Here's the latest from Judy Thomas. Expect more. The Sipsey Street Irregulars are on the case as well. More in Part 5. Absolved calls.
Was suspect in Tiller case a ‘lone wolf’?
By JUDY L. THOMAS
The Kansas City Star
It’s called the “lone wolf” model — one person inspired by others but acting alone to commit violence.
That’s the pattern some militant anti-abortion activists said Scott Roeder followed when he allegedly shot Wichita abortion doctor George Tiller to death on May 31.
Federal authorities are investigating whether Roeder indeed acted alone or was part of a conspiracy of activists whose goal is to kill doctors and shut down abortion clinics.
Interviews last week and court documents suggest that Roeder had a number of connections with militant abortion foes but few formal ties with known groups. A religious group he once studied under rejects all government authority, and he protested at abortion clinics with others who advocated killing doctors.
One of those abortion foes contends Roeder acted alone.
“People with common sense who hate the killing of children are going to act without consulting others because they don’t want to get other people in trouble,” said Regina Dinwiddie, a Kansas City abortion opponent who sees Roeder as a hero.
Abortion-rights advocates said even if that was true, it was a conspiracy. Those who support killing doctors and praise the violent acts should be held just as accountable as those who pull the trigger, they said.
“Their language is so over the top that there’s no way that the permission, the encouragement, to do these kinds of activities is not implicit in that,” said Ann Glazier, former director of security for Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
“This is literally standing up in a crowded theater yelling ‘fire,’ but yelling ‘fire’ when there are a bunch of arsonists in the room.”
Five days after Tiller’s death, the U.S. Department of Justice announced it had launched a federal investigation into the murder.
“The Department of Justice will work tirelessly to determine the full involvement of any and all actors in this horrible crime and to ensure that anyone who played a role in the offense is prosecuted to the full extent of federal law,” said Loretta King, acting assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division.
Mainstream anti-abortion groups have condemned Tiller’s murder.
Some militant groups and abortion opponents applaud the slaying but deny they played any role in it.
Instead, they describe Roeder as a lone wolf, a term that terrorism experts also use to define someone who is inspired by an ideology or an organization to commit violence but acts independently. They may be encouraged by or receive support from others, but they plan and commit the act on their own.
One example is Eric Rudolph, convicted of a 1998 abortion-clinic bombing in Birmingham, Ala., and the 1996 bombing at the Atlanta Summer Olympics. Two people died and one was maimed in those attacks.
The lone wolf model is a solitary version of a strategy called “leaderless resistance,” which encourages small, independent cells to commit violent acts.
Timothy McVeigh, who committed the Oklahoma City bombing, was part of such a cell.
Questions also are being raised as to whether the man charged in last week’s attack on the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., is a lone wolf as well.
James von Brunn, a white supremacist, is accused of storming into the museum with a .22-caliber rifle and killing a black security guard Wednesday afternoon.
Federal officials have said in reports that lone wolf attacks are more difficult to prevent and have become more of a concern in recent years.
Embassy of Heaven
At the heart of the federal investigation is the issue of whether Roeder acted alone. Indeed, Roeder claimed from his jail cell last week that similar violence was planned around the nation for as long as abortion remained legal.
Whether Roeder actually had knowledge of such plans is for investigators to determine, but the picture of his ties and influences has become more clear in recent days.
Documents from his 1996 divorce case indicate he was affiliated with the Embassy of Heaven Church in Stayton, Ore., during much of the 1990s. The group’s leader, who goes by the name Paul Revere, wrote letters to Johnson County court officials in 1999 offering to pay Roeder’s back child support debts.
“We have faithfully informed the district court trustee that Scott P. Roeder is on assignment for us in the mission field and that we are handling his affairs,” Revere wrote in an Aug. 10, 1999, letter.
Revere said that Roeder wanted his wife and child to “return to his side,” for that would be biblical.
Revere told The Kansas City Star on Thursday that the Embassy of Heaven was “a country.”
“We represent the kingdom of heaven, God’s government on earth,” he said. The group issues its own driver’s licenses, identity cards and passports for members. Over the years, followers have found themselves in legal trouble for rejecting government authority.
Revere said he didn’t know Roeder had been charged in Tiller’s death. After checking Roeder’s file, Revere said Roeder during the 1990s had been training with and receiving materials from the Embassy of Heaven but never “made his statement of citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven.”
Revere said that he never met Roeder and that after he sent the letters to the court on Roeder’s behalf, he never heard from him again.
He said his group did not condone Tiller’s killing.
“Killing anybody is a violation of our law,” he said.
The Embassy of Heaven is listed in a 1997 directory of Christian Identity groups, but Revere said his group had nothing to do with the Identity doctrine.
“We get placed on every list out there,” he said.
Christian Identity is a race-based religious movement that teaches that Jews are satanic and that nonwhites are inferior. In the past 25 years, adherents have been convicted of robberies, bombings and murders, engaged in shootouts with police and plotted assassinations and the overthrow of the government to attain their stated goal: a white Christian nation.
Roeder’s ex-wife, Lindsey Roeder, said in an interview last week that she told the FBI about the Embassy of Heaven.
“I used to hide their literature from Scott,” she said. “He wanted to send the title of our car to them.”
She said Roeder didn’t talk about Christian Identity but said he didn’t like blacks and “talked about the Federal Reserve and that it’s run by the Jews.”
She said she also saw the book “The Turner Diaries” among the literature Roeder kept in the house. The novel, which is about a violent overthrow of the government by a band of white supremacists, was thought to have inspired McVeigh in the Oklahoma City bombing.
Leonard Zeskind, a Kansas City expert on right-wing extremism and author of the recently published book “Blood and Politics,” said Roeder had all the characteristics of a Christian Identity follower.