Lone Wolf Attack
As 27 federal and local agencies investigate the mass shooting at an Oak Creek, Wisconsin Sikh gurdwara south of Milwaukee that left seven people dead including the shooter as a suspected domestic terrorism case, more limited details are emerging about the "hate rock" suspect, who appears to be part of a trend of distressed lone wolves.
Wade Michael Page, the alleged killer, according to multiple news sources was a 40 year old Army veteran with a hate symbol tattoo who received a demotion and a less than honorable discharge from the military in 1998 for "patterns of misconduct" according to CNN after six years of service, finishing up at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Disgruntled military veteran killers like Nidal Hassan (who was in the Army), Holocaust Museum shooter James von Brunn, Olympic and clinic bomber Eric Robert Rudolph as well as executed Oklahoma City Bomber Timothy McVeigh and D.C. Sniper John Allen Muhammad (the latter two had accomplices), have led many to mechanistically conclude that military service is part of a profile of loner extremists.
The real story is far more complex, as it is more likely that a first responder or victim to a mass shooting will be a military veteran than the shooter. Irrespective of their military status, these kind of killers are often depressed, socially and psychologically itinerant adult males whose significant and defining life setbacks in career or relationships create a festering anger that explodes into violence against a symbolic target. These targeted locations and innocent people are the sincere focus of aggression in the contorted thinking of someone whose anger and belief system leads them to settle a score and reaffirm their self worth by achieving notoriety through violence. A violent act transforms them from losers to warriors for a cause that is bigger than they are, and they are hitting back, not only on behalf of themselves, but for others who faced similar unfairness from an uncaring society.
The three main categories of extremist aggressors are listed below, and usually one is the primary element with an offender, with at least one other playing a secondary supporting role:
. The Ideologically Motivated (Religious, Political or Hybrid)
. The Psychologically Dangerous (Sociopath or Cognitively Impaired)
. Personal Benefit or Revenge
A politically controversial, if not prescient 2009 DHS Report noted:
The possible passage of new restrictions on firearms and the return of military veterans facing significant challenges reintegrating into their communities could lead to the potential emergence of terrorist groups or lone wolf extremists capable of carrying out violent attacks.
Hate Rock and Hate Crime
Page according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) was "part of the white power music scene since 2000, when he left his native Colorado on a motorcycle." SPLC further reports:
He attended white power concerts in Georgia, North Carolina, West Virginia and Colorado. At various times, he said, he also played in the hate rock bands Youngland (2001-2003), Celtic Warrior, Radikahl, Max Resist, Intimidation One, Aggressive Force and Blue Eyed Devils. End Apathy, he said, included "Brent" on bass and "Ozzie" on drums; the men were former members of Definite Hate and another band, 13 Knots.
The SPLC also stated that in 2000 Page attempted to buy materials from the neo-Nazi National Alliance, that at the time, was among the nation's most prolific sellers of hate material and music. Page reportedly belonged to a group called End Apathy and conducted an interview on a hate rock website.
The National Alliance frequently sought to recruit active duty military and veterans, specifically targeting Fort Bragg in the late 1990s, where page had served. In 1995 a billboard outside the installation advertised the hate group, and in December 1995 two neo-Nazi soldiers from the Fort killed an African-American couple off base after getting drunk and listening to hate rock music.
According to the Sikh coalition there have been about 700 instances of violence or non-criminal discrimination against the community since 9/11 including homicides, assaults, and arson. Sikhism was established in what is now the Punjab region of the Indian subcontinent about five centuries ago and its 27 million adherents constitute the fifth largest religious faith. Recently a bill was introduced to count anti-Sikh hate crime in federal hate crime statistics. About 4% of hate crimes take place at houses of worship, with 16% of anti-religion hate crimes occurring there. Over the last decade the FBI has reported less than one dozen hate homicides annually and reported hate crime are near fourteen year lows. At the same time, the number of hate groups nationally has risen each year over the last decade to over 1,000. The overwhelming majority of hate crimes overall are not committed by hard core hate mongers, but hard core hatemongers are believed to be responsible for about 33%-40% of hate motivated homicides.
We will find out more about the offender and motives behind this horrendous atrocity, which shocked the sensibilities of our pluralistic democracy. One thing is certain, lone wolves, have been and remain a significant domestic terror risk that is difficult to thwart. A combination of isolation, depression, anger and an enabling hateful belief system, as in the case of hate rock, often combine to produce acts of inexplicable violence against innocent people, except in the twisted minds of those who commit these crimes, and those who share their hatreds and frustrations.