Detroit News (04/13/10) Hunter, George

Federal officials and security experts have been growing increasingly concerned about the threat posed by homegrown extremist groups, even before nine members of the Hutaree militia group were arrested last month on charges of planning to kill police officers. The Center for Strategic and International Studies, for example, released a report on March 10 that urged the government to pay more attention to homegrown militants. The report noted that such militants are dangerous because they can easily travel overseas to train with terrorist groups and return to the U.S. to plan and execute terrorist attacks. The report was issued a month after Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told members of the National Governors Association that the U.S. does not have a plan to stop the threat posed by domestic terrorist groups from growing. Experts say that there are several reasons why the threat from domestic terrorism is growing increasingly ominous, including the 2008 election of President Obama. Since then, the number of militias has risen from 149 to 512, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The tough economy may also be prompting some individuals to consider joining militant groups, said Imad Hamad, the director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee in Dearborn, Mich. But not everyone is convinced that domestic terrorists pose a growing threat to the U.S. Among them is attorney Richard Helfrick of the Federal Defender’s Office in Detroit, who noted that his office has not handled a case of domestic terrorism since the 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City.