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October Today in Terrorism

October 9, 1995: Mysterious group derails train in Arizona

On October 9, 1995 an Amtrak train derailed near Palo Verde, Arizona in the southwest US, killing one and wounding 78.

PALO VERDE, ARIZONA – At times terrorists will say that they are taking revenge against government actors for killing their ‘friends’: what if the terrorists don’t actually exist though?

Pity terrorists who have to come up with a name for their organisations. Some are quite bland (Al Qaeda means ‘the base’ in Arabic – boring!!). Some are kinda cool (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Islam – who doesn’t like tigers??). Some are just stupid (see Borealis PerspectiveWorst Terrorist Group names). Like MILF (don’t go there!).

I suppose they want to achieve multiple things at the same time. Notoriety. Inducing fear. Rememberability (is that even a word?). Links to what they see as historical groups worth imitating. Whatever.

Hey! Do I look base to you? (NB apparently ‘base’ now means ‘awesome’) (Photo: By Hamid Mir, CC BY-SA 3.0)

But sometimes their efforts fall flat. Take today’s incident.

On this day in 1995

An Amtrak train derailed near Palo Verde, Arizona in the southwest US, killing one and wounding 78. The FBI found notes nearby criticising them for their handling of the 1993 Waco crisis and signed ‘Sons of Gestapo‘.

We are going to pursue every bit of evidence, every lead, very thoughtfully, without any preconception about what may be correct and what may not be correct. It may take a day, it may take a week, it may take a month.

United States Attorney Janet Napolitano

But here is where it gets interesting. There is no such group as the ‘Sons of Gestapo‘ (and the FBI is treating this as an unsolved case 36 years later!). In other words, those who carried out this attack aren’t real. In any event, why in heaven’s name would a bunch of fanatics name themselves after the Gestapo? Does this make any sense to you?

Maybe they should have called themselves the MILFs’. Now THAT would get a rise out of some!

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By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. and Director of the National Security programme at the University of Ottawa’s Professional Development Institute (PDI). Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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