Saturday, July 16, 2016

The French Truck Killer - A Psycho, NOT A "Radical Jihadi" Terrorist

Germanwings-Pilot Andreas L. war bei Neurologen und Psychologen in Behandlung
Andreas Lubitz  - deliberately killed 150 last year by crashing his jet airline into a mountain. Why wasn't his act deemed "terrorism"? Because he has a German name?

The front page of The Denver Post today led with the follow-up story about the  19-ton truck attack in Nice, France leaving 84 dead and over 200 injured, many critically. According to the Post (p. 1A): "French authorities continue to puzzle over why a deliveryman and petty criminal would have mounted a Bastille Day attack that left 84 dead."

The piece went on to note (p. 14A): "the 31-year old Mohammed Bouhlel wasn't known to intelligence services......nor was he ever placed on a watch list for radicalization".. Nor was there any evidence of Bouhlel contacting ISIS or using its terrorist website to plan or mount the attack. (The same Post piece points out that the only real weapon he possessed apart from the truck was a handgun. The rifles weren't real but "replicas" and the lone grenade was a dud. )

More to the point, the guy's whole history bespeaks more petty crimes "theft, vandalism" etc.  than highly motivated terror inclinations. In addition, we now know in the weeks before, his wife broke up with him and he also lost his job as a trucker.  All of this adds up to a severely depressed guy who just happened to have a Muslim name, but not a terrorist.

This was also reinforced in a front page New York Times story ('A Surly Misfit With No Terror Ties, Turned A Truck Into A Tank') noting:

"He was known to his neighbors only as moody and aggressive oddball. He never went to the local mosque, grunted in response to greetings and sometimes beat his wife until she left him".

Sounds like a surly nutcase to me, not a jihadi terrorist. The Times adds: "Even French authorities had much the same view - definitely trouble but not a grave menace to the nation."

Marc Theissen of the WaPo has noted an ISIS "handbook" (Inspire)  for terror attacks and plans, but despite his conjecture there is no evidence at all that Bouhleil was privy to its contents or schemes.

Where have we seen this M.O. before, of a mass slaughter by a psychotic or depressed person? Well, last year with Andreas Lubitz  who deliberately crashed his Germanwings jet into into the side of a mountain in the French Alps killing all 150 people on board.  For a very brief time that also was thought to be an act of terror, until it was subsequently learned the guy was being treated for severe depression and a form of psychosis.

Indeed, German sources subsequently reported Lubitz had had a "psychotic episode". The German paper Die Welt reported he was being treated for "severe psychosomatic illness" and actually had been prescribed anti-psychotic meds for "strong subjective overload syndrome" . He tossed his meds away along with the prescriptions (according to the reports).  In addition, he'd received a medical note of dispensation that he was unfit  to fly- including on the day he arrived for the Dusseldorf flight!  In other words, this psycho never should have been anywhere near the plane - far less inside the cockpit.

Reinforcing this, clinical psychologist Dr. Ruth Wittersgreen proposed at that time how the psychotic episode would have unfolded. First, there would be Lubitz dealing day to day with the stress of hiding his severe mental illness (which was so severe he had to be monitored over time) from the company. Second, if he fell into a pattern of sleep deprivation this would have directly triggered the "psychotic episode".

Amdist all this many asked, as one expert did on CNN the morning after:

"Why this tragic communications breakdown between those treating Lubitz and the airline?"

Indeed. And here we also have parallels with the case of Aurora mass killer James Eagen Holmes, who was also being treated for severe psychological illness (at the Univ. of Colorado, Anschutz campus) prior to his rampage at an Aurora theater, slaying 12 and severely wounding dozens.  Why wasn't this information passed on to the proper authorities?

The horrific mass slaughter last year might also have been prevented had people -e.g.  at least one of his ex-girlfriends, spoken the hell up after he was claimed to have said.

"After tomorrow everyone will remember my name."

Now, in the case of Mohammed Bouhlel, it appears from the information we do know (reported by his family living in Tunisia, and related on MSNBC two nights ago), he had been "severely depressed" for months and he likely went over the top - or into the pits - after his separation from his wife and loss of job. In addition, his family didn't believe he'd been taking meds for his ongoing depression.

Then, just as German Andreas Lubitz  took out his psychosis and depression on 150 innocents, so did Mohammed Bouhlel take out on his on 84 - killed, and hundreds of others injured.

My point is we must not be misled into jumping to a "terror" conclusion merely because the offender happens to have a Muslim name. Such conflationary thinking - minus ancillary evidence (e.g. of being radicalized or making contact with ISIS) will only lead us to see terrorism in every mass killing act. Yes, ISIS insisted they were responsible, but what would you expect them to say as a terror group? They will always claim credit for any random act of butchery or mayhem, thereby exploiting the terror meme even if they weren't responsible in any way.

In retrospect then if we declined to call "terror" on  Andreas Lubitz' act of killing 150 by deliberately  crashing his jet last year, we can only do the same with Mohammed Boulhlel. That is, unless definitive evidence to the contrary turns up of actual connections and contacts with ISIS, say via evidence on laptops that he had been following them..

Up to now that has not appeared, so it makes more sense to treat his act like we did Andreas Lubitz', and acknowledge a too ready penchant to call "terror" on every act of mass violence. By over inflating acts of terror and especially crediting the ISIS vermin with dastardly acts actually committed by one or other form of psycho, we play right into the bastards' hands!

See also:


"But after all the bombast and hot air, it turned out that the crime in Nice was the product of a domestic crisis and one man’s suicidal impulses, rather like the three pilots who dove their aircraft into the ocean."

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