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The terror threat at home, often overlooked

As the media focus on international terror, a Texan pleads guilty to possessing a weapon of mass destruction.

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It began as a misdelivered envelope and developed into the most extensive domestic terrorism investigation since the Oklahoma City bombing.

Last month, an east Texas man pleaded guilty to possession of a weapon of mass destruction. Inside the home and storage facilities of William Krar, investigators found a sodium-cyanide bomb capable of killing thousands, more than a hundred explosives, half a million rounds of ammunition, dozens of illegal weapons, and a mound of white-supremacist and antigovernment literature.

"Without question, it ranks at the very top of all domestic terrorist arrests in the past 20 years in terms of the lethality of the arsenal," says Daniel Levitas, author of "The Terrorist Next Door: The Militia Movement and the Radical Right."

But outside Tyler, Texas, the case is almost unknown. In the past nine months, there have been two government press releases and a handful of local stories, but no press conference and no coverage in the national newspapers.

Experts say the case highlights the increased cooperation and quicker response by US agencies since Sept. 11. But others say it points up just how political the terror war is. "There is no value for the Bush administration to highlighting domestic terrorism right now," says Robert Jensen, a journalism professor at the University of Texas in Austin. "But there are significant political benefits to highlighting foreign terrorists, especially when trying to whip up support for war."

Mr. Levitas goes even further: "The government has a severe case of tunnel vision when it comes to domestic terrorism. I have no doubt whatsoever that had Krar and his compatriots been Arab-Americans or linked to some violent Islamic fundamentalist group, we would have heard from John Ashcroft himself."

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