In a study of the causes and consequences of terrorism in the United States, the sovereign citizen movement was perceived to be the greatest terrorist threat, ahead of Islamist extremists and militia/patriot groups.
The National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism(START) reports that sovereign citizens are the top concern of law enforcement.
START was funded by from grants from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, is part of DHS’s Security’s Science and Technology Directorate and receives additional funding and support from a variety of Federal agencies, private foundations, and universities.
Reports gauged perception on the threat of terrorism,information-sharing, and whether government is prepared to deal with terrorist attacks.
The Sovereign Citizen movement was the most highly ranked threat, with 86 percent of respondents agreeing or strongly agreeing that it was a serious terrorist threat.
This is a significant increase in ranking from an earlier survey implemented in 2006-2007, which showed Islamist extremists to be law enforcement’s top concern at the time.
Some excerpts from the report:
“…there is wide variation about what groups are perceived to be a serious terrorist threat. Law enforcement is much more concerned about sovereign citizens, Islamic extremists, and militia/patriot group members compared to the fringe groups of the far right, including Christian Identity believers, reconstructed traditionalists (i.e., Odinists), idiosyncratic sectarians (i.e.,survivalists), and members of doomsday cults.”
“The change is interesting as there was significant concern about the resurgence of the radical far right (as evidenced by the 2006 – 07 survey, as well as additional concerns raised after the 2008 election of President Barack Obama), but it appears as though law enforcement is, at present, less concerned about these groups.”
“Such changing perceptions about what is a serious terrorist threat is an important finding because identifying and prioritizing a threat is akin to hitting a moving target and evolves as new intelligence, data, and events develop.”
START researcher David Carter claims, “Identifying and prioritizing a threat is akin to hitting a moving target and evolves as new intelligence, data, and events develop…Law enforcement must be steadfast in identifying major concerns, substantiating the concerns, providing products and resources to better understand the nature of the threat, and supporting efforts to respond to such concerns.”
According to survey results the most ‘useful’ agencies include, state/local fusion centers, the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force(s), the FBI, and DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis.