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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, January 09, 2018

 

The terrorist nobody noticed

by digby




If there's one thing the Trump administration cares about it's terrorism, amirite? The minute one hits, the president is on twitter taking credit for predicting it and promising to "be strong an smart" and put a stop to it. His ruthless attitude toward terrorism was one of his major selling points.


Surprise! It turns out they are only concerned if the terrorist is a muslim. Get a load of this:

Usually, when the FBI arrests a terrorist and the Justice Department charges them, it’s a big deal. Combatting terrorism is one of the Justice Department’s top priorities, and terror cases are a great way for federal prosecutors and agents to make names and build careers. The press and the public are very interested. Officials will typically blast out a press release, and, if it’s a big takedown, might even hold a press conference.

The Justice Department didn’t do any of that when federal prosecutors unsealed terrorism charges last week against Taylor Michael Wilson. The 26-year-old white supremacist from St. Charles, Missouri, allegedly breached a secure area of an Amtrak train on Oct. 22 while armed with a gun and plenty of backup ammunition. He set off the emergency brake, sending passengers lunging as the train cars went “completely black.”

The attempted terrorist attack took place aboard an Amtrak train that started off in California and was making its way through a part of Nebraska so remote that it took an hour for the nearest deputy to arrive on the scene. Wilson was found in the second engine of the train, “playing with the controls,” according to the FBI affidavit.

As passengers waited in dark train cars that smelled of burning rubber, Amtrak workers kept the man pinned down. “I’m the conductor, bitch,” Wilson allegedly said to Amtrak personnel while subdued. They say Wilson had tried to reach for his front waistband, where he was storing a fully loaded handgun.

The incident received little national coverage at the time, perhaps in large part because law enforcement officials didn’t initially treat it as a terrorism case. A subsequent FBI investigation, however, painted a disturbing portrait of an individual who escalated his radical activity in recent years as he built up a massive gun stash, even hiding weapons and extremist propaganda in a secret compartment behind his refrigerator.

In a court affidavit, the FBI agent who investigated the attempted terrorist attack said he’d learned that Wilson traveled with an “alt-right Neo Nazi group” to the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville in August; may have helped vandalize restaurants with “whites only” stickers; pointed a gun at a black woman during a road rage incident; and spoke of “killing black people” during recent protests against police violence in St. Louis.

But even when the federal terrorism charges were unsealed against Wilson last week, the case didn’t get a ton of national pickup. One key reason: The Justice Department didn’t tell anyone.

I know I don't have to draw a picture of how differently they would handled this if his name were Mohammed.

The reporter Ryan J. Reilly, notes that we could conclude that this is a case of the Trump administration which has demonstrated its sympathy for Nazis and Neo-confederate cover up for one of its supporters but the truth is more complicated:

But the lack of attention the Wilson case has received actually reflects the priorities embedded in a system built up by U.S. lawmakers and law enforcement officials over the years: a U.S. criminal code and federal law enforcement apparatus that treats domestic terrorism as a second-class threat.

The truth is that the American political system just doesn't think that white people killing people is as big of a deal as people of color killing people. It just doesn't. If a white man shoots up someplace because he's got a beef or if he's got mental problems we shrug our shoulders and say that may if someone else had been armed at the time they could have shot the gun out of his hand before he had a chance to kill anyone. Other than that, it's just the way things are. If the shooter is black or brown or came from another country, the only answer is more prisons, building walls, keeping everyone who looks like them out maybe even starting a war.

Gun violence and (non-Muslim) domestic terrorism are like earthquakes, fires and mudslides. We can try to prepare but mostly we just accept that it's going to happen and then clean up the mess after it's over. Too bad about the dead bodies.

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