Experts weigh in on potential rise in militia groups

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS)—Domestic terrorism is on the rise. That’s the message from Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin.

“I had the Director of the FBI in front of my committee in September, and he acknowledged that they now have more cases against domestic terrorists than they do against foreign links,” said Rep. Elissa Slotkin, (D) 8th District.

She’s not alone. David Licate is a criminal justice, and homeland security professor in Ohio, a state where meetings for the Wolverine Watchmen were said to take place. He’s also worked with the FBI on strategic terrorism here in the U.S. He says, yesterday’s news didn’t come as a surprise because of the long history of militia groups both in Michigan, and in surrounding states.

“It only takes one extremist, one person from these groups that have been radicalized. We saw this with Timothy McVeigh with Oklahoma City right, and we saw the damage that one individual could do,” said Licate.

Licate says, big events in the 90s from militia groups dealt with issues of control, and typically with guns. It’s something we’ve seen recently at the state capital, and he says, events like these can serve as recruiting events as well.

“These are linked to social movements, and political movements, and certainly presidential politics has a lot to do with this,” said Licate.

Other experts like Alexandra Minna Stern agree. She’s a University of Michigan professor, and author on alt right extremism. She says, in the past 20 years there’s been a fourth wave, but recently there is another important factor in the story.

“The fact that resurgence of the far right, and what some have called the fourth wave of the far right is really a much more global issue,” said Minna Stern.

Experts agree social media, and the private Facebook groups are playing a role. Slotkin says, speech from groups like the Wolverine Watchman is becoming all too normal.

“That means you are going to eventually see some of the more extreme people take that language, and take that rhetoric, and go another step further,” said Representative Slotkin.                      

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