reveals. But the reluctance to use it to describe the Las Vegas
attackers is troubling.
Details of Sunday’s murder of two Las Vegas police officers and one other person are still trickling out so there’s a good chance that some of the initial news could be false leads.
That said, here’s what we know: The shooters, a husband and wife team, shouted something about starting a revolution before firing on officers Igor Soldo and Alyn Beck; according to witnesses, a note pinned to one of the officers bodies proclaimed “the beginning of the
revolution;” and one of their victims was draped with a Gadsden flag (the “Don’t tread on me one,” which is very popular among far-right militias and anti-government extremists).
They pinned a swastika on one of their dead victims, since they
consider the cops to be Nazis. According to one of Miller’s neighbors,
he showed her a number of the Nazi symbols on the morning of the
attack and said “I’m going to put one of those on every cop we kill.”
This all points in one direction: This was an act of domestic terrorism.
That’s not what the headlines indicate. The vast majority of the
American press prefers not to use the word “terrorism,” which would be
admirable were it not the case Al Qaeda paraphernalia that Heidi Beirich, were to
turn up at the home of the shooters, there would be no such restraint.
It’s hard not to see a double-standard at work here. If it isn’t
Muslim, it isn’t automatically terror. Or, at least, a higher bar must
be cleared to say so.
John Schindler, an intelligence and security expert who teaches at the
Naval War College, calls it “domestic terror.” J.M. Berger, a leading
U.S. researcher into domestic extremism, also sees it that way:
So the short version as of now: The Vegas shooters — terrorists, in
fact — appear to be fans of the III Percent Patriot movement.
— J.M. Berger (@intelwire) June 9, 2014 @AllThingsHLS: There’s very
little room to say this is anything but a terrorist attack.
— J.M. Berger (@intelwire) June 9, 2014: Yes. The couple who carried
out the attack had extreme anti-government views, according to
neighbors interviewed by reporters. One neighbor told the New York
Times that “all Jerad (Miller, one of the attackers) wanted to do is
talk about overthrowing the government,” said Ms. Fielder. “I thought
he was talking smack.”
The article continues:
The Facebook pages of the Millers are full of anti-law enforcement
postings and violent threats.
A note on the Facebook page for Mr. Miller, dated June 7 — one day
before the attack — said: “The dawn of a new day. May all of our
coming sacrifices be worth it.” A post from May 7 asks people to send
him “a rifle firearms.”
…“That these people would target police officers is not surprising
given that they had associations with the anti-government movement,”
said Heidi Beirich, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s
It appears the fantasy of this couple was that their shocking attack
would serve as a sort of propaganda of the deed, something that would
inspire copycats to follow in their footsteps and then, somehow,
threaten the government. They deployed political violence on civilians
to terrify those they deemed to be their political opponents.
That is, they were terrorists.
* * * * *
Dan Murphy is a staff writer for the Christian Science Monitor’s
international desk, focused on the Middle East. Murphy, who has
reported from Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, and more than a dozen other
countries, writes and edits Backchannels. The focus? War and
international relations, leaning toward things Middle East.