Officers Brandon Paudert and Bill Evans never saw it coming.
The white minivan pulled over on Interstate 40 near West Memphis, Ark., in 2010 came back registered to a church in Ohio. Inside the vehicle were a Bible and some documents quoting Scripture.
Minutes later, Evans lay dying in the ditch and Paudert was sprawled on the roadway, their bodies tattered by two dozen bullets from an AK-47.
The killers: members of the sovereign citizen movement, which the officers had never heard of.
“They didn’t realize that there are people at war with this country who are not international terrorists,” said Bob Paudert, then West Memphis police chief and father of one of the slain officers.
“These people are willing to kill and be killed for their beliefs. And they are more dangerous to us in law enforcement than international terrorists.”
But today, Republicans will attack you for even mentioning right-wing terrorist groups. All domestic terrorists are somehow radical 60's liberals. Cliven Bundy? Who's that? Sovereign citizen movement? White supremacist groups? All liberals, you see. Or they don't exist at all. We certainly don't need to spend taxpayer money harassing these kind people.
Domestic terrorism used to be a major focus for police and federal agents, especially after the Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people 20 years ago Sunday.
But the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, led to a dramatic change: Law enforcement shifted its focus from domestic to foreign terrorism.
And today, while the number of violent incidents committed by domestic extremists is actually increasing, the holes in the net to catch them are growing larger, The Kansas City Star found in a one-year investigation.
A network of centers set up to detect and deter terrorism has done little of either, while at the same time federal funding to train law enforcement officers has been slashed.
Authorities and others are beginning to raise the alarm — the same one raised after Oklahoma City.
“Domestic terrorism was the focus after the Oklahoma City bombing,” said Daryl Johnson, a former senior analyst with the Department of Homeland Security. “Then when 9/11 happened, it became way too focused on al-Qaida and its affiliates.”
Now, in a period of increasing extremism, the domestic danger is greater than ever, Johnson said.
“Our leaders don’t seem too concerned about the threat from within,” he said. “My fear is that there will be some kind of mass-casualty attack, with more people dying needlessly at the hands of domestic extremists. That’s what keeps me awake at night.”
Nope, these guys are all patriots who hate Obama and the federal government, just like the God-fearing, rock-ribbed salt of the earth Republican voters in the heartland. The ties these movements have to hate groups, both old and new? Slander, lies, fantasy. Obama's your only real enemy.
And 20 years later, very little has changed other than these groups have gotten worse, and we've done nothing to stop them.