You would have to be actively avoiding the news to have missed hearing about the shootings that took place in Aurora, Colorado last month or outside of the Empire State Building last Friday.
Another attack which made headlines occurred August 5 when Wade Michael Page murdered six congregants and wounded a police officer at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. Since Page, who had a 9/11 tattoo, was killed during the attack, it will never be known if the violence was a result of him believing that the Sikh temple was a house of Muslim worship. However, in addition to the attack in Wisconsin, there have been numerous recent attacks against Muslims that haven’t generated front-page news. Consider:
– On August 4, teenagers pelted a mosque in Hayward (CA) with fruit.
– On August 5, a man vandalized a mosque in North Smithfield (RI).
– On August 6, a mosque in Joplin (MO) was burned to the ground.
– On August 7, two women threw pieces of pork at the site of a proposed Islamic center in Ontario (CA).
– On August 10, a man allegedly shot a pellet rifle at a mosque near Chicago.
– On August 12, attackers fired paintball guns at a mosque in Oklahoma City.
– On August 12, a homemade bomb filled with acid was thrown at an Islamic school in Lombard (Ill).
– On August 15, assailants threw a Molotov cocktail at the home of a Muslim family in Panama City (FL).
While the shootings in Aurora and New York City seem to be related to mental instability and the economic times, what can be made of these incidents, spread across 6 states, in less than two weeks, more than a decade after the September 11 attacks?
In 2000, we wrote a Briefing entitled, “Bombs and Networks” in which we noted a rash of terrorist attacks spread across the globe. Our intelligence suggested that a network of terrorists were working together and sharing information with a common goal. While we don’t have enough information now to infer the same thing, it does raise several questions: Are certain Americans feeling comfortable venting their anger at people who think differently than they. Are more and more angry Americans reading similar online material that might be preaching such hatred. Or are some of these attacks part of a coordinated set of actions. If the answer lies with either of the first two questions, then we can expect more of such attacks in the months ahead, but if the answer is with the third question, then even bigger things could be on the horizon.