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Why it was so hard to prevent Von Brunn's attack

The man charged with murder in the Holocaust Museum shooting gave clear clues about his hatred of Jews on the Web. But it's hard for law enforcement to filter anger from murderous intent.

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-The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said in October that it has disrupted a skinhead plot to assassinate Obama and kill 102 black people in October.

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-A Brockton, Mass., man is charged with killing two people during a rampage across the city in January. He told authorities he wanted to kill as many nonwhites as possible.

-This year, five US police officers – three in Pittsburgh and two in Florida – by individuals with links to right-wing extremism.

-An antiabortion extremist killed an abortion doctor in Kansas last week.

-Also last week, a "lone wolf" American Muslim extremist shot two Army recruiters, killing one, outside a Little Rock, Ark., mall.

In March, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a report that warned of simmering domestic extremism among the estimated 250,000 white nationalist sympathizers in the US, spurred on by tough economic times and the election of America's first black president, Mr. Obama.

Conservatives flogged the DHS for pinpointing returning veterans and even Tea Party protesters as possible extremists. But on Wednesday, Shephard Smith, an anchor on the right-leaning cable network Fox News said that DHS "was warning us for a reason."

Engaging the American people to help law enforcement isolate possible violent elements is a necessary step, experts say.

"Only a minority will be motivated to commit a violent act ... but the bad thing is it doesn't take very many people to cause a whole lot of fear," says Mark Pitcavage, an analyst with the Anti-Defamation League, which tracks hate-crimes in the US. "James von Brunn shocked far more than just Washington, D.C. [His act] reverberated across the country."