Homeland Security News Wire
The FBI classifies some sovereign citizens as terrorists. U.S. law enforcement officials are being warned about members of the sovereign citizen movement — the number one potential terrorist threat in the United States according to a 2014 study by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism(START). Law enforcement agencies estimate that there are about 100,000 hard-core members of various sovereign citizens groups around the country, with another 200,000 sympathizers.
U.S. law enforcement officials are being warned about members of the sovereign citizen movement — the number one potential terrorist threat in the United States according to a 2014 study by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START).
RT News reports that just seven years ago, a similar START study reported the sovereign citizen movement to be the seventh greatest potential terrorism threat in the United States.
The FBI classifies some sovereign citizens as terrorists. Law enforcement agencies estimate that there are about 100,000 hard-core members of various sovereign citizens groups around the country, with another 200,000 sympathizers. In August, a West Virginia State Police arrested 21-year-old Seth Grim in Roane County after they found improvised explosives, assault rifles, and thirty live chickens in his wrecked SUV at 3:30 a.m. Grim, a “sovereign citizen,” rejects taxes and all levels of U.S. government and laws.Grim was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to deliver and had recently been charged with fleeing a police officer in Pennsylvania.
TheCharleston Gazette reports that the group is increasing its membership count in West Virginia, and law enforcement officials are becoming more aware of its ideology. Thom Kirk, director of the West Virginia Intelligence Fusion Center, said officials are now reporting more incidents with the group’s members. He adds that although law enforcement personnel in the state has been given additional training on the subject, it has been challenging fully to understand the group’s intentions.
“There’s not one ultimate organization that represents all of these groups. In the United States, most of them are small groups, so they’re not really organized,” Kirk said. “Most groups have a leader you can go to and sit down and talk things out and find out exactly what they’re trying to do — what parts are legal and what parts are illegal.”
Kirk notes that police officers have been asked to be tolerant of citizens expressing their “sovereign citizen” rights, and inform such citizens that “they have the right to voice their opinion, so long as they continue to obey the law.”
Authorities in West Virginia recently sent a letter to local law enforcement officials about another sovereign citizens member, Michael Anthony Luipersbeck, 58, who was arrested in March and charged with several misdemeanor driving violations, including driving without a seat belt and displaying an improper license plate. Luipersbeck told police officers that “he did not need a valid registration plate and that he was a ‘noncitizen U.S. national’ and therefore did not need to abide by the laws of the United States or the State of West Virginia.” Officers also found a black handgun in Luipersbeck’s car accompanied by an expired concealed carry permit.
As the group begins to expand, law enforcement agencies are gathering more intelligence on identified sovereign citizens’ affiliates. National Liberty Alliance, a sovereign citizens group in West Virginia, has nineteen members registered on its Web site, displaying the first names and phone numbers of selected organizers, along with some literature.
“To take political power is to control our elected representatives, by bringing them into obedience through fear of the people, this is accomplished by understanding the office of & becoming an elected committeemen, and then execute the powers,” the group outlines on its Web site.
The group’s Web site also says that “to take judicial power is to control our courts by understanding jurisdiction and bringing into subjection all government officers and officials using common law courts by opening courts of record and executing ‘people’ authority, it’s that simple!”