The Latest Attack
On 3 August, a gunman opened fire in the Walmart on the east side of El Paso, Texas. The attacker, later identified as Patrick Wood Crusius, killed 22 people and injured 24 others, including children. The attacker used a WASR-10 rifle, a civilian semi-automatic version of the well-known AK-47.
After the shooting, Patrick Wood Crusius fled the scene, and was shortly thereafter arrested at a nearby intersection. Crusius surrendered without fighting and identified himself as the shooter. During his first interactions with the officers, the terrorist has been described cold and calm, like a “soldier during a mission”.
The attacker had travelled about more than ten hours hours by car to reach El Paso, but got lost in a neighborhood when he arrived in the city. The first investigations assume that Crusius, once he had quickly eaten in the Walmart, was satisfied that there were a large enough number of people present (around 2,000), and decided to carried out his terrorist attack at that point.
His ex-schoolmate has confirmed that Crusius had few social relationships during his school days and many have described him as a “weird nerd”. On his LinkedIn profile, Crusius referred to himself as a software programmer because he spent eight hours each day on his personal computer.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating Crusius’ attack as a case of domestic terrorism and hate crime. It is likely prosecutors will seek the death sentence.
Early investigations turned up a manifesto written by Crusius, entitled “The Inconvenient Truth”, which was posted to 8chan, a website known for being a safe-haven for far-Right users. Reading it gives us insight on the attacker’s vision of the economy, of history, and the role he saw himself playing within these fields.
The four pages of the manifesto are divided into six parts: About Me; Political Reasons; Economic Reasons; Gear; Reaction; Personal Reasons and Thoughts.
Peculiarly, neither the “About Me” nor in “Personal Reasons and Thoughts” sections disclosed even the attackers name, let alone any other personal information. Crusius described himself as a supporter of Christchurch attacker, Brenton Tarrant, and his mission as one to resist a future where jobs are lost to automation and a Hispanic “invasion”.
In the “Political Reasons” section, Crusius says that Texas will become the main theatre of a political coup that will turn United States into a one-party state, causing the final destruction of his beloved country. This will be happen thanks to an ongoing mass migration into Texas of Latinos from Mexico and Central America, many of them illegally. In time, Crusius believes, these people will be granted the right to vote—and they will vote for the Democratic Party, locking Republicans out of power in perpetuity. Crusius dislikes the capitalist economic system, which he believes goes hand-in-hand with this drive for mass immigration to the U.S., in search of cheap labour; he regards big corporations as exploiting the country and destroying traditional values.
Crusius argued that a possible solution was confederacy, where each race is given at least one territory. This physical separation would lessen the “race mixing” that he believes is destroying society. Inaction is a choice, in Crusius opinion, and the “shame of inaction” it isn’t permissible in a country like the U.S. where there is still time and it is possible to fight.
In enacting this fight, Crusius’ terrorist manifesto advises that people select easy targets, “low hanging fruit”. “Don’t attack heavily guarded areas to fulfill your super soldier COD (Call of Duty) fantasy”, says Crusius.
Crusius reference to the “Hispanic Invasion” puts him in the White Supremacist category, ideologically, but his wish to “defend” Texas puts him outside the “Accelerationism” doctrine, the notion—subscribed to by some White Supremacists, as well as by Left-wing and other radical forces—that the way forward is to “heighten the contradictions”, as Marxists used to say: using indiscriminate attacks to accelerate the political polarization that is tearing apart Western democratic societies. The “Accelerationist” extremists believe that at the end-point of the chaos, the collapse of Western states, they can prevail. Crusius’ intent, by contrast, seems to have been to arrest these trends toward chaos, albeit that his affect was to accelerate them.
Similarities and Differences to Prior Terrorists
Crusius’ manifesto has various similarities and differences with two other manifestos released by recent White Supremacist terrorists, John T. Earnest and Brenton Tarrant, respectively the terrorists of the Poway Synagogue and the Christchurch Mosque.
Earnest and Crusius did not produce such elaborate works as Tarrant. Crusius says explicitly in his own manifesto that he had rushed to produce the document and carry out the attack before he lost his nerve. Tarrant planned his massacre, and wrote his ideological manifesto, over a period of around two years. Indeed, as written in Tarrant’s manifesto “The Great Replacement”, the attack was planned to allow enough time for him to train, form a plain, settle his affairs, and write down his views to explain himself, since he had intended to die during the attack.
Crusius and Earnest also differ from Tarrant in that while all are White Supremacists, only Tarrant was a conscious Accelerationists. Tarrant explained at length in his manifesto that he chose his firearms for the affect it would have on social discourse; he knew they would gain extra media coverage and he hoped to provoke moves in the United States towards restrictions on the Second Amendment right to own guns, triggering a counter-reaction from gun-owners that spiraled into a civil war. Earnest and Crusius were, in their own minds, working towards order: their more limited aims were to defend their race—in Earnest’s case against the “ZOG” (Zionist Occupation Government) and in Crusius’ case against the Hispanic Invasion.
A final distinction is that Tarrant and Earnest showed a more global, transnationalist view, typical of the alt-Right ideology, while Crusius seemed to be more aligned with the American nationalist far-Right.
The far-Right universe quickly adopted Crusius, after the release of his manifesto, as a Saint, alongside other infamous figures like Earnest, Tarrant, Breivik, and so on. There was some dissent in the chat rooms and other online channels of the far-Right; some condemned Crusius for attempting to kill children, and others disagreed with killing white men, women, and children indiscriminately alongside Latinos. Still, in the main, these disagreements were tactical, about methods and targets; there was substantial cohesion about the need to take violent action as soon as possible. Praising the Saints of their ideology, and echoing the actions taken by the three recent terrorists, users inside these chats started to spread more material on self-training in military matters and discussing what to attack and how.
There is clearly a growth of far-Right terrorism. There have been four confirmed White Supremacist attacks just in 2019: Earnest and Crusius in the U.S., Tarrant in New Zealand, and the murder perpetrated by Stephan Enrst in Germany, where he killed Walter Lübcke, the administrative chief of the western city of Kassel. The supporters of this ideology observed this trend and rejoiced.
Perhaps even more worrying that the increase in attacks is the strengthening of the far-Right ideologies we are witnessing, particularly since Tarrant’s attack. The impact of Tarrant’s massacre and his manifesto may have been underestimated; in dark corners of the internet, he is inspiring new followers to action.
At this time, though there are many small far-Right groups in America and Europe, we are not seeing the emergence of a specific Al-Qaeda-like vanguard organization inspired by far-Right. The transnational connections between the various far-Right factions are much looser to this point, and the principal terrorist danger is “lone-wolf” attacks. How long will this last?