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In-Depth Interview: Author Stuart Wexler on America’s History of Homegrown Religious Terrorists

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Stuart Wexler talks about his new book, America’s Secret Jihad: the Hidden History of Religious Terrorism in the United States.Wexler is an expert on the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and was previously a guest here, following publication of The Awful Grace of God which he co-authored with Larry Hancock.

We open with a discussion of the recent reports which show that America’s greatest domestic threat is not from Islamic terrorist groups, but from radical, violent religious extremists.  Wexler connects recent arson at black churches near St. Louis with the deep history of white supremacist groups going back to the 1950’s.

He notes that these hate groups originally targeted blacks, Jews and Catholics, and sought to provoke a race war in reaction to the civil rights movement.  And Wexler’s book expanded PBC’s knowledge of the FBI COINTELPRO operation, which was not limited to the Black Panthers and similar groups, it also led to the infiltration of white racist organizations.

We discuss the King assassination and James Earl Ray’s role; consideration FBI penetration of the Klan and other groups, we ask if the FBI had advance knowledge of the plot, and allowed it to proceed.

Wexler also explores some of the alternate theories about Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City bombing, and addresses lingering questions about McVeigh’s ability to create the bomb.

Near the end of our conversation, we talk about another book that Wexler co-authored with Hancock, Shadow Warfare: The History of America’s Undeclared Wars, and discuss the current failure of Congress to do its Constitutional duty regarding war powers in the new war in Iraq and Syria.