Tag Archive: Domestic Terrorism

Jul 24 2015

Another Shooting By Another White Extremist

Last night a 59 year old white man with a criminal record and history of mental illness entered a movie theater in Lafayette, Louisiana, killed two people wounded nine others before turning the gun on himself.

In the search for a motive, what police are now being found out about this man are quite disturbing. It put into question gun control and the lack of focus by law enforcement on America’s white supremacists.

Houser has allegedly posted messages to numerous online forums, suggesting that he held extreme right-wing views and sympathized with white supremacists. It cannot be independently confirmed that these online postings were made by Houser himself before the shooting. The postings on politicalforums.com seem to match based on his age and location. There is less to connect Houser to the postings on Twitter and Golden Dawn that are cited below by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

An individual who went by “John Russell Houser” created a profile on politicalforums.com, on which he included the phrases “believe media/gov’t censoring” and “believe US will be MAD MAX < 5 years.” Under the “Family” category, Houser wrote that “no family safe in US environment.” The profile identified the user as a 59-year-old male residing in Phenix City. [..]

An individual who used the username “Rusty Houser” also posted comments on a forum for Golden Dawn, a neo-Nazi political party in Greece, as the Southern Poverty Law Center noted.

“Do not mistake yourselves for one minute, the enemy sees all posted on this website. I do not want to discourage the last hope for the best, but you must realize the power of the lone wolf, is the power that can come forth in ALL situations.Look within yourselves,” he wrote in one comment.

He also made racist comments in comments on the Golden Dawn forum. [..]

An individual who went by the name Rusty Houser posted on usmessageboard.com that, “Hitler accomplished far more than any other,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

And a Twitter handle for “john russell houser” published messages about the Westboro Baptist Church and censorship. [..]

Houser also served as the guest host on the “Rise and Shine” show on the Columbus, Ga. television station WLTZ, where he “invited political controversy on every one of them, and loved every minute of it,” according to LinkedIn. A former host for the station confirmed to the Associated Press that Houser appeared on his show, where he allegedly advocated for people to commit violence against those involved in abortion.

Houser has a criminal record — he was arrested for arson and selling alcohol to minors, but he had not had any run-ins with law enforcement in the past few years, according to police.

CNN reported that Houser was denied a conceal carry permit in 2006 and was treated for mental health issues in 2008 and 2009. The suspect’s wife sought a restraining order against Houser in 2008 because he “exhibited extreme erratic behavior and has made ominous as well as disturbing statements,” according to the Associated Press.

So, how and where did he get a gun? Why wasn’t this man targeted by law enforcement as a possible threat? Was it because he wasn’t Muslim?

The news that keep getting ignored by the media, law enforcement and our elected officials is that people are more likely to be killed or injured  by angry white man than they are by a Muslim jihadist.

In the 14 years since Al Qaeda carried out attacks on New York and the Pentagon, extremists have regularly executed smaller lethal assaults in the United States, explaining their motives in online manifestoes or social media rants.

But the breakdown of extremist ideologies behind those attacks may come as a surprise. Since Sept. 11, 2001, nearly twice as many people have been killed by white supremacists, antigovernment fanatics and other non-Muslim extremists than by radical Muslims: 48 have been killed by extremists who are not Muslim, including the recent mass killing in Charleston, S.C., compared with 26 by self-proclaimed jihadists, according to a count by New America, a Washington research center.

The slaying of nine African-Americans in a Charleston church last week, with an avowed white supremacist charged with their murders, was a particularly savage case.

But it is only the latest in a string of lethal attacks by people espousing racial hatred, hostility to government and theories such as those of the “sovereign citizen” movement, which denies the legitimacy of most statutory law. The assaults have taken the lives of police officers, members of racial or religious minorities and random civilians.

It’s time this is put in their proper perspectives and start keeping America safe from its homegrown terrorists.

Jul 23 2015

The Slaughter of Nine African Americans an Act of Terrorism

Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced a 33 count indictment against Dylann Roof on federal hate-crime charges for the June 17 killing of nine African American worshipers in Charleston, South Carolina This leaves a bigger question that was asked by Jenna McLaughlin at “The Intercept,” why wasn’t Roof charged with terrorism?

Some media outlets, lawyers, public figures and activists have called for Roof to be charged not just with a hate crime, an illegal act “motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias,” but with the separate label of domestic terrorism. Critics contend that the label of terrorism is too often only applied to Islamic extremists, and not white supremacists or anti-government anarchists. Many were outraged after FBI Director James Comey balked at the term during a June 20 press conference, telling reporters he didn’t see the murders “as a political act,” a requirement he designated as necessary for terrorism.

Roof’s crime certainly seems to fit the federal description of domestic terrorism, which the FBI defines as “activities … [that] involve acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law … appear intended to (i) intimidate or coerce a civilian population, (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping.” [..]

It turns out there was one major obstacle in charging Roof with domestic terrorism: The crime does not exist. [..]

Even when the USA Patriot Act, post 9/11, redefined terrorism to include domestic crimes, the provision simply allowed the government to investigate more broadly what it called “terrorism.” Actually charging someone with domestic terrorism remains a separate matter. Even criminals who use bombs or send money to ISIS – or Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev – are not charged with the crime of terrorism. [..]

But shootings, regardless of motivation, intention or number of deaths, likely don’t count. “It doesn’t seem like a shooting would fit,” says Faiza Patel, co-director of the Brennan Center’s Liberty and National Security Program. “Or else a lot of crime would get caught up” in the terrorism net, she tells me.

There are, however, “aggravating factors” to be considered during sentencing, which prosecutors usually list on a formal indictment, and which can be used to determine whether the death penalty is justified, and those include “substantial planning and premeditation,” to”cause the death of a person” or “commit an act of terrorism.”

In Roof’s case, the DOJ did not mention terrorism as an aggravating factor, but did reference (pdf) “substantial planning and premeditation to cause the death of a person” for several of his charges.[..]

Lynch did not explain why “terrorism” was not listed as an aggravating factor in Roof’s indictment, though she did emphasize that the DOJ views hate crimes as “the original domestic terrorism.” She noted that Roof’s case, including his “discriminatory views towards African Americans” and his decision to target “parishioners at worship,” made his crime a clear-cut case of a federal hate crime. [..]

Lynch was asked whether or not there should be a federal domestic terrorism penalty to help bridge the gap between crimes like the shooting of five military personnel in Chatanooga, Tennessee – which was immediately branded as terrorism, by law enforcement and media alike – and Roof’s case, which was not. Lynch acknowledged the argument that leaving out the word terrorism may cause people to feel like the government “doesn’t consider those crimes as serious.”

Ms. McLaughlin is incorrect in her statement that “domestic terrorism” does not exist in the law. This FBI’s definition of 18 U.S.C. § 2331 which defines “international terrorism” and “domestic terrorism” for purposes of Chapter 113B of the Code, entitled “Terrorism”:

“International terrorism” means activities with the following three characteristics:

   Involve violent acts or acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law;

   Appear to be intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and

   Occur primarily outside the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S., or transcend national boundaries in terms of the means by which they are accomplished, the persons they appear intended to intimidate or coerce, or the locale in which their perpetrators operate or seek asylum.*

“Domestic terrorism” means activities with the following three characteristics:

   Involve acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law;

   Appear intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination. or kidnapping; and

   Occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S.

18 U.S.C. § 2332b defines the term “federal crime of terrorism” as an offense that:

   Is calculated to influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation or coercion, or to retaliate against government conduct; and

   Is a violation of one of several listed statutes, including § 930(c) (relating to killing or attempted killing during an attack on a federal facility with a dangerous weapon); and § 1114 (relating to killing or attempted killing of officers and employees of the U.S.)

Emphasis mine

And just as a note, to those in this piece who don’t think that guns are not “dangerous weapons,” well, they are

By his own statement and the fact that Rev. Clementa Pinckney was an elected state official, Dylann Roof’s acts, under this definition, is clearly an act of terrorism.

The argument against the charge of terrorism by a young white man who was clearly influenced by the politics of racial hatred is specious. It is clearly indicative of the Obama administration and its Justice Department think that black lives do not matter as much as instilling the fear in US citizens of attacks by those who have been influenced by Islamic extremism. Racism is political and it is an extremist view and it is endemic in this country. it is long past time that the law is brought down to bear on the greater threat that racism is to Americans and our democracy.  

Jun 21 2015

Rant of the Week: Jon Stewart – Charleston Church Shooting

There are no jokes, just Jon doing what he does like no one else in the midst of a tragedy.

“I didn’t do my job today. I apologize,” Stewart said, after explaining how his primary daily duty is to mock the daily news. “I’ve got nothing for you in terms of jokes and sounds, because of what happened in South Carolina. Maybe if I wasn’t nearing the end of the run or this wasn’t such a common occurrence, maybe I could have pulled out of the spiral. But I didn’t. And so I honestly have nothing other than just sadness once again that we have to peer into the abyss of the depraved violence we do to each other and the nexus of a gaping racial wound that will not heal but we pretend doesn’t exist.

“I’m confident though that by acknowledging it – by staring into that and seeing it for what it is – we still won’t do jacksh-t,” Stewart continued. “Yeah. That’s us. That’s the part that blows my mind. I don’t want to get into the political argument […] what blows my mind is the disparity of response between when we think people that are foreign are going to kill us and us killing ourselves.” […]

“We invaded two countries and spent trillions of dollars and thousands of American lives and now fly unmanned death machines over five or six different countries, all to keep Americans safe. ‘We gotta do whatever we can – we’ll torture people. We gotta do whatever we can to keep Americans safe,'” Stewart said. “Nine people. Shot in a church. What are you going to do about that? ‘Hey, what are you going to do. Crazy is crazy is, right?’ That’s the part I cannot for the life of me wrap my head around. And you know it. You know it’s going to go down the same path.”

Stewart pointed out how the media has already shied away from calling the murders a “terrorist attack.”

“I heard someone on the news say, ‘Tragedy has visited the church.’ This wasn’t a tornado. This was racist,” Stewart said. “I hate to use the pun, but this one was black and white. There’s no nuance here. But we’re going to keep pretending. We are steeped in that culture in this country and we refuse to recognize it.” […]

“Nine people were shot in a black church by a white guy who hated them who wanted to start some kind of civil war,” Stewart said, before laying into South Carolina for still having the Confederate flag flying over its state capitol.

“The Confederate flag flies over South Carolina. And the roads are named for Confederate generals. And the white guy is the one who feels like his country is being taken away from him. We’re bringing it on ourselves,” Stewart said. “Al Qaeda, all those guys – ISIS. They’re not sh-t compared to the damage that we can apparently do to ourselves on a regular basis.”

Your Moment of Zen

Jan 08 2015

That Other Incident That Might Be Terrorism

The day before the horrific attack on the office of satirical magazine “Charlie Hebdo,” an “improvised explosive device” detonated on Tuesday at the headquarters of the Colorado Springs, Colorado NAACP. Fortunately, no one was killed or injured. Whoever placed the device next to a full can of gasoline, that failed to ignite, wasn’t very successful since there was only minimal damage to the building itself.

The FBI statement adds that a “potential person of interest in this investigation is a Caucasian male, approximately 40 years of age, and balding. He may be driving a 2000 or older model dirty, white pick-up truck with paneling, a dark colored bed liner, open tailgate, and a missing or covered license plate.”

Although the apparent bomber’s motives are not yet known, bombings were a common terrorist tactic during the Jim Crow era. The city of Birmingham, Alabama became known as “Bombingham” due to a rash of bombings targeting black homes and churches, including a 1963 church bombing that killed four girls. The aftermath of that bombing is depicted in the picture at the top of this post.

Nothing like stating the obvious, unless this guy was after a girlfriend or an employee of the beauty salon that also occupied the building. Coincidentally, the bombing occurred just days before the premier of the civil rights movie “Selma” in Colorado Springs. According to Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, Colorado Springs has a long history of radical right ideology and the state is home to no less than 17 active hate groups

Think Progress” asks where is the 24 hour media coverage?

A ThinkProgress search of television databases suggests CNN gave one cursory report on the incident at 6:34 a.m., while MSNBC and Fox News appear to have not mentioned the incident on air since it happened. Other networks, including Headline News, (HDLN) mentioned the incident in the morning news.

ThinkProgress searched the database TVEyes and Critical Mention from Tuesday evening through Wednesday afternoon, using the terms, “NAACP,” “colored people,” and “bomb” along with “Colorado.” It found only one mention on CNN, at 6:34 a.m., in the course of what appeared to be a scheduled interview on community-police relations. The incident was mentioned when the interviewer asked former NYPD officer and Secret Service agent Dan Bongino whether he thought the bomb in Colorado could be “seen as retaliatory” and Bongino said it was possible. Representatives from CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News did not respond to ThinkProgress inquiries on their coverage of the bombing.

Outside of broadcast, CNN and other outlets did provide substantive coverage of the incident, although mostly not front-page treatment. CNN sent a breaking news tweet last night and posted a story on its website. Local and regional outlets, NBC News, and the wire services have posted stories about it. And on Rachel Maddow’s website, a morning roundup by Steve Benen included the item.

It wasn’t until Wednesday evening on MSNBC’s “The Ed Show” and “All In with Chris Hayes” that the bombing was given any significant attention. In a statement today, the FBI is considering that the bombing may have been an act of domestic terrorism and looking at a “person of interest.”

The FBI says the potential person of interest in this investigation is a white male, approximately 40 years of age and balding.

He may be driving a 2000 or older model dirty, white pick-up truck with paneling, a dark colored bed liner, open tailgate, and a missing or covered license plate.

Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI Denver tip line at 303-435-7787.

Meanwhile, the right wingers are out in force pushing the need to continue spying on everyone to prevent terrorism that it so far has failed to prevent, because Al Qaeda and ISIS.

Feb 16 2011

Domestic Terrorism Aided by the State

Remind again, what country am I living in?

Rachel Maddow details the abuse of power by ex-Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline to intimidate women who had appointments with the late Dr. George Tiller, and a proposed South Dakota Law that would effectively legalize the murder of abortion providers , and asks what the US is willing to do to protect its citizens lagal rights from such abuses of the law.

It would seem that the Republican anti-abortion crowd can’t get the message either. From David Dayen at FDL:

South Dakota has been at the forefront of anti-abortion efforts in recent years. The legislature tried to ban all abortions in the state in 2006. This led to a ballot initiative overturning the legislation. The people spoke and said they didn’t want their state turned into a war zone for women. A separate abortion 2008 – this time with an exception for rape – went on the ballot in 2008. Again the people spoke and voted it down.

Now, the legislature has responded with another attack on women and the doctors who provide legal medical services for them.

A law under consideration in South Dakota would expand the definition of “justifiable homicide” to include killings that are intended to prevent harm to a fetus-a move that could make it legal to kill doctors who perform abortions. The Republican-backed legislation, House Bill 1171, has passed out of committee on a nine-to-three party-line vote, and is expected to face a floor vote in the state’s GOP-dominated House of Representatives soon.

   The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Phil Jensen, a committed foe of abortion rights, alters the state’s legal definition of justifiable homicide by adding language stating that a homicide is permissible if committed by a person “while resisting an attempt to harm” that person’s unborn child or the unborn child of that person’s spouse, partner, parent, or child. If the bill passes, it could in theory allow a woman’s father, mother, son, daughter, or husband to kill anyone who tried to provide that woman an abortion-even if she wanted one.

From Kate Sheppard at Mother Jones:

A law under consideration in South Dakota would expand the definition of “justifiable homicide” to include killings that are intended to prevent harm to a fetus-a move that could make it legal to kill doctors who perform abortions. The Republican-backed legislation, House Bill 1171, has passed out of committee on a nine-to-three party-line vote, and is expected to face a floor vote in the state’s GOP-dominated House of Representatives soon.

The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Phil Jensen, a committed foe of abortion rights, alters the state’s legal definition of justifiable homicide by adding language stating that a homicide is permissible if committed by a person “while resisting an attempt to harm” that person’s unborn child or the unborn child of that person’s spouse, partner, parent, or child. If the bill passes, it could in theory allow a woman’s father, mother, son, daughter, or husband to kill anyone who tried to provide that woman an abortion-even if she wanted one.

Greg Sargent at the Plum Line, spoke with the legislation’s chief sponsor, State Representative Phil Jensen who defended the bill arguing that it would not legalize the killing of abortion doctors. :

Jensen insisted that the bill’s primary goal is to bring “consistency” to South Dakota criminal code, which already allows people who commit crimes that result in the death of fetuses to be charged with manslaughter. The new measure expands the state’s definition of “justifiable homicide” by adding a clause applying it to someone who is “resisting any attempt” to murder of an unborn child or to harm an unborn child in a way likely to result in its death.

When I asked Jensen what the purpose of the law was, if its target isn’t abortion providers, he provided the following example:

“Say an ex-boyfriend who happens to be father of a baby doesn’t want to pay child support for the next 18 years, and he beats on his ex-girfriend’s abdomen in trying to abort her baby. If she did kill him, it would be justified. She is resisting an effort to murder her unborn child.”

Pushed on whether the new measure could inflame the unhinged to kill abortion doctors, as some critics allege, Jensen scoffed. “You can fantasize all you want, but this is pretty clear cut,” he said. “Never say never, but if some loony did what you’re suggesting, then this law wouldn’t apply to them. It wouldn’t be justifiable homicide.”

Tell it to the jury, Phil, the first time some lame brained jerk is on trial for killing an abortion provider.