Monday, February 16, 2004

The terrorists at home

On the domestic terrorism front, a couple of updates:
Ex-Ranger pleads guilty in abortion-bombing plot

A former Army Ranger inspired by anti-abortion activists pleaded guilty Friday to devising a plot to blow up abortion clinics and gay bars nationwide.

Stephen John Jordi, an evangelical Christian from Coconut Creek with a flaming cross tattooed to his right forearm, pleaded guilty to one count of attempted firebombing.

In stark contrast to his agitated, grizzled appearance after his Nov. 11 arrest, Jordi was calm and clean shaven during the brief hearing at U.S. District Court in Fort Lauderdale.

Notably, like the Texas cyanide bomb case, this case was broken not because of an emphasis on antiterrorism investigations by the FBI, but because of outside circumstances: some of the man's sibilings became concerned about what he told them he planned to do.
Estranged siblings said Jordi had become increasingly impassioned about a bombing campaign after the arrest of Eric Rudolph last May.

Rudolph, who is accused of orchestrating a bombing campaign against abortion clinics, gay bars and the Atlanta Olympics park, disappeared into the Appalachian Mountains for five years before he was captured last May.

Like Rudolph, Jordi was planning to embark on a firebombing campaign targeting abortion clinics, gay bars and churches that refused to take a tough stance against abortion.

Authorities said Jordi was banking on survival skills he learned in the Army so that he could hide in the mountains between bombings, like Rudolph.

Jordi also corresponded last year with Florida Death Row inmate Paul Hill, who was convicted for the 1994 murders of a Pensacola abortion doctor and his bodyguard.

Jordi and the informant flew to Starke to for Hill's execution on Sept. 3. They were photographed outside the prison with leading members of a militant anti-abortion group called The Army of God.

Meanwhile, back in Washington, D.C., the case of the ricin bioweapons attack has clearly turned to its likely domestic source. There was some recent activity in Florida, though the particulars show the evidence, if any, appears mostly circumstantial:
Ricin probe targets man on Southside

A Southside resident who spent years driving trucks and now crusades against what he calls a corrupt industry and a complacent government said Saturday he was questioned by FBI agents regarding the first of three incidents in which the toxin ricin was sent in the mail.

Daniel Somerson said the agents, from the FBI's terrorism task force, asked him in October whether he had sent a letter with ricin inside signed "Fallen Angel." He said he told them he had not even heard about the letter until that moment.

This last remark strikes me as unlikely. Still, Somerson needn't worry about his good name being ruined until he's more openly identified as a suspect. As it is, he's only been interviewed so far.

Of course, no one in a position of authority is referring to either of these cases as "domestic terrorism," though both are exactly that, and rather clearly.

Finally, in the one case that has been trumpeted in the press, my friend Scott North at the Everett Herald headed up a team effort in compiling a profile of Ryan Anderson, the onetime WSU student and militiaman wannabe who has since been arrested for seeking to help Al Qaeda. Their version largely corroborates what I posted previously:
Misfit soldier left trail:
E-mails, chat room posts paint disturbing picture

By February 1996, he complained that he had been trying to sign up with a militia for four months, without success.

"All I want is a little information from a local area commander or something about joining up," he wrote. "I have three rifles. I can supply all my own equipment and ammo, and I have the time for weekend ops and whatnot."

A few days later, Anderson posted messages to a news group catering to skinheads, some of whom openly espoused white supremacist ideas. Others in the group were offended, however, when Anderson signed his message "Seig (sic) Heil."

"Awww .... look ... It's yet another cute little -- and slightly retarded -- Aryan warrior who doesn't know how to spell SIEG ...." one person on the news group replied.

... By spring 1996, Anderson was getting flamed by militia supporters, too. He angered some by suggesting that Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber, should be "ripped apart by a pack of starving wolfs(sic)." He wrote that the anti-government Freemen of Jordan, Mont., were criminals.

"I count myself a soldier, and a patriot, but if what Tim McVeigh did was the act of a soldier and a patriot, I'd rather be counted among the cowards and traitors," Anderson wrote. About five months later, he posted the message about his interest in Islam. By September 1997, he claimed to be a convert, and expressed interest in studying in Egypt or Turkey.

Within a few days, however, using the Gunfighter alias, he posted this message on a personals news group: "Old fashioned romantic seeks dangerous woman."

In the message, Anderson likened himself to Lawrence of Arabia and wrote that he was passionate and "a little eccentric."

"Yes, I will admit I am not the usual 'man of the 90s,'" he wrote. "My dream girl must be a tough, independent minded one who can handle herself and isn't worried about acting 'un-lady like.' A girl who can handle a blade or a rifle is definitely my type. I myself am a fencer, aspiring sword fighter and a gun-slinger with an innate ability with old weapons."

Anderson's interest in militias, weapons and skinheads years ago brought him to the attention of people who monitor right-wing groups in the United States.

... Mark Pitcavage, fact-finding director for the Anti-Defamation League based in Columbus, Ohio, said he had one brief Internet exchange with Anderson eight years ago. He doesn't know Anderson, but said his posts seemed to reflect a view of himself as a man of action, and reveal he was something of a "seeker" personality, looking for belonging and meaning.

Those traits have turned up before in people who are drawn to involvement in terrorism and other anti-government acts, Pitcavage said.

Of course, when Michelle Malkin examined Anderson's background for the National Review, all she managed to find was his connections to Muslims. And as this story makes clear, that connection was anything but firm.

Why is it, exactly, that right-wingers habitually associate right-wing extremists with Muslims and left-wing extremists (see, e.g., Instapundit) instead of with right-wingers?

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