SHAWANO - The community of Shawano is divided over a secretive religiousgroup, linked to an alleged threat list.
The group is known as SIST, or the Samanta Roy Institute ofScience and Technology.
On Friday, local authorities confirmed the group is the focus ofa federal investigation into implied threats made against 60 peoplein the Shawano area.
Officials have also said the investigation has lead to a"person of interest" they believe is responsible for creating thethreat list. That person is believed to be in the Shawano area,according to Shawano Police Cheif Ed Whealon.
Many Shawano residents, like Lana Reinke, say they know littleabout SIST.
"I guess because they're so secretive it's really hard to saywhat's going on," Reinke said.
Reinke, who was out walking her dog on Saturday, says she's notscared over the alleged threat list and will not change her dailyroutine.
"The group has been here all the while that I've been here andwe've never had anything happen, so I guess I feel safe," Reinkeadded.
SIST owns a number of properties and businesses in the Shawanoarea, including a large compound in the Town of Wescott.
At least a dozen people told FOX 11 on Saturday that the allegedlist scares them, which is why they did not want to comment aboutSIST or the current situation.
But some people, like Scott Weisnicht, say the group is causingno harm and should be left alone.
"They mind their own business," Weisnicht said. "They're likethe Amish community around here, they each mind their ownbusiness."
Weiscnicht added that he wouldn't be surprised if there is nothreat list.
Authorities say they were tipped off about the implied threatslate last month, by a former Canadian business partner of thegroup.
On Friday, Shawano Police Chief Ed Whealon said the allegedinformant told authorities that members of SIST had "a list ofindividuals who were causing them problems in the community."
Whealon said the alleged informant also said a particular SISTmember "wanted these people taken care of."
The group, however, claims the alleged threat list does notexist.
An attorney for the group claims city and county officials aretrying to drive SIST and those associated with the group out oftown.
"It has been made clear to me that they don't like the color oftheir skin and they don't like their Jewish religion," said AlanEisenberg, an attorney for SIST.
The founder of SIST is Avrahem Cohen, formerly known as Dr.Samanta Roy and Rama Behera. Eisenberg says Cohen lives and worksin Baltimore.
Shawano residents say this is just the latest chapter in anon-going feud between SIST and local officials.
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