Anti-immigrant suspects in Ariz. killing have ties to white supremacists

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The recent murders of a Kansas doctor who performed late-term abortions and of a guard at the National Holocaust Museum have stoked fears of a rise in right-wing extremist violence -- just as that much-maligned DHS report predicted. And now it looks like we've got another one to add to the list...

According to local law enforcement, three people posing as police officers forced their way into the home of Raul Flores in Arivaca, Arizona, about 10 miles from the Mexican border, on May 30. They shot and killed Flores and his nine-year-old daughter, and wounded Flores' wife. The three, Shawna Forde, Jason Bush, and Albert Gaxiola, were arrested and charged last Thursday and Friday.

But here's where it gets interesting: Forde's brother, Merrill Metzger, has told the Arizona Daily Star that Forde had been talking recently about 'starting a revolution against the United States government,' and had said she planned to recruit members of the Aryan Nations as part of a plan to rob drug cartels.

It sounds like Forde had started putting that plan into action. Bush, accused of being the triggerman in the killing, was also charged Friday in the 1997 murder of a sleeping Hispanic homeless man in Washington, reports the paper. According to law enforcement authorities in the state, Bush 'has had long-standing ties to the Aryan Nations.' In 2003, they say, Bush moved to the Sandpoint area of northern Idaho, a historic center of white supremacist activity.

Both Forde and Bush also have ties to the fringe of the anti-immigration movement. As Josh noted last week over at TPM, Forde leads Minutemen American Defense (MAD), a vigilante group that conducts patrols of the US-Mexico border. And according to a recent post on MAD's website, since taken down, the group recently signed up Bush -- said to be a Special Forces veteran, and identified only as 'Gunny' -- and put him in charge of 'command decisions, Recon and Tactical training.'

'Gunny' himself seemed to offer a hint of the violence to come in a statement on the site, reported by the Daily Star:

'My personal information is being withheld for security reasons . . . I am about to have a big bull's-eye on me and I don't want retaliation to reach my family. My goal is to bring the full force of our collective abilities down on the bad guys. this will make waves.'

MAD isn't formally affiliated with Jim Gilchrist's anti-immigration Minuteman Project, or with its off-shoot, the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps (MCDC), both of which also conduct border patrols. But it appears Forde used to be active with the MCDC, and in this video from 2006, she's introduced both as a member of the Minutemen and as a 'representative' of the more mainstream anti-immigration group, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which is quoted frequently in the media on immigration issues.

As for Forde's larger plans, they come off as a confused mixture of right-wing -- and just-plain-crazy -- notions.

Metzger told the Daily Star that Forde had said she planned to start an 'underground militia' that would steal money and drugs from drug cartels (Flores, one of the Arizona victims, was a suspected drug dealer.) Metzger said he had secretly recorded a recent conversation with Forde, because he had grown concerned about her violent rhetoric, and had spoken to police about her.

And, reports the paper, investigators believe the attack was intended to be the first in a series of such crimes, with the goal of funding MAD and another venture. What was that venture? According to Metzger: 'She was telling me that they were going to start some sort of militia that was going to go overseas and aid and abet those who are kidnapped. She said she was going to go to Syria.'

No, it doesn't make sense to us either. But there's increasing evidence that something about the current climate -- the election of a pro-choice, African-American president, the economic downturn, or perhaps the ever-more unhinged flavor of even a lot of mainstream conservative rhetoric -- is prompting a greater number of confused and dangerous Americans to act out their bizarre and violent fantasies. And that's worth paying attention to, whether it makes sense or not.