15 May 2011 – Do so-called “sovereign citizens” present an al qaeda-sized threat to America?
That is one concern from a group of people who refuse to comply with most of the rules average Americans take for granted – taxes, drivers licences, social security. These people have now been listed by the FBI as some of the top sources of domestic terrorism – and yet they are Americans.
There are estimated to be around 300,000 sovereign citizens in the US, which has grown rapidly as the economy declines.
The movement is based in the trademark racism and anti-Semitism that often characterizes far-right movements of this kind.
In the early 1980s, the movement mostly attracted white supremacists mainly because sovereign theories originated in groups that saw Jews as working behind the scenes to manipulate financial institutions and control the government.
The sovereign citizen movement argued that the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which guaranteed citizenship to African Americans and everyone else born on U.S. soil, also made black Americans permanently subject to federal and state governments, unlike themselves.
The growth in the sovereign citizen movement, its growing appeal to a group of Americans that see themselves as disenfranchised from the basic institutions of government, is something that is undoubtedly creating greater concern for law enforcement authorities.