Arrest Of Oceanside Man At Capitol Highlights Threat Of Domestic Terror
Speaker 1: 00:00 And Oceanside man was arrested earlier this week, near democratic national committee headquarters in Washington, DC for possession of prohibited weapons, including a bayonet and a machete. According to Capitol police, he was found in a pickup truck covered with swastikas and other white supremacist imagery. The arrest comes as authorities are stepping up security at the nation's Capitol over a planned rally to be held this Saturday in support of the January 6th insurrection as the nation grapples with a rise in hateful rhetoric and activity within its own borders. Law enforcement and intelligence agencies are beginning to acknowledge domestic terrorism as one of our top national security threats. Joining me with more is Brian Levin director of the center for the study of hate and extremism and a professor of criminal justice at California state university, San Bernardino, uh, professor Levin. Thanks for joining us. Speaker 2: 00:54 Thank you so much for having me. Speaker 1: 00:56 So the man arrested in this incident was from Oceanside. Uh, what can you tell us about the culture of white nationalism here in San Diego county and in the greater Southern California area? Speaker 2: 01:07 There has been a welcome shift. We are now seeing products and reports, which were absent during the last administration, but I will say that one of the problems that I think we're seeing with regard to extremism overall is that we're a little late to respond to the changing trends and what we've seen certainly since 2018 has been a shift, certainly with extremist homicides, end up swimming with the more radicalized people who have a folklore often, but not always. These grievance monger are white supremacists. Not always though. And that's, what's so interesting about what we're looking at. We have the cystic folks who sometimes are white supremacists, sometimes you're not. And in this case, unfortunately it appears that Donald Craighead had some psychological issues as well, that were longstanding. Speaker 1: 02:00 How has America's intelligence apparatus beginning to change how it assesses the threat of white nationalist, domestic terrorism? Unfortunately, Speaker 2: 02:08 We have seen a one step behind approach, uh, with regard to extremism and that's, uh, when dice was expanding last decade. And then when we had warned our center had consistently warned about the rise of far right violence, including white supremacy. And indeed, when I testified before the us Senate last month, I said, we've now elevated our risk because of how widely dispersed the threat is to loaners themselves, including loaners like Mr. Craighead, who appear to have psychological issues as well. So we're getting a triumvirate of folks are newly minted extremist. If you will, who are cajoled online people with psychiatric histories as, as what we call the mission offenders, the hardcore folks who are looking to take this time of grievance fear and social media overdosing during the pandemic for their own propaganda. And that's a problem. Speaker 1: 03:14 And has there been a distinct shift at all in how the nation approaches the issue of domestic terror since president Biden took office? Speaker 2: 03:21 The problems that I think we're seeing with regard to extremism overall is that we're a little late to respond to the changing trends and what we've seen certainly since 2018 has been a shift certainly with extremist homicides to far right and white supremacists. However, more recently we've seen a diversification. So bottom line, I think the threat that we have from this widespread anger and grievance, it will bubble up in various locations is more regionalized. So you're as likely to see something at a state Capitol or a city council meeting or county supervisors fora, as you are going to see these things that are more widely reported at the us Capitol, Speaker 1: 04:06 You know, where does Q Anon fit into this rise and extremist ideology? Speaker 2: 04:11 That's a great question. And what's so interesting about [inaudible] and it is so elastic that one can really construct almost an idiosyncratic set of villains and targets. And one of the things that I also think unfortunately, is a hallmark of some of the violence that has the monitor of cure queue, and honor, at least the gift wrap is that again, we have people who have either, for instance, the case in Florida, someone who was on meth, uh, and in this other case, someone who may also have psychological issues. So the problem is we have a multiplicity of offenders, some of which are like your James Bond type villains, but others, frankly, who are more of an idiosyncratic cobbled mix, some of whom become extreme because they're stressed and have a peer group that they found online, which radicalizes them, others do it in a more solitary manner. Speaker 2: 05:11 Oftentimes social media and psychological stress or illness plays a role. And that is what I think is so interesting. It's a very diverse and regionalized type of threat that is different from the ones that we saw in the past, which involved more hierarchical and organized groups. Now, no matter what your vulnerability is, whether it's anger, stress, psychological issues, or the desire for some kind of subcultural peer validation, that's what we're seeing with regard to extremists. We're also seeing this with respect to hate crime. What I'm saying is we're seeing a democratization of symbolic targeted violence of which hate crime and terrorism is a part of, you know, today Speaker 1: 05:57 We remember the 58th anniversary of the Birmingham bombing, uh, and on the heels of the 20th anniversary of nine 11. And just ahead of this rally in DC, what stands out to you in terms of how this country treats and has focused on external threats of terror versus white nationalist domestic terrorism? The Speaker 2: 06:17 Bottom line is, is we have to have the alacrity to respond early to all these threats. And we are at a place of realignment. However, as of now, certainly the shorter term risk is coming from domestic extremists. They're most likely far, right? Oftentimes white supremacists, but they're not the only ones we're seeing. Now, this idiosyncratic mix, we saw our first violent Salafist jihadist homicide in a, in a few years, just in the last month. And last year we saw the first hard left homicides take place. So while far right, are increasingly skilled, the most prominent risk in is becoming a more diverse threat matrix. And what we have to do is have the alacrity in, in how we approach this to tackle the bull being kicked from any end of the field. Speaker 1: 07:12 I've been speaking with Brian Levin director of the center for the study of hate and extremism and a professor of criminal justice at California state university, San Bernardino, professor Levin. Thank you so much for joining us. Speaker 2: 07:24 Thank you. It's always a pleasure and thank you for the work that you and other public radio professionals do across the country.