Holocaust Memorial shooting renews concern about military vets' ties to extremist violence
Experts say recent attacks back up the findings of a controversial Department of Homeland Security report.
Three of the attackers in the recent spate of extremist violence across the United States, including Wednesday's shooting at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, had military experience, adding credence to a much-criticized Department of Homeland Security report earlier this year warning of radicalization and indoctrination of former US soldiers.Skip to next paragraph
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"The overall report was very prescient," says Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University in San Bernardino. "The military prides itself with protecting the finest of American traditions, and what the hate movement does as a really disingenuous recruiting tool is try and present themselves as folks who are protecting the real America."
James Von Brunn, the Holocaust Museum attacker alleged to have killed a security guard, was a former PT boat captain who had argued he fought for the wrong side in World War II; Joshua Cartwright, who killed two Florida sheriff's deputies earlier this year in part because of his frustration over the election of a black president, was a National Guardsman; and Richard Poplawksi, who spent a short time in the Marine Corps, killed three Pittsburgh police officers in April. He had been a regular contributor to white supremacist web sites.
What's more, several of America's worst domestic terrorists have had military experience, including Timothy McVeigh, convicted and executed for the Oklahoma City bombing; Eric Rudolph, the Atlanta Olympics bomber who hid out in the Smoky Mountains for five years before being captured in 2003; and John Allen Mohammed, the Washington sniper.