The Oath Keepers is an American Terrorist Group
The FBI Has Not Created an American Terrorist List Yet.
Oath Keepers is an American far-right anti-government militia whose members claim to be defending the Constitution of the United States. It encourages its members to disobey orders which they believe would violate the U.S. Constitution. Research on their membership determined that two thirds of the Oath Keepers are former military or law enforcement, and one tenth are active duty military or law enforcement. Most research determined the Oath Keeper membership to be approximately 5,000 members, while leaked data showed Oath Keeper rosters claiming membership of 38,000.
Several organizations that monitor U.S. domestic terrorism and hate groups describe the Oath Keepers as a far-right extremist or radical group. In 2015, Mark Pitcavage of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) described the group as “heavily armed extremists with a conspiratorial and anti-government mindset looking for potential showdowns with the government”. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the group’s leadership has ties to antigovernment, extremist groups and espouses a number of conspiracy and legal theories associated with the sovereign citizen movement and posse comitatus movement, chiefly, that sheriffs are the highest law enforcement authorities in the United States. SPLC senior fellow Mark Potok describes the group as a whole as “really just an anti-government group who believe in a wild set of conspiracy theories”. The FBI describes the Oath Keepers as a “paramilitary organization” and a “large but loosely organized collection of militia who believe that the federal government has been coopted by a shadowy conspiracy that is trying to strip American citizens of their rights.”
Oath Keepers were present wearing military fatigues during the 2014 and 2015 unrest in Ferguson, Missouri when members armed with semi-automatic rifles roamed streets and rooftops. Multiple members of the group participated in the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021; by September 2021, twenty members had been indicted for federal criminal offenses, with four pleading guilty. The organization was subpoenaed by the House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack in November 2021. Eleven members of the organization, including its founder and leader Stewart Rhodes, were indicted for seditious conspiracy in January 2022.