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January 27, 2016 Off

Oregon Standoff: Developments

  • On Jan­u­ary 2, a loosely orga­nized group of armed anti-government extrem­ists led by Ammon Bundy seized con­trol of the Mal­heur National Wildlife Refuge head­quar­ters build­ings located near the town of Burns in remote south­east­ern Ore­gon.  They later named them­selves Cit­i­zens for Con­sti­tu­tional Freedom.oregon-standoff-arrest
  • On Tues­day, Jan­u­ary 26, Ammon Bundy and sev­eral oth­ers were arrested by fed­eral and state law enforce­ment offi­cers dur­ing a traf­fic stop near John Day, Ore­gon. LaVoy Finicum, who served as a spokesman for the group, was killed dur­ing the arrest; another occu­pier was slightly injured.  Two oth­ers were arrested in Burns, Ore­gon, while another occu­pier turned him­self in to author­i­ties in Arizona.
  • Those arrested so far include Ammon Bundy, Ryan Bundy, Shawna Cox, Brian Cav­a­lier, Pete San­tilli, Joseph O’Shaughnessy, Ryan Payne, and Jon Ritzheimer. For back­ground infor­ma­tion on all of the occu­piers who were arrested or killed, as well as many of the other remain­ing occu­piers and allies who has been at the wildlife refuge head­quar­ters, see: The Occu­piers of the Mal­heur National Wildlife Refuge Head­quar­ters.
  • Although some occu­piers have report­edly left the Mal­heur refuge head­quar­ters, oth­ers remain.

LATEST UPDATES

4:15 PM (EST) oregon call to violenceOccu­pier Sean Ander­son cradling an assault rifle and urg­ing peo­ple to come to the Mal­heur National Wildlife Refuge appeared on a YouTube live stream ear­lier today and said: “There are no laws in this United States now. This is a free for all Armaged­don. Any leo, or mil­i­tary, or law enforce­ment, or feds, that stand up and fuck their oath, don’t abide by their oath are the enemy. If they stop you from get­ting here … KILL THEM!”

3:23 PM (EST) Dave Fry, an Ohio res­i­dent still occu­py­ing the wildlife refuge after the arrests of sev­eral cohorts yes­ter­day made anti-Semitic com­ments in his live feed at the refuge. Fry spoke about “fake Jews,” a term used by a num­ber of white suprema­cists and con­spir­acy the­o­rists who believe that many peo­ple who call them­selves Jews today are not truly Jew­ish but are descended from a race of peo­ple called the Khaz­ars.  Drum­ming up anti-Semitic myths, Fry claimed that “fake Jews” believe “they’re supe­rior to peo­ple,” are “evil” and “do a lot of evil things with their money.”

3:10 PM (EST) Occu­pier Vic­to­ria Sharp’s audio account claim­ing LaVoy Finicum was mur­dered has been shared nearly 3,500 times on Face­book alone, leav­ing aside other places, as extrem­ists attempt to turn Finicum into a mar­tyr for the anti-government causes.

1:31 PM (EST) Occu­piers at the Mal­heur National Wildlife Refuge have begun using heavy machin­ery — appar­ently either to dig a trench or to build an earthen bar­rier, pre­sum­ably to impede entry.

1:26 PM (EST): The cur­rent leader of the Ore­gon stand­off appears to be Jason Patrick, who took over the role from Blaine Cooper early Wednes­day. Patrick, who was at the Bundy Ranch in 2014, is an anti-government extrem­ist and Three Per­center known in his home state of Geor­gia for his out­bursts against law enforce­ment and court per­son­nel, and for his attempts to bring video cam­eras into courtrooms.

12:51 PM (EST): React­ing to the evolv­ing sit­u­a­tion in Ore­gon, the anti-government extrem­ist Pacific Patri­ots Net­work issued a “Stand By” order to their mem­bers and fol­low­ers. “Cooler heads must pre­vail,” they announced. “We do not wish to inflame the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion and will engage in open dia­logue until all the facts have been gath­ered.” Based on pre­vi­ous, sim­i­lar inci­dents, this is the expected response from most orga­nized groups, who tend to under­stand the futil­ity of engag­ing the fed­eral government’s fire­power. Indi­vid­u­als tend to be more volatile (and less pre­dictable) in these situations.

12:28 PM (EST): Right-wing talk show host Glenn Beck issued a state­ment on Face­book Wednes­day morn­ing, writ­ing that he was “deeply sad­dened by the loss of life” in Ore­gon, but that the pro­test­ers at Mal­heur should not have been armed. Because they were so vocal about their com­mit­ment to using vio­lence, as nec­es­sary, to defend their beliefs, Beck argues, “The[ir] cause was lost before it began.”

11:52 AM (EST): As ten­sions increase, so too does the appar­ent rhetoric by some of the stand­off par­tic­i­pants. Dur­ing a live feed of the stand­off on YouTube, a male can clearly be heard say­ing “There will be a shootout… None of them are safe. When I get outta here, I’m gonna hunt them down!”

11:45 AM (EST): Michele Fiore, a Nevada state assem­bly per­son, has taken to Twit­ter to repeat the extrem­ist claim that LaVoy Finicum was mur­dered by the gov­ern­ment. Fiore is an ally of Cliven Bundy, the anti-government extrem­ist whose stand­off with author­i­ties in 2014 in Nevada inspired his sons to seize the wildlife refuge in Oregon.

11:31 AM (EST): Sup­port­ers of the siege at wildlife refuge in Ore­gon, includ­ing Twit­ter users as well as wlavoy memehite suprema­cists on Storm­front , are cir­cu­lat­ing an image of LaVoy Finicum in an attempt to turn the extrem­ist into a right-wing mar­tyr. Finicum allegedly was killed while charg­ing law enforce­ment offi­cers who were attempt­ing to arrest Finicum and other occu­piers. The meme repeats an extrem­ist claim cir­cu­lat­ing on the Inter­net that Finicum was mur­dered while unarmed and with his hands in the air.

11:20 AM (EST): The remain­ing extrem­ists at the Mal­heur National Wildlife Refuge stand­off are still defi­ant and  not ready to sur­ren­der to author­i­ties. Duane Ehmer of Irrigon, Ore­gon, and off and on par­tic­i­pant in the stand­off, said on Face­book that “now the wolves are at the gate, Were [sic] are those Oath keep­ers.” He is refer­ring to the anti-government extrem­ist group that often injects itself into con­flicts. More infor­ma­tion on the Oath Keep­ers.

10:17 AM (EST): Some anti-government extrem­ists are already attempt­ing to por­tray Finicum as a mar­tyr; the risk of retal­i­a­tion by anti-government extrem­ists, locally or else­where, against the fed­eral gov­ern­ment is fairly substantial.

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January 11, 2016 5

10 Mistakes Made By The Malheur Wildlife Refuge Occupiers

On Jan­u­ary 2, a group of anti-government extremists—who would later dub them­selves Cit­i­zens for Con­sti­tu­tional Freedom—seized con­trol of the Mal­heur National Wildlife Refuge head­quar­ters in remote south­east Ore­gon. The seizure, led by Ammon Bundy, son of a Nevada rancher who had him­self engaged in a stand­off with the fed­eral gov­ern­ment in 2014, was osten­si­bly con­ducted to protest the resen­tenc­ing of a father and son pair of south­east Ore­gon ranch­ers, Dwight and Steven Ham­mond, on fed­eral arson charges.

For more than a week now, Bundy and his two dozen or so followers—the num­bers change daily—have held the head­quar­ters, claim­ing they will relin­quish it only when the Ham­monds are released and the fed­eral gov­ern­ment turns con­trol of fed­eral land over to the “people.”

Ammon Bundy

Ammon Bundy

Yet the con­fronta­tion desired by Bundy and his fol­low­ers has not gone very well for them so far. Faced with deri­sion, lack of sup­port, and inter­nal bick­er­ing, as well as the dis­tinct absence of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment they had sought to vis­i­bly con­front, the occu­piers now seem some­what con­fused and hes­i­tant. The sce­nario has so far not played out in a man­ner that they hoped for or expected.

While the sit­u­a­tion at Mal­heur is still tense and there are plenty of ways that it could worsen—for exam­ple, frus­trated extrem­ists could try to esca­late the situation—it is clear that Bundy and the other occu­piers have made sev­eral key mis­cal­cu­la­tions in their planned coup-de-main. These include:

  1. The occu­piers did not secure the sup­port of the Ham­monds. Though Ammon Bundy and some of the other future occu­piers were in touch with the Ham­monds over their plight as early as Novem­ber 2014, they failed in their efforts to get the Ham­monds to coop­er­ate.   Report­edly, the Ham­monds would not let pro­test­ers use their prop­erty, which may be one rea­son why Bundy and his com­pan­ions chose to seize the wildlife refuge head­quar­ters instead. After the seizure, attor­neys for the Ham­mond fam­ily released a state­ment say­ing that the Ham­monds “respect the rule of law.” Dwight and Steven Ham­mond reported for prison as ordered.
  2. The occu­piers chose a poor tar­get. The Mal­heur National Wildlife Refuge is not far from the Ham­mond ranch. More­over, it was empty at the time, mean­ing that it was a sym­bolic fed­eral build­ing that could be seized by Bundy with­out effort. How­ever, the build­ing is in a remote area away from pop­u­la­tion cen­ters and also most extrem­ists. In tak­ing the head­quar­ters, the extrem­ists vol­un­tar­ily iso­lated them­selves. More­over, the build­ing is not impor­tant in any way, nor does its occu­pa­tion par­tic­u­larly hin­der the fed­eral gov­ern­ment, or even the wildlife of the refuge. And, of course, the build­ing has noth­ing to do with the Ham­monds, nor did seiz­ing it affect their sit­u­a­tion in any pos­i­tive way.  In their own para­noid fash­ion, even some of the extrem­ists even­tu­ally began to do some second-guessing about the deci­sion to seize the head­quar­ters. On Jan­u­ary 7, Joe O’Shaughnessy (at first an occu­pier, then stay­ing in Burns, Ore­gon, to orga­nize sup­port for them) posted to Face­book ask­ing if any­one had “stopped to think how did they get some of the great­est men in the Patriot move­ment to go out in the mid­dle of nowhere to [occupy] a small building…at the cold­est time of the year at a time [when] every­one is broke because of the hol­i­days. I don’t know about you but this is all start­ing to look fishy to me.” O’Shaughnessy spec­u­lated that the fed­eral gov­ern­ment had delib­er­ately left the place empty and the elec­tric­ity on because “the place was already pre-bugged.” In other words, some­how the fed­eral gov­ern­ment “tricked” them into occu­py­ing the refuge headquarters.
  3. The fed­eral gov­ern­ment did not act as expected. It is likely that the occu­piers expected some new ver­sion of the 2014 Bundy stand­off, in which anti-government extrem­ists were able to engage in a direct armed con­fronta­tion with gov­ern­ment and law enforce­ment and get the gov­ern­ment to back down, thus ener­giz­ing the extrem­ists and their sup­port­ers. How­ever, because of the poor tar­get cho­sen by the occu­piers, the fed­eral gov­ern­ment has time on its side. Bar­ring other cir­cum­stances inter­ven­ing, the gov­ern­ment can, in effect, bide its time and let attri­tion take its toll. Almost imme­di­ately, the fed­eral gov­ern­ment adopted a delib­er­ately low-key approach, employ­ing restraint and avoid­ing media atten­tion. It has not given the extrem­ists what they sought the most: a confrontation.
  4. The occu­piers failed to get local sup­port. Ammon Bundy and his fol­low­ers assumed that their action would get the sup­port of the peo­ple of Burns and the sur­round­ing area, many of whom were to vary­ing degrees sym­pa­thetic to the sit­u­a­tion of the Ham­monds. How­ever, the major­ity of the occu­piers were not from the local area—or even from Oregon—but were out­siders pri­mar­ily from Ari­zona, Utah, and Nevada. More­over, they seemed to be seek­ing atten­tion for them­selves as much as, if not more than, for the Ham­monds.  The local fire chief told an Ore­gon­ian reporter that the group “seems like a bunch of peo­ple ready to shoot. I don’t want that in my county.”  Bundy and sev­eral of his fol­low­ers also alien­ated some of the local cit­i­zens who orig­i­nally had been will­ing to work with them.  Locals who had helped orga­nize a pro-Hammond rally shortly before the seizure sub­se­quently issued a state­ment claim­ing that the activ­i­ties of the Bundy group were “unfor­tu­nate and not related to and con­trary to” their own wishes.
  5. The local sher­iff “failed” the occu­piers once again. For some years, Ammon Bundy and other mem­bers of his fam­ily have argued that it is the role of the county sher­iff to “pro­tect” the peo­ple from the fed­eral gov­ern­ment and have repeat­edly called on local sher­iffs to inter­vene in con­flicts with the fed­eral government—without suc­cess. Har­ness County Sher­iff David Ward came out early as a vocal oppo­nent of Bundy and his actions (and whose fam­ily report­edly got death threats as a result). In fact, Ward helped to crys­tal­lize com­mu­nity oppo­si­tion to Bundy and his fol­low­ers in a key com­mu­nity meet­ing. Ward sub­se­quently met with Bundy to offer him “safe pas­sage” out of the county, in an attempt to end the stand­off, but Bundy refused.
  6. The occu­piers failed to get sub­stan­tial sup­port from other extrem­ists. Not only did the Cit­i­zens for Con­sti­tu­tional Free­dom fail to get sup­port from the Ham­monds, local law enforce­ment, or the local com­mu­nity, but they have so far failed to get sub­stan­tial sup­port from other right-wing extrem­ists, whether locally or fur­ther afield. While some anti-government extrem­ists have indeed sup­ported the actions of Bundy and the other occu­piers, such sup­port has been far less than the occu­piers clearly hoped for. Bundy had already burned bridges with the anti-government Oath Keep­ers thanks to feuds dur­ing and after the 2014 Bundy Ranch stand­off, so it was no sur­prise that the Oath Keep­ers did not sup­port the Ore­gon seizure. But many other anti-government extrem­ists also con­demned the actions of the Ore­gon occu­piers, on a vari­ety of grounds. Oth­ers stated that they dis­agreed with the “oper­a­tion,” though they would come to the aid of the occu­piers if they were attacked by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment. One rea­son that many extrem­ists were less than excited about the refuge head­quar­ters occu­pa­tion was because it didn’t seem to be doing any­thing to help the Ham­monds but would sim­ply put extrem­ists in harm’s way.
  7. Media atten­tion did not always work to the occu­piers’ advan­tage. As in the 2014 Bundy Ranch standoff—at which a great many of the refuge occu­piers were present—Bundy and the oth­ers hoped to attract media atten­tion to their actions. That cer­tainly hap­pened, espe­cially in the early days of the stand­off, with media vans crowd­ing the grounds of the head­quar­ters. How­ever, while the media brought them atten­tion, it wasn’t always pos­i­tive atten­tion. Very early on, reporters on the scene brought down to earth claims by the occu­piers that they num­bered around 150, observ­ing that the true num­ber might be as lit­tle as one-tenth of that fig­ure. Reporters wan­dered around the refuge, seek­ing inter­views with any and all occupiers—and the extrem­ists did not always come out of the inter­views look­ing good. More­over, jour­nal­ists exposed the crim­i­nal his­to­ries of some of the occu­piers and, in the case of occu­pier Brian Cav­a­lier, revealed that his claims to have served in the United States Marine Corps were false. Cav­a­lier allegedly left the refuge soon after.
  8. Social media is a two-edged sword. Bundy and the other occu­piers did not rely solely on the tra­di­tional main­stream media. From the begin­ning, many of the occu­piers have assid­u­ously used Face­book, Twit­ter, and other social media sites to com­mu­ni­cate to their friends and fol­low­ers and get their mes­sage out. How­ever, as many cor­po­ra­tions and politi­cians have learned, social media mes­sag­ing some­times has a way of get­ting out of con­trol. In this case, non-extremists, who vastly out­num­bered the extrem­ists on social media, began to use the plat­forms to mock and deride the occu­piers, cre­at­ing hash­tags such as #Yal­lQaeda and #Vanil­laI­SIS. After a cou­ple of occu­piers entreated their sup­port­ers to send sup­plies such as food and “snacks,” the notion of snacks became a viral meme with which the occu­piers were mer­ci­lessly pil­lo­ried. “Will com­mit trea­son for Fun­yuns” was just one of hun­dreds of mock­ing “snack” references.
  9. The occu­piers have suf­fered from inter­nal bick­er­ing. Never par­tic­u­larly orga­nized to begin with, the occu­piers have not showed any real cohe­sive­ness.   As time has worn on, dif­fer­ent occu­piers have argued and bick­ered over a vari­ety of issues, rang­ing from tac­tics to the pres­ence of women and chil­dren at the refuge. At least one of the occu­piers left the refuge as a result. The odds of such bick­er­ing are likely to increase with time.
  10. The occu­piers have no prac­ti­cal end game. As the one-sided stand­off wears on, time is likely to take its toll on more and more occu­piers. Some have already left, tem­porar­ily or per­ma­nently, to deal with “real life” issues such as work and fam­ily.  Because the fed­eral gov­ern­ment seems hardly likely to release the Ham­monds based on the demands of Bundy and his fol­low­ers, and because it cer­tainly will never engage in some sort of mass give­away of fed­eral land, the occu­piers are unlikely to get any sort of sat­is­fac­tion from the gov­ern­ment. And though a cou­ple of the most volatile occu­piers have given indi­ca­tions that they would wel­come some sort of armed encounter with the gov­ern­ment, oth­ers seem to have become more wary as the stand­off has pro­gressed. The pos­si­bil­ity that the occu­piers, espe­cially if more attri­tion occurs, will attempt to come up with some sort of face-saving ratio­nal­iza­tion for stand­ing down seems like a real pos­si­bil­ity. As long as cooler heads pre­vail, it may be the best oppor­tu­nity for end­ing the stand­off with no one being hurt and no “mar­tyrs” or “heroes” cre­ated, around whom other extrem­ists could rally.

 

 

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December 3, 2015 Off

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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