The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.
Editor’s Note: This essay by SPLC Senior Fellow Mark Potok was written for, and originally posted at, Politico.
Less than six hours after a 7,000-pound truck bomb ripped through the Oklahoma City federal building 20 years ago this Sunday, self-described terrorism “expert” Steve Emerson already was on CBS News, speculating.
“Oklahoma City, I can tell you, is probably considered one of the largest centers of Islamic radical activity outside the Middle East,” Emerson claimed, speaking while the building’s rubble still smoldered over the corpses of 168 men, women and children. The bombing, he declared, “was done with the intent to inflict as many casualties as possible. That is a Middle Eastern trait.” Emerson went on to instruct CBS’s audience not to believe Islamic groups’ denials of involvement.
The next day—still before any suspect was identified—an Iraqi refugee named Suhair Al Mosawi was at home a few miles from the city with her two-year-old daughter when a hail of bricks smashed her windows. Seven months pregnant, the terrified Muslim woman fled with her child to a bathroom, where she began to miscarry. Racing to the hospital a short while later, according to an account in The Boston Globe, her husband asked her to take off her veil, hoping to avoid still more abuse.
It was an ugly lesson that Americans would do well to remember. ( continue to full post… )
In early March, a package filled with grief and pride was left on the doorstep of Tracy Jahr and her spouse, Jacquie Gilmore. Wrapped in cardboard and plastic, the package weighed nearly 20 pounds. The women had been waiting for it for years.
Inside was a bronze grave marker that read: “Michael Brett Roark US Army Dec 23 1991 + Dec 6 2011 Cavalry Scout.”
“At first I was angry when I saw it,” Jahr told Hatewatch last week from her home in Washington State. “I was flabbergasted. I felt, really, after all this time. The Army has been dragging its feet from the beginning. That’s why the kids are dead. But at least the marker is some recognition, recognition that Michael was a soldier. He wanted to be a one since he was a little boy.”
Roark was Jahr’s son and, like any parent, she worried she might never see him alive again when he joined the Army. The war on terror was raging overseas.
Her worst fears were realized two and a half weeks shy of her son’s 20th birthday when he was lured into an ambush, forced to his knees and shot in the head by terrorists. But he was not killed in the dusty streets of Iraq or the mountains of Afghanistan. Roark was killed in the Georgia woods, along with his 17-year-old girlfriend, Tiffany York, by a group of domestic terrorists, a renegade band of American soldiers, jacked up on drugs, PTSD nightmares and delusional plans to overthrow the government of the United States.
The killer soldiers have all been held to account, the ringleaders sentenced to life in prison for murdering the young sweethearts to keep the group’s plans secret. But Jahr and the family of York say it is time – past time – for the Army to also be held to account for allowing the homegrown terrorists to organize and grow right before its eyes, on the Fort Stewart military base, into a deadly antigovernment militia called FEAR. The group was led by a troubled but charismatic 19-year-old Pvt. Isaac Aguigui.
The families are suing the United States, arguing that Army commanders should have – and could have on numerous occasions – intervened in FEAR’s activities long before their children were killed in what the suit describes as “a heartbreakingly preventable tragedy.”
A few days after her son’s grave marker arrived, Jahr learned that a federal judge in Seattle had set a July 2016 trial date for the civil wrongful death lawsuit, which, in chilling detail, claims that “Army officials recklessly allowed FEAR to form and fester within its ranks at Fort Stewart, Georgia, despite abundant signs that Pvt. Aguigui and his cohorts were dangerous and mentally unstable soldiers in desperate need of arrest and treatment.”
In court papers, lawyers for the government replied to the suit, maintaining, “[T]he United States denies said allegations and puts the Plaintiffs to their proof.”
A First Murder Missed
Jahr and her ex-husband, Brett Roark, with the parents of York, Brenda Thomas and Thomas’ ex-husband, Timothy York, allege in their lawsuit that the most significant failure by the Army in preventing the wrongful death of their children “was also the most shocking.”
On July 17, 2011 – almost six months before Roark and York were killed – Aguigui murdered his wife, Sgt. Deirdre Aguigui, who was six months pregnant at the time. He strangled her in their home on Fort Stewart. Even before her death, the suit contends, “The Army was aware that Isaac and Deirdre Aguigui had a violent and troubled marriage.” Just three months before she died, according to the lawsuit, the sergeant went to see Fort Stewart’s lead advocate for victims of domestic violence and reported that she was “the victim of physical and verbal abuse by her husband, Pvt. Aguigui.”
“Like the murders of Roark and York,” the suit claims, “this was a preventable tragedy that should not have occurred.”
At the time of her death, the lawsuit says, “Sgt. Aguigui’s body showed signs of a struggle, including more than twenty bruises and scrapes on her wrists, arms, head, back and inside her mouth, as well as signs of a sexual assault.”
Army investigators initially suspected foul play. But when an autopsy, conducted by what the suit characterizes as an inexperienced military medical examiner, proved inconclusive as to the cause of death, Aguigui was not charged and the Army soon paid him more than $500,000 in military death benefits.
Aguigui used the money to fund FEAR, which stands for, “Forever Enduring, Always Ready.” ( continue to full post… )
FBI Arrests West Virginia Man Who ‘Hated Government’ for Plotting to Blow Up Courthouse, Other Targets
A West Virginia man who authorities say “regularly espouses venomous anti-government, anti-law enforcement rhetoric” was arrested on Valentine’s Day on charges of possessing stolen explosives that he allegedly intended to use in attacks on a federal courthouse, a local festival, and a bank.
Jonathan Leo Schrader, 30, of Elkins, was arrested by FBI agents on Feb. 14 after a search warrant for his home revealed a bomb cache that included C-4 explosive compound and a half-stick of dynamite.
According to the West Virginia MetroNews, the investigation began when a cooperating witness began alerting sheriff’s deputies to Schrader’s activities, which included obtaining C-4 from a juvenile whose father had used the compound on a job. The witness also told deputies that Schrader had blown up a stump with some of the C-4, had altered an AK-47 to fire automatically, and had left a fake pipe bomb near police barracks in order to gauge their response.
Schrader intended to use the C-4 to blow up the Jennings Randolph Federal Center in Elkins, the witness said, as well as to attack the crowd at the local Mountain State Forest Festival, which is held every fall in the town. On another occasion, Schrader told the man he wanted to blow a hole in the wall of a local bank to get at its money, according to the FBI affidavit.
The man also intended to use a sniper rifle to shoot first responders at the scenes of the explosions, according to the witness, who also regularly relayed information about the man’s hatred of the government and law enforcement.
A detention hearing on Friday in Clarksburg was scheduled by U.S. Magistrate Judge John S. Kaull, who ordered Schrader held in the U.S. Marshals’ custody until the hearing. It was not clear if Schrader had an attorney.
A young woman from Illinois with an apparent taste for neo-Nazi symbolism and white-supremacist beliefs was one of two people arrested last week in Halifax, Nova Scotia, for plotting to commit a mass murder at a Halifax mall on Valentine’s Day.
Lindsay Kanittha Souvannarath, a 23-year-old from Geneva, Ill., was arrested along with Randall Steven Shepherd, 20, of Halifax, at the local airport after she had flown in to meet him there. According to authorities, she confessed to the plot shortly after her arrest.
A young man associated with the plot, James Gamble, 19, of nearby Timberlea, Nova Scotia, shot himself in the head as police surrounded his home on Friday morning. A fourth young man was arrested with Shepherd at the Halifax airport and then released after police determined he had nothing to do with the plot.
Canadian authorities said the trio planned to invade a local mall on Valentine’s Day, armed to the teeth, and begin killing as many people there as they could. However, all of the officials involved insisted that it was not a terrorist act, since there was no “cultural” component to the plotters’ motives.
“The attack does not appear to have been culturally motivated, therefore not linked to terrorism,” Justice Minister Peter Mackay told assembled reporters at a press conference devoted to the case on Saturday.
However, several Canadian media outlets have questioned this, including Halifax blogger Robert Cevet and Derrick O’Keefe at Ricochet Media, noting that several of the would-be perpetrators, notably Souvannarath, had clear ideological affinities that seemed to motivate them — far-right affinities.
The website Political Gates collected a number of Souvannarath’s online postings from over the years, dating back to when she was a teenager, and found a long list of images and posts that made clear that she advocated fascist and neo-Nazi ideologies, and similarly was a fan of mass violence and fantasized about it.
These images included one that she dubbed “me taking notes in class” that was a classic “White Power” logo complete with a swastika and SS symbol. Another photo shows an arm with the bloody words “White Power” carved into it with a razor. Other images include fascist flags over America and young men posing in a swastika shape with their arms. One features Adolf Hitler surrounded by prancing cartoon ponies.
The Internet sleuths at the site Kiwi Farms, where she had at one time been an active member, further tracked Souvanarrath’s activities and ascertained that she had also been an active member at a forum devoted to fascist ideology called Iron March, which is apparently operated by a man named Alexander Slavros.
Nor was Souvannarath the only member of the trio with such leanings. James Gamble’s online postings also included a fascination with mass killings, and some of his Tumblr blog posts contained admiring references to Hitler and Nazis.
Both Souvannarth and Shepherd were initially charged with conspiracy to commit murder. On Tuesday, additional charges came down against the pair, including conspiracy to commit arson, illegal possession of weapons for a purpose dangerous to the public and making a threat through social media.
Souvannarath graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English and creative writing from Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in 2014. Her family in Geneva is reportedly cooperating with the investigation.
A former neighbor, Eva Schooley, recalled the woman as a young girl. “My granddaughters ran around with Lindsay,” she said. “Lindsay was a little strange. I think at one point she went kind of gothic on us for a while. She liked to dress in black, the whole gothic style.”
In his denials that the planned mass murder was a terrorist event, Justice Minister Mackay remarked: “An individual that would so recklessly and with bloody intent plot to do something like this I would suggest would also be susceptible to being motivated by groups like ISIS and others. This is the main concern — that any individual in Canada, whatever their motivation or proclivities might be, would also be susceptible to being recruited or radicalized.”
Clearly, these young people had indeed been radicalized, but not by ISIS.
A 28-year-old man who threatened to kill school children and Jews is in custody in Kalispell, Mont., after a weekend fusillade of tweets that were intercepted and monitored by the spokesman for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
David Joseph Lenio was arrested by FBI agents and local police Monday afternoon at a ski resort, about 12 hours after his last tweet using variations of the name “psychic dog talks.”
Lenio, who apparently moved to Kalispell from Grand Rapids, Mich., is being held in the Flathead County Jail on two felony charges on intimidation and malicious intimidation for making online threats of violence. A search of his apartment in Kalispell turned up a handgun and two rifles – a bolt action and a semi-automatic.
Now, he also may face federal criminal charges.
In a YouTube video three years ago, the suspect, believed to have used the name “David Dave,” brandished a .32-caliber Caltech semi-automatic handgun and said that he used it for concealed carry.
FBI agents and local law enforcement agencies in Montana, Oregon and Michigan were able to track and ultimately locate the suspect because of the work of Jonathan Hutson, the chief spokesman for the Brady Campaign.
“Of all the people on Twitter with whom this white supremacist chose to tangle, he picked me,” Hutson told Hatewatch today. “I just happen to be a spokesman for the Brady Campaign Against Gun Violence and I have a background as an investigative journalist.”
Hutson has 53,000 followers on his Twitter account. Lenio, using the handle @PyschicDogTalk, responded after Hutson posted a Twitter message about double killings at a free-speech event and a synagogue on Saturday in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Since last Thursday, Hutson learned, the Holocaust-denying Lenio has tweeted comments saying he wants to execute 30 or more “grade school students” and “shoot up a school” and a synagogue, and put “two in the head” of a rabbi or Jewish leader. He also said he hoped to go on a killing rampage until “cops take me out.”
Hutson, who lives near Washington, D.C., became aware of the threatening tweets from “@PyschicDogTalk2” late Saturday evening. “After I alerted Twitter to @PyschicDogTalk2’s threat to murder grade school kids, he tweeted to me, asking where my kids go to school,” Hutson told Hatewatch. “That turned my blood cold and kept me going all night long to shut this guy down.”
When Hutson reported @PyschicDogTalk2 to Twitter for account violations, Twitter shut down the account, but the user bounced back with the name @PsychicDogTalk3. Using that account name, he fired off another 91 tweets.
Early Sunday, after being awake and worried all night, Hutson said he decided to call the FBI in Portland and in Linn County, Ore., Sheriff’s Office after developing a profile that led him to belief “psychicdogtalk” might be in Oregon. Hutson sent the agencies E-mails containing the Twitter threats he had collected.
When Twitter shut down the second account, the user became @PsychicDogTalk3,” boasting about his ability to “level up,” as in a video game.
In one tweet, the poster complained of being homeless and working as a “wage slave.” His post said: “Even animals without money get land to live on, hunt & forage; but Americans without dollars must be homeless? I want to shoot up a school.”
At 2:57 a.m. on Feb. 12, he posted: “I bet I could get at least 12 unarmed sitting ducks if I decide to go on a killing spree in a #school. Sounds better than being a wage slave.”
Less than 45 minutes later, he followed that with: “USA needs a Hitler to rise to power and fix our #economy and i’m about ready to give my life to the cause or just shoot a bunch of #kikes…”
And seconds later: “What do you think costs more in most U.S. cities? A gun with enough ammo to kill 100 school kids or the security deposit on an apartment?”
On Feb. 14, the poster opined that “no one faults slaves who snapped & violently lashed out at their masters or the society which enslaved them. Why different for wage slaves?”
“If I can’t even afford habitat to live on, why the fuck shouldn’t I shoot up a #school and #teach the world something about ‘mental health’?” he said in a follow-up tweet.
“This working and not having a god damn thing to show for it bullshit makes me wanna execute grade #school #kids til the cops take me out too.”
Asked if he believed his actions may have averted a tragedy, Hutson was modest in his reply. “I think if you see something, say something. The swift action of law enforcement definitely averted a Sandy Hook-style tragedy.”
As the White House prepares to host a major summit examining the threat of violent extremism next week, the Southern Poverty Law Center today released a study of domestic terrorism that found the vast majority of this violence over the last five years has come “lone wolves”or “leaderless resistance”groups composed of no more than two people.
The report, Age of the Wolf: A Study of the Rise of Lone Wolf and Leaderless Resistance Terrorism, examines more than 60 domestic terror incidents and covers a period between April 1, 2009, and Feb. 1, 2015, and was based on records maintained by Indiana State University and the University of Maryland’s Global Terrorism Database, along with the SPLC’s own tally of domestic terror incidents.
Among the study’s primary findings were that almost three-quarters of the incidents were carried out, or planned, by a lone wolf, a single person acting without accomplices. Ninety percent of the incidents were the work of no more than two persons. Using the data, the study also found that a violent attack from either the radical right or homegrown jihadists was foiled or carried out, on average, every 34 days.
A timeline included with the report details deadly attacks and plots across the country, including a 2014 rampage in Nevada by a husband and wife with antigovernment views that left two police officers and another man dead, a 2012 attack on a Wisconsin Sikh temple by a long-time neo-Nazi that killed six victims, and a 2010 attack that left an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) manager dead after a man who had attended radical anti-tax group meetings crashed his single-engine plane into an IRS office in Austin, Texas.
“Our study clearly shows the urgent need for federal agencies to reinvigorate their work studying and analyzing the radical right,”said Mark Potok, SPLC senior fellow and editor of the report. “And it’s important to recognize the trend away from organized groups committing acts of domestic terror. As Timothy McVeigh demonstrated with the Oklahoma City bombing, lone wolves and small cells of domestic terrorists can create massive carnage.”
Two members of a Georgia-based militia group were each sentenced today to serve 10 years in prison for their involvement in an antigovernment plot to make the deadly poison ricin and disperse it in several cities.
Samuel J. Crump, 71, and Ray H. Adams, 58, were convicted by a federal jury last January in Gainesville, Ga., on a pair of charges connected to possession of ricin for use as a weapon. Both men faced possible life terms. Prosecutors recommended they each serve 20 years.
“This is not some laughing old guys talking kind of thing,” U.S. District Judge Richard W. Story told the defendants at the sentencing hearing, The New York Times reports. The judge said the defendants clearly were involved in criminal conduct “that could have hurt innocent people if you had been able to carry it out.”
The pair, along with alleged ringleader Frederick W. Thomas, 73, Emory Dan Roberts, 67, were arrested by the FBI on Nov. 1, 2011, after two informants secretly taped 400 hours of discussions of plans for dispersing ricin powder from speeding cars in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Jacksonville, Fla., and New Orleans.
Roberts and Thomas both pleaded guilty in April 2012 to charges of conspiring to possess explosives and firearms and both were sentenced to five-year prison terms.
Federal investigators say Adams had the key ingredient to make ricin – castor beans – hidden in his Toccoa, Ga., home, and that Crump had provided a sample to an FBI informant during the investigation.
The underlying motivation, beyond the defendants’ sheer antigovernment agenda, was never fully made public. Neither Crump nor Adams took the stand in their own defense during their jury trial. The panel returned its guilty verdicts in just 90 minutes.
Charging documents said Thomas expected some kind of action by the federal government that would require a response from citizen militia groups.
On the recordings, Thomas discusses his “bucket list” of government employees, politicians, corporate leaders and members of the media” he believed needed to be assassinated to save the country, the documents alleged. The secretly made tape recordings revealed that list included U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
Thomas also was fascinated with an antigovernment novel, Absolved, written by longtime Alabama militia leader Mike Vanderboegh. The book describes a small group of Americans who assassinate federal officials.
At sentencing, both men told the court they never really intended to use the deadly poison.
“I would not have hurt anyone,” Adams told the judge, according to the Times report. Adams added, “I get angry at the government sometimes, but no more than anyone else.”
Crump was more defiant and asked the judge for a new trial, claiming the government’s informants had credibility issues. “There were only words, no actions,” he said. “The only thing I did was talk,” Crump told the court, according to the Times.
A judge in Kansas has ordered a mental competency evaluation for Frazier Glenn Miller Jr., a former neo-Nazi and KKK leader accused of assassinating three people last April at two Jewish community facilities in Kansas.
Johnson County District Judge Kelly Ryan ordered the evaluation Wednesday at the request of defense attorneys who filed the motion just before a planned preliminary hearing for Miller, who is also known as Frazier Glenn Cross, the Kansas City Star reported in today’s editions.
The mental exam will attempt to determine if Miller, 73, of Aurora, Mo., is competent to aid in his own defense if the death-penalty case proceeds to a jury trial. If he’s found mentally incompetent, he will be sent to the Larned State Hospital in Kansas and could be held there indefinitely or until he is found competent, the newspaper reports.
The defense request for the competency examination came Wednesday as prosecutors were ready to present probable cause evidence against Miller in an attempt to convince the court there is sufficient evidence to proceed to trial.
After postponing that hearing, the judge scheduled a Dec. 18 hearing to discuss results of the competency evaluation. The delay prompted an outburst from Miller who said he wanted a speedy trial, the newspaper reported.
“Too long. Way too long,” Miller said in court. “I don’t want it drawn out.”
Miller is charged with capital murder for the gunshot killings of Terri LaManno, 53, William Lewis Corporon, 69, and Reat Griffin Underwood, 14. If convicted, the 73-year-old life-long racist faces the death penalty.
Miller, an avowed anti-Semite, mistakenly thought he was shooting Jews when, in fact, all three victims were Christians.
After the shootings, the FBI searched Miller’s home and found a copy of Hitler’s autobiography, Mein Kampf, three boxes of ammunition, a red t-shirt with a swastika symbol and a file folder titled, “Going underground and declaring war against the government.”
He also faces three counts of attempted first-degree murder for allegedly shooting at three other people during the gun rampage on April 13 outside the Jewish Community Center and Village Shalom care center in Overland Park, Kansas. In addition, he is charged with aggravated assault and discharging a firearm into an occupied building.
Miller reportedly is gravely ill with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Earlier this year he reportedly told fellow racist Craig Cobb that he has “one foot in the grave and one on a banana peel.”
A new report from the federal government predicts that a Nevada rancher’s standoff with federal agents earlier this year will likely embolden and inspire antigovernment violence in the coming months — a finding that echoes several preceding reports.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report, titled “Domestic Violent Extremists Pose Increased Threat to Law Enforcement and Government Officials,” concludes that after years of sporadic violence from domestic extremists motivated by antigovernment ideologies, there has been “a spike within the past year in violence committed by militia extremists and lone offenders who hold violent anti-government beliefs.
“These groups and individuals recognize government authority but facilitate or engage in acts of violence due to their perception that the United States Government is tyrannical and oppressive, coupled to their belief that the government needs to be violently resisted or overthrown,” the report says. It adds that such historical spikes in extremist violence have followed high-profile confrontations, including those at Ruby Ridge and Waco, involving the federal agents. ( continue to full post… )
Five recent killings of police officers in the United States and Canada “highlight a trend of growing violence by far-right extremists that is likely to continue in the near term,” a New York state counterterrorism bulletin warns.
The bulletin, now declassified and publicly accessible, cites the June 4 fatal shooting of three Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada. It also lists the wounding of a sheriff’s deputy June 6 at the Forsyth County, Ga., courthouse and the June 8 fatal shootings of two police officers in Las Vegas.
“Based upon reporting it appears all the suspects in these incidents were motivated by elements of a far right anti-government ideology with a particular fixation on law enforcement,” New York State Counter Terrorism Bulletin 14-07 says.
“While it is unknown whether this spike is indicative of a long term increasing trend,” the bulletin says, “it is significant from a near term perspective due to the short time frame and purposeful targeting of law enforcement.”
“The recent attacks serve to highlight a trend of growing violence by far right extremists that is likely to continue in the near term,” it continues.
“While attacks by lone offenders or small groups, common amongst far right extremists, are often difficult to detect and can occur with little or no warning, law enforcement should remain vigilant to any indicators or suspicious activity related to the persistent far right extremist threat,” the bulletin concludes.
All three fatal police shootings cited occurred less than a week after U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced he was re-establishing the Domestic Terrorism Executive Committee to address the “continued danger we face from individuals within our own borders who may be motivated by a variety of other causes from anti-government animus to racial prejudice.”
The New York bulletin doesn’t mention the decision by the U.S. Department of Justice, but does suggest the suspects in the fatal police shootings shared an antigovernment, anti-police philosophy. ( continue to full post… )