A Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence led by the University of Maryland

U.S. Policies and Extremist Motivations


U.S. Policies and Extremist Motivations

Project Details

Abstract: 

This project focuses on analyzing discussions about three government actions in two online forums associated with the Militia and/or Sovereign Citizens Movements through a qualitative content analysis.

As early as 1999, the research community recognized that two broad groups—far-right extremists and Islamic extremists—exploit the Internet. However, the research agenda has predominantly examined the latter group. Consequently, there is a need for more research on far-right groups that form and operate domestically and that might be interested in targeting the United States.

To that end, this project analyzes three U.S. government actions that received explicit attention in two online forums associated with the Militia/Sovereign Citizens – two extremist movements that might be interested in targeting the United States.  Key findings from a qualitative content analysis of 125 discussion threads across two forums regarding three government actions include:

  • (1) Both forums engage in community sustainability activities;
  • (2) Members of one forum worked toward reinforcing a consistent group identity through their discussions of the three government actions; and
  • (3) Members of both forums actively shared information, and to a lesser extent shared knowledge.

Researchers also found evidence of self-disclosure as a potential trust-building mechanism not identified in previous research. Finally, the research team identified eight new profiles of the member types active on the forums for the studied government actions. In sum, the study’s findings enhance our understanding of how members of online forums associated with the Militia/Sovereign Citizens Movements acknowledged, perceived, and discussed government actions that explicitly and implicitly targeted these groups.

 

 

Timeframe

Project Period: 
July 2012 to December 2013

Keywords

Regions: 
North America