Despite recent hysteria, terrorists do not fit one mold. They come in all shapes and sizes. Men and women alike are terrorists, just as left and right groups both establish terrorist organizations. Black, brown, and white people have all used intimidation and violence to pursue a political motive, which by definition categorize them as terrorists.
Early Life and Influence
Gordon W. Kahl was born on January 8, 1920. The retired North Dakota farmer with roots in the military eventually became a terrorist in the United States of America. He was always conservative and leaned towards the right, and was even a decorated soldier who served during World War II.
Unfortunately, his viewpoints became more extreme after he joined a survivalist, neo-Nazi sympathizer group known as Posse Comitatus. Latin for ‘power of the county’, the organization was composed of militant individuals who disregarded the authority of the government, including paying taxes.
In support of his radical ideas, Kahl did not recognize forms of government beyond the county level. In fact, he wrote a letter to the IRS explaining he was protesting federal taxation in 1967 because “Synagogue of Satan under the 2nd plank of the Communist Manifesto.” He believed America was following the communism rather than the constitution.
Throughout the 1970s, Kahl created his own chapter of Posse Comitatus in Texas, the first one in the state. It was not until 1976 that he was recorded during a TV interview saying that income tax was illegal. He also encouraged other people to stop paying their taxes.
A Convicted Criminal
That same year, he was charged with failure to file and pay taxes in 1973 and 1974. He was found guilty and sentenced to two years in prison along with fines. In 1977, he only served eight months, and his sentence and fine were both suspended. Kahl was then placed on parole for five years.
Parole did not affect Kahl much. He insisted on carrying a firearm and was active in the community. In fact, Kahl pushed for an early sovereign citizen movement. He still desired to withdraw recognition of the federal government, and wanted to create two parallel courts based on English common law.
American farmers throughout the Midwest were influenced by both Posse Comitatus and the township movement, which led to the farm crisis of the 1980s.
The First Shootout
On February 13, 1983, Kahl revealed another level of his terrorism. A roadblock was created by federal marshals to stop him as he left a township meeting in order to serve him a warrant for violating his parole. Kahl was traveling with his wife, Joan, and his son, 23-year-old Yorivon, and three others who attended the meeting, including Scott Faul.
Both Kahl and his son were armed with rifles when they came to the roadblock. A shootout erupted, which left U.S. Marshals Kenneth Muir and Robert Cheshire dead. Three other officers and Yorivon Kahl were injured.
The father and son fled the scene; Kahl dropped off his wounded son at the hospital and continued driving.
On May 11, both Yorivon Kahl and Scott Faul were charged with the murders, and on May 28 they were convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to prison. They are not eligible for release until 2023.
On the Run
Gordon Kahl remained a fugitive at large. It took four months for the FBI to find Kahl near Smithville, Arkansas. The little town had barely 100 residents, so it was easy to spot an outsider, especially someone from a wanted poster.
However, there was also a group of sympathizers in the town; Leonard and Norma Ginter sided with tax protesters and were housing Kahl about a hundred and fifty miles north of Little Rock.
The couple’s youngest daughter actually tipped off the police about Kahl’s presence there. After the informants had discovered Kahl was indeed hiding with the Ginters, they gathered enough evidence to obtain a search warrant of the bunker-like home. It was located four miles outside of Smithville and had over 20 tax protesters throughout the small region.