign citizen extremists is that because their ideology just intrinsically deals with the rejection, complete rejection, of the constitutional authority of the United States or any other government for that matter, that when you have an encounter with law enforcement, we have seen that has a potential to go high and right very fast.”
They operate as individuals without established leadership and only come together in loosely affiliated groups to train, socialize or spread their ideology to other willing participants.
They may refer to themselves as “constitutionalists” or “freemen,” which is not necessarily a connection to a specific group, merely indicating they are free from government control and follow their own set of laws.
While the philosophies and conspiracy theories vary from person to person, their core beliefs are generally the same. They believe the government operates outside their jurisdiction and refuse to recognize federal, state, or local laws, policies and regulations.