Progress Assignment: Sovereign Citizens Movement example

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Progress Assignment: Sovereign Citizens Movement

Overall Threat Assessment

The FBI has claimed that Sovereign Citizens constitute a significant threat to the domestic security of the USA and classified them as domestic terrorists. However, Sovereign Citizens may also be classified partly as a socio-political movement because more than 200,000 Americans are identified with their ideology. Workers in law enforcement are very concerned with the issue of Sovereign Citizens: “The Sovereign Citizen movement was the most highly ranked threat, with 86 percent of respondents [who work in law enforcement] agreeing or strongly agreeing that it was a serious terrorist threat. Approximately 67 percent agreed or strongly agreed that Islamist extremists were a serious terrorist threat”. The ideology of Sovereign Citizens is based on anti-governmental platform, so their actions are primarily aimed at the government, state financial institutions and representatives of law enforcement. Their organization is loose, leaderless and lacks clear features of the network. Their primary tactic is “paper terrorism”, but they sometimes engage in acts of violence.

SCM constitutes both a serious threat in regional dimension and a global threat in cultural dimension to the USA. Intelligence Community should perceive Sovereign Citizens as seriously as possible and collaborate with the government while analyzing SCs because every economic crisis and political failure could validate SCs’ ideology. Government entities should learn how to avoid giving any reason for SCs to legitimize at their expense.


As a rule, Sovereign Citizens are associated strongly with the Posse Comitatus Movement and Freeman Group (they were forerunners of SCs and were active in post-Civil War period), but the current ideological principles of SCs were crystallizing during the 1960s and 1970s. However, the primary focus on delegitimizing the federal authority remained unchanged. Posse Comitatus and Freeman groups used to focus on the same topic, so central principles are actual for more than 100 years. SCs had been primarily right-wing radicals and racists until the 1990s. Their initial motivation was to resist the new rules of the use of federal troops in policing American citizens, which had been implemented in the post-Civil War period. This motivation had been based on anti-government moods, “hate” racist ideology, which is grounded on Christian Identity theory before the 1990s when the movement became more inclusive. This resurgence and renewal of Sovereign Citizens are characterized by the shift from racist views towards more left-wing patterns, which are based primarily on anti-governmental moods. This change has resulted in the internal polarization of the movement and the emergence of offshoots, which are more racist than the general movement of Sovereign Citizens. Meanwhile, almost all extremists, especially religious, become more right and violent after a polarization, but the behavior and ways of thinking of Sovereign Citizens became more conventional and leftist after the period of high polarization in the 1990s. It proves that anti-governmental patterns are more significant for the whole movement than racist. Contemporary SCs use mostly “paper terrorism” tactic, propaganda and intimidation; the violent tactic is secondary to them now. Both kinds of “early” …

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