Thursday, March 18, 2004

Lucky us

I mentioned yesterday that there has been a recent uptick in right-wing domestic terrorism, ranging from the Texas cyanide bomb case to the Florida man who planned a bombing spree against abortion clinics and gay bars.

What's noteworthy is that, so far, we have been very fortunate in all these cases, which have been cracked by happenstance (especially in the Krar case) and watchful citizens -- not because of crack work by law enforcement, whose emphasis, as we have seen, has shifted away from domestic terrorism.

An older case of domestic terrorism -- dating from an incident and arrest that occurred in early 2002, but which went utterly unnoticed in the press -- is now coming to light, and the story underscores, again, just how lucky we've been.

According to this report in the Tennessean, a sharp-eyed citizen likely prevented a Buford Furrow wannabe from shooting up a Jewish children's school in Nashville back in January 2002:
On this leafy street in Nashville's Richland neighborhood, Smith could study the Jewish school while traffic was forced to squeeze past him awkwardly on the right. One of those passing motorists saw the AR-15 semiautomatic rifle on Smith's lap, the barrel pointed toward the school.

The motorist in a white car watched as Smith gestured to him. Smith drove forward, made a U-turn and eventually pulled onto West End Avenue. By then, the driver had noted the Contour's license plate and flagged down a Metro police officer.

By midafternoon, Michael Smith was in custody, starting a legal case that ended yesterday with his sentencing in federal court.

Immediately after his capture on Jan. 4, 2002, local police and federal agents started peeling away the layers of the former paramedic's life. They found live hand grenades, pipe bombs, boxes and boxes of ammunition, right-wing hate literature and military manuals detailing sniper techniques.

Ah well. Just another "isolated incident", right?

Meanwhile, in Boston, a neo-Nazi's threat against black bus drivers threw a scare into the transit system:
MBTA cops alerted area police last night to be on the lookout for a car carrying a white man who threatened to blow up every bus he saw with a black driver.

"This is a very serious incident to us, not only because of the threat to blow up a bus, but because of the racial overtone of the threat,'' MBTA police Lt. Robert Lenehan said.

... The man claimed to be a member of the Aryan Nation and used a racial slur as he threatened to blow up any bus with a black driver. Then he got back into the car, and it sped off.

Yeah, but, see, it can't be terrorism. These were Americans. Right?

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