Were Kansas White Terrorists Self-Radicalized? or was it Trumpism?

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Tim Potter and Amy Renee Leiker of The Kansas City Star report that 3 southwest Kansas men were arrested Friday after an 8-month FBI investigation of their terrorist cell, the Crusaders.

The men had allegedly stockpiled arms and explosives and had considered attacking churches and “city/county commission meetings, local public officials, landlords who rent property to Muslim refugees, and organizations providing assistance to Muslim refugees.”

Ultimately, they are said to have decided, however, to attack the Somali-Americans themselves by detonating explosives at an apartment complex in Garden City, KS. Their attack would, of course, have killed dozens of children, women and innocent men. It is interesting that they targeted the Somalis, presumably because the latter are both African and Muslim and so have two markers of identity for the white supremacists to hate.

They allegedly staked out the Somali-American neighborhood and engaged in highly obscene catcalls at the Muslim women (remind you of anyone?)

One thing to remember is that all Americans are immigrants, even if a little while back, and these residents of Garden City are hard-working Americans. One of the Somali-American women, toward whom those alleged terrorists had hurdled abuse, was profiled in the press recently:

““This is my home. I want to become American,” said Abshiro Warsame, a Somali woman who works the late shift at the nearby Tyson beef packing plant.” Warsame came to the U.S. seven years ago, after her husband was murdered. A U.S. flag hangs in her small, shared flat. She’s studying English and Spanish.”

And she was marked for murder in our society just as her husband had been marked for murder in East Africa.

But let me just underline another point. Like the Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik, whose favorite reading was Islamophobes like Pamela Geller and Daniel Pipes, these creeps initially were apparently going to attack other white Americans with whom they disagreed.

They considered assassinating local public officials! That sounds like terrorism to me. In fact, since they clearly had a political motive in wanting to shape public policy, and since they clearly intended to harm innocent civilians and even local or state officials, they fit the textbook definition of terrorism. (They weren’t charged with terrorism, because the law is written to make it hard to lay that charge against domestic terrorists; but they were charged with intent to use a weapon of mass destruction).

They considered blowing up a Sunday church service of white Christians who were following Jesus’ teachings, e.g. Matthew 25:

41 . . . ‘Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”’

What with being a hate group and all, I guess they skimmed over that passage.

The FBI was forced to move on them because one of the three broke up with his girlfriend and she went to local police with her concerns about her former boyfriend’s extracurricular activities. Of course, we don’t know full details, but if she had kept her suspicions to herself as long as he was a meal ticket, and only contacted the authorities after he kicked her out, that is pretty disturbing.

The Kansas City Star notes that there were 794 hate groups in spring of 2015 that operated across the US. In the past 18 months that number has risen to 892, an 11% increase.

Gee, I wonder who has been spewing racist hate for the past 18 months that might have encouraged these groups to expand and become more active?

While we had hate groups and attempted bombings in the past, Donald J. Trump’s encouragement of them and his unsubtle cues about which groups they should be terrorizing, has almost certainly made the problem worse.

That’s right. I’m saying Trump’s call to prevent Muslims from coming to the US or his tagging of Latinos as a criminal element function to single them out for violence at the hands of the white extremists. Trump is a more subtle and canny Anwar al-Awlaki of the American far right.

Of course we will be spared all the cliches about terrorism in the case of these men, since although they are terrorists if what is alleged of them is true, they are white. So no one will ask if they are self-radicalized, or if they were influenced by radicals when they visited home, and no one will suggest that their family members should be watched closely or expelled from the United States.

All this is so despite the fact that since 2002, white extremists have killed more Americans than foreign terrorists.

Related video:

CBS News: “Feds make domestic terror arrest”

And here is the FBI news conference:


24 Responses

  1. trump as an accessory – remains on ballots.
    Mass destruction & civilians – where were the skills taught?
    Hate crimes now given a pass.
    bush, clintons, potus all push/ed fear.
    Indict & Impeach.

  2. Dave Baldwin

    Uh, not ALL Americans are immigrants, at least in the usual sense. There were people here before Europeans showed up.

    • If you are referring to American Indians, they, too, are immigrants. The original ancestors of today’s American Indians crossed the land bridge of the Bering Strait from Siberia to North America and made their way south. Just because they arrived before Europeans does not make them any more “native” to North America than those who followed later. We are indeed all immigrants.

      • I’m pretty sure Dave Baldwin is aware of that history, which is why he has the phrase “at least in the usual sense.” His point is that to lump Native Americans (American Indians as you refer to them) with European immigrants and later immigrants is not quite right. They came first, and did not commit genocide by coming here. Nor, did they disturb any people’s way of life by coming to the Americas. The Europeans immigrants did commit genocide against the Native Americans. One can call the Native Americans immigrants, if you wish, but that completely belies our history. Native Americans are far more “native” than the other immigrants. They had a way of life, social norms, and laws that they formulated while living here in the Americas, which we completely upended by coming here.

        • American Indians did not commit genocide or disrupt anyone’s way of life because they arrived before others, no question about that. Nevertheless, just the act of arriving at a piece of real estate first does not make one more a “native” than others who follow. Regardless of where one or another ethnic group stands in the sequence of “arrivals,” we all arrived from somewhere else and thus are all immigrants.

        • It is a shameful episode in American history that the arrival of Europeans was a disaster for the American Indians. Nevertheless, the Indians’ conduct among themselves was hardly a lesson in moral superiority.

          it is a historical fact that many Indian tribes and groups were subjugated and forced out of their territory by other Indian tribes. A prime example in Arizona is the Navajo who, along with the Apache (both Athabaskans), came down from Canada to their current territory in Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah.

          Both Navajo and Apache were nomadic and aggressive toward tribes existing in the region. They made war against the sedentary tribes such as the Hopi, Zuni, and other tribes who had been in the region for centuries. In fact, the Hopi, Zuni, and others, who we now call “Pueblo Indians,” established themselves in their iconic cliff dwellings, not because of the Spanish, but prior to the Spanish arrival in order to protect themselves from marauding Navajo and Apache.

          The myth of “peaceful” Indians living in harmony with their surroundings and their fellows is, in many cases, just that–a myth. It was true in some cases, and in some cases not. In other words, American Indians could be, and in many cases were, just as rapacious in raiding and pillaging among themselves as were the Europeans. The Europeans prevailed because they possessed better technology and tactics, but history suggests that neither could claim moral superiority over the other.

  3. Tom Ben Bergman

    We don’t call the perps of the 16th Street Bombing terrorists, now partly because it invokes legal issues. #military #NSA #FBI #CIA

  4. Gee, I wonder who has been spewing racist hate for the past 18 months that might have encouraged these groups to expand and become more active?

    The powder keg was probably loaded generations ago and was just sitting their waiting for a demagogue like Trump and his more rabid supporters to insert and light the fuse.

  5. If you have a pile of kindling in dry grass and three feet away you are playing with matches on a windy day, you shouldn’t be surprised if the field catches on fire. Trump has laid the groundwork and has been lighting the matches. This man and his supporters are a true danger to our democracy. Showing once again that the so-called alt-right is more of a danger than radical terrorists.

  6. It was a white male domestic terrorist and his team of white terroist that assinated President Lincoln.
    This is not a new trend in American history.
    Point is …white male privilege is afforded these terrorist and willful ignorance is how Americans deal with it!

    • Certainly, from the point of view of Native Americans who were driven from their lands by white settlers and African Americans who were threatened with lynching by the KKK, terrorism has a long history in the USA.

  7. The Somalis I have met in school and at work are a refined, wonderful people. They have been very kind to me. I am relieved that these white terrorists were arrested.

  8. As a Kansas native, I find this very distressing. I know life in Somalia has been dangerous and tragic for many years, and a job at a beef packing plant can’t be easy or pleasant. I’m sorry these Somalis were not given the welcome they deserve. I wish them success in America.

  9. What I’d like to know is how Trump doesn’t get visited by the FBI, etc.. Any other person having rallies and ranting rebellion as he does would be put under the microscope and then shut down. What does he have on whom?

  10. Gee, maybe it was REPUBLICANISM! Why are we giving the Republican fascist building machine a free pass? These monsters are the result of years of propagandizing by Republicans and Fox News. THEY are responsible.

    • So since 95% of black people vote for Democrats we can assume everything they do should be blamed the Clintons, Obama, Carter, etc.

      Real solid logic you’re using.

  11. Where does the information about her needing/wanting a meal ticket come from? “Of course, we don’t know full details, but if she had kept her suspicions to herself as long as he was a meal ticket, and only contacted the authorities after he kicked her out, that is pretty disturbing.” It might be a bit of a leap, but the guy who’s stockpiling weapons and making bombs probably also beats his girlfriend. And she probably stayed quiet because of fear and went to the local police again out of fear (hoping all of this would be enough to put him in jail and keep her safe).

  12. Good insightful article. But comment about the girlfriend who stayed for her “meal ticket”‘ didn’t report sooner, etc. certainly disturbing, but women can be trapped in fear, staying in such a relationship.
    No need to blame the girlfriend at this point.

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