From NBC's Pete Williams
An assessment of right-wing radical groups in the United States, done by the Department of Homeland Security, says the current economic and political climate in the U.S. may help extremists recruit more members.
The report, dated April 7 and distributed to police nationwide, was made public by a conservative blogger. Its main conclusions closely track with a much more detailed assessment done in February by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which identified 926 active hate groups, up from 888 the year before.
The Homeland analysis says threats from white supremacist and anti-government groups "have been largely rhetorical and have not indicated plans to carry out violent acts." But it says they seek to expand their recruitment by trying to capitalize on:
-- insecurity brought on by economic troubles and loss of jobs
-- the rise in illegal immigration
-- fears of renewed efforts to limit gun ownership
-- and racist reaction to the election of President Obama.
Law enforcement organizations agree with these broad themes, but say fear of rising immigration is the No. 1 motive driving these hate groups.
The DHS analysis also says these groups may seek to recruit returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, to take advantage of their training. The FBI first called attention to that possibility last summer, but concluded that although around 200 military veterans have joined radical right groups since 9/11, "they have not done so in numbers sufficient to stem declines" in overall membership in these organizations.