A scary story over at the Week this morning details a scam that sovereign citizen groups were running out of Austin, Texas in the summer of 2013, that recruited unsuspecting young people to do the dirty work for the home-grown terror group.

The young people, who were named as “students” but their ages were not identified, were recruited to go door to door, interviewing residents about their jobs as part of a “pubic speaking” project and promised the allure of games and prizes if they were top performers. The problem, however, was that the organization that recruited them didn’t exist — and the addresses, names and other vital information was likely passed on to a domestic terror group that identifies itself as  a”sovereign citizen” group. The students believed, however, that the cause was legitimate at the time, and thought that they were competing for substantial rewards — including scholarships for college and cash prizes they could use for whatever purposes they chose.

As the Week explains, the students were rewarded “points” based on the jobs of the targets:

The canvassers were then awarded points based on the job of the person they talked to. Different jobs were worth different points. The kids carried yellow note cards that referenced the 15 jobs worth points and their value. The list included professions such as nurse, doctor, and firefighter.

Police officers were worth 2,000 points, the highest value.

Students that were able to hunt down the addresses of police officers and firefighters were promised  more money.

The students were bused around Austin, Texas and possibly other locations by the unknown sovereign citizen group. If stopped by police or questioned, the students had a handy paper card to show officials “stating the individuals who were in possession of the card were allowed to be doing what they were doing per constitutional law and they were not required to show any identification or be restricted from their duties by state or local officials. The individuals were instructed by the organization to show it to anyone who questioned what they were doing. The card did not have any business, church, nor contact information. The individuals did not carry a state issued identification.

Sovereign citizen groups, who believe that US courts and law enforcement officers don’t have any jurisdiction over their persons or property,  have been cropping up at an alarming rate across the US. Conservative news organizations have recently been caught whining that the threat of home-grown terror doesn’t merit the same alarm as ISIS terror threats or other extremist Muslim groups overseas. But it’s certainly hard to shrug off a terror threat that has the enemy sending students working as operatives directly to the doors of the law enforcement community.

  • Pedro

    We must stop them from beheading people, oh wait, wrong group.

    • Yeah, because Dennis Marx’s “full frontal assault” on a Georgia courthouse doesn’t count as a ‘beheading,’ right? As long as the killer doesn’t use a knife to decapitate someone, it’s just plain old murder and perfectly acceptable to you.

      Jerad and Amanda Miller shot two police officers dead, and then killed an armed bystander, but they don’t count either because they didn’t cut anyone’s head off, right?

      Eric Frein, Jerry and Joe Kane, Brent Cole…need I go on listing the reasons why your comment is ridiculous?

      • Pedro

        Dennis Marx – Officer alive (good thing) Perp dead (good thing). It just seems that focusing on what is probably .00001 of the population (who are complete nut jobs for sure) and not looking at the mass murder
        ISIS and Islamic terrorism is missing the larger picture. I thought you would like debate on your site, but maybe I was wrong.

        • http://www.forbes.com/sites/jjmacnab/2014/06/13/what-las-vegas-police-killings-show-about-evolving-sovereign-movement/ What about this one? Is the murder of the police officers in Las Vegas not considered terror?

          • Pedro

            Or these terrorists. Same difference but the scale does matter. All loss of innocent life is bad, let’s try and stop that.

          • You’re a liar, Pedro. Nothing you say is true.

        • PS isn’t replying to you with a rebuttal the very definition of debate?

        • I’m fine with debate, just not lies masquerading as a debate. There are an estimated 300,000 sovereign citizens in the US; how many ISIS sleeper cells have you uncovered?

          • Pedro

            And the death rate is . . . Significantly more from ISIS and radical jihadis! Thousands and thousands killed. I’m sure you can look up the numbers. Just trying to be fair here; any murder and terrorism is bad and we should minimize it. However, some groups of terrorists are doing a lot more than others. I think we should eliminate the ones that are killing the most people.

          • Funny, last time I looked the US was spending quite a bit of money and effort to destroy ISIS.

          • Rothbardian Slip

            This Atlantic article seems to cover my argument against calling these people terrorists and your argument with Pedro pretty well. I hope you both read it.


          • Rothbardian Slip

            How many Americans has ISIS killed? I think I read your post wrong.

          • Again, a lie. Have you ever told the truth, Pedro?

      • Rothbardian Slip

        Ok so this Marx character shot a cop in the leg before being riddled with bullets. The Kane clan actually killed a couple of cops at a traffic stop before being killed by cops. These don’t exactly sound like terrorist acts. Criminal acts, I’ll give you. These people are not really striking fear into the hearts of the population. The Eric Frein guy again shot dome cops. I’m too sick of Wikipedia to try to find out who the Cole character is. I’ll guess he shot a cop. That’s a criminal act, not a terrorist act.

        • In other words, you’re okay with ideological cop-killers actually killing cops because one man’s (my) terrorist is another man’s (your) freedom fighter. See how that works?

          Sooo how many sovereign citizens must kill cops before it becomes a pattern? Ten? A hundred? A thousand? Please let me know what that limit is so I can track this phenomenon until it exceeds your totally-artificial threshold for giving a damn.

          • Rothbardian Slip

            I said they were criminals. Criminal to terrorist is a big jump I think. Even if it’s a pattern, there are criminal patterns. I never implied anyone was a freedom fighter.

            Up above you said’, “I’m fine with debate, just not lies masquerading as a debate.”
            Let’s stick to those rules. I think that if we do that, we can find common ground.

          • There is no common ground with dishonesty.

          • Rothbardian Slip

            Go suck another cop.

        • Read more about Marx and the Kanes. Either you’re ignorant or you’re a liar.

          • Rothbardian Slip

            It was rather obvious from my post that I wasn’t about to waste my entire evening researching those people. Either you’re a moron or an idiot.

  • Angelice

    That has got to be really scary for the students as well as the people who gave out information. I’m sure most of those students thought they might be in bigger trouble, though. I would also be a bit scared right now if I had given out my information. Who knows what this terrorist group plans to do with that information!

    • Pedro

      Well, I don’t believe they have beheaded anyone recently. Why don’t we concentrate on the known enemies vs. a couple whack jobs?

  • Rothbardian Slip

    This seems some rather irresponsible reporting. Every bit of the allegation that this was perpetrated by a “sovereign citizens group” is based on pure speculation. I’m also unaware of any terrorist acts which have been successfully carried out (or thwarted by police for that matter) by any sovereign citizens group. While I think they are somewhat extreamist, calling them domestic terrorists is hyperbole. Guessing and saying what you think is not news. I could guess that the people wearing ties and handing out “The Watchtower” are being controlled by aliens. While perfectly plausible, and maybe even probable, it’s a guess and not a news story. Nice try though.

    • Hypatia Livingston

      Actually, sir, the “allegation” comes straight from an FBI report that redacted some of the identifying information. If you want to call it irresponsible to quote an FBI report, then whatever, I can’t help you.

    • “I’m also unaware of any terrorist acts which have been successfully carried out…by any sovereign citizens group”

      Is this YOUR FINAL ANSWER?

      • Rothbardian Slip

        Yes Matt, I am unaware of any ACTUAL terrorist acts carried out by them. I agree they seem to be proficient criminals. Terrorists, not so much. You are welcome to enlighten me.

        • Is attacking and murdering police officers or throwing firebombs considered terror? Or just horsing around?

          • Rothbardian Slip

            Attacking and murdering police is a criminal act. Throwing firebombs into a theatre or event of some sort would be a terrorist act. I would say into a bus would be. I know rioters in LA and St. Louis as well as other places have thrown them at cars and businesses. They weren’t terrorists. They were criminals. Terrorism and criminality should and do have different meanings.

          • All terrorist acts are criminal acts.

        • See above comment for a taste. The weekly THREATCON posts here assemble the last seven days’ worth of news reports related to sovereign citizens.

          • Pedro

            Read above, ANY terrorism is bad and all that murder should be brought to justice. It’s about getting the ones that kill the most vs a couple wackos out there (300K is a funky number). How about the 30+ million undocumented illegals in the country? Maybe they are right wing nut jobs too? The scale of the problem matters.

          • Because people who aren’t willing to wait fifteen or twenty years for a visa to pursue the American dream are “terrorists”? Do you just apply that word to anyone you don’t like?

          • Rothbardian Slip

            Matt, this is one of my problems with this article. The easier we make it to define someone as a terrorist, the more of us will eventually fall under that definition. At some point just disagreeing and speaking out against war or corporate welfare can and will be considered subversive and therefore a “terrorist act”.
            I haven’t figured out where the weekly threatcon posts are yet. Perhaps you would be kind enough to provide a link? Thanks.

          • Look on the front page for Threatcon posts. Keep reading them, because sooner or later I’ll report on whatever it is that the ‘sovereign citizens’ do with the information they have gathered.

            In all likelihood, it will involve identity theft, false liens, and various forms of nonlethal harassment that are nevertheless aimed at hurting the people who answer your 911 calls when you are hurt or something is on fire. But it might also involve nastier things, like stalking and harassment, or even assault and injury or death. Whatever it is, I guarantee their victims will call it terrorism.

            What actually happens will really be up to the ‘sovereigns’, who believe as firmly as any jihadi that their criminal activities are protected by the Constitution. Those activities can range anywhere from collecting pipe bombs to driving without a license.

          • Rothbardian Slip

            I’ll check them in the am. It’s getting late here. Please understand that I have no intrest in defending the criminals we are discussing. I have every reason to believe they are not good people and that they would victimize my family as readily as yours. Have a good night.

          • Pedro

            Thank you for your service.

          • Blah blah blah concern troll blah blah liar.

          • Pedro

            You have a lot of hatred. Try adding to the debate instead of simply hurling insults. Have a nice day.

        • Midge Baker

          The Unabomber and the OK City bombing. He was one of these “sovereign citizen” terrorists.

          • Rothbardian Slip

            Ok Midge, I’m not too happy with you because you made me go read Ted Kaczynski’s wikipedia. What an incredible waste of my not-so-valuable time. While it appears that ol’ Ted was pretty unhappy about blenders and other modern contrivances, and he did fire his attorneys because they wanted him to plead insanity (go figure), he was no sovereign citizen. Your boys Terry and Spuds Mckenzie, the OK city bombers were of the militia movement which wasn’t the same movement discussed in the article. Nice try though.

          • Midge Baker

            Oh, YOU decided to read something. But you’re “not too happy” with me because of it. Did I twist your arm? Did I beat you? Am I a terrorist now?

          • Rothbardian Slip

            Lol. I don’t know. Do you feel light bulbs are evil?

          • Midge Baker

            Lol, only when they’re used as bioterrorism dispersal devices.

            I agree the Unabomber doesn’t quite fit the specific profile. I should have looked it up myself. Mea culpa.

            But your “I’m not too happy with you because you made me go read Ted Kaczynski’s wikipedia” comment doesn’t add anything to the discussion either. It’s just an unnecessary personal jab. Let’s attempt to avoid such in the future, eh, my friend?

          • Rothbardian Slip

            I wasn’t trying to jab at you. That’s why I incuded “my not-so-valuable time” in there. I was trying to have a sense of humor. I guess I failed.

          • Midge Baker

            Forgiven. I said ” Did I twist your arm? Did I beat you? Am I a terrorist now?” My attempt at humor didn’t fly so well either. Let’s forget it, okay?

          • Rothbardian Slip

            I laughed at yours. Forget what?

          • Midge Baker

            “Forget what?” Huh? LOL.

        • You’re a liar, and as such are immune to enlightenment.

          • Rothbardian Slip

            You’re an asshole.

  • cacodoxy

    Sorry but if anyone knocks on my door and I don’t expect them, they will be showing me some form of identification. I don’t get how people still fall for this sort of thing either? Scams are usually done this way as a form of social engineering. Why give out any information to people you don’t know?

  • Bendal

    I understand the debate of radical Islamist terrorists versus homegrown terrorism, but the bottom line is that they’re both very dangerous and they both need to be dealt with swiftly and effectively. One shouldn’t take precedence over the other. It’s not going to be handled that way, but that’s what I like to see done about it.