Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Domestic terror all around

The right-wing blogosphere needs to take a shower or something. They've been positively creaming their jeans over the arrest of five suspected Islamist terrorists who are charged with plotting to attack soldiers at Fort Dix. Malkin, of course, is leading the pack, but it's seen as Vindication Day throughout the whole "John Doe"/Jihad Watch right, including Little Green Footballs and Der Perfesser.

Funny how little attention any of them have paid to the mirror-image case down in Alabama involving the militiamen who were reportedly plotting to bomb and gun down Mexicans in a nearby town. In fact, the only place I could find mention of it was at Outside the Beltway, and that was a post questioning the need for the arrests.

Well, since they don't seem to be so interested, I'll try to keep you all up to date. Chellen Stevens at the Huntsville Times has a fascinating profile of the five suspects. Raymond Dillard, the apparent ringleader, is a classic case in which extremist beliefs spiral out of control along with their lives, as we see in his interactions with a neighbor:
Gunnin felt sorry for him.

"He was hungry a lot," Gunnin recalled. She began to feed him.

But a few months ago, when Dillard attempted to appoint Gunnin as the nurse for his militia, she had ceased feeling sorry for him. Gunnin grew annoyed when he dropped off medical manuals: She had been the director of nursing at Huntsville Hospital in the 1970s and didn't need his textbooks.

"I tried to get him to tell me the name of his organization. He said, 'We're just a group that will be here after the government falls apart,' " she said.

Eventually, Gunnin grew wary. Dillard often carried an old Army-issue 9 mm pistol. He could be persuasive, and she had heard him talk vaguely of weapons and organizing.

Then, a couple of months ago, he began speaking against Mexican immigrants. Gunnin banned him from her home. She wanted him off her property but didn't know what to do.

All along, the racial resentment played a central role in the simmering anger:
Things grew tense a couple months ago over a game of soccer.

Joanne Gunnin had given a group of Guatemalans permission to play soccer on an unused field she owned across from Dillard's camper. They began to tend the field.

According to neighbors, James McElroy, alleged to be a private in the militia, yanked a Hispanic man from a mower there. The player ran away.

Wayne Dunn, who lives behind the field, said his nephew called police. McElroy gave the lawn mower back to the soccer players before police arrived, according to Dunn and another neighbor.

But Dillard later delivered a message to Dunn's 16-year-old nephew.

"He needed to make up his mind whose side he wanted be on, the Mexicans or Americans," Dunn said. "The main thing (Dillard) always told me was there was going to a war between the Mexicans and whites."

What's disturbing about this group -- unlike, say, the militiamen who plotted to blow up a propane facility near Sacramento, who almost certainly were not competent enough to pull off the job -- is that their plan was easily within their rather limited reach: basically just mayhem and violence not far afield from what we saw recently at Virginia Tech.

But it's at least worth noting that the evidence of the alleged plot has so far been pretty thin:
The sergeant major turned out to be a government informant.

And the informant reported to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that the Free Militia was making and stockpiling grenades.

The indictment lists numerous other charges, including possession of a machine gun, a homemade silencer, a short-barreled shotgun, 68 homemade explosive projectiles and about 100 marijuana plants.

... The informant reported that Dillard tried to sell him some of the homemade hand grenades. He also reported that he and Dillard went to a military surplus store in Bynum to buy 12 grenade hulls and later packed them with powder and hid them under rocks by a dead tree in the woods.

The informant's affidavit does not mention plans to attack Hispanic groups.

But at a bail hearing Tuesday, ATF agent Adam Nesmith introduced the idea that the Free Militia was planning to gun down Mexicans in the small town of Remlap northeast of Birmingham.

All this will be played out in court, of course, as will the charges against the five alleged terrorists at Fort Dix. The veracity of the accusations remains an open question until then, though you will be hard-pressed to persuade any of the amateur sleuths of the right blogosphere of that in the latter case.

In the Alabama case, well, that appears to be a different story. It's evidently not even worth acknowledging. After all, we all know what real terrorists look like, right?

As for someone planning to shoot people who look like that, and who according to leading right-wing pundits might be terrorists -- well hell, that's a hero.

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