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Former terrorist: Austin attack reflects growing US turmoil

Joe Stack's apparent suicide flight in Austin, Texas, Thursday, which killed at least one person and caused two others to be hospitalized, is indicative of what some are concerned is building antigovernment sentiment, says a former domestic terrorist.

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Streaks of lights from vehicle traffic is shown, foreground bottom, East and West bound on U.S. 183 in front of a building that was severely damaged when a small aircraft was flown into it, Thursday. Authorities said that Joseph Stack flew his small aircraft into the building that housed employees of the Internal Revenue Service.

Tony Gutierrez/AP

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Software engineer Joe Stack’s apparent suicide mission to destroy an IRS office in Austin on Thursday culminated a long slide toward personal and economic despair, as laid out in Stack’s rambling online manifesto.

At least one person was killed, two others were hospitalized, and Stack himself died after the 50-something part-time musician gunned his Piper Cherokee and aimed the aircraft into a north Austin office building where the IRS had an office.

Given Stack’s self-described rant about “American zombies” needing to wake up, the attack, at least to one former terrorist interviewed by the Monitor, is just the latest in a steady stream of domestic, and often antigovernment, terror attacks – from the Holocaust Museum shooting to the Arkansas recruiting office murder – that are partly fueled by larger, corrosive forces dogging a country facing deep internal turmoil, some of which is fueled by single-minded partisanship in Washington.

“This [attack] is symptomatic of a bigger problem,” says “Tabernacle of Hope” author Kerry Noble, a reformed domestic terrorist who spent time in prison in the 1980s for attempting to blow up a gay church.

“Part of the frustration people are feeling, in addition to the economy, is a sense of not feeling like solutions are coming. When all they hear from the media and the government is strong partisanship and strong animosities, that doesn’t help the American people to feel like, ‘Hey, I can endure this, because something better is coming.’ Instead they say, ‘How is my situation ever going to change, except for the worse?’ ”

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