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Faded militia movement making comeback

WASHINGTON, Aug. 12 (UPI) -- Right-wing U.S. militias, tax protesters and "sovereign citizens" are making a comeback after fading in the late 1990s, a watchdog group says.

The Southern Poverty Law Center said in a report Wednesday that the "Patriot" movement, which by 2000 had been weakened by systematic prosecutions, aversion to growing violence, and a new, conservative president, has been re-energized during an era of economic hard times.

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"You're seeing the bubbling (of anti-government sentiment) right now," Bart McEntire, a supervisory special agent for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Roanoke, Va., told law center leaders. "You see people buying into what they're saying. It's primed to grow."

The Patriot movement of the 1990s was sparked by a combination of anger at the federal government and the deaths of political dissenters at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and Waco, Texas, culminating in the 1995 bombing of Oklahoma City's federal building in which 168 people died, the law center said.

Now such groups are engaging in "paper terrorism" -- the use of property liens and citizens' "courts" to harass enemies -- while militia conspiracy theories have returned, this time accompanied by tales of secret Mexican plans to "reconquer" the American Southwest, the law center said.

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