Click here for PDF Edition

2014-04-25 digital edition

ABOUT US   |   ADVERTISE   |   DEADLINES   |   PR INFO   |   SUBMIT   |   DELIVERY   |   CONTACT US  |  FEEDBACK
TODAY in the Jewish World:

Click on logo for link:



Click on logo for link:

The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2018 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


 

April 25, 2014  RSS feed
World News

Text: T T T

Kansas City deadly shootings highlight threat of ‘lone wolf’ attacks

By RON KAMPEAS JTA news service


An Overland Park police vehicle sitting in front of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City, KS., following shootings there and later at a nearby assisted-living complex that killed a total of three people, April 13 
Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images An Overland Park police vehicle sitting in front of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City, KS., following shootings there and later at a nearby assisted-living complex that killed a total of three people, April 13 Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images WASHINGTON — The deadly shootings at two Jewish institutions in suburban Kansas City illustrates the dilemma of how best to protect Jewish institutions from the threat of deadly violence by extremists acting alone.

“Lone wolves are really by far the most dangerous phenomenon. They are vastly more difficult to stop in advance of their actions,” said Mark Potok, the publications director for the Southern Poverty Law Center. “You can’t simply follow around all the people in the United States who have noxious views.”

Vigilance on the part of communal institutions is key, said Paul Goldenberg, who directs the Secure Community Network, the security arm of national Jewish groups.

This was not the first time a JCC has been targeted by a lone gunman.

In 2006, Naveed Afzal Haq, motivated by anti-Israel views, killed one woman and wounded five others when he attacked the Seattle Jewish Federation building.

In 1999, white supremacist Buford Furrow wounded five people, including three children, when he opened fire on the North Valley Jewish Community Center in suburban Los Angeles and shortly after killed a mail carrier.

The Southern Poverty Law Center was the first to identify the gunman in the Kansas City shooting as Frazier Glenn Miller, 73, of Aurora, MO., a known white supremacist. He was the grand dragon of the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1980s and subsequently a founder of the White Patriot Party. He served three years in prison on weapons charges and for plotting the assassination of its founder, Morris Dees.

However, Miller had not been involved in criminal activity for decades, although he kept his views known and publicized them avidly. He maintained a website, www.whty.org (for “whitey”) and posted links to his media appearances, including one on a black radio show.

As recently as Jan. 30, according to the Anti-Defamation League, he posted this ominous comment on the Vanguard News Network, a white supremacist site, “No way out but through the [god-damned] Jews. Either they will succeed in exterminating us, or we will succeed in exterminating them. Which will you work for??”

Mark Pitcavage, the director of investigative research for the ADL, said lone wolves tend to operate on the margins of extremist communities, which makes it harder to detect when they may be plotting actions. This was true of Miller, who had alienated much of the movement in the 1980s when he had his sentence reduced in exchange for testifying against coconspirators.

Pitcavage said monitors can sometimes detect planning for violence, as extremists often will report in online forums private exchanges with individuals seeking co-conspirators for a violent act.

“When we see extremists start warning other extremists about someone, we pay attention,” he said. “The way the vine works, they think ‘he’s a government plant who’s trying to get me in trouble.’ They have a skewed reaction to it, but nevertheless they have a reaction. We have learned when we see those sorts of things to take them seriously.”

The ADL passes on such information to law enforcement.

In other instances, there are signs that the poster is a “powder keg,” Pitcavage said.

Monitors, he said, look for “a long series of posts expressing aggravation – ‘something has to be done, it’s time to do something.’ They may say things to other people trying to get people involved.”

Potok of the law center said extensive posting on such sites is not in of itself necessarily an indicator of such violence. Wade Michael Page, a white supremacist who in 2012 killed six people at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, WI, had been prominent among online extremists but had not exhibited typical signs of an imminent attack.

“We had been following Page for 12 years,” Potok said. “There was no indication that he had finally decided to start shooting.”

Other times, Pitcavage said, lone wolves operate completely under the radar, with no communications preceding an attack. White supremacist Keith Luke killed two West Africans in the Boston area in 2009 and was on his way to attack a synagogue when police stopped him.

“No one had ever heard of Keith Luke before,” he said. “After his arrest we discovered he had spent countless hours watching white supremacist videos on YouTube.”

Other lone wolves embrace the status because of its utility, Pitcavage said, noting that Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people in bombings and shootings in and near Oslo on July 22, 2011, had assembled data showing that lone attacks were more successful.

“The more steps there are, the more people there are,” the likelier it is that the plot will be leaked, Pitcavage said.

Goldenberg, the Jewish security official, said it has become easier for potential assailants to surveil Jewish targets because of information that’s easily accessed on the Internet. It’s not clear what drew the assailant to the Greater Kansas

City JCC, Goldenberg said, but it was notable that there were at least two events that had been publicized and were likely to draw crowds: a play and the singing audition.

It was a tough balance, said Karen Aroesty, the ADL director in St. Louis, MO, who was in touch with the Kansas City community and law enforcement in the wake of the attack.

“You want communities to spread the word about the activities they are doing, balancing that with the kind of security that protects against potential assailants,” she said. “How do they pitch security really strongly while being warm and welcoming? That’s a tough balance.”

Goldenberg noted the importance of training members of the Jewish community.

“It is empowering members of the Jewish community through education and knowledge, how to identify a suspicious person, how to face an active shooter,” he said.

“Sometimes the best defense is a locked door,” he said. “The best defense is having a plan for a lockdown and keeping the individual outside. The individual did not gain entry to the building, and that undoubtedly saved many lives.”

The Jewish Federations of North America, a leader in obtaining Department of Homeland Security funding for security measures for Jewish buildings, said the Overland Park shootings underscored the need for the program.

“The horrific shootings in Kansas City emphasize the fact that Jewish communal institutions have been the victim of an alarming number of threats and attacks,” William Daroff, the Jewish Federations’ Washington director, wrote in an email. “Due to those threats, the federal Nonprofit Security Grant Program has provided millions of dollars to assist nonprofits in upgrading their security capacity.”

(Jewish institutions in both Hillsborough and Pinellas County have received federal grant money to beef up security.)


Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Click ads below for larger version