The terrorist attack that wasn’t…or was it?

Foregone conclusions on the nature of violent events without any basis in established facts help no one and lead to unnecessary panic

We humans are in a hurry all the time, aren’t we? We race from here to there, juggle several activities simultaneously, and never seem to be content to sit back and wait for things to develop. It is constantly “I want it and I want it NOW!”

Alas, this holds as well for our understanding of current events. On the one level we are living in a remarkable time where what happens thousands of kilometres across the world makes it to our senses (thanks to online resources) almost instantaneously. No more waiting for the ‘slow boat from China’ to hear about what went down in lands far away. We get our news as it is still happening!

On the other, this remarkable access is fraught with challenges, some of which are clearly counter-productive. We may be witnessing something unfold in real time – this just in! – but was also seem to demand to know what it MEANS as quickly as the reception of the facts (as we know them). We are no longer willing to allot the necessary time not only for more facts to arrive, which allows us to jettison early data that is contradicted by later stuff, but to chew on things until we are in a position to determine what really happened and what its impact is.

Instead, we jump to immediate conclusions, often (usually?) before all available data points are ready and have been assessed for accuracy (how often has it occurred that what was reported first is shown to be woefully inaccurate, either because the info was not known or it was provided by unconfirmed – and shoddy – sources?).

Take the early December shooting at the Moore County electrical substation in North Carolina. Gunfire at the site caused millions of dollars in damage and left tens of thousands without power. The FBI and, I assume, local law enforcement, are looking into who was behind this and, I must stress, at the time of writing no arrests have been made (and no motive determined). The feds are pursuing some leads and anti-LGBTQ and anti-authoritarian links have been suggested.

Cue our rapacious need for certainty! Many immediately called this a ‘right-wing terrorist attack’, ascribed to ‘accelerationists’ or Neo-Nazis or fascists or some other ideological actor. The evidence for this ‘analysis’ and conclusion? Messages online calling for attacks like this on fora associated with the aforementioned actors. Note that there is yet to be any confirmed claim for the attack.

According to an investigative reporter named Jordan Green “an offshoot of the now-defunct neo-Nazi terror group Atomwaffen Division is undertaking a propaganda push related to the attack (NB Atomwaffen Division are wankers but the group is listed as a terrorist entity in Canada). Green adds that “neo-Nazi accelerationists on a private Telegram channel began to speculate about the involvement of the National Socialist Resistance Movement (NSRF)” in the attack.

There’s more. According to Matthew Kriner, acting director of the “Accelerationist Research Consortium” – NB I have never heard of this body – “It’s reasonable to say that individuals associated with or familiar with the NSRF in the accelerationist ecosystem are portraying Moore County as likely being perpetrated by NSRF.”

Speculate. Reasonable. Associated. Likely being perpetrated. As we say here in Canada – ok, ok, as I say here in Canada – all that and a buck-fifty gets you a small coffee at Timmies (NB a reference to Tim Horton’s an iconic coffee and doughnut chain named after a former NHL defenceman). In other words it is all but irrelevant. There is, to date, ZERO EVIDENCE that any extremist group is involved. The shooting could just have easily been carried out by some drunk teens or a bunch of good ol’ southern boys poaching rabbits. We gain zip from baseless conclusions.

We need to allow the Bureau time to do its investigation. And that investigation cannot be influenced by know-nothings who want it to find what they have already decided to be the truth. Evidence must be gathered, leads must be followed and sources must be tested.

Only then will we know for sure – if that is even possible – that the power station shootings were terrorist in nature and not something else. So, can we PLEASE stop extrapolating from online shitposting to real world events? 99.9999999 % of wankers online are too cowardly, too afraid, too incompetent, or never have any intention of translating their words into action. That is a fact, not an opinion.

Now THAT’s a proven conclusion you can count on!

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

2 replies on “The terrorist attack that wasn’t…or was it?”

Thank you for sharing a “Terrorist attack that wasn’t … or was it.”
Wishing you and your family a happy Christmas.
Safe travels —- Tova Aviannah

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