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Find a White Guy

First off, I am not defending white supremacists. Mainly, I'm just beginning to wonder how much the mindset that urges us to look to "homegrown terrorists" and to believe as a first choice that those "homegrown terrorists" are also "white supremacists" hinders our ability to actually solve these crimes.

The Washington Post mentions the media's newest "person of interest":

Meanwhile, a North Carolina State Highway Patrol communications supervisor said his agency, after receiving information from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, began late last night to broadcast a lookout for a man who is wanted for questioning in the shootings. The supervisor said the man was not described as a suspect.

The Raleigh News & Observer said a bulletin from the ATF said the man had once lived in North Carolina and had been affiliated with militia and white supremacist groups.

That the same article admits that "police had developed hundreds of credible leads" makes me wonder why this lead is the one that we get to hear about. From what I've been able to tell, the area in question has many Hispanics but is pretty mixed, and some of the victims were white. Also keep in mind the convoluted way in which Steven Hatfill was said to be "affiliated with militia and white supremacist groups."

The Post article ends on a chilling note that does suggest some sort of group:

"Our belief is that there are people out there, certainly more than one, who know about the shootings," [Lucille Baur, a police spokeswoman,] said. "We have pieces of a puzzle, and the more pieces we have, the better."

And there's also mention of ideological motivation:

As for whether the attacks could be the work of a terrorist group, [Montgomery Police Chief Charles A. Moose] reiterated: "We are not closing any avenues. We are a large suburban community adjacent to the nation's capital. We understand what that may mean to people that may be looking to make a point."

If this atrocity is related, at least, to an ideological group and was meant to make a statement, I'd say that the white supremacist angle isn't the most logical inference. If the minority under attack is Hispanics (or Asians, for that matter), then immigration and employment are the likely points of contention. Shopping at a craft store, filling up at a gas station, and mowing the lawn are not activities that seem to speak to those issues.

If there is at least the logic of a "statement" behind the attacks, they seem practically hand-picked to bring to mind images of quotidian life — humdrum, everyday, American life. That suggests to me terrorism as a goal and an attack on the American way (sort of like nuking the Super Bowl), not an attack on those things that, to a supremacist, are corroding "the real America."

Of course, such groups are, by definition, demented, so it could be an attack on the Democrats' "soccer moms," for all we know at this point. After all, blood streaked across a minivan is an image that is likely to reach deep into the American heart and mind. I'm merely suggesting that, in the field of likelihood, better guesses can be made as to what that image is meant to represent.

(links via Instapundit, who has been doing a marvelous job of gathering all of the various information and analysis, and Unqualified Offerings, who led me to this specific article.)

Tom Scott brings up a great point in the comments section about al Fuqra, a black Muslim group in Virginia (he gives a link). That group had slipped my mind, and I haven't heard them mentioned in quite some time, let alone in this case.

Incidentally, I just saw on Fox News that the police are asking the news media not to spread the name of the man "wanted for questioning" because they don't want to "ruin his life." Guess the authorities and the media have finally started to learn their lesson on this count (except when it comes to Catholic priests).

Posted by Justin Katz @ 11:24 AM EST


I am not convinced that this is terroristic (in the commonly understood meaning of today) but don't rule it out either. What did come to mind, with the mention of the Oregon connection, was the existence of al Fuqra in Virginia. (See: http://www.nationalreview.com/flashback/flashback-miller013102.shtml) I think that Fred Pruitt may have some information on this group.
My only reason for doubting is the randomness of the targets and that fact that they do not represent a strike at the infrastructure. However, Palestinian terrorism operates much as this instance has. ?????

tom scott @ 10/05/2002 12:38 PM EST

This is kind of a non sequitur, isn't it? White supremacists would be happy to take out anyone.

And firearms are not exactly the preferred method of Middle East terrorism. Instapundit and others seem to be remarkably eager to read "Middle Eastern" into anything that doesn't specifically rule it out. It's bizarre.

David de la Fuente @ 10/05/2002 07:14 PM EST

Well, David, I'd sorta been under the impression that the rallying cry of "white supremacists" had something to do with bias and preference for targets.

As for the Middle Eastern terrorists not using firearms, I guess those videos of them storming a training center and shooting cardboard cutouts of Christians or that video of OBL crouching down with a rifle or all those farewell videos with suicide-bombers-to-be kissing machine guns were mere aberrations.

Somebody ought to call them up and tell them it's against the rules.

Justin Katz @ 10/05/2002 07:35 PM EST

From what I can tell and have read, at least three of the targets appeared to be minority members. Sorry I didn't make that clear in my response -- should have been "would be happy to take out anyone who didn't resemble their Aryan standard." The others had names that were unclear, but I'd bet dollars to pesos that five or all six of the victims are minorities.

As far as your smartass response, training films does not equate to actual practice. That's not to say things might not be changing, but when there isn't an established practice of Muslim sniping, why would you do everything in your power to read that into it? Like I said, bizarre.

David de la Fuente @ 10/05/2002 08:40 PM EST


At least two of the victims were white.

All evidence suggests that Muslim extremist terrorists use whatever weapons are available, including guns. Consider the LAX shooting; consider this new group in Oregon; consider the attack on Karzai; consider the attack on the Indian parliament. For taking over a passenger plane, however, guns are more difficult to get onboard, so they would not be used there; for killing a lot of people in the market in Israel, a nail bomb would do more damage.

I am not putting forth that terrorism is behind these attacks. I was merely suggesting that the circumstances of this attack suggest to me that, if it is an organized group's attempt to make a statement (as opposed to just two lunatics), it seems bizarre to jump to the conclusion that it must be white supremacists. That's becoming a cliche, with even The Sum of All Fears being changed to support it when it was made into a movie.

Justin Katz @ 10/05/2002 09:01 PM EST