Friday, January 6, 2017

Terror attack in Florida. Five killed, suspect in custody, possible ISIS ties.

A map of the incident. Washington Post.

Five people were killed and eight others were wounded in a mass shooting in Ft. Lauderdale with one man in custody. Washington Post. The suspect, Esteban Santiago, was taken by police alive and unharmed. He had a US Army ID and had checked a gun into baggage. Santiago was discharged from the military after going absent without leave but under honorable conditions. After being discharged, he met with the FBI in Anchorage, Alaska complaining that he was being forced to work with the ISIS terrorist group by the CIA. The FBI dismissed his claims, but urged that he receive mental health treatment.

My Comment:
I won't pretend to be objective in this case. Someone I knew from high school was at the Fort Lauderdale airport today. She's safe but it's still scary that someone I knew was effected by this attack. It's a lot like the Brussels terror attack last year where I knew two people that were close to the attack including one that barely missed being on the train being bombed.

That being said, this is a very strange incident. I'm comfortable labeling it a terror attack. It seems the suspect, Esteban Santiago, had some kind of mental illness, which was probably a major factor in this attack. Still, if a mentally ill person carries out an attack in the name of a terrorist organization, I'm calling them a terrorist no matter what. I've seen pictures on social media where the suspect is doing the "one finger to the sky" terrorist salute, so there is no doubt in my mind that he was at least influenced by ISIS propaganda.

Indeed, that is a major goal of ISIS propaganda. They want mentally ill or marginal people to carry out attacks in their name. Their goal is to cause chaos and destruction and they don't really care if they take advantage of people that are sick in the head. And since that is their goal then I am comfortable in labeling this as an ISIS "lone wolf" style terror attack.

My question is if the FBI was aware of this guy and understood that he was a threat, why didn't they do anything about him? I know there isn't a law against watching ISIS propaganda, if there was I would be in jail just for researching for this blog. But couldn't they have put him under a mental health hold? Doing so would have probably resulted in Santiago losing his ability to purchase a gun, so it may have prevented this attack.

Speaking of guns, this will probably spiral into another gun control debate. I don't see why. As far as I am concerned the airport security system worked. Sure there was a major mass shooting in the terminal but you know what didn't happen? Santiago didn't break into the cockpit of an airplane and shot the pilots and crashed the whole plane. He had no access to his gun while he was flying so a bad situation was prevented from being worse.

And of course, this attack happened in a gun free zone so there was nobody there with a concealed carry firearm to defend themselves and others. In this case though, it might be more of a problem. We don't allow guns on planes unless they are checked in baggage so there is little point in having CC people around because they would have to disarm themselves between the terminal and the plane anyways, so who knows. It's a difficult situation all around.

There is a discussion to be had about the security of airport terminals though. Most of our defenses against terrorism in airports are focused on stomping hijackings and bombings of airplanes. We are quite good at that but the terminals have been somewhat ignored. This should probably change since this is far from the only attack on airport terminals recently. The airport element of the Brussels attack and the Ataturk airport attack in Europe both happened last year, so everyone should know the vulnerability already. Indeed, that might be why Santiago chose to attack one in the first place.

Still, the attack mostly doesn't make sense to me. If Santiago was in Anchorage, why not stage an attack there? Why fly all the way to Florida when there are targets in Alaska to attack? Why risk checking a firearm and having to go through security when you could avoid all of that by attacking the Anchorage terminal instead, or another target in Alaska? He might have been able to carry more ammo if he had attacked there and might have hurt and kill more people. Indeed, the choice of target really helps establish the theory that Santiago is mentally not all there.

There was some political fallout from this attack as well. Governor Rick Scott said that he was in contact with President elect Donald Trump and VP elect Mike Pence but hadn't gotten any kind of response from President Barack Obama. That seems amazing to me and if it is true it really shows how much Obama has checked out.

Finally, people are already saying this is a false flag. Largely because the suspect said the CIA was forcing him to watch ISIS videos. Conspiracy theorists are saying that this is proof that he was a MKUltra operative. I find these theories to be stupid, if for no other reason, the CIA wouldn't be that stupid to have one of their operatives talking to the FBI. In any case, there was always going to be a conspiracy theory from this attack, because there are always conspiracy theories. 

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