CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A national group that tracks hate and extremism groups believes that 13 such groups are operating within West Virginia's borders, according to an annual report released Tuesday.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which released a report for all 50 states, said the largest increase in the groups they monitor comes from anti-government groups.
"We are seeing the fourth straight year of really explosive growth of anti-government 'patriot' groups," Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, said during a conference call on Tuesday.
"Capping four years of explosive growth sparked by the election of America's first black president and anger over the economy, the number of conspiracy-minded antigovernment 'Patriot' groups reached an all time high of 1,360 in 2012," Potok wrote in this spring's issue of SPLC's Intelligence Report.
"Hate groups also remain at near record levels. There are over 1,000 of these groups today," Potok said Tuesday.
The groups that the SPLC lists in West Virginia include three based in Hillsboro, Pocahontas County: the National Alliance, National Vanguard Books and Resistance Records.
William Luther Pierce ran the National Alliance for many years before his death in 2002. Since then, the group's influence has waned from being one of the nation's largest, most influential hate groups, Potok told the Gazette last year.
Other hate groups in West Virginia include the American Third Position, a white nationalist group based in Maidsville. That group, which now bills itself as the American Freedom Party, held a rally at the West Virginia Capitol last month.
Other groups include the Original Knight Riders Knights, associated with the Ku Klux Klan, in Beckley; the Aryan Terror Brigade, Creativity Alliance, Creativity Movement, Ku Klos<co> Knight of the Ku Klux Klan, Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and National Socialist Movement.
Potok believes the re-election of Barack Obama as president and the ongoing gun-control debate sparked by the December killings of 28 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. have increased the rage of the radical right.