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Another jihadi?

Posted by Richard on February 14, 2007

A Google News search for trolley square mall gunman just returned 1,258 results. A search for trolley square mall gunman muslim returned 3. I suppose it’s prudent at this stage of the investigation to say, as most reports do, that no one knows the shooter’s motive yet. Or to say, as Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank did, that his motive was "to kill a large number of people."

According to news reports, however, Sulejman Talovic, the 18-year-old shooter, was a Bosnian who came to the United States with his family in 1998 as refugees from Croatia. Given his name and background, I’d wager a fairly large sum on Sulejman being a Muslim. That doesn’t necessarily mean he was a jihadi with a religio-political motive. But I’d sure be looking into the mosque he attended and the other young Muslims he hung out with.

Most of Sulejman’s victims were people in a card shop buying Valentine’s Day cards, and that holiday apparently is deeply offensive to certain Muslims.

Sulejman wouldn’t be the first jihadi in the U.S. to start shooting people in a public place. And as Dr. Rusty Shackleford noted (emphasis added):

We should also remember that the Islamist message boards have been encouraging potential jihadis to keep it simple. Also, it’s important to think about the role of the internet in creating "virtual cells" of mujahideen. That is, jihadis who may never physically meet or formally join an terror organization, but who encourage one another to do acts of violence.

As I’ve mentioned here many times before, the present structure of the Salafi jihadi movement is such that any one can now claim to be al Qaeda. Although the formal organizations of al Qaeda 1.0 (bin Laden, Zawahiri) and 2.0 (Zarqawi/al Masri in Iraq/ — GSPC/al Qaeda in Algeria) remain a threat, this "al Qaeda 3.0" is more of a movement than it is of an organization. And thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of young Muslim men in the West sympathize with that movement.

One of Dr. Rusty’s commenters noted an odd coincidence of names:

One of the murderer’s relatives mentioned in some news reports is an aunt named Ajka Omerovic.A Bosnian with the name of Omerovic made the news a couple of years ago. From the Associated Press:

Anthrax hoaxer gets 10-month sentence

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Monday, July 29, 2002 11:51PM EDT

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) – A man who mailed letters threatening to use anthrax against government agencies was sentenced Monday to 10 months in prison.

Amir Omerovic, 28, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Bosnia, had faced up to five years in prison after pleading guilty in U.S. District Court in February.

After serving his term, Omerovic will be confined to his home for six months and placed on supervision that will include mental health treatment, Judge Alan Nevas ordered.

Federal prosecutors said Omerovic mailed letters in October to Gov. John Rowland, the Coast Guard, Marine Corps and other public agencies in Connecticut. The letters referred to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

“This is only the beginning,” the letters said. “Americans will die. Death to America and Israel.”

I’m keeping an open mind at this point. Considering how the media have shied away from reporting the religio-political motives behind other jihadi killings in the U.S., I suspect we can’t count on getting the straight scoop on this young man’s motive. On the other hand, I don’t want to be paranoid about this — he could have been just another badly disturbed teen on Ritalin or something, with no ties to radical Islam at all.

But if I ever encounter someone named Omerovic, I’m going to be very, very careful.

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