Details are coming in to focus regarding the domestic terrorism attack, which will be charged as a hate crime because the domestic terrorism portion of the Federal terrorism statute does not include penalties, just a definition, at the Chabad of Poway, CA synagogue today. The shooter is a 19 year old named John T. Earnest. Earnest wrote and published a manifesto, in the style of the Christchurch terrorist’s, that included all of the anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, and xenophobic, and racist greatest hits. He claims to be inspired by the attackers of both the Tree of Life Synagogue and the two Christchurch mosques. Earnest also, like the Tree of Life attacker, claims he’s not a supporter of the President because the President isn’t extreme enough, is a “Zionist, Jew loving, anti-White, traitorous cocksucker”. Earnest also manages to work in all the traditional Christian anti-Semitic justifications as well including a Jewish led white genocide. He also claims he’s striking this blow on behalf of the European race, of which he is a member. There is no European race. Regardless, Earnest is clearly asserting that he is doing this on behalf of white Christians in order to protect them and preserve their culture and way of life. So we can confidently say that today’s domestic terrorist attack was motivated by white Christian supremacy. Earnest also makes it very clear that he the Christchurch attacks were the trigger for today’s attack, as well as a failed attempt to burn down a mosque in Escondido, CA the week after the Christchurch attack. So provided his confession checks out, that act of domestic terrorism is now solved.
I’ve read the whole manifesto. It is internally coherent and focused, but, as you can imagine is full of conspiratorial thinking and claims that are unlikely to be verifiable. For instance, Earnest claims an ancestor among the lost Roanoke colonists. This is an attempt by Earnest to tie himself into one of the faux intellectual strains of white supremacy that is centered around a wholly invented mythology for Virginia Dare, the first English colonist born in North America. According to this made in the late 20th century faux history, Dare, referred to as “the White Doe”, was supposed to have survived the destruction of the colony, was raised and lived among the Kroatoan tribe, where she was called the White Doe. There is, of course, no empirical evidence for this as no one knows what happened to the Roanoke colonists after they abandoned their settlement. The biggest proponent of this insanity is former NRO columnist and English expatriate Peter Brimelow. Brimelow is the founder of the site VDare, named for Virginian Dare.
As is always the case after these events, the real concern is copy cats. To a certain extent, Earnest’s attack today, as well as his failed attack on a local mosque three weeks ago, are copy cats of the Christchurch attacker. The other concern is for people who were already planning their own terrorism attacks or sprees and decide, because of the publicity, to accelerate their plans as the media is now primed. I expect that religious congregations, regardless of the actual religion, are currently laying on more security for whatever services and/or events they have tomorrow and for the coming week.
For those interested in how to do anti-terrorism prevention through environmental design, I published on this in Security Journal in 2006. The article is derived from a keynote briefing and an inservice I ran on the topic at Disney University back in October 2004. Below, I’m posting an adaptation of that article I did in 2013 for a contact at DHS. And, as I indicated after the Tree of Life attack, if anyone’s congregation, regardless of religion, sect, and/or denomination has questions or needs some guidance regarding adjusting physical security, please shoot me an email using the contact a front pager tool at the top right and I’ll provide the best answers I can without being able to be on site. And, as I put in a comment earlier, for coverage of these types of attacks, I highly recommend MSNBC because they have my good, long time friend and colleague (from when I was a civilian academic) Brian Levin on as a subject matter expert. Brian is a professor at Cal State San Bernardino where he runs The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism.
Here’s that write up: