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What To Do About The ‘Lone Wolf’ Terrorist?

Terrorism Word Cloud

The apparent terrorist attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando is the latest example of what appears to be an emerging trend when it comes to terror attacks inside the United States. Rather than an operation planned in a foreign country and executed by agents who enter the United States for the specific purpose like the September 11th attacks were, we have yet another example of a seemingly home grown terrorist who had no real contacts with anyone outside the United States and was not acting under the direction of anyone in a foreign country who nonetheless managed to pull off a bloody terror attack that left a lasting impact on the country. Among the first examples of this phenomenon can be found in Major Nidal Hasan, a Muslim-American doctor who joined the American military, rose to the rank of Major, but who still ended up being influenced by jihadist propaganda to the extent to such an extent that he killed 13 of his fellow soldiers, with 33 others suffering injuries in 2009. Several years later, the Tsarnaev brothers used information they obtained online to construct bombs that ended up killing six people and injuring nearly 300 without arousing very much suspicion from law enforcement other than a brief run in with the FBI years earlier that was closed when investigators could not find anything linking either brother to overseas terrorist organizations or any evidence that they might be dangerous. The pattern repeated itself six months ago when Syed Farook, an American citizen, and his foreign-born wife opened fire on a group of Farook’s co-workers at a holiday celebration, killing 16 and injuring 24 more. Once again, Farook had apparently briefly come to the attention of law enforcement but the investigation was dropped due to the fact that no evidence was uncovered that he had any link to violent extremist groups, or that he was a clear and present danger to society at large.

Law enforcement and the anti-terrorist community have come to call men (and women) like this ‘lone wolf’ terrorists, meaning that while they may be inspired in some sense by outside groups such as ISIS and al Qaeda, they are not formally affiliated with such groups not have they had any real contact with such groups except, perhaps, over the Internet. Their attacks, which have been among the most effective of those aimed at the United States since the September 11th attacks, come without any real warning and, upon further investigation, the disturbing conclusion that there is almost no way that law enforcement could have known the attack was coming, and they’re a concern on both sides of the Atlantic:

MAGNANVILLE, France — The first time Larossi Abballa appeared on the radar of French terrorism investigators, the only act of violence they could pin on him was killing bunnies.

He had joined a small group of men, all bent on waging jihad, on a trip to a snowy forest in northern France five years ago, when he was 19. There, they videotaped themselves slaughtering the rabbits, bought so the men could grow used to the feel of killing.

When he and seven others were later arrested, the authorities found that several of the men had saved the video of the slaughter on their cellphones, alongside footage of soldiers being beheaded, according to French court records. Mr. Abballa was eventually convicted on a terrorism charge and spent more than two years in prison.

In hindsight, it is not hard to see how that first act of brutality foreshadowed what happened last week: Armed with a knife, Mr. Abballaattacked a couple in northern France in the name of the Islamic State and left them to bleed to death.

But at the time of his arrest in 2011, investigators were not able to definitively show that he was a permanent threat to France. After his prison stint, he was placed under surveillance. Just months after the wiretaps stopped, he committed the double murder last week.

Across Europe and the United States, law enforcement officials are struggling to reckon with attackers like Mr. Abballa and Omar Mateen, whose shooting rampage this month at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., left 49 dead. They are men who clearly seemed to be building toward violent acts, and whose names had surfaced in terrorism investigations, but who avoided crossing legal lines that could tip off the authorities until it was too late.

With thousands of terrorism surveillance cases running at any given time, the European authorities say they are swamped and are in the difficult position of trying to head off attacks of which the only forewarning is often in the form of what someone thinks or what they are overheard saying.

“A man is in a shop and thinks about stealing an object,” said Georges Sauveur, a Paris lawyer who has defended several terrorism suspects, including one of the men who accompanied Mr. Abballa to the forest in 2011 to slaughter the rabbits. “What do you do? You put him in jail?”

Mr. Sauveur added, “You can’t put him in jail unless he takes the next step and attempts to steal something.”

(…)

While the legal systems may be different, the United States faced many of the same problems in their interactions with Mr. Mateen, who when questioned by the authorities about earlier threats of violence insisted that he had said those things because he was angry after facing discrimination.

After Mr. Mateen’s massacre, James B. Comey, the director of the F.B.I., said the file on Mr. Mateen had been one of “hundreds and hundreds of cases all across the country,” and compared the task of weeding out those who are expressing extremist ideas from those who may act on those ideas to “looking for needles in a nationwide haystack.

The simple fact of the matter is that we don’t have the resources to track every potential ‘lone wolf’ terrorist that may be out there, and that it’s not clear exactly what the law can or should do with someone who expresses opinions that may appear to be sympathetic to jihadists but hasn’t acted in a manner that would threaten anyone. In some cases, the FBI has taken information about such people and used it to set up sting operations that involve agents playing the role of terror group ‘contacts’ who are seemingly helping the target plan and gather the resources for a terror attack. Once the operation reaches a certain point, they lower the hammer, conduct a high profile arrest, and issue a press release claiming a victory in the “War On Terror.” The end result of each of those cases has typically involved the Defendant entering a guilty plea and receiving a sentence that means they’ll spend much of their natural lives as a guest of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Each time one of those arrests occurs, though, I have to wonder what such sting operations are accomplishing. In many cases, they seem as though they have accomplished nothing but catch a wanna be terrorist who wouldn’t have been able to accomplish anything dangerous on their own, and in any case we have yet to run across any such case that brought down someone on the level of Major Hasan, the Tsarnaev brothers, Syed Farook, or Omar Mateen and, as I noted, when those men did come to the attention of the FBI or other law enforcement agencies there were no indications that they were planning anything, much less that they were capable of pulling off the kind of attacks that they ultimately did.

Both sides of the political aisle in Washington seem to believe that the best way to fight ‘lone wolf’ terrorism at home is to take on, and ultimately defeat ISIS where it is located. Under this logic, these people are drawn to ISIS in no small part because of the success that it has had on the ground in creating a rudimentary state and recreating the ‘Caliphate’ that many radical jihadists dream of restoring to the Middle East. Destroy that quasi-state, they argue, and you destroy the inspiration for the ‘lone wolf.’ The problem with that argument is two-fold. First of all,, it’s already apparent that ISIS is preparing for the eventuality that its base in Syria may no longer be hospitable in the future. As a result, they’ve already started moving resources to other parts of the region where they can exploit instability to establish a base of operations. Two such areas that have seen an increase in ISIS-related are Libya and Yemen. Even if we defeat ISIS on the ground in Syria, and that’s far from a given at this point, it’s likely that we’ll be playing a game of anti-terrorist whack-a-mole for decades to come thanks to the ability of the terrorist to adapt simply by moving from one lawless region to another. If that happens, then it seems unlikely that the ‘lone wolf’ would be discouraged by events in Syria and Iraq. Secondly, even if ISIS eventually disappears the propaganda it has created will remain behind for others to pick up and spread in the name of jihad, and those so-inclined will likely be able to easily find it on the Internet. In that case, we may end up dealing with a ‘lone wolf’ dedicating to avenging the defeat of ISIS, and that would be just as dangerous.

This is the danger of the ‘lone wolf,’ and I’m honestly not sure what law enforcement can do about it short of measures that would involve massive violations of civil liberties, and that’s a price no American should be willing to pay.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Bob@Youngstown says:

    Cut off access to the tools of their “trade”
    – ready access to weapons
    – access to the tools to proliferate their propaganda

    just the beginning baby steps

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  2. Tony W says:

    We could also start investing in mental health in this country. I know there’s no money in it (the standard for all things American), but a huge percentage of our homeless population, for example, is in desperate need for evaluation and medication.

    It is no better in middle-class suburbia, where our for-profit health care system shuts out all but the most committed.

    Lastly, this Orlando guy had a long history of anti-social behavior. He had many incidents at school, and was fired from a state job as well. Reagan shut down our mental health hospitals, and they were terrible, but maybe we need some sort of replacement system.

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  3. KM says:

    We can’t. This is the fact no one wants to talk about.

    We can make it harder – put more obstacles in their way, take away easy paths to violence, change our culture to make acts like this utterly abhorrent to all citizens. But the truth is this is going to happen again and again and again. Even Big Brother lost track of Winston and Julia for a little while.

    We can and should do our best to prevent and mitigate any potential attack. We should also stop being shocked there are going to be attacks. We’re not special; terrorists don’t just blow people up on streets your average citizens can’t pronounce. And terrorists can be anybody, even that nice 5th generation boy down the street or the pretty blonde buying ammo in Walmart. The first step towards fixing a problem is admitting you truly have a problem and need help.

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  4. Mu says:

    @KM: change our culture to make acts like this utterly abhorrent to all citizens
    So we pull out the Hoover manuals again and start infiltrating every mosque or fundamentalist church to determine if the preacher does conform with that view? And if they preach hate we put them on a “no preach” list, with anybody attending their facilities going on the selectee list for good measure?
    We probably can ask the Chinese for their software to install a “no hate” wall on the internet, so we did invent Thor just to get around it.

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  5. C. Clavin says:

    It’s next to impossible…neglecting perhaps an incredible stroke of luck.
    What buffoons like Trump don’t bother discussing, when they are pushing profiling, is the white christian terrorists, or right wing militants, or simple rednecks like the Bundy’s.
    It’s impossible to stop

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  6. HarvardLaw92 says:

    OT: Doug, have you had a chance to read Utah v. Strieff yet?

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  7. Laura Koerber says:

    I’m not sure why the focus on three people with tenuous connections to Islamic extremist organizations. It doesn’t matter to the dead people who killed them. Most of the mass shootings in the US are done by American white guys with Christian backgrounds (which is not to say that they were motivated by Christianity, just that if they were affiliated with any religion, Christianity would be the one).

    Why does it matter if the shooter claims to be connected to ISIS, or listens to rightwing hate talk radio or has no apparent political/religious context for the crazy behavior at all?

    The issue is one of too easy access to weapons that allow an individual to kill lots and lots of people very quickly.

    All kinds of individuals for all kinds of “reasons” take advantage of that easy access.

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  8. HarvardLaw92 says:

    Off topic, but have you had a chance to read Utah v. Strieff yet? I have a feeling it’ll be the topic of the day around here.

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  9. James Pearce says:

    I don’t have any answers on the “lone wolf” problem, but Donald Trump’s prescriptions were laughably inadequate. It was kind of like going to the doctor about a sore lump you found in a sensitive place and being told, “Here, wear this copper bracelet.”

    a wanna be terrorist who wouldn’t have been able to accomplish anything dangerous on their own

    Omar Mateen would have seemed like “a wanna be terrorist” prior to his visit to the gun store. The FBI checked him out…and he checked out.

    Maybe these “wannabe terrorists” were more serious than you may have assumed.

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  10. C. Clavin says:

    How is profiling Muslims going to stop Dylan Roof, or Scott Roeder? Timothy McVeigh?

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  11. grumpy realist says:

    The only reason Ted Bundy doesn’t show up as one of these individuals is that he didn’t bother to find A Cause to attach his mass murdering to.

    We’re always going to have these idjits around. The only thing I can suggest is a) better mental health services and b) make it harder for people to get their hands on guns without passing an in depth mental health/self-control check. I’d also make it much easier to involuntarily confine/treat mentally ill people because most of the time they refuse to admit that there’s a problem. (Putting a heck of a lot of research towards better treatments would be a Jolly Good Idea as well.)

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  12. JKB says:

    @Bob@Youngstown: Cut off access to the tools of their “trade”
    – ready access to weapons
    – access to the tools to proliferate their propaganda

    So no First or Second Amendment? Why not just ban Islam since we are getting rid of the First Amendment speech and press clauses? Might as well do away with religion?

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  13. JKB says:

    The solution is for law-abiding citizens to go armed and be prepared to act decisively when the “lone wolf” reveal themselves. Do not concern oneself with motivation, only the imminent threat.

    Of course, this solution will not work for locations designated by law or owner as collection points of unarmed law-abiding citizens defenseless against any kind of attacker.

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  14. Gustopher says:

    So long as we have a constitutional right to arm ourselves to the teeth, carry that arsenal around with us, and be poised to kill and maim a hundred of our fellow citizens on a moment’s notice… it’s going to be hard to stop this from happening.

    When the time between being a law abiding citizen exercising your rights and killing dozens of people with weapons of war is a few moments… there will be difficulties in stopping this.

    But, there is nothing to be done. I believe it was Thomas Jefferson who wrote, in the forward to The Jefferson Bible, “They shall know the strength of the People by how many other People they can kill at a moment’s notice or whim. They shall know the Christian moral strength of the People by how few other People they actually kill at a moment’s notice or whim. We are a well-armed Christian nation, praise Jesus and his musket.”

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  15. EddieInCA says:

    @JKB:

    No.

    Australia.

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  16. al-Alameda says:

    @JKB:

    The solution is for law-abiding citizens to go armed and be prepared to act decisively when the “lone wolf” reveal themselves. Do not concern oneself with motivation, only the imminent threat.

    Of course, this solution will not work for locations designated by law or owner as collection points of unarmed law-abiding citizens defenseless against any kind of attacker.

    L O L !
    What could possibly wrong at a nightclub if 50 or 60 young people, many of whom have been drinking, some doing drugs, drew their guns and started shooting at once? SAme with a school classroom – 20 middle school or teenaged boys with weaponry – what could go wrong?

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  17. Gustopher says:

    The 2nd Amendment guarantees the 3rd! If we didn’t have citizens with weapons of war, the over-reaching Obama government would surely be quartering troops in our homes by now!

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  18. Hal_10000 says:

    @KM:

    We can’t. This is the fact no one wants to talk about.

    THIS ^^^ The entire country is one massive soft target. We have over three hundred million people. We have to be right every time; they only have to get lucky once. To stop the lone wolf, even assuming it’s possible, would mean turning this country into a police state (well, more so) and wind up with a lot of innocent people — and let’s face it, mostly Muslims and people of color — having their rights restricted and being harassed because they *might* be a terrorist in someone’s imagination.

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  19. @JKB: Because life is an action movie wherein all armed good guys solely pick off bad guys, and with relative ease.

    I know from watching The Walking Dead that even the most novice of marksmen can pretty much start getting multiple and repeated head shots. No prob.

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  20. grumpy realist says:

    Some more info about the Orlando shooter’s possible motives….

    This is about the level of “I discovered my boyfriend jilted me for a sexy redhead, so I’m going to claim I support Aum Shinrikyo and go shoot up a hair salon.”

    The only reason this nitwit claimed “allegiance to ISIS” is because he knew it would get the biggest rise out of people.

    Dangerous clowns shouldn’t be allowed access to guns, period.

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  21. We can’t even stop people from attacking each other in maximum security prisons. If that level of control isn’t enough to stop it, how can we do it in normal life without turning normal life into a prison?

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  22. C. Clavin says:

    @JKB:

    go armed and be prepared to act decisively

    So you are thinking that a bunch of people firing willy-nilly, in a dark theater like Aurora, or a dark club like in Orlando, is a good idea?
    With every comment you show yourself to be a bigger dupe of extremist right wing propaganda.
    Seriously…are you completely unable to think for yourself?

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  23. James Pearce says:

    @JKB:

    The solution is for law-abiding citizens to go armed and be prepared to act decisively when the “lone wolf” reveal themselves.

    This is not a solution, JKB. This is a response.

    Every time a “lone wolf” has started a massacre, law-abiding citizens –almost always law enforcement officers– respond. Even if the killers get away, like the Boston Bombers or the San Bernandino killers, a MASSIVE manhunt takes place and they are eventually killed or captured.

    Seems like we’re having two conversations here. Some people are trying to figure out ways to ameliorate* lone wolf attacks. And others are mostly concerned about preserving gun freedoms.

    *”Ameliorate” not “prevent.” Let’s be honest adults here. Gun control won’t prevent any attacks. But it may make them harder to carry out.

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  24. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @grumpy realist:
    Amen to that

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  25. Pch101 says:

    Omar Mateen had no criminal record prior to his night of clubbing. One of those law-abiding citizens who lawfully purchased his weapons and abused them only once.

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  26. Jenos Idanian says:

    The Orlando killer, the San Bernardino killers, the Fort Hood killer, the Boston killers — all raised red flags with people who saw them. And in each case, the people who saw the danger said nothing, because we have made “Islamophobia” a horrible offense.

    From a personal cost-benefit level, the stigma attached to being called an “Islamophobe” is worse than the stigma of seeing warning signs of a pending massacre and saying nothing. So unless you’re one of those the killer targets, you’re better off saying nothing.

    In Germany, Muslim “refugees” are sexually assaulting schoolgirls going to and from schools, and the girls are not reporting it because they don’t want to be labeled as “Islamophobes” or “anit-immigrant” or “intolerant” or “xenophobic” or whatever the term is in German (which, I’m sure, is a very long and convoluted and awful-sounding term).

    But while I’m feeling Teutonic, let me sum up with this: we have reached the point of “Feelings Uber Alles.” Hurt feelings are the worst thing, and it’s better to let others get killed than risk hurting the feelings of people.

    That’s not the stated message, but it’s the one that is enforced.

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  27. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @JKB:

    Right

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  28. bill says:

    @C. Clavin: so what’s the body count of “white christian terrorism” these days anyways? i think a weekend in south chicago out does anything they’ve done in years……
    you’re despise of southerners and christians is well known- as long as they’re “white” then they must be bad.
    yet somehow you forget that the clintons are white southern christians too- and worked side by side with segregationists in their formative years. maybe that’s why they think blacks are inferior and need help from the gubmint to be successful at anything. and yes, that’s racism too……

    but back to reality- “lone wolfs” are difficult to stop, as long as they’re protected by whiny leftists who think their rights trump ours. it’s not like most of these muslim extremists weren’t on the fbi’s radar to begin with- they just have their hands tied with the pc crowd. this is the crowd that prefers to let terrorists roam freely unil they kill….and then blame the gun.

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  29. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @JKB:

    Right …

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  30. James Pearce says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    Hurt feelings are the worst thing, and it’s better to let others get killed than risk hurting the feelings of people.

    Never thought a gun rights activist would actually admit it, but there it is right before my eyes.

    Also, you’re too smart to believe this:

    From a personal cost-benefit level, the stigma attached to being called an “Islamophobe” is worse than the stigma of seeing warning signs of a pending massacre and saying nothing.

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  31. JohnMcC says:

    @Pch101: Mr Mateen had apparently (I read it somewhere on the internet so it must be so!) obtained a psychologists clearance that opened his path to obtaining a license to do his armed-security-guard business. That psychologist denies seeing him and says she did not practice in FL at the time her ‘clearance’ was certified.

    A system of verification of that sort of certification would not be invasive of 1st Amendment and/or privacy rights.

    He had also violently abused his first wife (I saw it on the TV so it must be so!) which she did not report. Possibly a vigorous public information campaign connect domestic abusers to the likelihood of other violent crimes would result in more such scumbags being exposed — which would have kept him from legally arming himself. Having had some sad experience with a similar situation involving my first wife getting into an abusive 2d marriage (with our kids) I can say pretty authoritatively that SOMEONE almost always knows that abuse is occurring.

    But overall I agree with those who say that we must grow used to the fact that we do not live in the benign and safe days of the ’50s and early ’60s when nuclear obliteration and death in a car without seatbelts were the only things we had to worry about. Good times!

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  32. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @JKB:

    So no First or Second Amendment

    As apparently you see things only in the black or white, those appear to be your choices.

    You have made it clear that the only interpretation to the second amendment that is acceptable to you is an absolute right to bear arms for all people on American soil. No restrictions are acceptable and no regulation is acceptable ‘cuz the Constitution says so.

    I’m sure that you don’t need to be reminded that words that you cling to do not provide for any limitation on the right to bear arms.

    A similar argument can be made regarding speech. Because speech is a guaranteed right in your mind, the broadcast of troop battle plans or the location of soldiers is protected.

    Actual life is not just black and white, there are compromises that we make for the common good.

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  33. Tony W says:

    @JKB:

    The solution is for law-abiding citizens to go armed and be prepared to act decisively when the “lone wolf” reveal themselves.

    Yes this – 200 idiots firing their weapons at muzzle flash in a dark theater or club. What could possibly go wrong?

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  34. gVOR08 says:

    @JKB:

    The solution is for law-abiding citizens to go armed

    Here’s the problem, Jake. Of all the people I know, the ones who do or most want to carry are generally the ones I would least trust to have around me armed. A point you demonstrate with each comment.

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  35. stonetools says:

    You can’t stop lone wolf attacks. That’s the wrong term. But you can “manage” lone wolf attacks, by making sure that there are fewer attacks and those attacks are less deadly.
    As a means of comparison, there was also a “lone wolf” attack in the UK last week. But that “lone wolf” was armed with a knife and a home made gun, not with semi-automatic weapons. The result was that he killed one person and injured a few others. If he had a semi-automatic rifle, handgun, lots of ammunition and largely capacity magazines, he might have killed a lot more people, along with his target. The plain and simple fact is that firepower matters. Give a lone wack o enough firepower, and he’ll kill or injure a hundred people, if he wants to : give him less firepower and he’ll kill less.

    This is the danger of the ‘lone wolf,’ and I’m honestly not sure what law enforcement can do about it short of measures that would involve massive violations of civil liberties, and that’s a price no American should be willing to pay.

    This is a bit disingenuous. As I point out above, the British “lone wolf” attack was much less costly than ours. Somehow UK organized its society so that their “lone wolf ” attack killed a lot less people-yet the UK isn’t a totalitarian hellhole. The difference? The UK has strict gun safety laws.There’s no magic to the problem of making “lone wolf” attacks less costly. All it takes is brains (rational thinking) and balls (political will). the USA has to little of either on the gun safty issue, although the Democrats are trying.

    Rep. John Lewis, one of the last living icons of civil disobedience during the civil rights movement, was leading a sit-in on the House floor Wednesday in an effort to force a vote on gun control.

    “Now is the time for us to find a way to dramatize it, to make it real,” Lewis, D-Ga., said. “We have to occupy the floor of the House until there is action.”

    Lewis and roughly 40 House Democrats stood briefly to recite the Pledge of Allegiance as a couple dozen visitors in the gallery looked on.

    “No bill, no break,” the Democrats chanted loudly before returning to the floor.

    It is unusual for members to disrupt the functioning of the House to this degree.

    If members do not leave the floor and no compromise is reached, it is largely up to Speaker Paul Ryan to decide whether to use the authority of the House to seek to clear the floor and/or sanction members, or to keep the House in recess and wait out the issue.

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  36. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    In Germany, Muslim “refugees” are sexually assaulting schoolgirls going to and from schools, and the girls are not reporting it because they don’t want to be labeled as “Islamophobes” or “anit-immigrant” or “intolerant” or “xenophobic” or whatever the term is in German

    Um, if they’re not reporting it, then how do you know it’s happening?

    Also, if they’re not reporting it, then how do you know what their personal motivation is to not report it — are they reporting their motivation not to report it without somehow reporting it? Howzat work, exactly?

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  37. James Pearce says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Um, if they’re not reporting it, then how do you know it’s happening?

    Hahaha. Because it’s still 2004 and the MSM is lying and if you want The Truth, you have to read the right wing blogs.

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  38. @JohnMcC:

    But overall I agree with those who say that we must grow used to the fact that we do not live in the benign and safe days of the ’50s and early ’60s when nuclear obliteration and death in a car without seatbelts were the only things we had to worry about.

    This is where it should be noted that, contrary the perception the national new media makes, violent crime rates have been declining since the early 80s, so you do in fact live in the benign and safe days of the 50s and early 60s.

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  39. C. Clavin says:

    @bill:

    you’re despise of southerners and christians is well known

    First…that would be your…not you are.
    Second…I despise religious zealots of all stripes…Muslim, Christian, whatever.
    Organized religion is the bane of our culture.

    And the way that your religious bias colors your reading comnprehension is proof of that.

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  40. gVOR08 says:

    @JohnMcC: @Stormy Dragon: You gotta work on that snark font, John. At least, having done duck and cover myself in grade school, that’s how I took it. I also remember when Ford offered seat belts as an option in the 50s and couldn’t give them away. Of course with the belts you still got impaled on the steering shaft or smashed your face into a steel dashboard. Good times indeed.

    But thank you, Stormy, for making the excellent point that we’re getting safer every year, while many of us get more fearful every year. Some people need something real to worry about.

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  41. Slugger says:

    I doubt that the one in fifty million mass murderer can be stopped by any reasonable effort. I frankly need to be convinced that the TSA is that effective while I need no convincing that they are a large pain. I do think that we need to become a bit more psychologically resilient and not lose our sh*t every time something happens. When the most recent event occurred, there were a lot of screamers going on about ISIS and Islamic Terrorist; we now see that this guy had as much connection to overseas organizations as a guy wearing a Red Sox cap has of batting in Fenway. There are murderers who target their high school, workplace, or a club where they’ve been rejected. These are rare in the large scheme of things. It is our job as citizens to keep our cool and not allow ourselves to be terrorized. We must remember that demagogues should bewatched varily; remember when we were all going to die from Ebola?

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  42. wr says:

    @Jenos Idanian: “The Orlando killer, the San Bernardino killers, the Fort Hood killer, the Boston killers — all raised red flags with people who saw them. ”

    Sure,

    And so did about three million other folks who did not and will not ever become terrorists.

    I realize that your idea of an ideal state is East Germany, where every citizen is forced to spy on and report every other citizen to the authorities — because what greater pleasure could their be for a loser internet troll than set the authorities on all those people who actually have lives?

    But most of us are not jonesing for a police state.

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  43. wr says:

    @bill: “but back to reality- “lone wolfs” are difficult to stop, as long as they’re protected by whiny leftists who think their rights trump ours”

    Here is the problem that you and Jenos are somehow too dim to see: Their rights ARE our rights.

    The whole point is we don’t know who these people are. Maybe they’ve come under some scrutiny once, but so have millions of people who will never commit a crime. So the only way to take THEIR rights away is to take away the rights of everyone.

    Yes, even white trash gun fondlers and loser internet trolls.

    So you go ahead and explain how we should take the rights away from all those would-be terrorists when we don’t know who they are before they attack.

    We’ll wait.

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  44. JKB says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Well, if you want perfection, the we shouldn’t be sending in the cops either. There is some speculation that a few of the Orlando victims were killed by friendly-fire. The city won’t release the autopsy reports.

    Your assumption is that everyone should be a helpless victim because there is a non-zero risk that a law abiding citizen firing at a “lone wolf” killer might miss and hit someone in the background or a panicked person might run into the line of fire. That is also a very real risk of police action as well.

    On the other hand, being a “lone wolf” killer is a good way to avoid investigatory discovery before the attack. Pre-emptive investigations hinge upon someone in the conspiracy to act in a manner that creates probable cause for investigation or for someone to break ranks and report to police. A lone individual is far more difficult to spot and interdict.

    For example, the police love girlfriends and wives who when cheated on or for some other domestic reason report on their boyfriend or husband to police. A “lone wolf” can avoid this risk.

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  45. JKB says:

    Well this thread is deteriorating into the same old useless shouting. I’ll just quote the very astute observation by Scott Adams today

    So it seems to me that gun control can’t be solved because Democrats are using guns to kill each other – and want it to stop – whereas Republicans are using guns to defend against Democrats.

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  46. wr says:

    @JKB: “There is some speculation that a few of the Orlando victims were killed by friendly-fire. ”

    Not… speculation!!!!

    Why haven’t we started hanging them yet?

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  47. wr says:

    @JKB: “For example, the police love girlfriends and wives who when cheated on or for some other domestic reason report on their boyfriend or husband to police. A “lone wolf” can avoid this risk.”

    Hey, that’s a good point.

    Which means that if I follow Jenos’ philosophy, I should report him to the authorities since it’s clear he’s never had a girlfriend, and thus could well be a lone wolf terrorist.

    Thanks for the guidance, Little J!

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  48. Jack says:

    @JKB:

    Well, if you want perfection, the we shouldn’t be sending in the cops either. There is some speculation that a few of the Orlando victims were killed by friendly-fire. The city won’t release the autopsy reports.

    You are 55-58 times more likely to be killed by cops than a terrorist.

    http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2015/03/youre-55-times-likely-killed-police-officer-terrorist.html

    As such, I believe focusing on reigning in our police forces should come before we worry about “Lone Wolf” terrorists.

    The biggest problem lies with the media who hyper-sensationalize when someone is killed by a non badge wearing individual but sweep any killings by badge wearing protectors under the rug.

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  49. @JKB: Not astute, mostly a nonsensical attempt at making a point that really doesn’t exist, since you cannot do what he does in that post which is make grand assumptions about political affiliations they way he does in that piece.

    Heck, he even states “If you don’t believe me, you can check the statistics on the Internet that don’t exist. At least I couldn’t find any that looked credible” before he goes on to make a lot of nonsensical claims.

    He is very hard to take seriously.

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  50. Jen says:

    @Slugger:

    I do think that we need to become a bit more psychologically resilient and not lose our sh*t every time something happens.

    I absolutely agree with this. I lived abroad for much of my childhood, and terrorism was not unheard of in the spots we were in. I’m sometimes baffled, sometimes irritated at the reflexive way that we react as a country. Ebola is a perfect example–we named a flippin’ “czar” to manage that problem…which did not really end up being a problem at all. Now, that’s not to say that we shouldn’t take note, prepare, learn all we can, and implement safeguards…but people lost their d@mn minds over that.

    Keep calm and carry on needs to be a more universal mindset.

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  51. JohnMcC says:

    @gVOR08: Sorry if my snark font (a phrase I’m likely to borrow, btw) failed. My point was that as a nation we had real existential threats and as individuals we lived in actually more dangerous situations back in the ‘benign ’50’s and ’60’s’ somehow without seeing a major party devote itself to endorsing all the hard work that AlQaida and Daesh have done to terrorize us. So I guess we are in agreement; I also recall duck and cover. And Ford added a dished steering wheel with the seatbelts that probably still broke a lot of faces but was better than other marques.

    And to say that a tighter social network (workers at spousal abuse shelters, day care centers, employers of armed guards) of people willing to report someone who’s anger and violence points himself out as a social danger would make us a safer society without concerns about the Constitution.

    Remember when the digital world was going to make us a ‘global village’? Well, in a village there are very few secrets.

    And anyone not watching CSpan right now is missing a wonderful, historic event — Democrats are occupying the well of the House.

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  52. Jack says:

    @JohnMcC: A new commercial for Life Alert…Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!

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  53. Gustopher says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: He’s hard to take seriously, and he hasn’t really been funny in years.

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  54. steve s says:

    The NRA is just the lobbying group for the gun companies. The gun companies could think long-term and support reasonable regulation. But they’ll refuse everything, and ultimately lose everything.

    Remember back when a majority of gay people would have accepted Civil Unions, and RWNJs refused and refused and refused, and in the end RWNJs lost the whole ball of wax?

    Same Dealio.

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  55. al-Alameda says:

    @Jack:

    You are 55-58 times more likely to be killed by cops than a terrorist.

    Well, that explains why conservative gun advocates consider Somalia , Yemen and Iraq to be the safest places in the world.

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  56. Gustopher says:

    Perhaps this will help.

    https://nrapress.org/articles/20160622/nra-smith-wesson-partner-share-the-safety/
    https://sharethesafety.org/

    Share the Safety is a revolutionary online store that will open its digital doors on July 4. Taking its cue from other “buy one, give one” retailers, customers of ShareTheSafety.org will have the pleasure of knowing that for each handgun purchased, one will be donated to an at-risk American citizen in the urban center of their choice.

    I am struggling with this, and am hoping I am being mislead by an elaborate internet hoax. Please?

    It’s so hard to tell parody from reality these days.

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  57. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @Gustopher:

    one will be donated to an at-risk American

    Do you suppose that the “at-risk American” will have to submit to a background check?

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  58. Jen says:

    @Gustopher: I am rarely at a loss for words, but that is astonishing. Please, someone assure me that this harebrained scheme is not legal? It sounds like they are formalizing a process for straw purchases as written.

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  59. Pch101 says:
  60. Jenos Idanian says:

    @James Pearce: Never thought a gun rights activist would actually admit it, but there it is right before my eyes.

    I’m not advocating it, I’m recognizing it. It certainly doesn’t mean I like it — in fact, I despise it. But that’s today’s reality. People actually see more risk in reporting potential Islamist terrorists than in saying nothing.

    Also, you’re too smart to believe this:

    From a personal cost-benefit level, the stigma attached to being called an “Islamophobe” is worse than the stigma of seeing warning signs of a pending massacre and saying nothing.

    That is the conclusion too many people are drawing, when presented with the choice. All four examples of Islamist terrorism I cited were all preceded by warning signs that people saw, but didn’t report. Several people in the Army saw warning signs with the Fort Hood shooter, but didn’t report them because they were worried about the impact on their careers if labeled “Islamophobes.” Neighbors of the San Bernardino shooters saw lots of suspicious things going on at their home, but didn’t want to be called “Islamophobes.” Co-workers of the Orlando shooter saw he was turning extreme in his beliefs, but didn’t want to risk being tagged as “Islamophobes.” Fellow students of the Boston bombers saw they were getting more and more radical, but said nothing. Hell, some of the bombers’ friends even tried to destroy evidence of the plot immediately after the bombing, instead of helping the authorities.

    And the only ones of the above who faced any consequences were the Boston bombers’ buddies, who were criminally charged.

    Reporting suspicions runs serious risks. Not reporting suspicions only runs the risk of a guilty conscience. And it’s amazing what people can do to convince themselves that they really shouldn’t feel guilty.

    In our current society, saying something is a bad move. When assessed purely on a personal level, there’s a great potential for harm, and little potential to be gained. (Unless, as I said earlier, one is likely to be among the targets of the Islamists in question — and that hasn’t happened yet. The people I all cited were not touched by the Islamists’ attacks.)

    That’s the society we have now. I don’t like it, and speak out against it, but I’m not going to deny it.

    But I do find myself wondering those who cheer on the events that brought us here aren’t proud of their success and own it.

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  61. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Did you even get to the conclusion of Adams’ article? He took a slightly absurd way to get there (which I find entertaining, but YMMV), but this is what he wrapped up with:

    You can quibble with my unsupported assumptions about gun use, but keep in mind that my point is about psychology and about big group averages. If Republicans think they need guns to protect against Democrats, that’s their reality. And if Democrats believe guns make the world more dangerous for themselves, that is their reality. And they can both be right. Your risk profile is different from mine.

    So let’s stop acting as if there is something like “common sense” gun control to be had if we all act reasonably. That’s not an option in this case because we all have different risk profiles when it comes to guns. My gun probably makes me safer, but perhaps yours makes you less safe. You can’t reconcile those interests.

    Our situation in the United States is that people with different risk profiles are voting for their self-interests as they see it. There is no compromise to be had in this situation unless you brainwash one side or the other to see their self-interest differently. And I don’t see anyone with persuasion skills trying to do that on either side.

    I think that’s a hell of a good summation of the situation. Both sides argue “we’re reasonable, but you’re nuts.” And the arguments always degenerate into “but you’re really, really crazy. Or evil. Or something else, but you’re bad and you’re wrong.”

    It’s kind of like abortion. Nearly everyone has a strong opinion, nearly no one grants any kind of credibility or respect to the other side, and all the arguments in the world won’t change very many opinions.

    Oh, and there tends to be a YUUUUGE amount of moral superiority and smugness on both sides, and a lot of contempt and even hatred for the other side. That’s pretty much inevitable.

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  62. Matt says:

    @EddieInCA: Australia which still has roughly the same amount of mass killings as pre-ban. Port Authur was the massive exception there.

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  63. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @stonetools: I wish that your argument was better than it is, but while I DO agree that limiting the fire power of assailants will mitigate the body count in some–and maybe many cases–the term “serin gas” comes to mind.

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  64. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker: And yes, I do know that the serin gas attack in question was not, actually and technically, perpetrated by a “lone wolf,” it could have been.

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  65. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @C. Clavin:

    I despise religious zealots of all stripes…Muslim, Christian, whatever. Organized religion is the bane of our culture.

    These two statements do not actually balance each other. Their lack of balance is one of the reasons that you so easily become a target for dbs such as Jenos.

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  66. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @JKB: My God! That’s the most stupid thing anyone has said so far–on this or any other post anywhere, anytime, on any subject. Your mom (or Scott Adams’ mom, not sure which) must be proud.

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  67. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Damn! Now I have to take back what I said–at least about Scott Adams’ part of it. JKB’s mom can still be proud though–he either doesn’t recognize snark or lies about it.

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  68. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker: These two statements do not actually balance each other. Their lack of balance is one of the reasons that you so easily become a target for dbs such as Jenos.

    Cliffy? Oh, that guy I put on ignore back in January, when I realized that 1) he was a moronic sociopath, and 2) the moderators had no interest in enforcing their official rules of conduct.

    He’s still around and saying his usual shit? Pity.

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  69. stonetools says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker:

    There’s been only one sarin gas attack ever, and it ‘s been in Japan. Here in the US, we have a rational policy toward sarin gas-we ban it, and make sure that it’s not readily available to the general public. As a result, the odds of a “lone wolf” sarin gas attack is very low-not zero, but as close to zero as society can make it.
    Our problem is that we can’t enact rational policy on firearms, for reasons already mentioned. But maybe things are changing. Doug has of course ignored this, but the House Democrats are trying to get a vote on a gun safety bill with a good old fashioned sit-in. OH well, a liberal can hope…

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  70. stonetools says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    So let’s stop acting as if there is something like “common sense” gun control to be had if we all act reasonably. That’s not an option in this case because we all have different risk profiles when it comes to guns. My gun probably makes me safer, but perhaps yours makes you less safe. You can’t reconcile those interests.

    We can reconcile this (false) dilemma by looking at the objective evidence :

    Data from a US mortality follow-back survey were analyzed to determine whether having a firearm in the home increases the risk of a violent death in the home and whether risk varies by storage practice, type of gun, or number of guns in the home. Those persons with guns in the home were at greater risk than those without guns in the home of dying from a homicide in the home (adjusted odds ratio = 1.9, 95% confidence interval: 1.1, 3.4). They were also at greater risk of dying from a firearm homicide, but risk varied by age and whether the person was living with others at the time of death. The risk of dying from a suicide in the home was greater for males in homes with guns than for males without guns in the home (adjusted odds ratio = 10.4, 95% confidence interval: 5.8, 18.9). Persons with guns in the home were also more likely to have died from suicide committed with a firearm than from one committed by using a different method (adjusted odds ratio = 31.1, 95% confidence interval: 19.5, 49.6). Results show that regardless of storage practice, type of gun, or number of firearms in the home, having a gun in the home was associated with an increased risk of firearm homicide and firearm suicide in the home.

    Looking at objective evidence is how we reconcile conflicts like whether the earth is 6,000 years old or not. Violà, it works for gun policy too.
    Scott Adams should go back to his core competency-cartoons. Stick with what you know.

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  71. James Pearce says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    That’s the society we have now.

    No it’s not. Every other week someone gets pulled off an airplane for speaking Arabic or some kid makes a clock at a science fair and he gets run out of the country.

    You posit a population paralyzed by fear, so terrified of defying our Islamic terrorist overlords they’re stunned into silence. My observations are different.

    I see a country so unwilling to accede to terrorist demands, it will blunder into any number of dumb ideas to fight them.

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  72. @Jenos Idanian: He is trying to be clever, but he fails.

    I agree that the gun debate is very much about identity, but I do not think Adams does a very good job of dealing with the realities of that fact.

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  73. Jenos Idanian says:

    @James Pearce: No it’s not. Every other week someone gets pulled off an airplane for speaking Arabic or some kid makes a clock at a science fair and he gets run out of the country.

    In what world do you live in? Please, cite an incident in the last 14 days where someone was “pulled off an airplane for speaking Arabic.” And Clock Kid took a pre-made clock, rearranged the pieces into looking kinda like a bomb, and wasn’t run out of the country, but run into the White House for a meet and greet with the president.

    Hell, I’ll make it easier for you. You say “every other week,” but I’ll give you 14 weeks to find such an incident. They simply don’t happen anywhere near as often as you seem to believe they do. And when they do, we have very vocal groups like the terrorist sympathizers of CAIR to make the lives of those who spoke up very, very miserable.

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  74. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    You say “every other week,” but I’ll give you 14 weeks to find such an incident.

    A college student who came to the United States as an Iraqi refugee was removed from a Southwest Airlines flight in California earlier this month after another passenger became alarmed when she heard him speaking Arabic. The student, Khairuldeen Makhzoomi, a senior at the University of California, Berkeley, was taken off a flight from Los Angeles International Airport to Oakland on April 6 after he called an uncle in Baghdad to tell him about an event he attended that included a speech by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/17/us/student-speaking-arabic-removed-southwest-airlines-plane.html?_r=0

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  75. Rafer Janders says:

    A Muslim woman was asked to get off a plane without any explanation after she asked her neighbour to switch seats. Hakima Abdulle was told to disembark a Southwest Airlines plane at a Chicago airport after she asked the man next to her whether she could move to the aisle seat, and he had agreed. She was traveling alone on a connecting flight to help a pregnant family member in Seattle, according to Zainab Chaudry, the Maryland Outreach Manager at CAIR.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/muslim-woman-kicked-off-plane-as-flight-attendant-said-she-did-not-feel-comfortable-with-the-a6986661.html

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  76. Rafer Janders says:

    Two Muslim women were escorted off a plane after a member of the cabin crew “didn’t like the way [they] were staring back at her”. A video has emerged of the two being told by police officers to leave the JetBlue plane before its flight from Boston to Los Angeles. The plane then took off without the pair.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/news/muslim-women-removed-from-plane-for-staring-at-flight-attendant/

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  77. Rafer Janders says:

    A suburban Muslim couple said they plan to file a formal complaint with the Federal Aviation Administration after United Airlines failed to acknowledge that their family’s removal from a flight last month at O’Hare International Airport amounted to discrimination. Mohamad and Eaman Shebley, of Libertyville, said in an exclusive interview with the Tribune that the way they and their three children were treated by a flight crew went beyond poor customer service. The couple said they were humiliated when their family was ushered off a plane bound for Washington, D.C., on March 20 after seeking help with their child’s booster seat.

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-muslim-family-united-airlines-met-20160415-story.html

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  78. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Rafer Janders: Gee, four accusations of such things happening.

    And I notice something that I predicted:

    Case 1: “Zahra Billoo, the executive director of the San Francisco Bay Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said there had been at least six cases of Muslims being pulled off flights so far this year.”

    Case 2: “The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) has called for an investigation of a possible “bias motive” as the woman was of Somali descent and was wearing a headscarf.”

    Case 4: “Earlier this month, the Council on American Islamic Relations filed a complaint with United on behalf of the family.”

    That would be the same CAIR that, among other things, was an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land terrorism support case.

    Did you cull those links from CAIR press releases?

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  79. wr says:

    @Jenos Idanian: “Did you cull those links from CAIR press releases?”

    Hey stupid,

    You demanded examples. He gave you examples. Now instead of simply admitting that once again you were completely wrong, you come up with the crap about how it’s the eeeeevilll terrorists who have supplied those links, apparently because Muslims think you’re a threat to them or some such nonsense.

    My God, I know you love annoying people, but can’t you just take one day off to act like a human being?

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  80. Not to mention: Ivy League economist ethnically profiled, interrogated for doing math on American Airlines flight

    So while “Every other week” maybe be an exaggeration, the bottom line is this: the notion that everyone is cowed into silence because the worst thing in the world is to be called “Islamophobic” is simply demonstrably not true.

    Beyond that, the notion that it is possible (or even desirable) to start locking people up because someone thinks they might be a terrorist is either a ridiculous policy or an utterly terrifying one, depending on how you look at it.

    There is that pesky “innocent until proven guilty” thing we have in the US. Vague suspicions don’t fit that bill.

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  81. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Rafer Janders: “Mohamad and Eaman Shebley, of Libertyville, ”

    How ironic is THAT?

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  82. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: the notion that everyone is cowed into silence because the worst thing in the world is to be called “Islamophobic” is simply demonstrably not true.

    I hereby retract my allegation that EVERYONE is cowed into silence.

    Whoops, wait — I never made that absolute assertion. I said that MANY were cowed, and cited examples from recent acts of Islam-inspired terrorism.

    Is there a particular reason why you converted my “too many” — supported by specific examples — into “everyone?” Did you pass a sale on straw men on your way home, and couldn’t resist?

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  83. wr says:

    @Jenos Idanian: It’s astonishing that you read about someone seeing their neighbor acting weird and not calling the police about it and immediately attribute that to fear of being called Islamophobic.

    Who hasn’t spotted their neighbor doing something that looked strange from time to time? Who hasn’t done something that might have looked strange to a neighbor?

    Most people don’t call the cops because they assume there’s nothing going on, that they don’t actually have a clue, and they don’t want to start a war with their neighbors.

    I supposed you prefer the East German model. What a surprise.

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