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December 3, 2015

Bonnie and Clydes Rare—But Not Unheard Of—In Violent Extremism

Syed Farook

Syed Farook

Background information on Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, the married perpetrators of the tragic mass shooting at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California, is still sparse, as is clarity concerning the motive behind the vicious attack that left 14 dead and 21 wounded.

However, according to media reports from the in-progress investigation, there is growing concern among law enforcement officials that the shootings may have had a connection to Islamic extremism or that there might have been a mixed extremist/workplace motive behind them.  The FBI has said that it is now treating its investigation of the killings as a counter-terrorism investigation.

One thing that is exceedingly rare in traditional workplace shootings is for there to be multiple perpetrators, as there was in this case.  As one law enforcement official told The New York Times, “You don’t take your wife to a workplace shooting, and especially not as prepared as they were.  He could have been radicalized, ready to go with some type of attack, and then had a dispute at work and decided to do something.”

Multiple perpetrators are certainly common in extremist-related crimes, of course, despite the existence of the “lone wolf” phenomenon.  Women are also frequently involved in extremist-related criminal activity in almost every extremist movement in the United States.

However, when one examines recent criminal cases in the U.S. involving domestic Islamic extremists, one finds that female partners of male perpetrators—even when themselves involved in criminal activities—have not typically engaged in violence.  Overseas, women have sometimes taken on more violent roles, including as suicide bombers.

If an Islamic extremist motive is confirmed in the San Bernardino shootings, the fact of husband-and-wife shooters would be a new wrinkle in the history of the violent tactics of that movement in the United States.

Extremist-related violence involving husbands and wives—or non-married partners—is actually not unheard of in the United States, but it tends to come from a very different source:  right-wing extremism.  Though not what one could call a common phenomenon, such violent “Bonnie and Clyde” couples do emerge with regularity from within both the white supremacist and anti-government extremist movements in the United States.

In fact, right-wing extremism even produced an example of the exceedingly rare phenomenon of a married couple both of whom were on death row:  anti-government extremists Linda Lyon Block and George Sibley.  In 1993, the two sovereign citizens non-fatally stabbed Block’s ex-husband, then while on the run murdered an Alabama police officer in a shootout.  Both were executed in the 2000s.

In more recent years, extremist couples have been involved with everything from standoffs with police to hate crimes to terrorist conspiracies.  But some of the most shocking “Bonnie and Clyde” incidents have involved multiple homicides committed by white supremacists and anti-government extremists:

  • Jerad and Amanda Miller, a young married couple who adhered to the anti-government ideology of the militia movement, targeted two Las Vegas police officers for assassination in June 2014, killing them at a pizza restaurant as they ate their Sunday lunch.  The couple crossed the street to a Wal-mart in anticipation of a final shootout with first responders, where Amanda killed an armed civilian trying to stop them.  As they had intended, they did both die during a shootout with law enforcement at the store, with a wounded Amanda killing herself after Jerad was shot.
  • Jeremy and Christine Moody, white supremacists from Union County, South Carolina, killed a nearby married couple in July 2013 in a particularly grisly double homicide in which both victims were shot and stabbed.  The Moodys had targeted the victim because they wanted to kill a registered sex offender and found the male victim’s name and address on the Internet.  They killed his wife because she had married a sex offender.  Both pleaded guilty to murder in 2014, receiving life sentences with no parole, but were unrepentant, with Christine Moody calling the day of the murders “the best day of my life.”
  • Holly Grigsby and David Pedersen, a white supremacist couple from Oregon, embarked upon a multi-state murder spree in 2011 that totaled four killed before police could find and stop them.  The pair traveled to Washington to murder Pederson’s father and stepmother, each killing one victim, then killed a young man in Oregon to steal his car and because they thought he might be Jewish.  They killed an African-American man in northern California in another carjacking attempt, though they did not end up taking the vehicle, then were finally apprehended by the California Highway Patrol.  Grigsby told the arresting officers that they were to Sacramento to “kill more Jews” when they were stopped.  Both pleaded guilty to a variety of crimes and received life sentences.

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June 9, 2014

“Dawn of a New Day”: Las Vegas Shooter’s Final Message

The most recent entry on Jerad Miller’s Facebook, left on Saturday, June 7, is chilling: “The dawn of a new day. May all of our coming sacrifices be worth it.”jerad-amanda-miller

Jerad Miller, along with his wife Amanda, are the two suspects who committed suicide in a Las Vegas Walmart on Sunday, after allegedly fatally shooting two Las Vegas police officers in a nearby restaurant and a third person at the Walmart itself.

Based on their Internet writings, Jerad and Amanda Miller were both right-wing anti-government extremists of the “Patriot” movement variety, believing in all the common militia-type conspiracy theories about the “New World Order,” including concentration camps for Americans, coming martial law, and chemtrails, among others.

Some of Jerad’s postings in the months before the Las Vegas incident seem to reflect a growing radicalization. In March, Jerad declared that he had “compromised enough” and that he was “prepared to die” for his convictions about freedom and tyranny. “The day of your judgment will come,” he wrote, “not from my hand, for you will make me a martyr…Come for me, free me from your slavery. Give me the death a hero deserves. Help wake the masses to your corruption and treason. I f*****g dare you!”

In April, Jerad Miller travelled to the scene of the Cliven Bundy standoff, hoping that it “could be the next Waco and start of [the] revolution.”   In early May, Miller claimed that “there is no greater cause to die for than liberty” and that he would willingly do so. “Death, in a sense is freedom from tyranny,” he posted. Miller claimed that he and his wife “will not submit to fascist rule” and “are willing to sacrifice everything.”

Amanda Miller also had anti-government and conspiratorial beliefs. “Every day I realize how more and more people are asleep and only a few of us are awake,” she wrote in 2012. “The government is trying to take away our rights…only the few of us are willing to fight back.” Miller stated that she was “proud to be awake to see what[‘]s really going on.”

The anger that the Millers felt at the government and police may have increased in 2013, when Jerad Miller had to serve a period of home confinement following a criminal incident apparently involving marijuana. “Here I am,” he wrote about the confinement, “because the previous generations of Americans were a bunch of spineless zombies.” Hopefully, he wrote, “we can achieve freedom without killing the older generations off. It may come to that.”

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