Why Timothy McVeigh is the extremists’ new poster boy
HE committed the worst act of domestic terrorism in US history - now 16 years after Timothy McVeigh was executed, it appears he has attracted a new following.
When McVeigh bombed a federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995, killing 168 people, including 19 children, the world was horrified.
But according to a report released by the Southern Poverty Law Center, McVeigh worship has become the new extremist trend with a "bump of interest" in the executed killer.
In the revealing report the SPLC's Bill Morlin reveals "there seems to be a growing admiration for McVeigh in some extremist circles."
"His name and heinous crime are not forgotten, nor should they be, while there seems to be a growing admiration for McVeigh in some extremist circles," Morlin writes.
"One militia honcho even likened McVeigh to Jesus Christ."
The report goes on to cite several examples of extremists who have praised McVeigh.
Just this month a framed photo of McVeigh was allegedly found inside the bedroom of Brandon Russell who was charged with possession of bomb-making materials and chemicals, similar to those used by McVeigh.
According to the Associated Press, the self-proclaimed neo-Nazi was arrested after police found bomb-making materials in his Florida apartment while investigating the slayings of his two roommates.
Federal prosecutors said he planned to use the explosives to harm civilians, nuclear facilities and synagogues.
However the SPLC report his fascination with McVeigh has not yet been explained.
In May, Jeremy Christian, went on a rampage in Portland, Oregon, and is accused of killing two men who attempted to come to the aid of two women he was harassing.
The 35-year-old was charged with murder, attempted murder, possession of a weapon and intimidation after the killings which allegedly followed an anti-Muslim rant on a train.
Taliesin Namkai-Meche, 23, and Ricky Best, 53, were fatally stabbed at the Hollywood Transit Center train station as they tried to intervene in the abuse, a court heard.
During a court appearance earlier this month, Christian shouted: "You call it terrorism. I call it patriotism" and "Death to the enemies of America," the BBC reported.
Police said they were investigating Christian's background of extremist ideology.
Just one month before the anniversary of the bombing Christian praised the Oklahoma City bomber in a Facebook post, writing "May all the Gods Bless Timothy McVeigh - a TRUE PATRIOT!!!" the SPLC reported.
Former soldier McVeigh was convicted on 11 counts of murder, conspiracy and using a weapon of mass destruction, and was executed in 2001.
However McVeigh didn't act alone when he committed the deadly terror act.
Another ex-soldier, Terry Nichols, was convicted on similar charges and sentenced to life without parole, because the jury was deadlocked on the death penalty.
Their crime is the subject of a recently released and critically-acclaimed documentary Oklahoma City.
The deadly bombing on April 19, 1995 shocked the US with many unable to understand how two of their own could commit such an atrocity.
Both men were motivated by their contempt for government which was sharpened by the 1993 Waco Siege in Texas.
Nicknamed "Noodle" at school, McVeigh loved superheroes and guns and was passionate about the right to bear arms.
However after being deployed to Iraq for the first Gulf War, McVeigh questioned US involvement in the country.
He became disillusioned with the government and soon fell in with the radical right; a mix of white supremacists, extreme Christian fundamentalists and armed survivalist militias.
In an interview with news.com.au in April Clarke Jones, a terrorism expert at Australian National University said today's youth had a lot in common with McVeigh.
"That 'us against them' mentality very much plays out today," he said.
"People try and create this picture that they're under siege by minority groups. There seems to be a real push in the conservative right, and people who are like Timothy McVeigh."
He also said there's a perceived idea that the US is under attack which is creating a nationalistic perspective and feeding people similar to McVeigh.
Dr Jones also said it was the Oklahoma bombing was one of the first considerable instances where a large explosive came from "someone within", leading many Americans to feel a sense of betrayal.
Tom Pyszczynski, a professor of psychology at University of Colorado told Hatewatch he believed a small number of people are "enthralled with McVeigh".
He said some saw McVeigh as heroes who stand up for them.
'SIMILARITIES OF HATE'
In a 2015 research paper, international policy organisation the Counter Extremism Project compared the similarities between white and Islamic Extremists.
The non-profit NGO which combats extremist groups by countering online recruitment, found common characteristics shared among extremists, regardless of whether they are white, Islamic or patriotic.
These common threads included a parochial and warped interpretation of a particular history, a belief their way of life is under attack and the use of symbols as a tool of power and fear.
While recognising that White supremacists and Islamic extremists have different origins, ideologies and goals, the CEP note extremists "use some of the same tools and present similar dangers, both to America and humanity as a whole."