The FBI arrested Justin Carl Moose, 26, last week for allegedly conspiring to bomb a North Carolina abortion clinic. According to the FBI, this shadowy figure described himself as "the Christian counterpart of Osama bin Laden" and the organizer of a "phantom cell" for the Army of God. Moose also used his Facebook page to advocate extreme violence against abortion providers and provide detailed instructions for making deadly explosives. Who is this latest poster boy for domestic terrorism in America? (Watch a news report about Moose's alleged plot)
How did the FBI catch Moose?
Through Facebook. After a local Planned Parenthood chapter alerted the FBI to Moose's Facebook threats, the feds started monitoring him in January. They arrested him Sept. 7, after he walked an informant through plans to bomb an abortion clinic. The informant had called Moose Sept. 3 and told him a friend's wife was planning on getting an abortion. "Say no more," Moose said, in a recorded phone call. "I understand and I can help."
What's on Moose's Facebook page?
Rants against abortion clinics ("death camps"), President Obama, the Democrats' health care bill ("Keep your phone and rifle close and wait"), and the "Ground Zero mosque" ("If a mosque is built on ground zero, it will be removed. Oklahoma City style. Tim's not the only man out there that knows how to do it."), plus a link to detailed instructions on how to make TATP, the explosive used in the London subway bombings.
Does his Facebook profile offer any other clues to his life?
Yes. Moose says he's a father of three who's looking for work. He also lists his high school alma mater and says he's a member of a local Baptist church.
Did he use other social networks?
The FBI also looked at Moose's MySpace page, and allegedly found photos of "some of the basic elements of an improvised explosive device," plus an image of a young girl holding an assault rifle. If you're going to "bomb an abortion clinic, or anything, for that matter," suggests Newser's Nick McMaster, "maybe don't advertise it on Facebook."
Does his religion matter?
It wouldn't, if he were a Christian instead of a "Christianist" extremist, says Andrew Sullivan in The Atlantic. But his "disturbing fusion of nationalist Christianity and loathing of Obama" is part of a growing "conflation of Obama with Islam and then a conflation of Islam with Jihadist terror," and that matters immensely. Imagine how the media would cover a non-Christian self-professed religious "extremist, radical, fundamentalist... 'freedom fighter'" who threatened to murder women, says Jasmine Sawarda in Associated Content. "This Muslim writer is thankful for two things: Moose was unable to complete his alleged terrorist plans, and Moose is not a Muslim."
Was Moose really all that dangerous?
The FBI didn't present any evidence that Moose had carried out any attacks himself, and he has no criminal record. But in a Facebook message obtained by the FBI, Moose told an associate, "I have learned a lot from the Muslim terrorists and have no problem using their tactics." Also, his affiliation with the Army of God worries some observers. "The Army of God really is the Christian version of the Taliban," says Ed Brayton at ScienceBlogs, and given its real history of violence, it's "not a hypothetical threat."
Is he still dangerous?
From what he told the feds, Moose thinks he is. He told the FBI informant that he's set up at least one "phantom cell" of the Army of God, adding, "This is not my first rodeo." Also, he posted this note on Facebook Aug. 23: "To all the feds watching me: You can't stop what is in motion. Even if you bring me in, my men will continue their mission. Furthermore, I will not go peacefully. Do you really want another Waco?"