Publication

Lone Wolf Report

Domestic terrorism and related radical violence — as opposed to terrorist attacks emanating from abroad — continue to plague the nation. This study also reveals that the vast majority of this violence is coming from “lone wolves” or “leaderless resistance” groups, most of the latter composed of just two men.

Executive Summary

As the White House prepares to host a major summit on countering violent extremism next Wednesday, the Southern Poverty Law Center is releasing a new study showing that domestic terrorism and related radical violence — as opposed to terrorist attacks emanating from abroad — continue to plague the nation. Our study also reveals that the vast majority of this violence is coming from “lone wolves” or “leaderless resistance” groups, most of the latter composed of just two men.

The study, which covers the period between April 1, 2009, and Feb. 1, 2015, and includes violence from both the radical right and homegrown jihadists, finds that a domestic terrorist attack or foiled attack occurred, on average, every 34 days. It also shows that fully 74% of the more than 60 incidents examined were carried out, or planned, by a lone wolf, a single person operating entirely alone. A total of 90% of the incidents were the work of just one or two persons, the study found.

The long-term trend away from violence planned and committed by groups and toward lone wolf terrorism is a worrying one. Authorities have had far more success penetrating plots concocted by several people than individuals who act on their own. Indeed, the lone wolf’s chief asset is the fact that no one else knows of his plans for violence and they are therefore exceedingly difficult to disrupt.

Next week’s summit, to be hosted by President Obama, is meant to “better understand, identify, and prevent the cycle of radicalization to violence at home in the United States and abroad,” the White House said. Although the meeting is ostensibly devoted to all forms of terrorism, there is a danger, in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris, that Islamist terror will be the primary focus.

That would be a serious mistake.

There’s no question that the jihadist threat is a tremendous one. Close to 3,000 Americans were murdered by Al Qaeda on Sept. 11, 2001, far more than the number killed by any other form of terrorism. And officials are now warning that the Islamic State, known for its barbaric beheadings and the burning alive of a Jordanian pilot, may be plotting to kidnap Americans abroad in a slew of other countries. But that is not the only terrorist threat facing Americans today. A large number of independent studies have agreed that since the 9/11 mass murder, more people have been killed in America by non-Islamic domestic terrorists than jihadists. That fact is also apparent in the new SPLC study of the 2009-2015 period.

Since 9/11, however, the government has focused very heavily on jihadists, sometimes to the exclusion of violence from various forms of domestic extremists. That was first apparent in the immediate aftermath of the Al Qaeda attacks, when almost all government resources were channeled toward battling foreign jihadists. A stark example of that is the way the Justice Department has allowed its Domestic Terrorism Executive Committee to go into hibernation since that day. (Editor’s note: In mid-April 2015, the SPLC became aware that the committee had met three times since June).

But it is also reflected in the way that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which is charged with providing law enforcement information and analysis of all kinds of violent extremism, let its team devoted to non-Islamic domestic terrorism fall apart in the aftermath of a controversial leaked report. The 2009 report, which detailed the resurgence of the radical right in the aftermath of Obama’s 2008 election, was pilloried by pundits and politicians who wrongly saw it as an attack on all conservatives. As a result, then-DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano apologized for it, and the DHS intelligence team that wrote it has since virtually disbanded.

The temptation to focus on horrific groups like Al Qaeda and the Islamic State is wholly understandable. And the federal government recently has taken steps to address the terrorist threat more comprehensively, with Attorney General Eric Holder announcing the coming reconstitution of the Domestic Terrorism Executive Committee. There has been a recent increase in funding for studies of terrorism and radicalization, and the FBI has produced a number of informative reports.

And Holder seems to understand clearly that lone wolves and small cells are an increasing threat. “It’s something that frankly keeps me up at night, worrying about the lone wolf or a group of people, a very small group of people, who decide to get arms on their own and do what we saw in France,” he said recently.

But it’s critical that Wednesday’s gathering at the White House takes on terrorism in all its forms, Islamic and non-Islamic, foreign and domestic. Federal agencies must reinvigorate their work in studying and analyzing the radical right, helping law enforcement agencies around the country understand and counter the very real threat of domestic terrorism from the milieu that produced mass murderer Timothy McVeigh. It’s not a question of focusing on one or another type of terror. No matter the source, we simply cannot afford to ignore the ongoing carnage.


Lone wolf rampage: Larry Steve McQuilliams acted alone when he opened fire on the Austin, Texas, police department and other buildings. Although McQuilliams was killed by police before harming anyone, he left a note indicating he was a white supremacist “priest in the fight against anti-God people.”

THE STUDY: Rise of the Lone Wolf


Larry Steve McQuilliams

At 2:22 a.m. on the morning after Thanksgiving, a man named Larry Steve McQuilliams, clad in a tactical vest and backpack hydration unit and armed with a semi-automatic AK-47, opened fire in Austin, Texas. He unleashed more than 100 rounds, first at a federal courthouse, then at the local Mexican consulate that he also tried to firebomb, and finally at the Austin Police Department headquarters.

Before he could harm anyone, the 49-year-old McQuilliams was killed by a near-miraculous pistol shot fired by an officer standing 312 feet away. When police searched his body and his van, they found another long gun, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, a map of 34 downtown buildings that appeared to be his targets and a book and note indicating he saw himself as a “Phineas priest,” a white supremacist who believes he’s been personally called on by God to kill his enemies.

On his chest were the black-inked words, “Let Me Die.”

McQuilliams’ note said little more than that he was acting as a “priest in the fight against anti-God people.” Because he had apparently spoken to no one about his plans and had no help, it’s unlikely that much more about him will be learned — beyond the fact that he was a “lone wolf,” the very hardest kind of terrorist to stop.

“What keeps me up at night,” said Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo, who called McQuilliams an “American extremist,” “is these guys. The lone wolf.”

The lone wolf. Going back at least to the 1980s, that concept — a person who carries out a terrorist attack entirely on his own — has taken root on the American non-Islamic radical right and even among many jihadists. In an age of instant communications and ever more tightly knit societies, the lone wolf style of attack is vastly more likely to be successful than the kind that was once literally planned in rooms full of men, sometimes by major group leaders. People who join criminal conspiracies today are more likely than ever to be caught. As a result, there has been a long-running trend toward the lone wolf and away from group action.

A major Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) study of domestic terrorism over the last six years confirms this trend in dramatic fashion. Surveying 63 incidents culled from academic databases and the SPLC’s own files, 46 of them — fully 74% — were carried out by lone wolves, unassisted by others. And only one of the remaining 16 (in one case, the number of attackers is not known) was planned by a named organization. In most of those 16 cases, terrorists worked in pairs — a couple, a pair of friends, two brothers and a father and son, among them — with only six involving three or more. That means that 90% percent of the 62 cases where the number of perpetrators is known were the work of one or two people.


LONELY KILLERS: Nine out of 10 domestic terrorist killers in the last six years have operated entirely on their own or with a single partner.

The Study

Analyzing terrorism comes fraught with pitfalls. There is no hard and fast agreement on what constitutes a terrorist action. What if the attack has a political dimension, but is carried out by someone who is clearly mentally ill? Is a rampage killing spree terrorism or simply an eruption of personal hatreds? Does the murder of three police officers responding to a domestic disturbance count, even if the killer does have a long history in the police-hating antigovernment movement?

To get a sense of the shape of contemporary domestic terrorism — both from the radical right and from violent Islamists — the SPLC scoured records maintained by Indiana State University and the University of Maryland’s Global Terrorism Database, as well as SPLC’s own roster of apparent domestic terror incidents. The survey included incidents that likely involved mental illness and arguably personal grudges, but that seemed to have an obvious political aspect. It covered terrorism inspired by antigovernment, Islamist and various forms of race or group hatred. And it encompassed both actual terror attacks and those which officials aborted.

The survey also included cases that were not terrorist plots per se, but major unplanned violence that occurred when authorities confronted volatile political extremists for any number of reasons — pulling them over for a traffic infraction or trying to serve a warrant, for instance. Less than a quarter of the incidents cited (a total of 14 cases) were unplanned and occurred after some unexpected run-in. The time span covered is an important one — from April 1, 2009, a few days before the Department of Homeland Security issued a prescient but ultimately controversial study warning of a “resurgence in radicalization and recruitment” on the extreme domestic right, through Feb. 1, 2015, press time. That span also very roughly corresponds to the period since Barack Obama took office in early 2009, a development that most analysts agree spurred rapid growth of the radical right.

One of the most noticeable results was the regularity of major violence or planned violence from domestic terrorists — one attack, on average, every 34 days. It’s debatable how that compares to the 1990s, when the first wave of the antigovernment militia movement swept the country. One 2013 study, by West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center, found that violence from the extreme right between 2000 and 2011 had surpassed that of the 1990s by a factor of four, but many experts agree that that seems exaggerated. What is certain is that domestic terrorism from all sources is endemic and shows no signs of abating.

The body count of victims during the 2009- 2015 period is certainly less than that of the 1990s, but that is heavily skewed by Timothy McVeigh’s murder of 168 people in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. If the Oklahoma victims are subtracted, it appears that the rate of killing has remained approximately the same throughout. The SPLC study found that 63 victims had been killed in 2009-2015 terrorist attacks, along with 16 assailants. Another recent study, from the public-private National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, or START, counted 368 people murdered by far-right extremists between 1990 and 2013, including 50 law enforcement officers. Without the Oklahoma victims, the START study (which did not include jihadists) shows an average killing rate of almost nine victims a year, while the SPLC study (including jihadists) finds an annual rate of almost 11.

The impact of terrorist attacks, far more than that of most other crimes, goes way beyond the number of victims. Such attacks send shock waves through targeted communities — racial groups, sexual minorities, Jews, Muslims, police and so on — and also can result, as security is ramped up, in a real loss of daily freedoms.

Other findings that emerged from the SPLC survey:

  • Almost half of the attacks during the period apparently were motivated by the ideology of the antigovernment “Patriot” movement, including “sovereign citizens,” whose movement has been described by the FBI as “domestic terrorist.” A little more than that (51%) came from ideologies of hate, ranging from white supremacy to misogyny to radical Islamism.

  • Of the 61 incidents where the weapon used is known, 59% of attackers used firearms, while 25% used explosives, including such jury-rigged bombs as propane tanks. Five percent used both firearms and explosives. And 11% used other weapons, including arson fires and a private plane.

  • Attackers were overwhelmingly male, with just seven female assailants.

  • Attackers were much older as a group than most violent criminals. Various studies have shown definitively that males aged 15 to 24 are responsible for a vastly disproportionate share of violent crime. In the case of the perpetrators surveyed in this study, only about 33% of the 87 whose ages are known were under the age of 29, with the remainder over 30. Aside from the 20 to 29 age group, the offenders were clustered most heavily between 30 and 49 years of age, although a surprising number were older than that. This suggests that perpetrators spend many years on the radical right, absorbing extremist ideology, before finally acting out violently.

The very high percentage of lone wolf and leaderless attacks and the declining number of groups on the radical right might suggest to some that the importance of the larger radical milieu is declining. But in fact, the groups and their ideologues provide the essential ideology that motivates the lone wolves and others. Today, that ideology is far less likely to come in publications or at group meetings. Instead, it lives on the Internet, always available and always dangerous.


RAISING THE ALARM: Then-Department of Homeland Security analyst Daryl Johnson was the chief author of a 2009 report warning of a resurgent radical right. But the report was largely forgotten after it came under fire from conservatives who wrongly saw it as an attack on them.

The Theory of Leaderless Violence

In April 1987, a federal grand jury in Arkansas indicted 14 of the best-known white supremacist leaders in the United States for conspiring to overthrow the federal government. The men were accused of plotting to kill a federal judge and establish an all-white nation in the Pacific Northwest. They were also accused of conspiring, during an Aryan World Congress in northern Idaho in 1983, to help launch The Order, a violent terrorist group composed of more than 20 people that was finally smashed in 1984, when its leader was killed by the FBI.

The 1988 trial was a fiasco. Most observers agreed that prosecutors had failed to prove a conspiracy, and in any event an all-white jury acquitted all 14 men in what amounted to a disaster for the government. The defendants emerged as heroes to the radical right — but one of them saw a critical lesson for the future.

Pondering the case later, Louis Beam, a violent Klansman and movement theoretician, republished an influential essay on “leaderless resistance” he’d written in 1983. In it, he advocated the end of large groups with a pyramid leadership structure, arguing that such organizations were too easy to infiltrate and destroy. In their place, he called for lone wolf action or leaderless resistance, by which he meant cells of no more than six men. The idea was these cells and individuals would act on their own, with no direction or contact with other radicals. In that way, he reasoned, even the destruction of a single cell would have little effect on the larger movement.

“As honest men who have banded together into groups or associations of a political or religious nature are falsely labeled ‘domestic terrorists’ or ‘cultists’ and suppressed,” he wrote, “it will become necessary to consider other methods of organization — or as the case may very call for: non-organization.”

Tom Metzger, a prominent neo-Nazi who long operated from California but now lives in Indiana, took up the leaderless banner after Beam, tirelessly promoting his ideas with such publications as his “Laws for the Lone Wolf,” carried on his Resist. com website. Metzger advised fellow racists to avoid membership in groups, keep cash on hand for emergencies, and “never truly admit to anything.”

“Never keep any records of your activities that can connect you to the activity,” he wrote as part of a raft of suggestions. “Keep in mind that repeated activity in one area will lead to increased attention to the area and possibly to you. The more you change your tactics, the more effective you will become.”

Whether because of the admonitions of Beam, Metzger and others, or simply because the tactic makes obvious operational sense, there is little question that the vast majority of recent terror attacks in the United States have been by lone wolves or very small leaderless cells. There’s also little question that the political violence is continuing apace and that little seems to have been effective in stopping it.

It may not have had to be this bad.

DHS Weighs In, Then Out

On April 7, 2009, the team of Department of Homeland Security analysts who study non-Islamic domestic terrorism issued a confidential report to law enforcement agencies entitled “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment.” The report, which noted the effect the economy and the election of the nation’s first black president was having on the radical right, was almost immediately leaked to the right-wing media.

There, it was pilloried, with right-wing pundits and groups like the American Legion falsely claiming that it attacked military veterans, conservatives and others on the political right. That was clearly not true — in fact, the report was remarkably accurate in its analysis and warnings (which included the assertion that the threat of lone wolves and small cells was growing) — but enough of a political firestorm was created that then-DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano renounced its findings. The team that wrote it and lead analyst Daryl Johnson were falsely accused of failing to follow DHS’ procedures and were criticized by Napolitano and others in public.

But then undeniable reality began to kick in.

Even before the DHS report’s publication — three days earlier, to be exact — the evidence was mounting. On April 4, 2009, Richard Poplowski, an extremist who believed the government was about to unleash troops against American citizens, ambushed and killed three Pittsburgh police officers responding to Poplowski’s mother’s call reporting a domestic disturbance at her home. Poplowski, who also had racist and anti-Semitic views, was eventually sentenced to death in the killings.


THE PRICE OF TERROR: A 9-year-old girl in Arizona, an IRS manager in Texas, two sheriff’s deputies in Florida, and a security guard in Washington, D.C., are among the recent victims of homegrown American terrorists.

Three weeks later, a Florida National Guardsman named Joshua Cartwright, who had earlier expressed interest in joining a militia group and also was “severely disturbed” about Obama’s election, shot two Okaloosa County sheriff’s deputies to death as they attempted to arrest Cartwright on domestic violence charges.

About a month after that, on May 31 — after Napolitano had withdrawn the April DHS report and apologized for its contents — an anti-abortion activist who had also been involved in the antigovernment “freemen” movement of the 1990s shot and killed Kansas abortion provider Dr. George Tiller in Tiller’s church. A few days later, on June 10, an elderly neo-Nazi named James von Brunn opened fire at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and killed a guard. He clearly intended to get into the museum and kill many more, but was himself shot and later died.

From there, the roster of human carnage continued without pause. A nativist extremist murdered a Latino man and his 9-year-old daughter; a longtime white supremacist was indicted and later convicted of sending a mail bomb that injured a diversity officer in Arizona; an angry tax protester flew an airplane into an Austin IRS building, killing himself and an IRS manager and injuring 13 others.

The Federal Response

But by then, almost the entire DHS team led by Daryl Johnson had left, discouraged by their treatment and DHS’ new reluctance to issue any reports because of the fear that they might become controversial. They were exhausted and perplexed by the criticisms of Napolitano, who accused them of violating vetting procedures. And Napolitano was not the only political figure that criticized Johnson and his colleagues. Then-House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), for instance, described the DHS report as “offensive and unacceptable” and charged, without any basis, that DHS had abandoned the word “terrorist” to describe Al Qaeda and instead was using “the same term to describe American citizens who disagree with the direction Washington Democrats are taking our nation.”

In the years since then, the DHS has held up or canceled a number of planned reports on domestic terrorism of various types. Even some law enforcement briefings were cancelled. At the same time, in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, Al Qaeda attacks, the Justice Department’s Domestic Terrorism Executive Committee was allowed to go fallow for more than a decade. But in the aftermath of the April 2014 murder of three people at two Kansas Jewish institutions, allegedly by a well-known neo-Nazi, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that he was bringing the committee back to life. It had held no meetings, however, as of press time.

Johnson’s DHS unit was not a law enforcement agency, but it did play a key role in providing law enforcement with intelligence assessments. While it certainly could not prevent most terrorist attacks, the information it once produced was of high interest and importance to many police agencies. Former West Memphis, Ark., Police Chief Bob Paudert, whose police officer son was murdered by a father-and-son team of antigovernment extremists in 2010, has denounced the government for failing to brief police on such things as the “sovereign citizens” movement. His son’s killers were sovereigns, who reject the laws of the federal government, and Paudert believes that if his son had been briefed on them he might have lived.

The FBI has taken up some of the slack left by DHS with occasional reports on extremism. And more than 70 fusion centers — regional centers where federal, state and local law enforcement agencies share information about threats — put out occasional papers and warnings to possible targets. But those who study terrorism are still deeply worried by the virtual dissolution of the DHS team. “It was a big mistake to take those people off the radar,” said Mark Hamm, a criminologist at Indiana State University. “As soon as Barack Obama was elected, we could almost see it in the wind that there was going to be a revival of the radical right.”

Still, there does seem to be some new activity on the part of the federal government, including the planned reactivation of the Domestic Terrrorism Executive Committee. The government is funding a number of studies on radicalization and other matters related to domestic terrorism. But it still remains to be seen if these initiatives and others really deal effectively with the threat.

For his part, Daryl Johnson, who warned in 2009 of the increasing move toward lone wolf and leaderless terrorism — criminal acts that are almost impossible to stop in advance because so few people are involved in their planning — worries that the government still concentrates too much on foreign Muslim extremists, and that the recent Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris could add to that bias. He says that another extreme-right attack on the order of Oklahoma City, which was facilitated by the fact that only four people knew of the plot in advance, is entirely likely.

“We’re long overdue for a much greater attack from the far right,” Johnson said as he weighed the prospects for violence by terrorists like Larry McQuilliams, who clearly intended to kill as many people as possible. “We are long overdue.”

THE PLOTS: A Timeline of Terror

In the last six years, incidents of domestic terrorism in the United States have been overwhelmingly carried out by solitary “lone wolves” or leaderless groups of just two people. The Southern Poverty Law Center’s study of the nature of these attacks is based on the following 63 incidents, which occurred between April 1, 2009, and Feb. 1, 2015. The list includes both terrorist attacks and foiled terrorist plots, as well as unplanned situations, such as traffic stops, where extremists were confronted by law enforcement officials and reacted with major violence. The ideologies driving the homegrown extremists in each incident are divided into two broad categories: “antigovernment,” meaning the perpetrators see the federal government as their chief enemy and generally subscribe to the tenets of the so-called “Patriot” movement; and “hate,” which encompasses hatred based on race, religion, gender, and sexual orientation, among others (jihadist attacks and anti-abortion violence are included in this category). An asterisk in the “outcome” field, which lists the number of people killed, indicates that one or more assailants died during the terrorist incident. If the incident is listed as a “group” attack, there were at least two assailants involved. The “perpetrator” field includes a few cases where the defendant has been accused, but not convicted, of a crime. The cases that mention “sovereign citizens” refer to people with radical antigovernment views who believe most laws don’t apply to them.

APRIL 4, 2009 | IDEOLOGY ANTIGOVERNMENT

INCIDENT TYPE LONE WOLF | INCIDENT DYNAMIC UNPLANNED

WEAPON FIREARMS | OUTCOME 3 KILLED

PERPETRATOR | MALE, 22 | PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA

RICHARD ANDREW POPLAWSKI shoots and kills three Pittsburgh police officers responding to a call about a domestic dispute with his mother, who wanted to kick him out of her house. Poplawski believed that an attack on gun rights was imminent and that U.S. troops would be used against U.S. citizens; he also thought a secret cabal of Jews ran the United States. Poplawski was heavily influenced by radio radical Alex Jones, many of whose conspiracy theories he believed.

 

APRIL 25, 2009 | IDEOLOGY ANTIGOVERNMENT

INCIDENT TYPE LONE WOLF | INCIDENT DYNAMIC UNPLANNED

WEAPON FIREARM | OUTCOME 3 KILLED (INCLUDING ASSAILANT)

PERPETRATOR MALE, 28 | CRESTVIEW, FLA.

Florida National Guardsman JOSHUA CARTWRIGHT shoots to death two Okaloosa County, Fla., sheriff’s deputies — Burt Lopez and Warren “Skip” York, both 45 — as they attempt to arrest him on domestic violence charges at a shooting range in Crestview. After fleeing the scene, Cartwright is fatally shot during a gun battle with pursuing officers. Cartwright’s wife later tells investigators that her husband was “severely disturbed” that Barack Obama was elected president. He also reportedly believed the U.S. government was conspiring against him. The county sheriff tells reporters that Cartwright had been interested in joining a militia group.

MAY 30, 2009 | IDEOLOGY HATE

INCIDENT TYPE GROUP | INCIDENT DYNAMIC PLANNED

WEAPON FIREARMS | OUTCOME 2 KILLED

PERPETRATORS FEMALE, 41; MALES, 34 AND 42 | ARIVACA, ARIZ.

SHAWNA FORDE — the executive director of Minutemen American Defense (MAD), an anti-immigrant vigilante group that conducts armed “citizen patrols” on Arizona’s border with Mexico — leads a trio that invades the home of a Latino family, shooting to death a man and his 9-year-old daughter and wounding his wife. Forde believed the man was a narcotics trafficker and wanted to steal drugs and cash to fund her group’s activities. Forde is eventually convicted and sentenced to death. The triggerman, MAD Operations Director JASON EUGENE “GUNNY” BUSH, 34, also is sentenced to death, while ALBERT ROBERT GAXIOLA, 42, a local member of MAD, gets life in prison. Authorities say that Bush had ties to the neo-Nazi Aryan Nations in Idaho and that Forde has spoken of recruiting its members.

MAY 31, 2009 | IDEOLOGY HATE

INCIDENT TYPE LONE WOLF | INCIDENT DYNAMIC PLANNED

WEAPON FIREARM | OUTCOME 1 KILLED

PERPETRATOR MALE, 51 | WICHITA, KAN.

SCOTT ROEDER, an anti-abortion extremist who was involved with the antigovernment “freemen” movement in the 1990s, shoots to death Kansas abortion provider George Tiller as the doctor is serving as an usher in his Wichita church. Adherents of the freemen movement describe themselves as sovereign citizens not subject to federal and other laws, and often issue their own vehicle license plates. It was one of those unauthorized homemade plates that led Topeka police to stop Roeder in 1996, when a search of his trunk revealed a pound of gunpowder, a 9-volt bat- 18 southern poverty law center tery wired to a switch, blasting caps and ammunition. A prosecutor in that case called Roeder a “substantial threat to public safety,” but his conviction in that case is overturned later. In 2010, Roeder is sentenced to life in prison for the Tiller murder.

JUNE 10, 2009 | IDEOLOGY HATE

INCIDENT TYPE LONE WOLF | INCIDENT DYNAMIC PLANNED

WEAPON FIREARM | OUTCOME 1 KILLED

PERPETRATOR MALE, 88 | WASHINGTON, D.C.

JAMES VON BRUNN, a longtime neo-Nazi, shoots to death security guard Stephen Johns at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, but is critically wounded by other officers as he tries to storm into the facility. Von Brunn had a long history in the white supremacist movement. In the early 1970s, he worked at the Holocaust-denying Noontide Press and in subsequent decades he came to know many of the key leaders of the radial right. In 1981, von Brunn used a sawed-off shotgun to attempt unsuccessfully to kidnap members of the Federal Reserve Board in Washington, and served six years in prison as a result. A search of Von Brunn’s car after the museum attack turns up a list of apparent targets including the White House, the Capitol, the National Cathedral and The Washington Post. A note left there by von Brunn reads: “You want my weapons; this how you’ll get them … the Holocaust is a lie … Obama was created by Jews. Obama does what his Jew owners tell him to do. Jews captured America’s money. Jews control the mass media.” Von Brunn is charged with murdering Johns but dies in 2010 while awaiting trial.

OCT. 28, 2009 | IDEOLOGY HATE

INCIDENT TYPE LONE WOLF | INCIDENT DYNAMIC UNPLANNED

WEAPON FIREARM | OUTCOME 1 KILLED *

PERPETRATOR MALE, 53 | DEARBORN, MICH

LUQMAN AMEEN ABDULLAH, identified by authorities as a member of a Black Muslim group hoping to create an Islamic state within U.S. borders, is shot dead at a warehouse after he fires at FBI agents trying to arrest him on conspiracy and weapons charges. The FBI says Abdulla encouraged violence against the United States. Several other members of his Sunni Muslim group also are arrested.

 

 

 

 

NOV. 5, 2009 | IDEOLOGY HATE

INCIDENT TYPE LONE WOLF | INCIDENT DYNAMIC PLANNED

WEAPON FIREARM | OUTCOME 13 KILLED

PERPETRATOR MALE, 39 | FORT HOOD, TEXAS

MAJOR NIDAL MALIK HASAN, a U.S. Army psychiatrist, fatally shoots 13 people and injures more than 30 others at Fort Hood. Although the U.S. Department of Defense and federal law enforcement agencies later classify the mass murder as an act of workplace violence and not terrorism, a series of E-mails between Hasan and Yemen-based imam Anwar al-Awlaki, who had been monitored by U.S. intelligence as a security threat, are found and military colleagues report that they were aware of his growing radicalization. Hassan is eventually convicted of 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted murder and sentenced to death.

FEB. 18, 2010 | IDEOLOGY ANTIGOVERNMENT

INCIDENT TYPE LONE WOLF | INCIDENT DYNAMIC PLANNED

WEAPON AIRPLANE | OUTCOME 2 KILLED *

PERPETRATOR MALE, 53 | AUSTIN, TEXAS

ANDREW JOSEPH STACK, years after attending a series of meetings of radical anti-tax groups in California, sets fire to his own house and then flies his single-engine private plane into a building housing Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offices. Stack and an IRS manager are killed and 13 others are injured. Stack leaves behind a long online rant about the IRS and the tax code, politicians and corporations.

 

 

MARCH 25, 2010 | IDEOLOGY ANTIGOVERNMENT

INCIDENT TYPE LONE WOLF | INCIDENT DYNAMIC UNPLANNED

WEAPON FIREARM | OUTCOME NO FATALITIES

PERPETRATOR MALE, 37 | SUMTER COUNTY, FLA.

A man later identified as BRODY JAMES WHITAKER opens fire on two Florida state troopers during a routine traffic stop on I-75 in Sumter County. Whitaker flees, crashing his vehicle and continuing on foot. He is arrested two weeks later in Connecticut, where he challenges the authority of a judge and declares himself a “sovereign citizen” immune to the laws of the land. Whitaker is later extradited to Florida to face charges of assaulting and fleeing from a police officer. In 2012, he is sentenced to life in prison.

 

MARCH 28, 2010 | IDEOLOGY ANTIGOVERNMENT

INCIDENT TYPE UNKNOWN | INCIDENT DYNAMIC PLANNED

WEAPON EXPLOSIVES | OUTCOME NO FATALITIES

PERPETRATOR UNKNOWN | SPOKANE, WASH.

Federal authorities discover a pipe bomb along the perimeter of the federal courthouse in Spokane, Wash., but fail to identify or arrest a perpetrator. The bomb was planted during a wave of threats against politicians and other government officials that was triggered by anger over the passage President Obama’s health care reforms just five days earlier.

APRIL 15, 2010 | IDEOLOGY ANTIGOVERNMENT

INCIDENT TYPE LONE WOLF | INCIDENT DYNAMIC PLANNED

WEAPON EXPLOSIVES | OUTCOME NO FATALITIES

PERPETRATOR MALE, 30 | CLEVELAND, OHIO

MATTHEW FAIRFIELD — president of a local chapter of the Oath Keepers, a radical antigovernment organization given to baseless conspiracy theories and largely composed of police and military officers and veterans — is indicted on 28 explosives charges, 25 counts of receiving stolen property and one count of possessing criminal tools. Authorities searching Fairfield’s home also discover a napalm bomb he built and a computer containing child pornography. Fairfield pleads guilty to explosives charges and is sentenced in 2011 to 16 years in prison. That September, prosecutors drop child porn charges in exchange for Fairfield’s guilty plea to obstruction of justice. He is sentenced to four additional years in prison, to be served concurrently with his initial sentence.

APRIL 30, 2010 | IDEOLOGY ANTIGOVERNMENT

INCIDENT TYPE LONE WOLF | INCIDENT DYNAMIC PLANNED

WEAPON UNKNOWN | OUTCOME NO FATALITIES

PERPETRATOR MALE, 41 | MADISONVILLE, TENN.

DARREN HUFF, an Oath Keeper from Georgia, is arrested and charged with planning the armed takeover of a Madisonville, Tenn., courthouse and “arrest” of 24 local, state and federal officials. Huff was angry about the arrest the same month of Walter Francis Fitzpatrick III, a leader of the far-right American Grand Jury movement that sought to have grand juries indict President Obama for treason. At the time, several others in the antigovernment movement accuse Huff of white supremacist and anti-Semitic attitudes in Internet postings. He is sentenced to four years in federal prison.

MAY 10, 2010 | IDEOLOGY HATE

INCIDENT TYPE LONE WOLF | INCIDENT DYNAMIC PLANNED

WEAPON EXPLOSIVES | OUTCOME 1 KILLED *

PERPETRATOR MALE, 46 | JACKSONVILLE, FLA.

SANDLIN MATTHEW SMITH sets off a pipe bomb at the rear entrance of the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida. No one is injured in the attack. Surveillance videotape from the mosque shows a white man setting the bomb, and law enforcement interest quickly turns to Smith. FBI agents are later tipped off to the man’s location in a tent at Glass Mountain State Park in northwest Oklahoma. When police approach Smith, he draws a weapon and is shot and killed by officers. The FBI later reports that Smith’s marriage was falling apart and that he was increasingly angry that American soldiers were dying in Iraq and Afghanistan.

MAY 20, 2010 | IDEOLOGY ANTIGOVERNMENT

INCIDENT TYPE GROUP | INCIDENT DYNAMIC UNPLANNED

WEAPON FIREARM | OUTCOME 4 KILLED *

PERPETRATORS MALES, 16 AND 45 | WEST MEMPHIS, ARK.

A father-and-son team of sovereign citizens, who believe police, have no right to regulate road travel, murder West Memphis, Ark., police officers Robert Brandon Paudert, 39, and Thomas William “Bill” Evans, 38, during a routine traffic stop on an I-40 exit ramp. The violence begins to unfold when JERRY KANE, 45, starts to argue with the officers over his bogus vehicle registration paperwork and then pushes Evans into a roadside ditch. At that point, Kane’s 16-year-old son, JOSEPH KANE, kills both officers with an AK-47 before the pair flees. Authorities catch up with them about 45 minutes later. In the ensuing shootout, two more officers are badly wounded and both Kanes are killed. The pair had been traveling the country offering seminars in bogus sovereign techniques for avoiding foreclosure and related matters.

MAY 20, 2010 | IDEOLOGY HATE

INCIDENT TYPE LONE WOLF | INCIDENT DYNAMIC PLANNED

WEAPON ARSON | OUTCOME NO FATALITIES

PERPETRATOR MALE, 23 | CONNEAUT, OHIO

RONALD J. PUDDER sets fire to the front entrance of the First Azusa Apostolic Faith Church of God, a predominantly African-American church in northeast Ohio. The church is only lightly damaged. Pudder later pleads guilty to intentionally destroying religious property for reasons of race. He is sentenced to 51 months in prison.

JULY 18, 2010 | IDEOLOGY ANTIGOVERNMENT

INCIDENT TYPE LONE WOLF | INCIDENT DYNAMIC PLANNED

WEAPON FIREARM | OUTCOME NO FATALITIES

PERPETRATOR MALE, 45 | OAKLAND, CALIF.

BYRON WILLIAMS, an unemployed parolee with two bank robbery convictions who is apparently enraged at liberals and what he sees as the “leftwing agenda” of Congress, opens fire on California Highway Patrol troopers after they pull him over. No one is killed, but two troopers are slightly injured. Williams, who is shot in the arms and legs, later tells authorities that he was on his way to carry out an attack office of the American Civil Liberties Union and the Tides Foundation, a liberal organization that, although little known to most Americans, had been repeatedly pilloried by then-Fox News host Glenn Beck. In 2014, a jury convicts Williams of four counts of premeditated attempted murder of a peace officer and three counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm. He is sentenced to 401 years in prison.

JULY 21, 2010 | IDEOLOGY ANTIGOVERNMENT

INCIDENT TYPE LONE WOLF | INCIDENT DYNAMIC PLANNED

WEAPON FIREARM | OUTCOME 1 KILLED

PERPETRATOR MALE, 64 | CUMBERLAND COUNTY, PENN.

Attorney Todd Getgen is shot to death at a gun range in Cumberland County, Penn., and his weapon, a silenced AR-15 rifle, is stolen. Nine days later, authorities arrest prison guard RAYMOND PEAKE, saying Peake was trying to accumulate weapons for an unnamed organization that intended to overthrow the government. Fellow prison guard Thomas Tuso is also arrested for helping Peake hide Getgen’s custom-built weapon. Peake is sentenced in 2012 to life in prison. The next year, Tuso is sentenced to between 11 and 23 months in prison.

 

 

AUG. 17, 2010 | IDEOLOGY ANTIGOVERNMENT

INCIDENT TYPE LONE WOLF | INCIDENT DYNAMIC PLANNED

WEAPON FIREARM | OUTCOME 1 KILLED *

PERPETRATOR MALE, 29 | MCKINNEY, TEXAS

PATRICK GRAY SHARP sets fire to his truck outside the McKinney Public Safety Building and then begins firing at first responders from a makeshift sniper’s nest. Police estimate Sharp fired more than 100 rounds at the building, which houses the town’s police department. McKinney officers fire back at Sharp and, when they later close in on his position, find him dead of gunshot wounds.

AUGUST 30, 2010 | IDEOLOGY HATE

INCIDENT TYPE LONE WOLF | INCIDENT DYNAMIC PLANNED

WEAPON FIREARM | OUTCOME NO FATALITIES

PERPETRATOR MALE, 52 | SPOKANE, WASH.

White supremacist WAYDE LYNN KURT is arrested in Spokane on federal gun and forgery charges. Authorities later release audio recordings to support their allegation that he was planning a terrorist attack that he called his “final solution” and which included assassinating President Obama. Kurt, a convicted felon who is associated with neo-Nazis and racist Odinists, is sentenced in 2012 to 13 years in prison on firearms and false identification convictions after federal prosecutors seek and receive a “terrorism enhancement” to his sentence.

 

 

SEPT. 2, 2010 | IDEOLOGY HATE

INCIDENT TYPE LONE WOLF | INCIDENT DYNAMIC PLANNED

WEAPON EXPLOSIVES | OUTCOME NO FATALITIES

PERPETRATOR MALE, 37 | MADERA, CALIF.

A pipe bomb is thrown through the window of a closed Planned Parenthood clinic along with a note that reads, “Murder our children? We have a ‘choice’ too.” The note is signed ANB, apparently short for the American Nationalist Brotherhood. Six months later, law enforcement officials arrest school bus driver DONNY EUGENE MOWER, who allegedly also threatened a local Islamic center and has the word “Peckerwood,” a white supremacist reference, tattooed on his chest. Mower confesses to the attack and pleads guilty to arson, damaging religious property and violating the Freedom of Access to Clinics Act. He is sentenced in 2012 to five years in prison and three years of supervised release.

 

SEPT. 7, 2010 | IDEOLOGY HATE

INCIDENT TYPE LONE WOLF | INCIDENT DYNAMIC PLANNED

WEAPON EXPLOSIVES | OUTCOME NO FATALITIES

PERPETRATOR MALE, 26 | CONCORD, N.C.

The FBI arrests 26-year-old JUSTIN CARL MOOSE, a self-described “freedom fighter” and “Christian counterpart to Osama bin Laden,” for allegedly planning to blow up a North Carolina abortion clinic. After earlier receiving tips that Moose was posting threats of violence against abortion providers and information about explosives on his Facebook page, the FBI set up a sting operation to capture him. Moose ultimately pleads guilty to distributing information on manufacturing and use of an explosive and is sentenced to 30 months in prison. He is released in 2012.

 

SEPT. 17, 2010 | IDEOLOGY ANTIGOVERNMENT

INCIDENT TYPE LONE WOLF | INCIDENT DYNAMIC UNPLANNED

WEAPON FIREARM | OUTCOME NO FATALITIES

PERPETRATOR MALE, 55 | WEST ODESSA, TEXAS

VICTOR DEWAYNE WHITE, a so-called sovereign citizen, shoots and wounds three people, including two sheriff’s deputies, before surrendering at the end of a 22-hour standoff. The incident began when an oil company employee went to White’s property with Ector County Sheriff’s Deputy Ricky Tijerina and Sgt. Steve McNeil to access an oil well to which the company owned rights. White — who had ties to the separatist Republic of Texas, which claims Texas is a sovereign nation never legally annexed by the United States — eventually surrenders and is charged with three counts of attempted capital murder of a peace officer, one count of attempted capital murder, and aggravated assault. He is sentenced to life in prison in 2012.

NOV. 17, 2010 | IDEOLOGY ANTIGOVERNMENT

INCIDENT TYPE LONE WOLF | INCIDENT DYNAMIC UNPLANNED

WEAPON FIREARM | OUTCOME 1 KILLED *

PERPETRATOR MALE, 47 | RIGGINS, IDAHO

CURTIS SCRIVER, a sovereign citizen facing charges of menacing with a deadly weapon, disorderly conduct and two counts of possession of a dangerous weapon, is killed in a gun battle in Riggins, Idaho, that begins after law enforcement officers try to arrest him for sending a threatening letter to the court. In the letter, Scrivner had warned that police had violated his rights “protected by the second and fourth amendments to the Constitution,” and added, “I know this as I have studied law as an ex-cop. Your court and attorneys should know this, as it is your job to know.”

NOV. 26, 2010 | IDEOLOGY HATE

INCIDENT TYPE LONE WOLF | INCIDENT DYNAMIC PLANNED

WEAPON EXPLOSIVES | OUTCOME NO FATALITIES

PERPETRATOR MALE, 19 | PORTLAND, ORE.

MOHAMED OSMAN MOHAMUD is arrested in an FBI sting operation after attempting to set off what he thought was a car bomb at a Christmas tree lighting. He is charged with and eventually convicted of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, although his attorney claims he was entrapped. Mohamud is sentenced in 2014 to 30 years in federal prison.

 

 

 

NOV. 28, 2010 | IDEOLOGY HATE

INCIDENT TYPE LONE WOLF | INCIDENT DYNAMIC PLANNED

WEAPON ARSON | OUTCOME NO FATALITIES

PERPETRATOR MALE, 24 | CORVALLIS, ORE.

CODY SETH CRAWFORD allegedly firebombs the Salman Alfarisi Islamic Center in Corvallis just two days after a former Oregon State University student was arrested in a plot to detonate a car bomb during Portland’s annual Christmas tree lighting. Crawford had reportedly ranted about Muslims and describes himself as a Christian warrior after the arson. But complex legal questions surrounding Crawford’s mental health and actions of the prosecution delay the scheduling of a trial.

 

JAN. 14, 2011 | IDEOLOGY HATE

INCIDENT TYPE LONE WOLF | INCIDENT DYNAMIC PLANNED

WEAPON EXPLOSIVES | OUTCOME NO FATALITIES

PERPETRATOR MALE, 28 | APACHE JUNCTION, ARIZ.

Federal agents arrest JEFFERY HARBIN, a member of the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement, for building homemade grenades and pipe bombs that he intended to supply to anti-immigrant groups patrolling the Arizona-Mexico border. A prosecutor says that Harbin constructed the devices, using model rocket engines and aluminum powder, “in such a way as to maximize human carnage.” In September 2011, Harbin — the son of Jerry Harbin, a Phoenix-area activist with past ties to the neo-Nazi National Alliance and the racist Council of Conservative Citizens — pleads guilty to making and transporting bombs and is sentenced to two years in prison.

JAN. 14, 2011 | IDEOLOGY HATE

INCIDENT TYPE GROUP | INCIDENT DYNAMIC PLANNED

WEAPON FIREBOMB | OUTCOME NO FATALITIES

PERPETRATOR MALES, 32 AND 37 | HARDY, ARK.

JASON WALTER BARNWELL, 37, of Evening Shade, Ark., and GARY DON DODSON of Waldron throw a Molotov cocktail through the window of an interracial couple’s home in Hardy. Barnwell, described as a leader of a “combat division” of a neo-Nazi skinhead gang, pleads guilty to federal civil rights and firearms charges in 2011 and is sentenced to 20 years in prison. Dodson pleads guilty to similar charges later that year and is eventually sentenced to 15 years in prison.

JAN. 17, 2011 | IDEOLOGY HATE

INCIDENT TYPE LONE WOLF | INCIDENT DYNAMIC PLANNED

WEAPON EXPLOSIVES | OUTCOME NO FATALITIES

PERPETRATOR MALE, 36 | SPOKANE, WASH.

A sophisticated improvised explosive device is discovered in a backpack placed on the route of a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade that included some 1,500 participants. Police bomb technicians manage to defuse the device, which eventually yields forensic clues that lead officials to KEVIN WILLIAM HARPHAM. Harpham is a one-time member of the neo-Nazi National Alliance and has posted more than 1,000 messages to the neo-Nazi Vanguard News Network since 2004 and contributed articles to the white supremacist Aryan Alternative tabloid. Harpham is accused of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, and in December 2011 pleads guilty to that charge and another of planting a bomb as part of a hate crime. He is sentenced to 32 years in prison.

MARCH 10, 2011 | IDEOLOGY ANTIGOVERNMENT

INCIDENT TYPE GROUP | INCIDENT DYNAMIC PLANNED

WEAPON FIREARMS | OUTCOME NO FATALITIES

PERPETRATORS MALES, 26, 36 AND 55; FEMALE, 64 | FAIRBANKS, ALASKA

Several members of the antigovernment Alaska Peacemakers Militia, including its 26-year-old leader, FRANCIS SCHAEFFER COX, are arrested and charged with plotting to kill or kidnap state troopers and a Fairbanks judge. The group already has a large cache of weapons, including a .50-caliber machine gun, grenades and a grenade launcher. Cox, who had earlier identified himself as a sovereign citizen, is convicted in 2012 of 12 counts, including conspiracy to kill a judge and law enforcement officials. He is sentenced the next year to almost 26 years in federal prison. A couple, LONNIE and KAREN VERNON, plead guilty to similar charges and are sentenced to almost 25 years and 12 years, respectively. Another member of the group, COLEMAN BARNEY, is found guilty of weapons charges and sentenced to five years in federal prison.

 

MAY 11, 2011 | IDEOLOGY HATE

INCIDENT TYPE GROUP | INCIDENT DYNAMIC PLANNED

WEAPON FIREARMS | OUTCOME NO FATALITIES

PERPETRATOR MALES, 20 AND 26 | NEW YORK, N.Y.

AHMED FERHANI, a 26-yearold aspiring fashion model who once sold cosmetics at Saks Fifth Avenue, and taxi service dispatcher MOHAMED MAMDOUH are arrested after purchasing three semiautomatic pistols, 150 rounds of ammunition and a hand grenade from an undercover police officer. The pair, who plotted to blow up synagogues across New York City, is charged with second-degree conspiracy as a crime of terrorism, second-degree conspiracy as a hate crime and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon as a crime of terrorism. Officials say the two have no known connection to Islamic extremist groups. Both men are convicted and, in 2013, Ferhani is sentenced to 10 years in prison, while Mamdouh gets five years.

 

 

 

 

 

MAY 14, 2011 | IDEOLOGY HATE

INCIDENT TYPE GROUP | INCIDENT DYNAMIC PLANNED

WEAPON ARSON | OUTCOME NO FATALITIES

PERPETRATOR 3 MALES, AGES UNKNOWN | HOUSTON, TEXAS

Three masked men break into the Madrasah Islamiah, an Islamic center in Houston, and douse prayer rugs with gasoline in an apparent attempt to burn the center down. Images of the men are captured on surveillance cameras, but they are not identified. The fire is put out before doing major damage.

MAY 25, 2011 | IDEOLOGY HATE

INCIDENT TYPE LONE WOLF | INCIDENT DYNAMIC PLANNED

WEAPON FIREARM | OUTCOME NO FATALITIES

PERPETRATOR MALE, 63 | MADISON, WIS.

A man with a long history of menacing abortion clinics is arrested on weapons charges after he accidentally shoots a pistol through the door of a motel room. When confronted, RALPH LANG tells police he had planned to kill a doctor and workers at a nearby Planned Parenthood clinic. Lang is sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2013.

JUNE 12, 2011 | IDEOLOGY ANTIGOVERNMENT

INCIDENT TYPE LONE WOLF | INCIDENT DYNAMIC PLANNED

WEAPON FIREARM | OUTCOME NO FATALITIES

PERPETRATOR MALE, 50 | LOLO, MONT.

Longtime militia activist DAVID BURGERT — a former convicted burglar who once led a group that planned to assassinate officials and later spent time in prison for being a felon in possession of a weapon — leads Missoula County sheriff’s deputies on a car chase when they come to investigate reports of his car being parked for a lengthy time at a picnic area near Lolo. After several miles, Burgert pulls over and begins firing at the deputies before fleeing on foot into the woods. He escapes his pursuers and is still a fugitive as of early 2015.

 

 

JULY 21, 2011 | IDEOLOGY HATE

INCIDENT TYPE LONE WOLF | INCIDENT DYNAMIC UNPLANNED

WEAPON FIREARM | OUTCOME NO FATALITIES

PERPETRATOR MALE, 48 | HURST, TEXAS

Self-described “Moorish national” JOSEPH M. TESI opens fire on a Colleyville police officer who followed him to Hurst, but instead is shot himself, in the face and the foot, by the officer. (Virtually all so-called Moorish nationals are black, but Tesi is white.) The officer had recognized Tesi as the man who had sent a court a note threatening “deadly force” against officials in a long-running dispute over traffic tickets. In his writings, Tesi used the obscure language favored by sovereign citizens, arguing that police had no right to regulate his travel. He is found guilty of aggravated assault on a public servant in 2012 and sentenced to 35 years in state prison.

OCT. 5, 2011 | IDEOLOGY HATE

INCIDENT TYPE GROUP | INCIDENT DYNAMIC PLANNED

WEAPON FIREARMS | OUTCOME 4 KILLED

PERPETRATOR MALE, 31; FEMALE, 24 |EVERETT, WASH./LAFAYETTE, ORE./EUREKA, CALIF.

White supremacist ex-convict DAVID “JOEY” PEDERSEN and his girlfriend HOLLY ANN GRIGSBY are arrested in California after a murderous rampage in three states. At the time, Grigsby tells police that she and Pedersen “were on their way to Sacramento to kill more Jews.” The first to be killed were Pedersen’s father and stepmother in Everett, followed by another man in Oregon, who was slain because the couple thought he was Jewish. An African American man was also found shot to death in Eureka. Earlier, Pederson served time for threatening to kill the federal judge who handled the Ruby Ridge, Idaho, case of white supremacist Randy Weaver. Pedersen is eventually sentenced to four life terms without the possibility of parole, while Grigsby is handed a single life sentence.

NOV. 1, 2011 | IDEOLOGY ANTIGOVERNMENT

INCIDENT TYPE GROUP | INCIDENT DYNAMIC PLANNED

WEAPON EXPLOSIVES, RICIN | OUTCOME NO FATALITIES

PERPETRATOR MALES, 65, 67, 68 AND 73 | CLEVELAND, GA./TOCCOA, GA.

Four members of a north Georgia militia are arrested in a plot to bomb federal buildings, attack Atlanta and other cities with deadly ricin, and murder law enforcement officials. The men — FREDERICK THOMAS, 73, SAMUEL J. CRUMP, 68, DAN ROBERTS, 67, and RAY H. ADAMS, 65 — discussed “taking out” a list of officials to “make the country right again” and scouted buildings in Atlanta to bomb. Authorities say the plot was inspired by an online novel, Absolved, written by longtime Alabama militiaman Mike Vanderboegh. Thomas, the ringleader, and Roberts plead guilty in 2012 to charges of conspiring to possess explosives and firearms and are each sentenced to five years in federal prison for conspiring to obtain an unregistered explosive device. Crump and Adams are convicted in January 2014 of conspiring to produce a toxic agent to poison government officials, and are each sentenced later in the year to 10 years in prison followed by five years of supervised release.

DEC. 5, 2011 | IDEOLOGY ANTIGOVERNMENT

INCIDENT TYPE GROUP | INCIDENT DYNAMIC PLANNED

WEAPON FIREARMS | OUTCOME 2 KILLED

PERPETRATORS MALES, 19, 25, 25 AND 26 | FORT STEWART, GA.

Four Army soldiers at Fort Stewart, Ga., later identified as members of the terror group Forever Enduring, Always Ready (FEAR), participate in the murder of 19-year- old former soldier and FEAR member Michael Roark and his 17-year-old girlfriend, Tiffany

York. The four are arrested five days later, after the victims’ bodies are discovered in a stand of dense woods. The two were killed because FEAR leader ISAAC AGUIGUI, 19, feared Roark would talk about the group’s plans to take over the Army base, overthrow the government,

assassinate a future president, blow up a dam and poison the apple crop in the state of Washington. Pfc. Aguigui funded the group, buying $87,000 in weapons and a large amount of drugs with a $500,000 insurance payment he received after the death of his pregnant wife. PFC. MICHAEL

BURNETT pleads guilty and agrees to testify against his FEAR comrades. In April 2013, the Army charges Aguigui with killing his wife, whose death was initially ruled accidental, and their unborn child. In July 2013, Aguigui pleads guilty in the murders of York and Roark, and is sentenced to life in prison. He subsequently is convicted in military court of the murder of his wife and is sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Two other soldiers, PVT. CHRISTOPHER SALMON and SGT. ANTHONY PEDEN, plead guilty in 2014 and receive life sentences.

DEC. 18, 2011 | IDEOLOGY ANTIGOVERNMENT

INCIDENT TYPE LONE WOLF | INCIDENT DYNAMIC UNPLANNED

WEAPON FIREARM | OUTCOME 2 KILLED *

PERPETRATOR MALE, 58 | WASHINGTON, PA.

Survivalist ELI FRANKLIN MYERS III shoots two Pennsylvania state troopers after they pull him over and cite him for expired vehicle registration and no proof of insurance. Immediately after being cited, Myers gets out of his car and begins firing at the two officers. John David Dryer, a 46-year-old part-time officer, is killed in the encounter, and a second officer, Robert V. Caldwell III, is badly injured. Myers, a former police officer himself, is also killed in the shootout.

 

 

 

 

APRIL 1, 2012 | IDEOLOGY HATE

INCIDENT TYPE LONE WOLF | INCIDENT DYNAMIC PLANNED

WEAPON EXPLOSIVES | OUTCOME NO FATALITIES

PERPETRATOR MALE, 50 | GRAND CHUTE, WIS.

Using a homemade device fashioned from a plastic bottle filled with incendiary chemicals, FRANCIS G. GRADY bombs the Grand Chute Planned Parenthood clinic. No one was injured, and Grady is arrested the next day. In early 2013, Grady is convicted and sentenced to 11 years in prison.

 

 

 

 

APRIL 6, 2012 | IDEOLOGY HATE

INCIDENT TYPE GROUP | INCIDENT DYNAMIC PLANNED

WEAPON FIREARMS | OUTCOME 3 KILLED

PERPETRATOR MALES, 19 AND 32 | TULSA, OK.

Two white men, JAKE ENGLAND, 19, and his friend ALVIN WATTS, drive through black neighborhoods in northern Tulsa randomly shooting five African Americans, three of whom die.

The spree, which comes to be known as the “Good Friday Shootings,” coincides with the second anniversary of the death of England’s father, who was killed by a black man in the same area. In 2013, both men plead guilty, avoiding the possibility of the death penalty, and are each sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

APRIL 17, 2012 | IDEOLOGY HATE

INCIDENT TYPE GROUP | INCIDENT DYNAMIC PLANNED

WEAPON FIREBOMBS | OUTCOME NO FATALITIES

PERPETRATOR MALES, 31 AND 42 | MENDOTA HEIGHTS, MINN.

JOSEPH BENJAMIN THOMAS and SAMUEL JAMES JOHNSON of Mendota Heights are indicted on federal weapons and drug charges after a probe of their alleged plans create an “Aryan Liberation Movement” and attack minorities, leftists and government officials. Prosecutors say Thomas, 42, also planned to attack the Mexican consulate in St. Paul with a truck loaded with flaming barrels of oil and gasoline. Johnson, a former leader of the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement with prior convictions for armed crimes, was scouting for a training compound in Illinois or Minnesota and seeking to recruit others into his group, court papers say. In the end, Johnson pleads guilty to being a felon in possession of weapons and is sentenced to 15 years in prison. Thomas pleads to intent to distribute 50 grams of methamphetamine and, in 2013, is sentenced to 10 years in prison.

JUNE 17, 2012 | IDEOLOGY ANTIGOVERNMENT

INCIDENT TYPE LONE WOLF | INCIDENT DYNAMIC PLANNED

WEAPON EXPLOSIVES | OUTCOME NO FATALITIES

PERPETRATOR MALE, 33 | PLANO, TEXAS

ANSON CHI is seriously injured when he detonates a bomb in an effort to destroy an Atmos Energy natural gas pipeline in Plano. Chi is an avid tax protester who has posted numerous videos, statements and rants on the Internet about the alleged evils of the Federal Reserve, the IRS, President Obama and the federal government. He had been a fugitive since 2009, when he violated probation in California on a weapons charge. Chi pleads guilty in 2013 to possessing an unregistered explosive and malicious use of an explosive and is sentenced to 22 years in prison.

 

AUG. 5, 2012 | IDEOLOGY HATE

INCIDENT TYPE LONE WOLF | INCIDENT DYNAMIC PLANNED

WEAPON FIREARM | OUTCOME 7 KILLED *

PERPETRATOR MALE, 40 | OAK CREEK, WIS.

Longtime neo-Nazi skinhead WADE MICHAEL PAGE opens fire with a 9 mm handgun inside a Sikh temple, killing six people and critically wounding three, including a police officer. Wounded by police, Page then shoots and kills himself at the scene. Page, an Army veteran who was discharged in 1998 for “patterns of misconduct,” was a “patched” member of the Northern Hammerskins, a division of the violent racist skinhead group Hammerskin Nation. He was also a well-known fixture on the white power music scene, playing in the band End Apathy and several others.

AUG. 16, 2012 | IDEOLOGY ANTIGOVERNMENT

INCIDENT TYPE GROUP | INCIDENT DYNAMIC UNPLANNED

WEAPON FIREARMS | OUTCOME 2 KILLED

PERPETRATOR MALES, 22, 24, 28 AND 44; FEMALES, 23 AND 37 | LAPLACE, LA.

Seven people, six of them deeply enmeshed in the sovereign citizens movement , allegedly ambush and murder St. John the Baptist Parish sheriff ’s deputies Brandon Nielsen, 34, and Jeremy Triche, 27. The attack comes in a trailer park about 30 miles from New Orleans, after deputies pursue them there from a nearby oil refinery, where they are suspected of shooting another deputy who was working as an off-duty guard. Authorities arrest the group’s leader, TERRY LYN SMITH, 44, Smith’s wife, CHANEL SKAINS, and his sons, DERRICK SMITH and BRIAN SMITH. Others are BRITTANY KEITH, KYLE DAVID JOEKEL and TENIECHA BRIGHT, 21. Bright is released when officials decide she is telling the truth about having merely hitched a ride with the Smith clan. Eventually, Skains and Keith plead guilty as accessories and agree to testify against the others. Derrick Smith pleads to the same charge, receiving a five-year sentence, and also to being a felon in possession of a weapon, getting another 12 years as a result. Brian Smith and Joekel are charged with capital murder and Terry Smith is charged with being a principal to attempted first-degree murder.

SEPT. 4, 2012 | IDEOLOGY ANTIGOVERNMENT

INCIDENT TYPE LONE WOLF | INCIDENT DYNAMIC UNPLANNED

WEAPON FIREARM | OUTCOME 2 KILLED *

PERPETRATOR MALE, 36 | ALAMO, CALIF.

CHRISTOPHER LACY shoots California Highway Patrol officer Kenyon Youngstrom at close range after the officer stops Lacy’s vehicle, which had an obstructed license plate, on I-680 near Alamo. Lacy is fatally shot by another trooper, and Youngstrom dies the next day. An investigation into Lacy’s background reveals a large amount of antigovernment sovereign citizens literature on several computers at his home.

 

DEC. 21, 2012 | IDEOLOGY HATE

INCIDENT TYPE LONE WOLF | INCIDENT DYNAMIC UNPLANNED

WEAPON FIREARMS | OUTCOME NO FATALITIES

PERPETRATOR MALE, 47 | BOWLING GREEN, OHIO

FBI agents arrest RICHARD SCHMIDT, the owner of a sporting goods store in Bowling Green, for trafficking in counterfeit goods and discover a cache of 18 weapons in his home and store, including AR-15 assault rifles, 9 mm and Sig Sauer pistols and shotguns, and more than 40,000 rounds of ammunition. Schmidt is unable to own the weapons legally because he is a felon who served 13 years for murdering a Latino man and wounding two others in a 1989 traffic dispute. Officials also find evidence of Schmidt’s neo-Nazi views, including video and Nazi paraphernalia, and the Anti-Defamation League identifies him as a longtime member of the neo-Nazi National Alliance. Authorities also discover a notebook they say Schmidt was using to track Detroit-area Jewish and African-American leaders, apparently as a prelude to some kind of attack. Schmidt is indicted in Toledo in January 2013 on three federal counts of possessing illegal firearms, body armor and ammunition, and one count of trafficking in counterfeit goods. He pleads guilty in July of that year to violating federal firearms laws and is later sentenced to nearly six years in prison.

APRIL 15, 2013 | IDEOLOGY HATE

INCIDENT TYPE GROUP | INCIDENT DYNAMIC PLANNED

WEAPON EXPLOSIVES | OUTCOME 5 KILLED *

PERPETRATOR MALES, 19 AND 26 | BOSTON

DZHOKHAR and TAMERLAN TSARNAEV, brothers from Chechnya, allegedly set off bombs made from pressure cookers at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three people and injuring more than 260 others, including more than a dozen who must have limbs amputated. Several

days later, after the FBI releases pictures of the Tsarnaevs taken from surveillance video along the marathon route, the brothers allegedly ambush and kill a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer. Tamerlan Tsarnaev is shot multiple times during that April 18 firefight on and dies after his brother runs him over with a stolen SUV while escaping. A day later, Dzohkhar Tsarnaev is found hiding in a boat parked in the backyard of a residence in Watertown, Mass. He is charged with 30-plus counts of homegrown terrorism, including the use of a weapon of mass destruction and malicious destruction of property resulting in death. According to interrogation reports, Dzhokhar claims he and his brother were self-radicalized in their extremist Islamic beliefs and angered by the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. His trial is set for early 2015.

MAY 3, 2013 | IDEOLOGY ANTIGOVERNMENT

INCIDENT TYPE LONE WOLF | INCIDENT DYNAMIC UNPLANNED

WEAPON EXPLOSIVES | OUTCOME NO FATALITIES

PERPETRATOR MALE, 24 | MONTEVIDEO, MINN.

BUFORD “BUCKY” ROGERS of Montevideo, a self-proclaimed member of the Black Snake Militia, is arrested when agents find homemade bombs and firearms at his father’s home. It is at least the third time Rogers has been arrested. Profanity-laced postings on Rogers’ Facebook page, beginning in June 2011, express his antigovernment views. “The NOW [New World Order] has taken all your freedoms the right to bear arms freedom of speech [sic] freedom to the press,” one of his postings says. He pleads guilty to two counts of weapons violations in early 2014 and is subsequently sentenced to three years and four months in prison.

JUNE 18, 2013 | IDEOLOGY HATE

INCIDENT TYPE GROUP | INCIDENT DYNAMIC PLANNED

WEAPON RADIATION DEVICE | OUTCOME NO FATALITIES

PERPETRATOR MALES, 49 AND 54 | PROVIDENCE, N.Y./STOCKPORT, N.Y.

GLENDON SCOTT CRAWFORD, 49, and ERIC J. FEIGHT are arrested at their homes in upstate New York after a year-long investigation and charged with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists for use of a weapon of mass destruction.

Crawford is a member of the United Northern and Southern Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and an industrial mechanic with General Electric; Feight is an outside contractor for the company with engineering skills. Officials say the two men, who call themselves “The Guild,” are well on the way to building a truck-borne radiation weapon that can be turned on remotely and that they hoped to see used in the mass murder of Muslims and others. Crawford allegedly refers to the device as “Hiroshima on a light switch.” The men are arrested after allegedly seeking funding for the weapon from Jewish groups and the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan without success. In 2014, Crawford is indicted for conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction and related charges, while his alleged accomplice is reportedly in talks about a plea agreement that would involve testifying against Crawford.

 

AUG. 18, 2013 | IDEOLOGY ANTIGOVERNMENT

INCIDENT TYPE GROUP | INCIDENT DYNAMIC PLANNED

WEAPON UNKNOWN | OUTCOME NO FATALITIES

PERPETRATOR MALE, 42; FEMALE, 67 | LAS VEGAS

DAVID ALLEN BRUTSCHE and a woman described as Brutsche’s roommate, DEVON CAMPBELL NEWMAN, are arrested in Las Vegas after a months-long investigation into an alleged plot to kidnap and execute police officers. Both Brutsche, a convicted felon and registered sex

offender, and Newman consider themselves sovereign citizens and have conducted recruiting seminars on sovereign ideology, officials say. Authorities say they intended to kidnap a police officer at random, detain the officer in a crude jail in a vacant house; “try” the officer in a “common-law” court, then execute the officer. The two are charged with felony conspiracy to commit murder, conspiracy to commit kidnapping and attempted kidnapping. Newman pleads guilty in December 2013 to conspiracy to commit false imprisonment, a misdemeanor, and is sentenced to a year of probation and ordered to have no contact with Brutsche. Brutsche, who renounces sovereign citizen ideology during court proceedings, pleads guilty in February 2014 to conspiracy to kidnap police officers and receives five years of probation. In a separate case involving failure to register as a sex offender, he receives 188 days in jail in addition to time served.

NOV. 1, 2013 | IDEOLOGY ANTIGOVERNMENT

INCIDENT TYPE LONE WOLF | INCIDENT DYNAMIC PLANNED

WEAPON FIREARM | OUTCOME 1 KILLED

PERPETRATOR MALE, 23 | LOS ANGELES

PAUL ANTHONY CIANCIA allegedly opens fire at Los Angeles International Airport, killing U.S. Transportation Security Administration officer Gerardo Hernandez at a security checkpoint and injuring six others. Police say he was carrying a bag packed with a semiautomatic .223-caliber Smith & Wesson M&P-15 rifle, five 30-round magazines and hundreds of additional rounds of ammunition. When he is arrested, sources say, Ciancia is carrying a note mentioning “fiat currency” and the New World Order, both topics of high interest to the militia movement. Ciancia is charged with the murder of a federal officer and committing violence at an international airport, with prosecutors saying they will seek the death penalty.

MARCH 27, 2014 | IDEOLOGY ANTIGOVERNMENT

INCIDENT TYPE LONE WOLF | INCIDENT DYNAMIC PLANNED

WEAPON EXPLOSIVES | OUTCOME NO FATALITIES

PERPETRATOR MALE, 38 | KATY, TEXAS

ROBERT JAMES TALBOT JR. is arrested in Katy by FBI agents who say he was about to rob an armored car and kill its driver. The FBI opened an investigation into Talbot’s activities in August 2013 after learning of his desire to recruit others into terrorist activities. Officials say Talbot was plotting to use C-4 explosives and weapons to rob banks and armored cars, kill police officers, and blow up government buildings and crowded mosques. Talbot is also behind a Facebook page called “American Insurgent Movement,” on which he posted antigovernment screeds, called for violence against public officials, and ranted about Muslims and LGBT people. In October 2014, Talbot pleads guilty to federal charges of attempted interference with commerce by robbery and solicitation to commit a crime of violence. He faces up 20 years on the first charge and another 10 on the second charge when he is sentenced.

APRIL 13, 2014 | IDEOLOGY HATE

INCIDENT TYPE LONE WOLF | INCIDENT DYNAMIC PLANNED

WEAPON FIREARM | OUTCOME 3 KILLED

PERPETRATOR MALE, 73 | OVERLAND PARK, KAN.

FRAZIER GLENN MILLER (aka Frazier Glenn Cross), a longtime racist and anti-Semite, is arrested after he allegedly opens fire at a Jewish community center and a Jewish retirement community in a suburb of Kansas City. Three people are killed, including a 14-year-old Eagle Scout and his grandfather, all of them Christians. Miller is charged with capital murder and three counts of attempted murder. Miller, a retired Army veteran and Green Beret, is the founder and former leader of both the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and the White Patriot Party, which he ran as paramilitary organizations in the 1980s. He was successfully sued by the SPLC for operating an illegal paramilitary organization and for using intimidation tactics against African Americans. Miller went underground in 1987 after he violated the court settlement and was facing criminal contempt charges. He was later caught and served three years in federal prison on weapons charges in connection with plans to commit robberies and assassinate SPLC co-founder Morris Dees. As part of a plea deal, he testified against other Klan members in a 1988 sedition trial.

MAY 23, 2014 | IDEOLOGY HATE

INCIDENT TYPE LONE WOLF | INCIDENT DYNAMIC PLANNED

WEAPON FIREARMS | OUTCOME 7 KILLED *

PERPETRATOR MALE, 22 | ISLA VISTA, CALIF.

ELLIOT RODGER goes on a killing spree in Isla Vista, Calif., shortly after uploading a video to YouTube titled “Elliot Rodger’s Retribution” and E-mailing what was subsequently described as his manifesto, titled “My Twisted World,” to a number of people. In the video and manifesto, he lays out the reasons behind the killings: his frustration over not being able to find a girlfriend, his hatred of women, and his contempt for racial minorities and interracial couples. Rodger stabs to death three men in his apartment before driving to a nearby sorority house, where he kills two sorority members, and a delicatessen, where he shot to death another student. He then speeds through Isla Vista, shooting at pedestrians before exchanging gunfire with police. Rodger crashes his car and police find him dead with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Rodger had expressed his violent hatred for women earlier in several postings at a misogynistic website called PUAHate.

JUNE 1, 2014 | IDEOLOGY HATE

INCIDENT TYPE LONE WOLF | INCIDENT DYNAMIC PLANNED

WEAPON FIREARMS | OUTCOME NO FATALITIES

PERPETRATOR MALE, 35 | WILLISTON, FLA.

DUSTIN HAROLD HEATHMAN is arrested after firing more than 50 rounds at police officers outside his home. Following a search, police found neo-Nazi literature as well as a cache of guns and ammunition. Following his arrest, Heathman reportedly makes suicidal comments and expresses antigovernment views similar to those of a sovereign citizen. He is charged with 10 counts of attempted murder.

 

JUNE 6, 2014 | IDEOLOGY ANTIGOVERNMENT

INCIDENT TYPE LONE WOLF | INCIDENT DYNAMIC PLANNED

WEAPON FIREARMS, EXPLOSIVES | OUTCOME 1 KILLED *

PERPETRATOR MALE, 48 | CUMMING, GA.

Armed with multiple guns and explosives, DENNIS MARX, a man described by law enforcement as an antigovernment sovereign citizen, enters the Forsyth County Courthouse in suburban Atlanta and opens fire. Marx is reportedly wearing a bulletproof vest and a gas mask. As he approaches the building, he throws out homemade smoke grenades that briefly cover his approach with orange smoke. He shoots one officer in the leg before being killed by deputies in a hail of gunfire.

JUNE 8, 2014 | IDEOLOGY ANTIGOVERNMENT

INCIDENT TYPE GROUP | INCIDENT DYNAMIC PLANNED

WEAPON FIREARMS | OUTCOME 5 KILLED *

PERPETRATOR MALE, 31; FEMALE, 22 | LAS VEGAS

JERAD MILLER and his wife, AMANDA, enter a pizza restaurant where two police officers are eating lunch.

Jerad Miller fatally shoots Officer Igor Soldo, 31. As his partner, Alyn Beck, 41, tries to react, Miller shoots him in the throat, and then both Millers shoot Beck several times. The pair leaves a swastika and a Gadsden flag on Beck’s body. The yellow flag, a symbol used by the antigovernment Patriot movement, features a coiled snake with the words “Don’t Tread on Me.” On Soldo’s body, they place a note: “This is the start of the revolution.” The couple leaves the restaurant and walks to a nearby Walmart store, where Amanda Miller shoots and kills Joseph Wilcox, 31, before the Millers barricade themselves in the back of the store. Jerad is shot to death by police, and Amanda kills herself. The couple held strong anti-government views, with Jerad Miller’s Facebook page containing calls to impeach President Obama as well as statements about conspiracy theories popular among Patriot groups. Two months earlier, the couple was at the Cliven Bundy ranch in Nevada, where militias had gathered in an armed standoff with the federal Bureau of Land Management over a grazing fee dispute. The Millers saw law enforcement officers as “oppressors” and reportedly told a neighbor they planned to kill police.

JUNE 15, 2014 | IDEOLOGY ANTIGOVERNMENT

INCIDENT TYPE LONE WOLF | INCIDENT DYNAMIC UNPLANNED

WEAPON FIREARM | OUTCOME NO FATALITIES

PERPETRATOR MALE, 60 | NEVADA CITY, CALIF.

BRENT DOUGLAS COLE, a sovereign citizen camping out in the woods of northern California, opens fire on two law enforcement officers who were investigating vehicles that had been parked for a long time at a wooded campground near Nevada City. Cole had a history of run-ins with law enforcement, including several other weapons-related incidents, and an even longer history of interest in far-right conspiracies on the Internet. At one site, Cole described himself as a “sovereign American Citizen attempting to thwart the obvious conspiracy and subterfuges of powers inimical to the United States.” In October 2014, a federal grand jury returns a three-count indictment against Cole, charging him with assault on a federal officer with a deadly weapon that inflicted bodily injury and discharge of a firearm during a crime of violence.

JULY 10, 2014 | IDEOLOGY ANTIGOVERNMENT

INCIDENT TYPE LONE WOLF | INCIDENT DYNAMIC PLANNED

WEAPON EXPLOSIVES | OUTCOME NO FATALITIES

PERPETRATOR MALE, 47 | TREMONTON, UTAH

JOHN DAVID HUGGINS is arrested after police learn he was building a grenade-like bomb and discussing plans to kill police officers in Tremonton. In charging documents, the U.S. Attorney’s office says Huggins also had instructions for making bombs and had planned on blowing up bridges and other infrastructure to prevent any help from reaching his intended victims. Huggins has a long history on the antigovernment right, and records obtained by the SPLC show that he bought material in 1992 from the National Alliance, then the largest neo-Nazi organization in the United States. A trial is scheduled for early 2015.

AUG. 11, 2014 | IDEOLOGY ANTIGOVERNMENT

INCIDENT TYPE LONE WOLF | INCIDENT DYNAMIC PLANNED

WEAPON FIREARMS, EXPLOSIVES | OUTCOME NO FATALITIES

PERPETRATOR MALE, 60 | DALLAS, TEXAS

DOUGLAS LEE LEGUIN, a sovereign citizen, reports a dumpster fire in a well to-do neighborhood of Dallas and begins shooting at firefighters who respond. Hours before the attack, police say that Leguin left his house with his AK-47, ammunition and propane canisters. Later, it was learned that he also told operators he was “seceding from the nation” because he was upset with the current state of the government, and that he was heavily armed, CBS reported. Negotiators eventually persuade Leguin to surrender. According to police, Leguin had recently become depressed and spent hours watching Al-Jazeera, dreaming of starting his own country. No one was hurt in the gunfire. Leguin is charged with seven counts of aggravated assault.

SEPT. 12, 2014 | IDEOLOGY ANTIGOVERNMENT

INCIDENT TYPE LONE WOLF | INCIDENT DYNAMIC PLANNED

WEAPON FIREARMS | OUTCOME 1 KILLED

PERPETRATOR MALE, 31 | BLOOMING GROVE, PA.

ERIC MATTHEW FREIN, an antigovernment survivalist and crack marksman, allegedly shoots and kills Pennsylvania State Police Cpl. Byron Dickson, 38, as he walks to his patrol car in front of a police barracks in rural northeastern Pennsylvania. Moments later, Frein allegedly shoots Trooper Alex T. Douglass, seriously wounding him. He then disappears into a wooded area and is not found for weeks despite a huge and intensive manhunt and being placed on the FBI’s Top 10 Most Wanted List. On Oct. 30, however, he is captured without incident at an abandoned airport. In November, Frein is charged with two counts of terrorism after police say he told them he carried out the attack to “wake people up.” A criminal complaint says Frein “wanted to make a change [in government] and [believed] that voting was insufficient to do so, because there was no one worth voting for.” Frein is charged with murder and attempted murder.

NOV. 28, 2014 | IDEOLOGY HATE

INCIDENT TYPE LONE WOLF | INCIDENT DYNAMIC PLANNED

WEAPON FIREARMS, EXPLOSIVES | OUTCOME 1 KILLED *

PERPETRATOR MALE, 49 | AUSTIN, TEXAS

LARRY STEVE MCQUILLIAMS goes on a shooting spree, firing at government buildings including the Mexican consulate and Austin police headquarters. He fires more than 100 rounds, injuring no one, but is then killed by a near-miraculous pistol shot fired by an officer standing 312 feet away. McQuilliams, who also brought propane cylinders with him in a van to firebomb buildings at the time he was killed, was a devotee of a doctrine known as the Phineas Priesthood, an ideology that calls violence divinely justified if used against race-mixers, gay people, abortion proponents and others. “He is a homegrown American extremist,” Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said of McQuilliams later. “Hate in his heart was part of his problem. … What keep me up at night are these guys. The lone wolf.”

JAN. 14, 2015 | IDEOLOGY HATE

INCIDENT TYPE LONE WOLF | INCIDENT DYNAMIC PLANNED

WEAPON FIREARMS | OUTCOME NO FATALITIES

PERPETRATOR MALE, 20 | GREEN TOWNSHIP, OHIO

CHRISTOPHER LEE CORNELL is arrested and charged with attempting to kill a federal officer and with possession of a firearm with the intent to commit a violent crime. Cornell, who uses the name Raheel Mahrus Ubaydah, allegedly told an FBI informant that he had been in contact with terrorist groups overseas and was moving forward in planning an attack. “I just believe that we should wage jihad under our own orders and plan attacks on everything,” Cornell reportedly said. Cornell also allegedly told the informant that he considered members of Congress to be enemies and that he intended to conduct an attack on the Capitol using bombs and firearms. Officials say plans for the attack were found on Cornell’s computer. He was arrested after buying semiautomatic rifles and 600 rounds of ammunition.

 


THINKING ABOUT TERRORISM: Former FBI agent Joe Navarro, a founder of the agency’s Behavioral Analysis Program, is an expert on the psychology of terrorists.

THE INTERVIEW: Wounded Minds

There has been a tremendous amount of research about what causes a terrorist to pick up a weapon or build a bomb and, without discussing his plans or seeking affirmation from compatriots, lash out with violence — what we call lone-wolf terrorism. But while this violence has frequently been assessed based on political and social motivations, few have looked at its psychological underpinnings. That is the specialty of JOE NAVARRO, a former FBI agent and one of the founders of the agency’s elite Behavioral Analysis Program. The author of many books, including Hunting Terrorists: A Look at the Psychology of Terror and Interviewing Terrorists: The Definitive How-to Guide From an Ex-FBI Special Agent, Navarro has spent a lifetime studying the criminal mind. He has interviewed hundreds of terrorists and offers some profound insights for understanding what drives someone like Frazier Glenn Miller, an aging anti-Semite who in April 2014 allegedly went on a shooting spree at two Kansas Jewish facilities, killing three people, after a lifetime of racist activism. Whether discussing jihadist or radical-right terrorism, Navarro argues that all terrorists find justification for their actions through a fairly standard process that begins with the formation of a grievance against the outside world. Ultimately, they see violence as the only answer for addressing their grievance. No matter the lone wolf’s politics, Navarro says the psychology involved is essentially the same.

In your study of terrorism and those who commit lone-wolf attacks, have you found universal factors that guide their actions?

The one thing we know is that the psychology has always been the same. By that, I mean you have individuals who are collecting wounds, they’re looking for social ills, or things that have gone wrong, and they are nourishing these things that they’re ideating, that they’re thinking about. The solution for them is violence. The psychology is always the same.

What do you mean, collecting wounds?

Every terrorist I’ve ever interviewed, these people collect wounds. They will go back in history and tell you about the Crusades. That’s a thousand years ago, and they’ll tell you about it. They’re collecting these injustices and they just hang on to them, and they feed them and nourish them.

Doesn’t everybody, to a degree, collect wounds?

You and I don’t collect wounds. We experience wounds, but we don’t feed them and nourish them.

What then compels a would-be terrorist to start collecting these wounds that ultimately cause him or her to act out violently?

Every human is different. And what triggers one individual may not trigger his brother living under the same circumstances. We see this over and over. It’s a personal sort of thing. Either they experience it, they witness it, they start ideating it, or it’s imbued in them by someone, by a mentor, or they’re seduced by an ideology. I’ve talked to Palestinians who said they just grew tired of the fact that their father was being humiliated and searched every day, and that Jews didn’t have to go through that. As for terrorists in the United States, look at Ted Kaczynski. He had an enlightened education. He came from a good background, and yet a lot what drove him was his paranoia and his fear of technology. If you read his manifesto, basically what he is saying is that electricity is bad and that we should use pen and pencil and no computers. Wow.

Is this a universal template to understanding terrorism?

To say that there is one giant template that applies to everybody, well, there isn’t. What we do know is that all these individuals, what they have in common is that once they begin to ideate this philosophy, whatever their passion is, whatever their hatred is, whatever their ideology is, they certainly all begin to communicate this to people around them. And when we go back and do the post-event analysis, we find that they were talking about this, they were telling people about this, and the people either ignored it, didn’t pay attention or didn’t think it would go any further.

What happens then, when a person collecting wounds decides to follow through with their plans?

What we do know is that from ideation, they go to the next step, which is to isolate themselves, and when they begin to isolate themselves, both psychologically and physically, that’s when they became very dangerous. Because now they’re not getting a balance of ideas and thoughts. Now, they’re fulfilling themselves and their beliefs, and so they’re repetitively thinking about the same thing. Or they’re hanging out with a group that feeds that.

If there is no template to understand how this happens, what does that mean for law enforcement? How do they find someone on the edge?

Obviously, it makes it very tough. Because isolating yourself and ideating hatred in and of itself is not an offense. There’s a lot of people out there who hate passionately. The thing that makes it tough for law enforcement is if family and friends don’t keep tabs on this, then there is no way to identify where this potential threat may come from other than from the usual, which is groups, associations that are anti-this, or anti-that. Like the KKK. The FBI had penetrated the KKK so much that at one point, there were only informants. So you would have to penetrate these groups and listen to the chatter in hate groups and so forth. But what if you pull a Ted Kaczynski, what if you decide you don’t want to communicate with anybody? That becomes very tough. Law enforcement can never catch that guy.

What is that X factor that pushes an extremist to act on the wounds he has collected?

That’s a profound question. Under ideal situations, you’re tracking and you’re tracking. When did this individual start ideating this stuff, when did he start communicating this stuff, who are his associates, who is the biggest influence on him? Are they posting online? Are they increasing their posts? Is the verbal attack becoming more vicious? Does it look like they are psychologically crossing this line where they’ve convinced themselves that violence is the only thing to do? And keep in mind, when these individuals are in that froth, they have a lot of anxiety. And a lot of times they feel like the only way to relieve that anxiety is to kill somebody or to harm somebody.

As someone approaches that end, is there anything anyone can do? And is it possible to track how close someone is to that line?

You can’t keep track of everybody that is approaching the precipice and will cross over. So I don’t think that we have the answer. Theoretically, we have that model of how these individuals progress, but I don’t think anybody has a really good predictive model. Although this model comes close: Once they begin to isolate themselves, then they become increasingly more dangerous.

THE ESSAY: Leaderless Resistance

In 1992, long-time Ku Klux Klan and Aryan Nations activist LOUIS BEAM republished an essay called “Leaderless Resistance” that he first wrote in 1983. Beam was spurred by the seditious conspiracy case the federal government brought against him and 13 other key leaders of the American radical right, even though all 14 were acquitted of all charges in 1988. The case essentially posited that the men were involved in a far-ranging conspiracy to overthrow the government hatched at the 1983 Aryan World Congress. To Beam, however, it was a perfect illustration of the way an entire organization or set of leaders could be brought down by a single case, although that did not happen with the sedition trial. His essay argued against large organizations and in favor of actions carried out by independently operating individuals or small cells of up to six men, pointing out that even if such a small cell were infiltrated, nothing more than that cell, at most, would be destroyed. He starts the essay by attributing the leaderless concept to a 1962 essay by an anti-communist U.S. intelligence officer named Col. Ulius Amoss. Here are some excerpts:

“We are cognizant that before things get better they will certainly get worse as government shows a willingness to use ever more severe police state measures against dissidents. … Failure to consider new methods and implement them as necessary will make the government’s efforts at suppression uncomplicated.”

“As honest men who have banded together into groups or associations of a political or religious nature are falsely labeled ‘domestic terrorists’ or ‘cultists’ and suppressed, it will become necessary to consider other methods of organization — or as the case may very well call for: non-organization.”

“The movement for freedom is rapidly approaching the point where for many people; the option of belonging to a group will be nonexistent. … Eventually, and perhaps much sooner than most people believe, the price paid for membership will exceed any perceived benefit.”

“The concept of Leaderless Resistance is nothing less than a fundamental departure in theories of organization. The orthodox scheme of organization … the pyramid, is however not only useless, but extremely dangerous for the participants when it is utilized in a resistance movement against state tyranny. … Experience has revealed over and over again that anti-state, political organizations utilizing this method of command and control are easy prey for government infiltration, entrapment, and destruction of the personnel involved.”

“An alternative to the pyramid type of organization is the cell system. … The value of this is that while any one cell can be infiltrated, exposed or destroyed, such action will have no effect on the other cells.”

“Utilizing the Leaderless Resistance concept, all individuals and groups operate independently of each other, and never report to a central headquarters or single leader for direction or instruction, as would those who belong to a typical pyramid organization. … No one need issue an order to anyone. Those idealists truly committed to the cause of freedom will act when they feel the time is ripe, or will take their cue from others who precede them.”

“America is quickly moving into a long dark night of police state tyranny…. Let the coming night be filled with a thousand points of resistance. Like the fog which forms when conditions are right and disappears when they are not, so must the resistance to tyranny be.”

THE LARGER VIEW: Related Studies

In recent years, a number of studies from sources inside and outside of federal government have warned of the threat of increased violence from the radical right, with many specifically addressing lone wolf attackers inspired by ideologies of hate and other extremism. What follows is a description of several of the studies.

“Right-wing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment,” Department of Homeland Security, Office of Intelligence Analysis, 2009

This study noted an upsurge in domestic rightwing extremism and suggested that it was being driven by factors including the 2008 election of the nation’s first black president and the collapsing economy. It also compared that upsurge to a similar rise that occurred in the 1990s. Among other things, the report concluded that “lone wolves and small terrorist cells embracing violent rightwing extremist ideology are the most dangerous domestic terrorism threat in the United States.” At one point, the study also mentioned the interest among hard-right extremists in recruiting returning war veterans — one of the factors that caused several right-wing politicians and groups to complain that it was unfairly criticizing veterans and others as potential terrorists. Although this is not what the report in fact said, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano essentially withdrew the study because of the criticism.

“The Domestic Terrorist Threat: Background and Issues for Congress,” Congressional Research Service, 2012

This study provided an overview of domestic extremist ideologies, both right-and left-wing (including antigovernment, animal rights and white supremacist activists), and exhorts Congress and counterterrorism policymakers to take these threats as seriously as jihadist terrorism. It found that domestic, non-jihadist terrorists have been responsible for over two dozen incidents since 9/11 and that there has been a growth in antigovernment extremist activity in recent years, but notes difficulties in defining the scope of domestic terrorism due to federal agencies’ use of varying terminologies and definitions. The study also notes that there is a lack of uniformity in how domestic terrorists are prosecuted and that government agencies tend to define “threats” rather than “groups,” and it adds that it’s unclear how those agencies arrived at their lists. The report does not include a list of incidents or individuals.

“Challengers from the Sidelines: Understanding America’s Violent Far-Right,” Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, 2012

This study provides an extensive social and historical overview of the different ideologies and the history of U.S. far-right groups and notes the rise of far-right violence in the 1990s. In a controversial finding, though, the study asserts that the 2000s experienced four times the level of far-right violence than the 1990s did. It defines three ideologies on the far right, including white supremacist, anti-federalist and fundamentalist religious movements. It also analyzes trends in far-right violence using a dataset constructed solely for the study that includes 4,420 violent incidents that occurred between 1990 and 2012 in the United States. The study links spikes in far-right violence to larger political and judicial undercurrents, including anti-segregation legislation, the 1964 Civil Rights Act, a series of abortion-related Supreme Court decisions in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and anti-gun legislation in the early 1990s. It also includes an overview of far-right violence by state, and an analysis of contributing factors. The top five states, according to the study, are California, Florida, Illinois, New York and Texas.

“The Organizational Dynamics of Far-Right Hate Groups in the United States: Comparing Violent to Non-Violent Organizations,” National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, Department of Homeland Security, 2011

Carried out by scholars for the Department of Homeland Security, this study finds that far-right American hate groups pose a “significant threat to public safety” and, based on the Extremist Crime Database, concludes that domestic far-right extremists have been involved in at least 330 homicide events that have claimed over 560 lives from 1990 to 2010. It also found that far-right extremists were linked to 60 planned or attempted terrorist plots between 1995 and 2005. The researchers used data from the Southern Poverty Law Center to create a sample of 275 far-right hate groups and developed an analysis of factors that it said help determine whether a domestic hate group or its members are likely to engage in violence.

“New York State Counter Terrorism Bulletin,” CTB 14-07, New York State Intelligence Center, 2014

Highlighting five recent killings of law enforcement officials in the United States and Canada, the report, now declassified and publicly accessible, was intended to warn law enforcement agencies in New York State that extremists fueled by common far-right conspiracies could target the state. Specifically, the report cautioned law enforcement officials that antigovernment extremists might be motivated by the passage of the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013, commonly known as the NY SAFE Act. Drafted in response to the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Conn., the law contains a number of firearms regulations that are often viewed by the far right as a precursor to an all-out federal seizure of private firearms.

“Understanding Law Enforcement Intelligence Processes,” National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, 2014

Funded in part by the Department of Homeland Security, this study consisted of questionnaires sent to state, local and tribal law enforcement authorities around the country in the hopes of better understanding perceptions about what is a serious terrorist threat in their local communities. Overwhelmingly, the study found that most law enforcement agencies saw antigovernment “sovereign citizens,” Islamic extremists and militia groups as overriding concerns. Among the study’s other findings were that far-right extremist groups, compared to individuals, were of minor concern to communities and viewed as least likely to carry out an attack.