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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
American Radical: The Lone Wolf
Aired June 12, 2009 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: This is a 360 special dealing head on with a wave of terrorism -- yes, terrorism -- that has largely gone unnoticed as such.
If al Qaeda were doing it, that is exactly how people might see it. Instead, these are bombings, shootings and attempted attacks on Americans by Americans, the freshest unfolding even now.
A man walks into the Holocaust Museum in Washington. He pulls out a rifle and fires. A guard is gravely wounded. The others return fire, saving visitors to this monument and the victims of hatred from suffering a similar fate -- the suspect, a well known anti-Semite and racist, James von Brunn.
An abortion provider is shot dead on a Sunday at church in front of a terrified congregation. His clinic closes. Point made -- the suspect, the determined, many say obsessed anti-abortion activist Scott Roeder.
A man opens fire at a military recruiting center in Little Rock, Arkansas, killing a soldier. The suspect, a Muslim convert, says he is taking revenge for American actions in Iraq. He says he doesn't consider what he did murder, Abdulhakim Muhammad.
Three men and others driven mainly, though not exclusively, by racism and anti-government paranoia or twisted faith, both Christian and Muslim. What they all seem to share, though, is precisely that which makes them so hard to stop. Even though they draw inspiration from movements and groups, each acts largely alone.
Tonight, how they become killers, our report, "American Radical: The Lone Wolf."
Tonight, what makes these men tick? What fuels their rage? And, most important, because, thankfully, so many people never act on their anger, what makes them snap?
You will meet a man who infiltrated hate groups and one who escaped a life of hatred and anger.
First this: The Department of Homeland Security drew a lot of political heat this spring when it issued a report commissioned during the last administration, a warning about how many factors, including the first African-American president and a bad economy, could -- and I quote -- "lead to the potential emergence of terrorist groups or lone wolf extremists capable of carrying out violent attacks." Shadowy groups and/or lone wolves, lone wolves receiving indoctrination from a hate group, then acting individually, hard to track, harder to stop.
Here is Tom Foreman.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There may be nothing that is more troubling for law enforcement, hate-filled violence that erupts from nowhere for seemingly no reason.
And, yet, that is the signature of the lone wolf terrorist, individuals who have fueled their anger with radical ideologies and enough knowledge to make it deadly.
BRIAN LEVIN, CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF HATE AND EXTREMISM DIRECTOR, CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY: We're in an era of superterrorism.
FOREMAN: At the Center for the Study for Hate and Extremism in California, professor Brian Levin.
LEVIN: They see themselves as lone wolves operationally, but they see themselves also as part of an umbrella entity of leaderless resistance, where they commit an act of violence, which they call propaganda of the deed.
FOREMAN: The Internet makes propaganda of the deed easy, allowing would-be bombers and gunmen to anonymously and privately share philosophies, tactics, targets, while publicly communicating in a secret code.
LEVIN: These acts are symbolic acts. They are not only striking at the enemies. They're calling on their other compatriots to commit similar acts by going and doing the violence themselves.
FOREMAN: Lone wolves do not always act utterly alone. Federal authorities indicted four ecoterrorists for this fire-bombing of a Colorado ski resort in the 1990s. Fortunately, no one died.
(on camera): But lone wolf attackers rarely give even hints about their plans to more than one or two others. That's what makes it so hard to anticipate their moves and catch them. Police, for example, say that man accused of shooting those two Army recruiters acted alone.
(voice-over): And, they say, so did the man who allegedly shot abortion doctor George Tiller. The deed made headlines. He made the message clear. If he is found guilty, Scott Roeder told CNN, the entire motive was the defense of the unborn.
And now some criminologists say a perfect storm is brewing: the election of a black president, the crashing economy, debates about immigration, same-sex marriage, gun rights.
LEVIN: These extremists consider what is going on now to be all hands on deck. They believe that now is the time to act.
FOREMAN: For law enforcement, the question is not if another lone gunman will strike, but where and when?
Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: Lone wolves taking nourishment from shadowy hate groups, nearly 1,000 such organizations in all corners of the United States.
The two people you're about to meet know firsthand. Mark Potok keeps track of them and tries to shut them down as director of the Southern Poverty Law Center. David Gletty did his work from the inside, as an FBI operative infiltrating neo-Nazi groups, at one point crossing paths with James von Brunn.
We spoke earlier.
COOPER: Mark, from what we now know, it appears that James von Brunn acted alone. Does -- does he fit the lone wolf mold, in your view? Because he did, you know, have groups that he associated with online.
MARK POTOK, SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER: Yes. I think, from the evidence so far, it's pretty clear that he did act as a lone wolf, at least, as I say, from what we know.
Although he kind of associated with many people in groups, and he certainly knew many of the leaders in the movement, as far as we know, he really was not a joiner. He very rarely was actually a member of a group. But, in any event, yes, it does seem like the evidence suggests that he acted alone. I certainly can't see any suggestion to the contrary out there.
COOPER: And, David, these lone wolves can come from any political background. As we saw, the -- the -- the soldier was in Arkansas on June 1, on Monday, shot to death, another soldier wounded, by a man who was a recent Muslim convert.
But -- but these lone wolves, the term itself basically comes from right-wing extremist groups from the '80s, doesn't it?
DAVID GLETTY, INFILTRATED HATE GROUPS FOR FBI: Yes, sir.
And what I witnessed working undercover for the FBI, that I ran into lone wolf, say, splinter cells, where you have groups of two, three people.
And a perfect example is, two years ago, two of the guys I had arrested -- are in prison now for 10 years -- they conspired and they brought me into their plan. And I was able to get them on recording devices. And that's what ultimately put them in prison. Their plan was to go around, rob drug dealers at gunpoint dressed as law enforcement officers.
And because of my work, they are arrested; they're in prison now. Their names are Tom Rock, John -- I'm sorry -- John Rock, Tom Martin. They were members of the Confederate Hammerskins here in the state of Florida.
COOPER: So, what's, Mark, the goal of a lone wolf? I mean, is it -- is it martyrdom? Are they -- are they trying to start a race war?
POTOK: You know, really what the whole lone wolf theory about is the idea of not getting caught. You know, fundamentally, what happened was, there was a very important trial, the so-called sedition trial in Fort Smith, Arkansas, in the '80s of most of the leaders of the radical right at the time.
Essentially, the government theory was a giant conspiracy. The government lost on all counts in that trial, but that trial really set the stage up for the thinkers of the radical right, and, in particular, one man, Louis Beam, to come up with the theory of leaderless resistance.
And that idea was to limit resistance to very small cells, so, no more than six men in cells. And the idea was that these cells would act on their own entirely, without any outside direction, the theory being that, that that way, if law enforcement busted into one of these cells, the most people who would go down would be five or six, as opposed to bringing an entire structure down.
So, you know, lone wolves are kind of an offshoot of the leaderless resistance idea. Lone wolves, as you mentioned, are very much like Eric Robert Rudolph, the Olympic and abortion clinic bomber, McVeigh, people who acted either all -- completely on their own or with the assistance just of one or two people.
COOPER: And, David, because of success of people like you, who have been able to infiltrate some of these larger groups, I guess these -- these lone wolves are kind of breaking away, thinking that they won't be able to be infiltrated with just themselves or one or two other people.
Do you think, David, that the racist movement in the United States has become energized because of the election of President Obama, or is that too much of a stretch?
GLETTY: That's not a stretch at all.
Like I said before, we need to take this serious. These guys are using -- using that as a recruiting tactic, President Obama being elected. And what Mr. von Brunn did, they're using that as a recruiting tool to poison the young minds of our young people in society.
They get these young people that are on the outskirts of society, bring them in, show them their way of thinking, brainwash them, you say, and they go out and do their bidding. COOPER: We're going to have to leave it there.
David Gletty, good to have you on again, Mark Potok, as well. Thank you for your expertise, both of you. Appreciate it.
COOPER: Up next: more on how the lone wolf problem came to be, even the origins of the term itself, as we look here at the first scene earlier this year in Pittsburgh, where three officers were gunned down, allegedly by a lone wolf who thought President Obama would take his guns away.
Also tonight, the Eric Rudolph story, the man who terrorized the 1996 Olympics, bombed abortion providers, and then vanished into the woods, a violent American radical and possibly the ultimate lone wolf.
ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Best known for the 1996 bombing during the Atlanta Olympics, Eric Robert Rudolph's true obsession was with gays and abortion clinics.
DEBRA RUDOLPH, FORMER SISTER IN LAW OF ERIC RUDOLPH: He felt like, if women continued to abort their white babies that, eventually, the white race would become a minority.
HILL: Rudolph confessed to bombing an Atlanta-area abortion clinic in 1997. He targeted a lesbian bar a little over a month later.
In 1998, his attack on a Birmingham abortion clinic killed a security guard and critically injured a nurse. Later that year, he was added to the FBI's 10 most-wanted list. But it would be five years before he was found.
Rudolph spent that time as a fugitive in the Appalachian wilderness, where many believe he had help from sympathizers. He was arrested in May 2003. In 2005, he pleaded guilty to numerous charges. He is now serving four consecutive life sentences, plus another 120 years.
COOPER: Eric Rudolph was the consummate loner. But he also drew inspiration and support from organized extremist groups. His mother was a follower of the "Christian Identity" movement. While on the run, he reportedly got help from sympathizers in the group, people who, even now, call for bombings in his name.
It turns out many lone wolves have similar connections, from Tim McVeigh, to Eric Rudolph, Scott Roeder, and now James von Brunn.
Drew Griffin investigates. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Von Brunn's own Web site, no longer operating, contained his hatred for -- quote -- "Jews, Negroes," any group he saw as diluting the white race, and love for the man who tried to save it, Adolf Hitler.
Von Brunn, who denies the Holocaust, describes Hitler's worse mistake, he didn't gas the Jews. Offensive, hateful and, yet, it didn't stand out because there are literally thousands of other Internet sites just like it, the National Vanguard, the National Socialist Movement, Nazi.org, the American Nazi Party, and Stormfront, where you can join the blog saying coverage of the Holocaust shooting is overblown. "Let's not blow this out of proportion," writes one blogger. "One white guy shoot a black. Compare that to the numbers white people that get shoot, stab, et cetera, by the Third World invaders."
It is hard to determine if the movement is growing along with the growth in the number of hate Web sites. Von Brunn had his own, and all information points to the fact he was a group of just one.
According to former insiders and at least one current insider, the fractionalized white supremacy movement is, in fact, leaderless, floundering, and spewing hate on so many different and competing Web sites, the movement as a whole is growing weak.
At the Southern Poverty Law Center, director Mark Potok says the Web-site-hater-turned-alleged-Holocaust-Museum-shooter may have reacted out of desperation.
POTOK: Very likely, this man was nearing the end of his life. He was 88 years old, going on 89. He saw a black man elected to the White House. He saw a quite liberal administration in place, and very likely felt that his country had been stolen from him in some way.
FOREMAN: Inside von Brunn's double-parked red Hyundai, in front of the Holocaust Memorial Museum, the FBI recovered a notebook.
Documents filed by the FBI say that note contained this: "You want my weapons, this is how you will get them. The Holocaust is a lie. Obama was created by Jews. Obama does what his Jew owners tell him to do. Jews captured America's money. Jews control the mass media."
And, in perhaps a final plea to get someone to listen to him, to pay attention to his views, the notebook in von Brunn's car pointed readers to his Web site.
Drew Griffin, CNN, Atlanta.
COOPER: Lone wolves can come from any political or religious background. On Monday, June 1, the man who is suspected of killing Private William Long in a recruiting station in Arkansas was a recent Muslim convert.
Our next guest says that the term itself, lone wolf, originates from right-wing extremists, though.
David Neiwert is an award-winning investigative reporter, blogger, and author of several books, including "The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right."
I spoke with David earlier.
COOPER: David, is there is common thread that you see between these -- these so-called lone wolves, something that maybe sets them apart from people who are just part of a bigger group?
DAVID NEIWERT, "THE ELIMINATIONISTS: HOW HATE TALK RADICALIZED THE AMERICAN RIGHT": Well, people who are lone -- lone wolves are always people who are acting out of -- almost always acting out of this right-wing extremist ideology.
The idea of lone wolves has actually been an overt strategy of the extremist right for a number of years, since at least the late '80s.
COOPER: It's actually a systematic strategy, I mean, starting -- starting something in the late '80s?
NEIWERT: That's correct.
It evolved from the strategy called leaderless resistance that was invented by a leader of the Aryan Nations named Louis Beam. And Beam came up with this idea after it became apparent that the federal government was capable of taking down these large hate groups by attacking them at the top and taking -- and taking their leaders to jail.
And, so, they -- when they started doing this, the Aryan Nations and other far-right groups developed the strategy of leaderless resistance, which essentially involved the idea that people who are interested in taking action should disassociate themselves from the larger organization or maintain at the best loose ties.
COOPER: And in terms of how these lone wolves see the world, you say they see them in extremes, black and white. Where does that come from? Where does the anger and the hate come from?
NEIWERT: Well, a lot of the anger and the hate has -- comes from people who do see their world in extremes shades of black and white. We call it exemplary dualism or Manichaean dualism.
But, no matter what you call it, it's still people who divide the world into pure good and pure evil. And the more extreme they see the world, the more likely they are to take on a sort of radical view.
COOPER: They see themselves as heroes, though.
NEIWERT: Yes. And that is really critical to understanding the psychology of the lone wolves, that they do see themselves as heroic.
The means that they are constantly engaged in the act of creating enemies, identifying enemies, and creating them. And, when they do that, then all kinds of people will be their enemies and all kinds of people will be their targets, whether it be abortion clinic providers or innocent bystanders at the Holocaust Museum.
COOPER: What do you think it is that -- that pushes them over the edge, that actually makes them act?
NEIWERT: You know, Anderson, if we knew that, we would probably stop a lot of this stuff before it happened.
The main things that we know that cause this are that these people get extremely wound up, mostly in their beliefs. And we have noticed a definite uptick in violence in the last five months, since President Obama was elected.
A lot of this has to do with their feelings of powerlessness and impotence. During the Bush years, it is not that they necessarily identified with -- with conservatives, but they felt that conservative rule was taking the country not in so bad a direction.
COOPER: I guess, if Mr. von Brunn is in fact found guilty, the lesson is that it doesn't matter how old some of these people are. They're still -- if he, in fact, did this, they are still capable of great acts of terror.
NEIWERT: Yes. I was surprised by his age, but, considering his ideology, I certainly wasn't surprised by his actions.
COOPER: Man, the hate doesn't get old with some of these people.
David Neiwert, appreciate your -- your time. Thank you.
NEIWERT: You bet. My pleasure.
COOPER: In a moment, a lone wolf unlike any the world has ever seen. Mild-mannered, he terrorized the country for decades from a tiny cabin in the middle of nowhere, the Unabomber.
Also, how does someone go from skinhead rallies to anti-hatred activist? You will meet a 15-year veteran of the skinhead movement and hear how his son jolted him from a life of intolerance.
HILL: I'm Erica Hill.
Back to "American Radical: The Lone Wolf" in just a moment, but, first, this 360 bulletin.
The votes are still being counted in Iran's election. The interior ministry says President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has a sizable lead over his main challenge, reform candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi. Mousavi, though, claims he is the real winner.
Congress passing a bill which now gives the FDA the power to regulate tobacco products. Among other things, it would stop the sale of flavored cigarettes and those advertised as light or mild. The president says he looks forward to signing it.
American college student Amanda Knox telling an Italian court today she was not home the night her roommate was killed. Knox testified she was at her boyfriend's apartment smoking pot. Both Knox and her boyfriend are charged with murder and sexual assault.
And former President George H.W. Bush celebrating his 85th birthday doing what has become a tradition with a parachute jump -- alongside him, HLN's Robin Meade.
We return you to 360 special "American Radical: The Lone Wolf" in a moment.
HILL (voice-over): Nearly 20 years of terror attributed to one man, Theodore Kaczynski, the Unabomber.
A child prodigy, he graduated Harvard at 20, got a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, and became an assistant professor at 25. But it was all too much for a man who had spent much of his life alone. Kaczynski retreated to a remote cabin in Montana, with the goal of becoming self-sufficient.
Instead, he became a terrorist, launching a letter bomb campaign in 1978. Before it ended in 1995, Kaczynski's reign of terror had left three people dead, two dozen wounded.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was just an ordinary-enough looking package, about the size of a large telephone book. When I cut the scrapping tape, the package exploded. It was just a -- a very sudden, very -- very violent and loud explosion. It knocked me backwards a little bit.
He was arrested in 1996, pleaded guilty to all charges in 1998, and is now serving four life sentences.
COOPER: Unabomber Ted Kaczynski directed his hatred at universities and airlines and railed against technology.
For T.J. Leyden, a former neo-Nazi skinhead, the target was different, but his Ate ran just as deep. Leyden spent 15 years promoting hate, bigotry and racism. At one point, he was a regional recruiter for the largest neo-Nazi skinhead group in America. He turned his back on the white power movement more than a decade ago because of his toddler son, he says, and now works to combat hate and intolerance through education.
I talked to T.J. Leyden earlier.
COOPER: T.J., you were in the racist movement for 15 years, until, one day, your son said something. What -- what happened?
T.J. LEYDEN, CO-FOUNDER, STRHATE TALK CONSULTING: Well, me and my youngest son were watching a show on Nickelodeon called "Gullah Gullah Island."
And my 3-year-old came out in the living room and turned it off, turned to me and scolded me, and said, "Daddy, we don't watch shows with niggers in this house."
And my initial impression was, I was kind of happy, because -- being a racist. But then I started thinking about where his life was going to end up 15 years down the line. And that wasn't a very pretty sight.
COOPER: How are your kids now?
LEYDEN: My oldest just graduated high school. I have got five boys total. But none of my children are racist in any way.
COOPER: As a former skinhead, when you hear about something like the shooting at the Holocaust Museum, I mean, what -- what goes through your mind?
LEYDEN: Just that they're still alive and well, and that the propaganda will be pushed even stronger now, because he will be held as a martyr in -- inside the white supremacy movement.
COOPER: Because, publicly, some of these groups will say, well, look, an act like that doesn't really accomplish much. But you say, privately, they say something else.
LEYDEN: Well, yes. I mean, publicly, they will be like, oh, he didn't accomplish much. He killed one for -- you know, one for one. We lost one soldier for the loss of one gentleman. That's the way they are going to put it.
But, behind the scenes, they will be praising him and they will be telling all the younger kids that, hey, you -- you need to be like him.
COOPER: What do you think it was that -- I mean, what -- what first got you involved in this movement?
LEYDEN: Well, what got me involved in the movement was friends who were getting involved. My friends were going -- my parents were going through a very messy divorce. And I was just kind of lost. And this group found me. And I swallowed up all their rhetoric.
COOPER: And -- and, I mean, the turning point, which you talked about, your son, how hard is it, though, changing that mind frame? I mean, if you have been living in this for 15 years, I imagine -- just, overnight, you just changed your mind?
LEYDEN: It wasn't an epiphany. It took me 18 months of going through a lot of different things, talking to people of different races, different religions, different cultural backgrounds. It took a long time.
And, once I left the racist movement, one of the things that kind of helped me out was, I went to work for this Simon Wiesenthal Center's Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles.
COOPER: And you now work with groups. You're focused on educating people about hate and bigotry.
People like James von Brunn, though, I mean, can they really be reasoned with?
LEYDEN: Guys like him, no, they're not going to be reasoned with. They're lifelong racists and -- and everything of that nature.
My main focus is, I do a lot of colleges, junior highs, high schools, law enforcement groups. And my main focus is educating them to where they can catch the kids before they become like James.
COOPER: And that -- so, for you, that's the key, trying to catch the next generation?
LEYDEN: Yes. I try to catch the next generation.
Luckily, in the 12 years I have been speaking out about the white supremacist movement, I have gotten 58 people out of the racist movement.
COOPER: Well, T.J. Leyden, I appreciate your work and I appreciate you being on to talk about it tonight. Thank you.
LEYDEN: Thank you.
COOPER: So, what is it like to be the target of hate?
Bonnie Jouhari knows firsthand. She was harassed by white supremacist groups for years while she was working as a housing-rights advocate in Berks County, Pennsylvania. She fought back, won two civil federal lawsuits against extremists.
Bonnie joins us now.
Bonnie, thanks for being with us.
How did this start? Anderson, it started very innocently.
BONNIE JOUHARI, TARGET OF WHITE SUPREMACIST GROUPS: I was working as a fair-housing specialist in Berks County, Pennsylvania.
And my objective was to try to help non-whites move into decent housing. And, during this process, I encountered extreme resistance from the local Klan and from a lot of the landlord/tenant groups that just did not want these folks to live in their units. And consequently I started a fair housing program.
COOPER: And I mean, they were harassing you online. It began online, right?
COOPER: With what, a picture? I read there was a picture of your office burning?
JOUHARI: Yes. What happened was a local NBC affiliate in Philadelphia came to do a profile on my program. And when it ran on the news that night the white supremacist group recorded it and loaded it online and had an animation of my office blowing up, portraying me as a race traitor, saying that I should die.
COOPER: A race traitor? That's what they called you?
JOUHARI: Yes. I'm a race traitor.
COOPER: And then they actually started showing up at your office. Is that correct?
JOUHARI: Yes. Soon after the Web site went up, Anderson. It was placed up there by an Aryan nations group. And about two weeks after it went online, the local grand dragon, who just passed away, Roy Frankhauser of the Klan up there in Berks County, started showing up just outside my office every day, for hours at a time, taking my picture, basically telling me he's watching me. And...
COOPER: And did authorities do anything about this?
COOPER: Why not?
JOUHARI: Well, you know, I think part of it, Anderson, is ignorance. I think that's still part of the problem. The view there, even though Mr. Frankhauser was arrested more than 140 times and had been accused of horrendous crimes in his time, they viewed him as an old dried up Klansman who really wasn't going to hurt anything.
And you don't need to worry about the people online. They're just talking. You know, they're really not going to hurt you.
COOPER: You won this federal civil suit against him, against the KKK and against another group. I think that is the first time someone has actually won a suit against Internet-based harassment? Is that correct?
JOUHARI: It is. It's the only one like it in the world, as far as I know.
COOPER: Did you collect any money. I mean, I think you were awarded, like, a million dollars?
JOUHARI: Awarded way over a million dollars. But it's up to the United States attorney's office to collect the money, and that has never been done.
COOPER: You would think the story ends there, but it doesn't. You basically moved multiple times, because you say you're still being harassed.
COOPER: How does that happen?
JOUHARI: Well, you know, I think with the age of the Internet, Anderson, it's hard to hide. You know, you only need to go out and get a Blockbuster card or a check cashing card or anything that goes on the Internet. You pay 20 bucks, and you can find anybody.
And, you know, now that the white supremacists and the Klan have gone behind computer screens and off of street corners, this communication is circulated worldwide in seconds.
You know, we moved, and because we got no protection of our identity, I had no choice, because -- and my daughter, who was then 16 and is bi-racial, once they found that out, I mean, they just -- they started harassing her. They put her on the Web. And we had to keep moving, because I had to find a way to protect her and continue to hope that the authorities would step in and help. But it didn't happen.
COOPER: What went through your mind this week when you heard about the shooting at the Holocaust Memorial?
JOUHARI: Anderson, I was horrified. In the past couple of months, you know, I've been thinking about what I should do. I obviously got out of the civil rights work, at least actively, because of my daughter and her family.
And then I got involved with President Obama's campaign as a delegate and, you know, tried to decide do I want do I want to take a chance and come out here again. And I've been trying to formulate a plan and decide do I want to do this?
And when I saw the coverage yesterday, I had the sickest feeling in the pit of my stomach saying, "You know, if I don't go out here and try to do what's right, doesn't it make me as bad as these people?"
COOPER: Bonnie Jouhari, I admire your strength. I admire you coming forward tonight. You've been talking about what you've experienced. Thank you so much. JOUHARI: You are very welcome, Anderson. Thank you.
COOPER: Still ahead on this 360 special, a fatal shooting outside an Army recruiting center, just one of a string of recent deadly attacks fueled by hate. How fast are these crimes rising? We'll take a look at that.
Also, what is the fueling the surge? Is it the election of President Obama? We'll hear from an expert who says hate groups are using his election to boost their membership.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One hundred sixty-eight people dead, 19 of them children, in what is considered America's worst act of domestic terrorism.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, boy, it was the dangedest explosion I ever seen. Seemed like the whole world ended.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The man convicted of blowing up the Oklahoma City federal building was a loner. Following a few years in the Army, he moved around the country and was open about his distrust and hatred for the federal government.
On April 19, 1995, McVeigh drove a truck up to the Alfred P. Murrah federal building and set off a giant bomb. Later found guilty on 11 counts related to the bombing, McVeigh was executed June 11, 2001. His only regret: not having leveled the entire building.
COOPER: There are similarities between Tim McVeigh and several suspects charged with recent hate crimes. All nursed deep-seated, long-held hatreds. And when they finally committed their alleged acts of terror, they apparently acted alone. Experts who track hate crimes say they are on the rise. The last few months alone have seen a wave of deadly attacks.
Here's David Mattingly.
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In less than two months, so-called lone wolf extremists killed six people in four states. Three Pittsburgh cops were murdered in April when they were called to a house on a domestic disturbance.
May 31, a Kansas doctor who performed late-term abortions was gunned down in church.
June 1, a soldier fresh out of boot camp was killed outside a recruiting office in Little Rock.
And nine days later a security officer was shot and killed at Washington's Holocaust Museum.
DAN LEVITAS, AUTHOR, "THE TERRORIST NEXT DOOR": There's a duel hatred at work. On the one hand there is really rabid hatred and fear of the United States government.
On the other hand let's not forget the tremendous religious prejudice and religious motivations that fuel all of these actions.
MATTINGLY: There were warnings that violence like this was on the rise. In February the Southern Poverty Law Center reported a jump in the number of hate groups: from 888 in 2007 to 926 in 2008, a 4 percent leap attributed to racist extremists, inflamed by the election of President Obama.
In April, a Department of Homeland Security report cited political and economic factors, stating, "The threat posed by lone wolves and small terrorist cells is more pronounced than in past years."
THOMAS FUENTES, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Normally, they're individuals that are basically dysfunctional in the fact they are having difficulty coping with a political system or policies that are in effect and feel they have no recourse in their mind but to lash out violently.
MATTINGLY: The man accused of killing Dr. George Tiller was described by his ex-wife as radically anti-government and anti- abortion.
The man accused of murdering a soldier in Little Rock allegedly told police he was retaliating for the mistreatment of Muslim women and children by the U.S. military.
And the accused killers at both the Holocaust Museum and the Pittsburgh ambush reportedly held anti-Semitic beliefs and feared the government would take their guns away.
All of the suspects have pled not guilty, with exception of the Holocaust Museum suspect. He remains in critical condition after he was shot by security officers.
(on camera) One trait common among lone wolf extremists is their unpredictability. At least two of the recent suspects were known to authorities but not believed to be an immediate threat. Experts say it's almost impossible to know when a lone wolf would be moved to violence and just as tough to know who will be his target.
David Mattingly, CNN, Atlanta.
COOPER: Back in February the Southern Poverty Law Center said that the economic meltdown and the election of President Obama could fuel the surge in hate groups. So is that part of what we're seeing with these latest hate crimes?
Carol Swain is a law professor at Vanderbilt University and the author of "The New White Nationalism in America." She studied the effect of hate-filled Internet writings on so-called lone wolves.
I spoke with Carol earlier.
COOPER: This devils brew of conditions, you say, is kind of leading to an increase, not only rhetoric, but crimes, as well. What do you mean by devil's brew? What are the conditions?
CAROL SWAIN, AUTHOR, "THE NEW WHITE NATIONALISM IN AMERICA": Well, the conditions have been brewing for a long time. They include the fact that whites are decreasing as a percentage of the population. Sometime before, I guess around 2042, whites will be a minority in this country.
For some time they have been concerned about the high levels of immigration. There is frustration about affirmative action. There's fear of minority crime, and there's a sense that they're -- that whites are getting the short end of the stick.
COOPER: So I guess, coupled with high unemployment, the bad economy, and then President Obama, you say extremists, some extremists were happy to have Obama in the running for president. Why?
SWAIN: Yes. Yes. Because I believe it was David Duke that made the comment that the white nationalist movement needed a visual image. And they felt like the election of a black president would show white America how much ground it has lost.
COOPER: So for some of these extremists on the right President Obama is a symbol, not as he is, for many voters, of a post-racial America, but a symbol of all that they believe whites or Caucasians have lost. Is that right?
SWAIN: Yes. Yes. That white people are losing ground. There are many people that believe that America was founded by Anglos, for Anglos, and when our Founding Fathers said that we would be a nation of immigrants, that they meant white immigrants.
And so they very much are concerned about affirmative action. They're concerned about globalization, loss of -- loss of jobs, minority crime. And there's a sense of grievance, a sense that politicians are not paying attention.
And there's a void out there. And there are some leaders that have stepped into that. And because of the Internet, they can reach people, and they can feed on the fears of people that may be unstable.
COOPER: Do you see this as only getting worse?
SWAIN: Yes, I do. I believe that we are headed for unprecedented levels of racial conflict and turmoil because of the set of conditions that are converging at this point in history.
And it's not just whites. I think that the conditions will fuel violence among other ethnic groups, like black, Latinos. We already have increased violence between those groups. It doesn't get discussed much. But Black/Latino, white/black. But among the white supremacists and the white nationalists, blacks and Jews are the two most hated groups.
COOPER: So I mean, it's a terrible irony, with the election of the first African-American president, you're saying it's actually because of the way he's perceived by some of these extremists, because of these other factors, this devil's brew, as you said in the beginning, you say we're actually heading for unprecedented levels of racial conflict?
SWAIN: I said that back in 2002, and I believe that the conditions are even more fertile now than what I saw back then.
And yes, I do think that racial conflict and violence will increase. And I think we are making a mistake by pretending that it's not out there or pretending that there isn't a lot of fear and uncertainty among white Americans that are not haters. They don't belong to any type of organized hate group, but they face an uncertain future.
COOPER: A dialogue. Carol Swain, appreciate your time. Thank you very much.
SWAIN: Thank you.
COOPER: Still ahead, living with hate. A former roommate of James Von Brunn joins us. His reaction of the rampage when this special edition of 360, "American Radical: The Lone Wolf," continues.
ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Erica Hill. Back to "American Radical: The Lone Wolf" in just a moment. But first, this "360 Bulletin."
Tens of thousands are without power tonight after strong thunderstorms tore through the Memphis area. One child is in critical condition after being hit by a fallen tree.
A German man who called himself Clark Rockefeller among other names was convicted of kidnapping his young daughter was sentenced to four to five years in prison today. Jurors rejected his attorney's claim that he is legally insane.
Governor Sarah Palin says she's not sure if she'll run for re- election in 2010, and when it comes to running for president in 2012, Palin told Wolf Blitzer, quote, "There's no decision that I'd want to announce today."
Palin also shot back at David Letterman for a joke he made about her daughter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Are you willing to forgive and forget?
GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), ALASKA: I will always forgive whomever is asking for forgiveness. It goes beyond, though, David Letterman's crude, sexist, perverted joke about a 14-year-old girl being, quote unquote, "knocked up" by Alex Rodriguez, who's like 30-some years old, I think. That's pretty perverted.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: A judge in Malawi claims court ruling Madonna can adopt little Mercy James. Madonna says she's extremely grateful for the ruling.
She adopted her son David from Malawi in 2006.
Back now to the 360 special, "American Radical: The Lone Wolf," in a moment.
JIM DAVID ATCHISON, SHOT UP CHURCH: I just decided today was the day. This wasn't a snap judgment thing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jim David Atchison walked into Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church July 27, 2008, intent on killing liberals. He took two lives that Sunday morning.
The out-of-work truck driver, close to losing his Food Stamps, was described as a loaner who hated blacks, gays and anyone different from him, making this church and its liberal policies perfect targets.
In a letter, Atchison said he planned to keep shooting until police arrived and be killed by them. Instead, he pleaded guilty to two counts of murder in January and is now serving a life sentence without parole.
COOPER: Often, before a lone wolf goes on a shooting rampage, there are warning signs. People who know James Von Brunn, for instance, talked about his racist views, his hatred of the government and fascination with guns.
One of those people, Scott Aulbach, who lived briefly with Mr. Von Brunn while rooming with his son. I spoke with Scott earlier, though we should point out Scott is not a white supremacist and does not espouse the views of Mr. Von Brunn.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: Scott, you lived with James Von Brunn for about six months in Orlando, Florida, 2004. And you got to know him. You told our producer that you thought he was a polite man when he first moved in until one day he said he wanted to tell you something. What did he say to you?
SCOTT AULBACH, FORMER ROOMMATE OF JAMES VON BRUNN: Well, he set me down, and he explained to me about going to prison in the '80s. And he told me what he did, and he went to the Federal Reserve and went in with a gun and a knife. And his intentions that he told me is that he was going in, and he was going to blow the place up.
That, you know, he was really aggravated with the government about the interest rates and things of that nature. And just it didn't turn out the way he wanted it to turn out. But he said his whole intention was that he was going to go in there and blow the building up.
COOPER: Yes, and he ended up serving six years. When you're sitting there and he's telling you this, what did you think?
AULBACH: It kind of blew my mind. I mean, it was -- I just couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe I lived in the same house as, you know, somebody like that that would do something like that. I would have never thought, you know, a person like that, because like I said, he was always a nice, polite, kind person, for him to -- you know, to throw this on me, I was really shocked.
COOPER: Was that when you learned he was a racist?
AULBACH: Yes. End of that conversation it bled over into that, you know, that he was racist against blacks and Jews. And he made several statements, a lot more statements was more towards the Jewish people.
COOPER: What were some of the things that he would say in front of you?
AULBACH: He said, you know -- he would make comments, you know, Hitler should have finished the job when he had the chance. Things of that nature.
COOPER: What was his relationship like with his son Erik?
AULBACH: His relationship with his son wasn't very good at the time that I knew them. They -- they were constantly arguing all the time. They just didn't have a really good relationship.
COOPER: You told our producer that what stands out most, as you look back at the time you spent with James Von Brunn, was when he would yell out "88" for no apparent reason. What was that about? What did you learn that was about?
AULBACH: Well, you know, he would just yell it out. And I kept asking questions: "I wonder why he's doing that," and talking to his son. And his son finally told me, he was like, well, "Eighty-eight, you know, the letter 'H' is the eighth letter in the alphabet." And he would say 88 and "HH" would be Heil Hitler.
COOPER: Eighty-eight is the common thing with racist groups, wear tattoos that say "88" or sign letters that say "88." It means "HH," "heil Hitler." That way they can say it, say "heil Hitler" without actually saying it and offending other people around them.
AULBACH: Yes. He would just say it and he would laugh. I mean, or he'd have a smirk on his face. And I never went out in public with him very much. I mean, the one time we did go out in public he said in the parking lot as we were walking into a department store and then just laughed.
COOPER: And I understand he told you once, he used to say that he was going to go out in a blaze?
AULBACH: He said he was going to go out in a blaze of glory. He never -- he never would really go into the details of, you know, what that meant. But he would say that, you know -- that he was going to go out in a blaze of glory when he went out.
COOPER: Do you think -- I mean, I don't know if this makes any sense, but I mean, he's 88 years old. He used to say "88." Do you think there's any linkage between that?
AULBACH: You now, I thought a lot about that, and I believe there is.
COOPER: He maybe wanted to go out in a blaze at 88?
AULBACH: I honestly think so, you know, after everything that happened and remembering what he had said and, you know, him being 88 years old. I didn't realize he was 88, you know, until after all this had happened. So...
COOPER: What do you take away from all this? I mean, is there a lesson in here somewhere?
AULBACH: Well, you know, there's a lot of prejudice that goes on in our society. And it's just an unfortunate tragedy that this happened. My heart goes out to the man's family in Washington, D.C. It's a shame. I just hate to hear it.
COOPER: It's just a horrific thing. Scott Aulbach, I appreciate your time and appreciate you telling us what you know. Thanks, Scott.
AULBACH: Thank you, Anderson.
COOPER: Coming up at the top of the hour, what law enforcement is up against, trying to cope with an angry radical army of individuals. How a lone wolf is born and how to stop one, before people get hurt.
"American Radical: The Lone Wolf" continues tonight on 360.
COOPER: This is a 360 special dealing head-on with the wave of terrorism, yes, terrorism, that's largely gone unnoticed as such. If al Qaeda were doing it that's exactly how people might see it. Instead, these are bombings, shootings and attempted attacks on Americans by Americans, the freshest unfolding even know.