Leaked FBI Memo: Gadsden Flag, Other Symbols Are Signs Of Militia Violent Extremists

Wyoming citizens who fly the Gadsden, Betsy Ross, Liberty Tree or certain other flags be aware. According to a leaked FBI document, these flags have made the list as potential signs of domestic terrorism.

Coy Knobel

August 11, 20226 min read

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(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Be warned if you fly the Gadsden, Betsy Ross, Liberty Tree or certain other flags. Maybe you have one in your shop or garage or you might have a Punisher Skull decal on your truck. You could possibly have a Spartan helmet on one of your T-shirts, perhaps a tattoo?  These and other symbols are potential signs of domestic terrorism, according to a leaked internal FBI document. 

Project Veritas and Gun Owners of America leaked an FBI internal “Domestic Terrorism Symbols Guide” last week.   

The document said these flags and others, some symbols and certain quotations are used by anti-government, anti-authority violent extremists, specifically  “Militia Violent Extremists” or MVEs. 

“MVEs justify their existence with the Second Amendment due to the mention of a ‘well regulated Militia,’ as well as the right to bear arms,” the FBI internal guide said.  

FBI Response

Cowboy State Daily asked the FBI if it was using this document as a guide in Wyoming.   

The FBI’s National Press Office said the FBI usually declines to comment on “allegedly leaked” or internal FBI products, but “In this case, we would point out an online article referencing an allegedly leaked document on symbols that may be used by Militia Violent Extremists (MVE) contains the following words highlighted in bold near the top of the document: The use or sharing of these symbols alone should not independently be considered evidence of MVE presence or affiliation or serve as an indicator of illegal activity, as many individuals use these symbols for their original, historic meaning, or other non-violent purposes.”   

Mark Jones is a Buffalo resident.  He is also the Gun Owners of America National Director of Hunter Outreach and he said even with the disclaimer, this document is cause for concern. 

“There are tens of millions of honest law-abiding people across America and tens of thousands within Wyoming who use these symbols.  Approximately half the Country supports the Second Amendment,” Jones wrote in an email to Cowboy State Daily.  “I do think there is a reason for people to be concerned as it is obvious the Biden Administration has weaponized Federal Law enforcement to go after mainstream Americans and even local law enforcement officers.”

Jones said some members of local and state law enforcement identify with some of the symbols on the FBI list.  The symbols could be seen as being aggressive, but Jones said the local officers, “love the idea of being a sheepdog protecting the herd from the wolves.”

Barrasso: Wrong Focus

Wyoming Republican U.S. Senator John Barrasso said the FBI has its focus in the wrong place. 

“The FBI should be focused on the crime in cities and criminal activity at our southern border, not law-abiding Americans,” Barrasso said.  “Federal Government agencies have a history of unfairly targeting conservative Americans. The people of Wyoming are very patriotic. We won’t be labeled as violent extremists just because we celebrate patriotic symbols like the Betsy Ross flag or Gadsden flag.”  

Former President Donald Trump also criticized the FBI Monday after the agency “raided” his home in Palm Beach, Florida. Reuters reports the court-authorized raid on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate appeared to be related to a long-running investigation into whether he mishandled classified government documents when he left the White House in 2021. 

Lummis Concerned

Wyoming Republican U.S. Senator Cynthia Lummis spokesperson Stacey Daniels said Lummis is concerned with the precedent being set by the FBI in recent months. 

“Senator Lummis believes the FBI should investigate real terrorist threats, instead of focusing its energy on moms at school board meetings or those who lawfully support small, limited government. Law enforcement should never be politicized,” said Daniels.    

The FBI press office told Cowboy State Daily the bureau respects the Constitution, specifically the First Amendment and “does not investigate ideology.” 

“The FBI’s authority to investigate a case as domestic terrorism requires the existence of a potential criminal federal violation, the unlawful use or threat of force or violence, and ideological motivation of any type,” the FBI wrote.  “The FBI investigates individuals who commit or intend to commit violence and other criminal activity that constitutes a federal crime or poses a threat to national security. We are committed to upholding the constitutional rights of all Americans and will never open an investigation based solely on First Amendment activity.” 

The FBI leaked document said some common phrases MVEs might identify with are, “When tyranny becomes law, rebellion becomes duty,” “I became unreasonable” and “All enemies foreign and domestic.”  The latter phrase is part of the oath of office federal officials take to defend the U.S. Constitution. 


During a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee FBI oversight hearing Thursday Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz pointed out that he wears one of the symbols on the FBI list.  He slammed his boot on the table while questioning FBI Director Christopher Wray.  

“Also included on this…is the Gonzales battle flag. ‘Come and take it’ as indicative of being of violent extremist militia.  Well I will self-report right now (boot slam) that every day in the Senate I wear my boots that have the Gonzales battle flag on the back of them,” Cruz said.  “Director Ray, what are y’all doing?” 

Wray said he was not familiar with the specific domestic terror symbol guide Cruz was referencing, but when the bureau puts out intelligence products, “we usually take, make great pains to make clear that a symbol alone is not considered evidence of violent extremism.” 


Cruz told Wray that Cruz sees a pattern with the FBI “identifying patriotic Americans as suspect.”  Cruz pointed out the FBI did not have organizations such as Antifa and Black Lives Matter listed on the domestic terrorism document. 

Jones believes people should hold their leaders accountable for actions like this. 

“Americans need to wake up and understand our slow walk to becoming a totalitarian country.  We need to vote out everyone who isn’t taking a stand against this type of nonsense,” Jones wrote. 

The FBI internal warning also lists MVE “martyrs” including Ashli Babbitt who was killed Jan. 6, 2021 during the attack on the U.S. Capitol.  The document said some MVEs may identify with certain groups such as Oath Keepers, American Contingency and Three Percenters.  Extremists, according to the FBI, may also reference “armed sieges” such as 1992’s Ruby Ridge, the home of Randy Weaver in Idaho or the deadly conflict at the Branch Davidian Compound in Waco, Texas in 1993. 

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Coy Knobel

Night Editor