October 28, 2018


Why the Pittsburgh shooter is not being prosecuted for terrorism (ERIC CORTELLESSA, 10/28/18, Times of Israel)

On Saturday afternoon, federal prosecutors announced that Bowers would face 29 charges, including 11 counts of using a firearm to commit murder and several counts of hate crimes, such as obstructing the exercise of religious beliefs resulting in death and obstructing the exercise of religious beliefs resulting in bodily injury to a public safety officer.

Yet the reason he will not face domestic terrorism charges are simple -- no such charge actually exists.

"There is no federal crime labeled domestic terrorism," Department of Justice spokeswoman, Sarah Isgur Flores, told The Times of Israel on Sunday.

Trump is lying to scare voters. Migrant caravan families are desperate, not terrorists. (Bishop Garrison, Oct. 24, 2018, USA Today)

The migrant caravan is not a threat.

This needs to be stated plainly and clearly, because President Donald Trump is working overtime to convince Americans of the opposite. Earlier this week, he tweeted that "criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed" into the caravan, implying that those unknowns are terrorists. There is absolutely no evidence to this claim, and it has been contradicted by a senior counterterrorism official within his own administration.

Like many of the president's falsehoods, the seed of this claim seems to be a Fox News segment. In this case, it was Fox and Friends co-host Pete Hegseth who referred to Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales' claim two weeks ago that his government had arrested and deported close to 100 people "linked to terrorists, with ISIS."  The claim, Hegseth admitted, has not been verified. And Guatemala has already deported these supposed fighters, meaning they could not be part of the caravan.

Stochastic terror and the cycle of hate that pushes unstable Americans to violence (Heather Timmons, October 26, 2018, Quartz)

Homegrown violent extremists "clearly represent the most immediate and most ubiquitous threat to us here inside the United States on a daily basis," Nick Rasmussen, the outgoing head of the US's National Counterterrorism Center, said last November. "Most terrorists are either born or raised here, or only became radicalized well after they came to the United States," he said.

In recent years, America has experienced a "dramatic increase in attacks by disaffected people, and people searching for some sense of accomplishment," Cohen said. They connect with a "cause" whether it is white supremacy or Al Qaeda, and then "use for a motive of committing a violent attack," spurred on by what they're seeing on social media and the internet. The people most easily swayed by hateful rhetoric are often "looking for legitimacy and a sense of validation for their violent tendencies," Cohen said.

The National Institute of Justice, the US DOJ's research arm, published a report this June synthesizing different research that it had funded in recent years on the US's homegrown terrorism problem. So called "lone-wolf" terrorists "frequently combined personal grievances (i.e., perceptions that they had been personally wronged) with political grievances (i.e., perceptions that a government entity or other political actor had committed an injustice)," the report found.

In particular, "feeling that one (or one's group) has been treated unfairly, discriminated against, or targeted by others may lead individuals to seek justice or revenge against those they blame for this situation," the report notes.

Those grievances feed into a cycle of reinforcement and radicalization that culminates in a violent act, the report finds:

Dylann Roof, the ninth grade dropout who killed nine African Americans in a church in 2015, was radicalized after reading the white supremacist website "Council of Conservative Citizens," online, he claimed. Nikki Haley, then governor of South Carolina, warned on the one-year anniversary of Roof's massacre that Trump's divisive campaign statements could spur similar incidents. James Alex Fields, who killed a woman protesting a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, was a violent teenager who was kicked out of Army basic training, then seemed to find a community in online white supremacist groups.

James Hodgkinson, who shot at a Republican baseball team last summer, had been arrested for punching a woman, and had posted increasingly angry social media messages directed at Trump and Republicans before the shooting. [...]

For years, US officials have been saying that homegrown terrorism is surging, particularly on the right. But after Trump took office, the administration cut funding for the Department of Homeland Security's Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program--except to address Islamic-inspired terrorism. It was a dangerous mistake, anti-terror activists said at the time.

"We have hundreds of thousands of homegrown sovereign citizens and militia members with ties to white nationalism, training in paramilitary camps across the US and standing armed in front of mosques to intimidate marginalized Americans," warned Christian Picciolini, a former skinhead who co-founded Life After Hate, to rehabilitate extremists, last year. "The greatest terror threat we face as a nation is already within our borders, yet we refuse to even call it terrorism when it happens."

Under Trump, the DHS has focused instead on curbing immigration, despite the fact that immigrants are less likely to commit violent crimes than US residents. As the investigation continues into the explosive devices sent this week to prominent Democrats and critics of Trump, the federal government remains reluctant to publicly call it terrorism.

Posted by at October 28, 2018 5:34 PM