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The number of antigovernment “Patriot” groups on the American radical right hit an all-time high in 2012, the fourth straight year of explosive growth, according to a report released today by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). As the new year began, serious talk of gun control, prompted by a Connecticut school massacre in December, fueled even more rage on the right, and the threat of violence loomed .
The new report, contained in the latest issue of the quarterly investigative journal Intelligence Report, found that the conspiracy-minded Patriot groups, which numbered only 149 in 2008, soared over the first four years of Barack Obama’s presidency to 1,360 in 2012 — an astounding 813% increase. At the same time, it found that hate groups remained at near-record levels of over 1,000 (see interactive map and state-by-state lists of 2012 hate groups here).
The resurgence of militias and other Patriot groups and an uptick over recent years in non-Islamic domestic terrorism caused SPLC President Richard Cohen today to write (letter pdf) U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to request the creation of a new interagency task force to assess the adequacy of federal resources devoted to the threat. “As in the period before the  Oklahoma City bombing,” Cohen wrote, “we are now seeing ominous threats from those who believe that the government is poised to take their guns.” ( continue to full post… )