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Extremist group researcher can comment on issues in Kansas militia trial

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

LAWRENCE — In a federal trial of three Kansas men accused of plotting to bomb an apartment complex housing Somali refugees in Garden City, attorneys have argued about whether the men were working on a terrorist plot or simply engaging in idle talk recorded by federal agent.

A University of Kansas researcher is available to discuss issues surrounding self-proclaimed militia groups and their recent history given the American political climate.

Don Haider-Markel, professor and chair of the Department of Political Science, researches extremist groups, terrorism, public policy and American politics.

"Although this group fits into a narrative that suggests extremists have been emboldened since Trump ran for office," Haider-Markel said, "it was really eight years of Obama that gave rise to far-right groups."

According to media reports in the Kansas trial, prosecutors accuse the three suspects of talking about attacks on President Obama and members of Congress.

"This is an interesting case because it highlights the fact that the far-right militia groups that are willing to engage in violence are not the norm," Haider-Markel said. "This type of planning for violence usually only occurs with a small group of fringe members emboldened by a leader or one person acting as a lone wolf but consistent with a more broadly accepted worldview of those on the extreme right."

To arrange an interview with Haider-Markel, contact George Diepenbrock at 785-864-8853 or gdiepenbrock@ku.edu.