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Rise of Domestic Terrorism and Its Relation to United States Armed Forces, Executive Summary

NCJ Number
Steven Mack Presley
Date Published
April 1996
42 pages
This paper reviewed the historical and contemporary trends of domestic terrorism within the United States and discussed the ways in which the military personnel may be influenced, involved, or utilized by terrorist groups to meet their ultimate goals through service members.
Domestic terrorism has existed and influenced the political and social structure of the United States since its inception. Advancements in technology, such as in transportation, communication, and weapons fields, have aided the abilities of contemporary domestic terrorist groups. Domestic terrorists in the United States have been categorized into four groups: (1) religious convictions; (2) racial prejudice and supremacist goals; (3) anarchistic, or antigovernment; or (4) in pursuit of unique special interests. Today, terrorist groups are anarchist, antigovernment or political in their motivations and are associated with growing self-determination, radical citizen-militia movements, or have been around a long time. There is a rising trend and concern among local, State, and Federal law enforcement officials with armed, right-wing, citizen militias, groups evolving from the self-determination or states-rights movement, or the formation of enforcement groups, and military personnel’s involvement in extremist and hate-groups. The reasons for recruiting of active duty military personnel by right-wing extremist and hate-groups include: (1) they lend a degree of legitimacy and bravery to the groups; (2) they are trained and capable of training; (3) they can be used as an inside point of contact; and (4) the military fosters a mindset that can be exploited. The most significant and dangerous direct impact of military personnel’s involvement with these groups is the potential conflict of loyalty or devotion to duty. This could occur when government policies or actions are contrary or damaging to the cause of an extremist group that the service member identifies with. When the military recruits its soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines from the civilian society, it must draw from existing areas with distinctive cultural norms and values. A measure of consideration must be given to how those cultural and social factors interact or contrast with the policies of the military. To overcome this potential conflict, open and direct discussions and a refocusing of training and indoctrination programs must be utilized as possible solutions. Appendices and references