Today in Domestic International Terrorism and Stochastic Violence: They Have Caught the Person Making the Bomb Threats

The AP is reporting that Israeli law enforcement has caught the person who has been calling bomb threats into Jewish Community Centers, synagogues, and Jewish American civic organizations throughout the US.

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli police on Thursday arrested a 19-year-old Israeli Jewish man as the primary suspect in a string of bomb threats targeting Jewish community centers and other institutions in the U.S., marking a potential breakthrough in the case.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld described the suspect as a hacker, but said his motives were still unclear. Israeli media identified him as an American-Israeli dual citizen and said he had been found unfit for compulsory service in the Israeli military.

“He’s the guy who was behind the JCC threats,” Rosenfeld said, referring to the dozens of anonymous threats phoned in to Jewish community centers in the U.S. over the past two months.

The FBI, which had taken part in the investigation, confirmed the arrest but had no other comment.

Israeli police described the local man as the primary suspect in the wave of threats.

Israeli police said the suspect made dozens of calls claiming to have placed bombs in public places and private companies, causing panic and “significant economic damage,” and disrupting public order, including by the hurried evacuations of a number of public venues around the world. The man is suspected of placing threatening phone calls to Australia, New Zealand and also within Israel.

Rosenfeld said the man, from the south of Israel, used advanced technologies to mask the origin of his calls and communications to synagogues, community buildings and public venues. He said police searched his house Thursday morning and discovered antennas and satellite equipment.

“He didn’t use regular phone lines. He used different computer systems so he couldn’t be backtracked,” Rosenfeld said.

While it is unclear what the motive is at this time, “found unfit for compulsory service in the Israeli military” does not exactly inspire confidence in the suspects mental health. Back in February I wrote:

We’ve got some knucklehead who gets his gratification calling these in and seeing the news coverage. He may or may not be a hard core anti-Semite, but he’s basically in it for ego gratification. And based on decades of criminological research into deviance, delinquency, and offending, it is highly likely it is a he. So step up your game ladies! He may or may not even be in the US, given VOIP technology. And he may never intend to do anything but make these calls.

I think this is what we have with this suspect. Whether it is untreated mental health issues or some other driver, he pretty much fits. And the untreated mental health issues would explain a Jewish Israeli-American calling in threats to Jewish American organizations. The problem, however, comes in now that this genius has let the cat out of the bag. As I also wrote in that same post back in February:

Or, also even worse, he never intends to escalate beyond calling in the threats, but someone else who does want to do real, physical damage to property and harm to people does. This individual or individuals waits until the coverage begins to drop off because the calls are every week or every other week like clockwork and the local news decides it needs to cover something more important. And then this person that wants to cause real harm and actually hurt people decides its time to strike because complacency has set in and some synagogue or JCC isn’t going to take the threat as seriously.

And I fully expect that this pattern will at some point be fully extended to mosques and Hispanic and Asian churches, as well as Sikh temples. I know that the Hispanic and Asian churches in my area have seen an increase in both vandalism and threats, just as the synagogues and mosques have, because they are viewed as immigrant places (of worship) and therefore acceptable targets despite being churches.

The perpetrator of the calls has been caught, but it remains to be seen what he has ultimately wrought.

Stay frosty!



The Taoiseach Lays the Smack Down: Enda Kenney’s 2017 St. Patrick’s Day Address

At yesterday’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration featuring the Irish PM, Enda Kenny, the President, Vice President, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Taoiseach made his feelings known about the President’s, and by extension, the Republican Party’s current policy preferences on immigration. Kenny’s White House remarks received praise almost everywhere, including in Ireland, where there had been significant concern on whether he should cancel out of this year’s event.

The Taoiseach’s speech on immigration has received global recognition for ‘lecturing’ US President Trump on immigration.

The Taoiseach used the St Patrick’s day visit to speak about the contribution of the Irish community in the United States, leading to the New York Times calling it a “lecture” for the US President on immigration.

Speaking at a party in East Room of the White House, he thanked Mr Trump for “giving so much of his time” to help celebrate St Patrick’s legacy as “the patron of immigrants”.

He appealed to the President to take a more favourable view of immigrants – but made no mention of Mr Trump’s controversial travel ban on six predominantly Muslim countries.

At the 6:30 mark of the video below you can watch and listen to the Taoiseach’s full remarks following the President’s remarks.

The much excerpted point of Kenney’s remarks are these one minute and fifty-two seconds:



Open Thread: 990 Reasons (But A Bigot Ain’t Got One)

From the Washington Post, “IRS punishes Richard Spencer’s white-nationalist group for failing to file returns“:

The nonprofit organization run by prominent white nationalist Richard Spencer has been stripped of its tax-exempt status after failing to file financial returns for three years.

The Washington Post reported in December that Spencer’s think tank, the National Policy Institute, had been allowed by the federal government to operate in financial secrecy since 2013. The IRS, Spencer said Tuesday, told him a few days ago that his Virginia-based organization had lost tax-exempt status because it hadn’t submitted the necessary records when it was supposed to…

The institute, which promotes a form of American apartheid, has functioned as a public charity that relies heavily on contributions. The IRS almost always requires such organizations to file returns that detail where the money comes from and how it is spent. For reasons the agency still hasn’t explained, Spencer’s group had been categorized among those not obligated to file any returns whatsoever, according to an examination by the Post

Despite the IRS’s miscue, the experts added, Spencer still had a duty to provide the documents, known as Form 990s. The error allowed the institute to avoid public scrutiny at a time when the alt-right — the term Spencer coined to describe a movement seeking a whites-only state — had garnered international attention…

The setback, Spencer said, shouldn’t devastate the institute’s fundraising efforts, in part because many donors wish to remain anonymous and wouldn’t claim the tax deduction anyway…

Gosh, one wonders why those generous individuals should be so shy about their public-spirited philanthropy?



Open Thread: Rep. Steve ‘Pigmuck’ King Will Not Be Out-Bigoted

CNN: [Warning: autoplay]

King, a Republican, was on the radio responding to a question about Univision anchor Jorge Ramos’ comment to Tucker Carlson on Fox News that whites would become a majority-minority demographic in America by 2044, a point Ramos used to make the argument that it is a multiracial country.

“Jorge Ramos’ stock in trade is identifying and trying to drive wedges between race,” King told Iowa radio host Jan Mickelson on 1040 WHO. “Race and ethnicity, I should say to be more correct. When you start accentuating the differences, then you start ending up with people that are at each other’s throats. And he’s adding up Hispanics and blacks into what he predicts will be in greater number than whites in America. I will predict that Hispanics and the blacks will be fighting each other before that happens.” …

In the interview on Iowa radio, King reiterated comments he made Monday to Chris Cuomo on CNN’s “New Day,” saying, “This isn’t about race.”…

But King argued that others, such as Ramos, were “celebrating” the success of a plan to make whites a majority-minority.

“Their effort here is to be celebrating because the United States is moving towards becoming, the whites becoming a minority, a majority-minority within the country according to what their plan is,” he said.

King concluded the interview by recommending that listeners read the novel, “The Camp of the Saints,” by French author Jean Raspail, a book about Europe being overcome by immigrants which has also frequently been referenced by top Trump adviser Steve Bannon….

.

See, it’s only “about race” when it’s about Not White people…
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ETA:

(According to her twitter feed, Iowa does not have an impeachment or recall process — he’ll have to be voted out in 2018.)



Rep. Steve “Pigmuck” King Lets His White-Nationalist Freak Flag Fly — Again

Rep. Pigmuck really does want to keep his title as Worst Person in Congress. I was kinda hoping, even in today’s Republican party, he’d be forced to backtrack a little on this. Nope!

… “If you go down the road a few generations, or maybe centuries, with the inter-marriage, I’d like to see an America that is just so homogenous that we look a lot the same,” he said…

King said differences had nothing to do with their humanity, but their backgrounds: “It’s the culture, not the blood. If you could go anywhere in the world and adopt these little babies and put them into households that were already assimilated into America, those babies will grow up as American as any other baby.”…

You will be assimilated — what could be more all-American?

Well, not to say ‘condemn’… at least not in person

House Speaker Paul Ryan, also a Republican, “clearly disagrees” with King’s comments, a spokeswoman told reporters.

“The speaker clearly disagrees and believes America’s long history of inclusiveness is one of its great strengths,” Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong said in a statement.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer declined to weigh in on the comments when asked about them during the press briefing Monday….

Iowans: You want to tell the rest of us about Kim Weaver? Has she any chance at all?



Long Read: The KKK ‘Imperial Wizard’ Murdered by His Cat-Hoarding Wife

Gotta say, this seems like another sad case where the ‘Flower of White Christian Manhood’ cosplay comes off as a particularly toxic attempt at self-deception. Disheartening for those of us who support animal rescue, too — reminder that the twist leading to animal hoarding too often coexists with other mental-health problems. Doyle Murphy, in the St. Louis Riverfront Times, with one of the great ledes of all time:

Frank Ancona, the imperial wizard of the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, smelled like cat piss.

The stench clung to the 51-year-old’s graying hair and mustache. It seeped into the fabric of his clothes and hung on him like a blanket. He was unhappy about it, but he did not seem to know what to do. He lived in a small, beat-looking house in the rural southeast Missouri town of Leadwood. The windows of the front porch had been pulled out and the wood frames wrapped in chicken wire — a project his wife had undertaken one evening after he headed off to his job as an overnight courier for a St. Louis-based shipping company.

Malissa Ancona, 44, seemed intent on turning their home into a giant kennel. It was well-known that the bleach blonde ran an off-the-books — some would say infamous — animal rescue. Dozens of cats and two dogs shared 1,000 square feet with the Klansman and his wife. They nested in piles of dirty clothes, pawed through open garbage and kicked litter across the floors. A neighbor estimates as many as 70 cats lived there during peak times…

There’s not much money in Leadwood. Set in the hills about 70 miles south of St. Louis, the median household income is about $31,000, nearly $20,000 less than the statewide figure. The population of 1,282 is 99 percent white. For diversity, residents identifying as American Indian outnumbered African-Americans two to one. That’s not a ratio: Census workers counted a total of two Native Americans and one black person in the 2010 tally.

Leadwood is the kind of place where people might not agree with the KKK, but they also don’t get too worked up about a Klan leader living next door. The Anconas moved in five or six years ago. Frank’s dad lived one house over to the south, and the local fire station was across the street. The younger Ancona seemed intent on settling in after years spent bouncing around Missouri and Illinois. The Leadwood house was a lease, but Frank had worked out a rent-to-own arrangement with the homeowners, relatives say. Shortly after moving in, he hung a red flag with the KKK’s “blood drop” cross to the left of the front door and a replica of the Klan’s historical flying dragon pennant to the right.

His only real problem was Malissa…

When word spread that Frank had gone missing February 9, no one seemed too surprised. His son, Frank Jr., knew something was wrong when his father’s employer called to say he had not shown up for work for the first time in nearly a decade. The son called police and headed over to the house.

He and the officers were just about to go inside when Malissa returned home with her son from a previous relationship and barred their way. Frank Jr. remembered a feeling of dread sweep over him.

“I had a gut feeling right then and there she’d done something bad.”…



Today In Domestic Terrorism and Stochastic Violence: Insufficient Responses

For happily the Government of the United States gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.President Washington’s Letter to the Jewish Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island

In yesterday’s post on this subject I referenced that 98 US Senators had signed onto a letter decrying anti-Semitism.

Today all 100 Senators have now signed on.

Yesterday White House Spokesman Sean Spicer made the following statement at his press conference:

“I want to acknowledge that there’s been an additional wave of threats to Jewish community centers and Anti-Defamation League offices,” Spicer told reporters at a press briefing on Tuesday.

“I share the president’s thoughts that he vehemently hopes that we don’t continue to have to share these reports with you. But as long as they do continue, we’ll continue to condemn them and look at ways in which we can stop them,” he said.

Today the Jewish Community Center Association of North America called on Attorney General Sessions to:

“We are frustrated with the progress in resolving this situation,” the letter reads in part. “We insist that all relevant federal agencies, including your own, apply all the resources available to identify and bring the perpetrator or perpetrators, who are trying to instill anxiety and fear in communities across the country, to justice.”

“JCCs have demonstrated incredible resilience over the past several weeks, relying on long-practiced measures to ensure that we can safely and effectively serve communities across the continent. We will not allow anti-Semitism to get in the way of our providing our invaluable programs, and we urge Attorney General Sessions to be an even stronger partner to us.”

The full text of the letter can be found here.

While the letter signed by all 100 Senators, Democratic and Republican, and the White House statement are appropriate, they are, frankly, insufficient. They are insufficient because this is not just an issue of harassment and violence directed at Jewish Americans. There has been an increase in attacks against religious and ethnic minorities, as well as LGBTQ Americans of all religions and ethnicities since the election. Churches with predominantly Hispanic and LatinX or immigrant congregants are being targeted. As we’ve documented here several times, Indian Americans – whether Sikh, Buddhist, Hindu, or Christian – are being targeted. LGBTQ Americans are being targeted.

A man shouting antigay slurs attacked two men at a restaurant in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of New York City in the early morning hours on Sunday, leaving one man stabbed and the other with a slashed face.

Gothamist said that police are looking for the suspect, whose face was briefly caught on surveillance video before he attacked the other men and fled.

The New York City Police Department said that the unidentified suspect entered Crown Fried Chicken at about 5 a.m. on Sunday and attacked a 34-year-old man with “a cutting instrument” while shouting antigay slurs.

After slashing the man’s face, the suspect stabbed a second man in the torso and slashed his shoulder, still hurling insults and homophobic invective.

Here’s the surveillance video (does not include violence) of the alleged perpetrator (h/t RawStory)

The response is also insufficient because the only significant change over the past several months is the election and inauguration of the President. There hasn’t been a spike in unemployment. The stock market hasn’t crashed. There hasn’t been a major national disaster with effects that could possibly be correlated with these incidents. There hasn’t been a foreign inspired/orchestrated attack on Americans within the US. The US and its coalition partners are winning the fight against ISIL in Iraq and Syria. Every possible indicator we would even conceivably consider as an explanatory variable to explain the increase in hate crimes, stochastic violence, and to be very precise in the terminology, domestic terrorism* is the election and the inauguration.

Now I want to be very, very, very, very clear: I am not accusing the President of being an anti-Semite. Or a racist. Or anti-Muslim. Or a bigot of any kind. And that’s why the letter signed by all 100 Senators and Sean Spicer’s statements are insufficient. It is insufficient because it doesn’t matter at all whether the President or anyone who works for him and with him are any of these things. The leadership and much of the membership of the various Klan, neo-NAZI, white supremacist, white nationalist, anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim (Islamophobic), anti-immigrant (legal and/or undocumented) groups and organizations have all come out in support of the President and his agenda. Many of them, both leaders and members, have stated that the President’s message speaks directly to them. That he has been the biggest boon to their recruiting and activities in decades. That what he says and what he is proposing doing/is doing is what they both think needs to be done and what they want to see done in the US.

It is this sad, unfortunate reality that makes the official Senatorial and Administration responses insufficient. A sufficient response would include the President giving a prime time address denouncing all of the increase in hate crimes, stochastic violence, and low level domestic terrorism* directed at American religious and ethnic minorities, LGBTQ Americans, immigrants, and visitors to America in no uncertain terms. Additionally he should make it clear in such an address that these types of activities are un-American and are intolerable to Americans of good conscience regardless of political party affiliation, ideology, religion, and ethnicity. Finally, he should create a Federal Law Enforcement Task Force to investigate and prosecute the sharp increase in hate crimes, stochastic violence, and low level domestic terrorism since his election and inauguration. This would be sufficient. Every other response is simply fluff.

* Domestic terrorism is defined in 18 U.S. Code § 2331. The relevant part has been emphasized.

(5) the term “domestic terrorism” means activities that—

(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;
(B) appear to be intended—
(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and
(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.
(Added Pub. L. 102–572, title X, § 1003(a)(3), Oct. 29, 1992, 106 Stat. 4521; amended Pub. L. 107–56, title VIII, § 802(a), Oct. 26, 2001, 115 Stat. 376.)