Arizona Shooter's Online Footprint Shows Distrust Of Government, Interest In Conspiracy Theories

New York, NY, January 11, 2011 … A series of messages written by Arizonashooting suspect Jared Lee Loughner reveal a person with a generic distrust of the government and a vague interest in conspiracy theories, according to an analysis of his online writings by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The writings, often disjointed and rambling, offer a window into the mindset of Loughner in the months and weeks leading up to the January 8 shooting rampage in Tucson, in which U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was critically wounded and six people, including a federal judge and congressional staffer, were killed.

Using the screen name "Erad3," Loughner, 22, returned repeatedly to certain topics, including grammar, literacy and "logic," his distrust of the government and dislike of religion, according to ADL. The writings appeared on the conspiracy-oriented Web site "Above Top Secret," a forum dealing with conspiracy theories, which includes anti-government extremists in its membership.

"While there is still much we don't know about Loughner, his online footprint offers one window into his mindset in the months leading up to the killings," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "The writings that have come to light so far suggest someone who probably was not associated with any extremist group or movement, but who has a generic distrust of government and a vague interest in conspiracy theories."

While few in number, Loughner's online writings and videos on sites such as MySpace and YouTube reveal an ongoing interest in several topics, including:

  • Grammar, Literacy and "Logic": Loughner repeatedly called all sorts of people illiterate. On his YouTube profile, Loughner stated that his favorite interest was reading and that he "studied grammar." In one of his videos, he seemed to claim that the government was "controlling grammar."
  • Distrust of Government: Loughner stated that he couldn't trust the "current government" because of "fabrications." In the Erad3 postings, one consistent anti-government topic broached was the notion of NASA faking spaceflights. In one of his videos, titled "My Final Thoughts," he briefly proclaimed: "No! I won't pay debt with a currency that's not backed by gold or silver." This is clearly a reference to a concept prevalent in the anti-government and right-wing "Patriot" movement that only gold and silver, not paper money, is valid currency.
  • Dislike of Religion: In one of his YouTube videos, Loughner claimed that he had refused to write a religious preference on an Army recruiting form, and proclaimed, "No! I don't trust in God." As Erad3, he repeatedly mocked Christianity and those who believe in it.

ADL is the world’s leading anti-hate organization. Founded in 1913 in response to an escalating climate of anti-Semitism and bigotry, its timeless mission is to protect the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all. Today, ADL continues to fight all forms of hate with the same vigor and passion. A global leader in exposing extremism, delivering anti-bias education, and fighting hate online, ADL is the first call when acts of anti-Semitism occur. ADL’s ultimate goal is a world in which no group or individual suffers from bias, discrimination or hate.

More from this Section

Alan Gratz