Recession fueling right-wing extremism, U.S. says

Tue Apr 14, 2009 3:56pm EDT
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By Jane Sutton

MIAMI (Reuters) - Right-wing extremists in the United States are gaining new recruits by exploiting fears about the economy and the election of the first black U.S. president, the Department of Homeland Security warned in a report to law enforcement officials.

The April 7 report, which Reuters and other news media obtained on Tuesday, said such fears were driving a resurgence in "recruitment and radicalization activity" by white supremacist groups, antigovernment extremists and militia movements. It did not identify any by name.

DHS had no specific information about pending violence and said threats had so far been "largely rhetorical."

But it warned that home foreclosures, unemployment and other consequences of the economic recession "could create a fertile recruiting environment for right-wing extremists."

"To the extent that these factors persist, right-wing extremism is likely to grow in strength," DHS said.

The report warned that military veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with combat skills could be recruitment targets, especially those having trouble finding jobs or fitting back into civilian society.

The department "is concerned that right-wing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to boost their violent capabilities," the report said.

DHS spokeswoman Sara Kuban said on Tuesday the report was one of an ongoing series of threat assessments aimed at "a greater understanding of violent radicalization in the U.S."   Continued...

<p>A trader sits outside the New York Stock Exchange October 6, 2008. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton</p>