Who are the Oath Keepers? '60 Minutes' reveals 'active-duty' police officers are training right-wing militia

Jim Arroyo, vice president of the Oath Keepers' Arizona chapter, claimed that a number of serving officers were part of the extremist group and were assisting with training


                            Who are the Oath Keepers? '60 Minutes' reveals 'active-duty' police officers are training right-wing militia
Oath Keepers has many 'active-duty law enforcement' in their ranks (Getty Images)

Members of anti-government extremist group Oath Keepers are allegedly being trained by "active duty" police officers.

During a '60 Minutes' interview on Sunday, Jim Arroyo, vice president of the Oath Keepers' Arizona chapter, claimed that a number of serving officers were part of the extremist group and were assisting with training, Newsweek reported.

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"Our guys are very experienced. We have active-duty law enforcement in our organization that are helping to train us," Arroyo told '60 Minutes' Sharyn Alfonsi. "We can blend in with our law enforcement. In fact, in a lot of cases, our training is much more advanced because of our military backgrounds."

Jeffrey Earnhardt, driver of the #79 Oath Keepers Ford, practices for the NASCAR Nationwide Series 5-hour ENERGY 200 at Dover International Speedway on May 31, 2013 in Dover, Delaware. (Getty Images)

The longtime CBS program also delved into the origins of the militia and profiled member Stewart Rhodes, who is said to have founded the outfit in March 2009. The right-wing militia group has since been spotted at key standoffs, most notably when they stood with Cliven Bundy, a Nevada rancher, in 2014, when he was in dispute with the Bureau of Land Management over his use of federally owned land. At the time, they reportedly arrived armed to the teeth for a standoff with federal officers. That said, members of the outfit were also reportedly present during the January 6 riots at the US Capitol.

Iced Earth guitarist Jon Schaffer, 53, a self-professed "founding lifetime member of the Oath Keepers," reportedly agreed to cooperate with a probe into the riot as part of a plea agreement. According to '60 Minutes', photos and phone records placed Rhodes, the founder of the Oath Keepers, at the Capitol on January 6. During the segment, however, Arroyo distanced himself from Rhodes, saying his chapters had broken from him after the storming of the Capitol building.

"I want to congratulate Stewart Rhodes and his 10 militia buddies for winning first place in the ultimate dumb a** contest because that's what it was," Arroyo said. "That goes against everything we have ever taught, everything we believe in. It was pre-planned, it was pre-staged. 10 guys go and do something stupid and suddenly, we're the devil," he added.

An Oath Keeper, carrying a rifle, walks along West Florrisant Street as demonstrators, marking the first anniversary of the shooting of Michael Brown, protest on August 10, 2015 in Ferguson, Missouri. (Getty Images)

Meanwhile, former FBI counterterrorism official Javed Ali said the tactical training undertaken by the Oath Keepers presented a unique challenge to law enforcement. "I think what makes the Oath Keepers unique and challenging, beyond that they are a formal group with chapters all over the country, is that a large percentage have tactical training and operational experience in either the military or law enforcement," Ali told '60 Minutes'.

The militia group has been described by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) as "a large but loosely organized collection of anti-government extremists."



 

"The ideology of the Oath Keepers most closely resembles that of the militia movement, whose adherents believe that the United States is collaborating with a one-world tyrannical conspiracy called the New World Order to strip Americans of their rights, starting with their right to keep and bear arms," the ADL wrote in a profile of the group. "Once Americans are rendered defenseless, they will be enslaved by the New World Order."

According to Newsweek, the group has anywhere between 1,000 and 3,000 members, but its influence stretches far beyond that number.

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