FBI focuses on sovereign citizen extremists

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is keeping a closer eye on “sovereign citizen” extremists, reported the Associated Press.

The FBI website describes sovereign citizens as, “anti-government extremists who believe that even though they physically reside in this country, they are separate or “sovereign” from the United States.”

The AP reported that the FBI has been paying closer attention to the movement since 2009. Since the followers of the movement don’t recognize government authority, they are allegedly frequently involved in white collar crimes such as tax evasion and fraud.

The deputy assistant director of the FBI’s counterterrorism division, Stuart McArthur, said, “We started to notice a heightened potential for violence.” He cited examples of law enforcement officials tangling with sovereign citizens in violent encounters because the extremists’ ideology completely rejects the authority of the government.

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In Dec. 2011, an unmanned aircraft was used to help local law enforcement officials track a case involving missing cows after they were chased off a farm by sovereign citizens armed with rifles, according to The Los Angeles Times. “Police rushed in and made the first known arrests of US citizens with help from a Predator, the spy drone that has helped revolutionize modern warfare.”

The people arrested were allegedly a family of sovereign citizen extremists, with guns, weapons, bows and arrows found on their property, according to Talking Points Memo.

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The FBI website lists the crimes associated with sovereign citizens, including threatening judges and law enforcement officials, physical assault, white collar crimes, and impersonation of police officers.

Casey Carty, a supervisor in the FBI’s domestic terrorism section, said that age, gender and race are not consistent among sovereign citizens, and they don’t gravitate to any particular location in the US, reported the AP.

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