Frequently Asked Questions About Militias
1. Was Timothy McVeigh connected to the militia movement?
No, he was not. He was not really connected to any particular movement. On
the "hate" side, he obviously loved "The Turner Diaries" by
William Pierce and read The Spotlight, the publication of the extremist and
anti-Semitic Liberty Lobby. On the "anti-government" side, he attended
a couple of militia meetings and half-heartedly attempted to start a militia
group in Arizona, which came to nothing. He never really joined anything, either
as a card-carrying member or even an explicit endorsement. This is also one
reason why there was little support for McVeigh, simply because no one viewed
him as one of "their own."
2. What are the most active militia groups today?
The Kentucky State Militia is one of the most active militia groups. Other
active groups include the Ohio Unorganized Militia Assistance and Advisory
Committee, the two factions of the Michigan Militia, the Texas Unified Field
Forces, the California High Desert Militia.
3. How many militia groups are there?
ADL does not track the number of militia groups. It does not give a
particularly good measurement of activity, both because a "group"
could be three people or a hundred, and because on the extreme right, extremists
are constantly forming and breaking apart groups. It is also difficult to judge
what constitutes a group. If the Michigan Militia has supporters in every
county, is that one group, or one group for each county? These issues make
tracking the number of militia groups extremely difficult.
4. How many people are in the militia movement in the United States?
It is impossible to arrive at anything other than a rough estimate, and that
is probably somewhere under 10,000, with a larger number of sympathizers.
5. How many people are in the whole extreme right-wing fringe?
Again, this is difficult to gauge. There could be as many as 200,000 hardcore
members and up to one million sympathizers, to some degree.
6. Why are some white supremacists supporting Timothy McVeigh?
Those who do seem to see him as some sort of "white Aryan warrior"
or lone wolf who was not afraid to stand up and take action.
7. Are militia groups dangerous?
From its beginnings, a large amount of criminal activity has been associated
with the militia movement. A number of members have been arrested on weapons,
explosives, or conspiracy charges, among others. These arrests continue to the
current day. So physically the movement remains dangerous, although obviously no
one can be painted as a would-be terrorist simply because they belong to a
There are dangers other than direct physical dangers, of course. The militia
movement is a very anti-government movement which advocates taking the law (and
a very particular vision of the law, at that) into its own hands. It is not only
heavily armed, but it preaches an extreme anti-government rhetoric filled with
wild conspiracy theories. In addition, although the main emphasis of the militia
movement is anti-government in nature, a number of people in the movement are
also white supremacists and/or anti-Semites (esp. Christian Identity), and this
is obviously an area of concern.
8. What is the future of the militia movement?
The militia movement, though less numerous and active than half a decade ago,
does not seem to be in danger of actually disappearing anytime soon. Some future
tragedy or incident could act as a rallying cry for the militia movement, just
as the standoffs at Ruby Ridge and Waco helped form the movement in the first
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