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Militia arrests point to return of armed patriot groups

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FBI raids on suspected militia members over the weekend jolted a public already concerned about far-right violence that surfaced during the health care reform fight.

Nine suspected members of a "Christian" militia group have been charged with seditious conspiracy, attempted use of weapons of mass destruction and other related charges, federal prosecutors announced March 29.

The nine are from Michigan, Ohio and Indiana, where federal raids took place over the weekend.

The indictment names a militia group called the Hutaree as conspiring to oppose the U.S. government by force. The group was planning a double attack on local law enforcement, the Detroit Free Press reports.

The Hutaree says it is preparing to fight the "antichrist" until death. On its web site, links to training videos and Biblical-like rants can be found along with a banner across the page telling its members: "Training April 24 contact headquarters immediately."

The Southern Poverty Law Center lists Hutaree as among the 127 active militias associated with so-called "Patriot" groups.

SPLC's Mark Potok warns that radical right, extremist groups are on the rise. These groups are fueled by racism, especially anti-immigrant racism and rage at the nation's first African American president, Barack Obama, he says.

"Furious anti-immigrant vigilante groups soared " during 2009," Potok writes.

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Violent militia groups who had their "heyday" during the 1990s, including in the Oklahoma City bombing, have reemerged, according to SPLC's research.

"Already there are signs of similar violence emanating from the radical right. Since the installation of Barack Obama, right-wing extremists have murdered six law enforcement officers," Potok writes.

He points out a growing "cross-pollination between different sectors of the radical right not seen in years," with more cooperation on agendas and ideologies.

Such "cross pollination" may have been at work with the Hutaree group. The media reports Hutaree members contacted another Michigan militia member for help, which he claimed he declined giving.

Hutaree promotes extremist ideas that have found wide acceptance among right-wing political movements, including the Republican Party.

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At the GOP's 2009 Senate-House fundraising dinner, actor Jon Voight got a rousing ovation when he called Obama the "false prophet" in a heavily Armageddon-rhetoric-laden speech.

Similar rhetoric is seen in the tea party movement.

SPLC's Potok says while the tea partiers "cannot fairly be considered extremist groups," they are "shot through with rich veins of radical ideas, conspiracy theories and racism."

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Terrie Albano is co-editor of People's World,

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