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January 9, 2013 4

CNN Gives Platform to Conspiracy Theorist Alex Jones

On Mon­day, CNN aired a prime­time inter­view with con­spir­acy the­o­rist Alex Jones on Piers Mor­gan Tonight. Jones’s appear­ance might have been an eye-opening expe­ri­ence for those unfa­mil­iar with what extrem­ists are say­ing, but to the extent that the inter­view allowed him to pro­mote both his views and his media out­lets to hun­dreds of thou­sands of new view­ers, it was quite troubling.

In his ini­tial intro­duc­tion of Jones, the host, Piers Mor­gan, only iden­ti­fied him as the host of “The Alex Jones Show” and also “one of the peo­ple behind” the peti­tion call­ing for Mor­gan to be deported for his views on the sec­ond amendment.

Jones uses his radio show and his web­sites, Infowars and Prison Planet, to pro­mote a host of right-wing and anti-government con­spir­acy theories.

For exam­ple, in a 2011 inter­view with Rolling Stone, Jones com­mented on the shoot­ing of for­mer Con­gress­woman Gabrielle Gif­fords (D-AZ), stat­ing “The whole thing stinks to high heaven. This kid Lough­ner dis­ap­peared for days at a time before the shoot­ing? My gut tells me this was a staged mind-control oper­a­tion. The gov­ern­ment employs geo­met­ric psychological-warfare experts that know exactly how to indi­rectly manip­u­late unsta­ble peo­ple through the media. They implanted the idea in his head by repeat­edly ask­ing, ‘Is Gif­fords in danger?’”

A descrip­tion on Jones’s web­site Infowars for his film “911 The Road To Tyranny” describes how the film exam­ines “Bill Clinton’s involve­ment in the Okla­homa City bomb­ing and how it was car­ried out by intel­li­gence agen­cies to be blamed on the right-wing.  Accord­ing to the descrip­tion, the film also addresses “how the FBI ordered their infor­mants to cook the bomb and train the dri­vers in the first World Trade Cen­ter attack in 1993.”

Jones’s con­spir­acy the­o­ries, while eas­ily dis­missed as ludi­crous, can influ­ence peo­ple to take action. In August 2009, a man pleaded guilty to send­ing a threat­en­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion after he wrote a mes­sage on Infowars threat­en­ing to kill a San Fran­cisco police offi­cer and his fam­ily after read­ing a dis­cus­sion about a sub­way shoot­ing by a police offi­cer in Oak­land, California.

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August 17, 2012 33

Possible Extremist Connection to Louisiana Police Shootings

Two Louisiana sheriff’s deputies were killed on Thurs­day in LaPlace in two sep­a­rate but related inci­dents.  One or more of the sus­pects in the killings may have ties to extremism.

Terry Lyn Smith

The first shoot­ing inci­dent occurred at a Valero cor­po­ra­tion facil­ity, when a gun­man opened fire on a St. John the Bap­tist Parish sheriff’s deputy, wound­ing him.  Deputies fol­lowed a vehi­cle to a trailer park.  How­ever, another per­son exited a nearby trailer with an assault rifle and opened fire on the offi­cers.  Two deputies were killed and another was wounded.

Seven peo­ple have been arrested in con­nec­tion with the mur­ders:  Terry Lyn Smith, 44; Brian Lyn Smith, 24; Der­rick Smith, 22; Chanel Skains, 37; Kyle David Joekel, 28; Teniecha Bright, 21; and Brit­tney Keith, 23.  All except Keith and Skains have been charged with prin­ci­pal to attempted first degree mur­der of a police offi­cer.  Keith and Skains face charges of being acces­sories after the fact to attempted first degree mur­der of a police officer.

Reports emerged in early media cov­er­age from law enforce­ment sources that one or more of the peo­ple arrested may be involved with an extrem­ist group or move­ment, includ­ing pos­si­bly the extreme anti-government sov­er­eign cit­i­zen move­ment.   Author­i­ties in Nebraska have said that Joekel was on an FBI watch­list.  Joekel is wanted in Nebraska and Kansas on mar­i­juana charges and on alle­ga­tion of mak­ing ter­ror­is­tic threats regard­ing attack­ing law enforce­ment offi­cers.  In June 2012, while still a fugi­tive, Joekel posted his resume as a welder and pip­efit­ter to an on-line jobs site, includ­ing an address and phone num­ber.  Terry Lyn Smith is also a pipefitter.

The sus­pects had recently been under police sur­veil­lance in DeS­oto Parish after the sheriff’s office had received reports of peo­ple at a trailer park enter­ing and leav­ing vehi­cles with assault weapons.  How­ever, they left the trailer park in June.

As of this writ­ing, no infor­ma­tion has emerged to clearly con­firm the alle­ga­tions of sov­er­eign cit­i­zen con­nec­tions, but one of the sus­pects, Terry Lyn Smith, has indi­ca­tors of anti-government extrem­ist lean­ings on his var­i­ous social net­work­ing pro­files.  In par­tic­u­lar, on a Myspace pro­file Smith lists, as either “heroes” or peo­ple he’d “like to meet,” Alex Jones, the Texas-based conspiracy-oriented and anti-government radio talk show host; Randy Weaver, the white suprema­cist at the cen­ter of the 1992 Ruby Ridge, Idaho, stand­off; and David Koresh, the leader of the Branch David­i­ans dur­ing the 1993 Waco, Texas, stand­off.   Those two stand­offs were the main sparks for the resur­gence of right-wing extrem­ism in the mid-to-late 1990s, includ­ing the Okla­homa City bombing.

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