Given the intensity of the conspiracy theories on the radical right that have arisen around the coronavirus pandemic—particularly the number of rightists claiming that government lockdown orders are an initial step in the imposition of a tyrannical order—it was only a matter of time before the U.S. experienced its first coronavirus-related act of domestic terrorism.
On Tuesday, a Missouri man named Timothy Wilson made preparations to set off a car bomb at a local hospital in suburban Belton, which was intended as a revolt against the stay-at-home order issued by Belton’s mayor, but his plan was cut short by an FBI raid. When he apparently resisted with a weapon, he ended up being shot and killed.
Wilson had been the subject of an ongoing domestic terrorism investigation since September, according to an FBI statement. “Wilson was actively planning to commit an act of domestic terrorism—a bombing—and over the course of several months had considered several targets,” it read.
A number of far-right extremists have claimed that the pandemic is secretly a cover for the imposition of a totalitarian “globalist” government. Wilson, who was a participant in neo-Nazi chat rooms, decided to enact a plan he had already concocted for creating a car bomb and use it on a hospital in Belton, the FBI said.
“Wilson considered various targets and ultimately settled on an area hospital in an attempt to harm many people, targeting a facility that is providing critical medical care in today’s environment,” the statement read. “Wilson had taken the necessary steps to acquire materials needed to build an explosive device.”
There was no actual bomb. Wilson had arrived at a residence in Belton with his own vehicle, believing the person there had constructed a device for him. It's unclear whether Wilson was shot by FBI agents as they moved in to arrest him, or whether he shot himself.
The FBI’s interest in Wilson apparently originated with his heavy involvement in some of the same neo-Nazi factions that have produced a string of arrests in recent months. Nick Martin at The Informant reports that Wilson “was an admirer of the 1980s terrorist group The Order and had ties to two active neo-Nazi organizations.”
One of Martin’s sources identified Wilson as the Telegram user “Werwolfe 84,” which enabled Martin and Elon University computer science professor Megan Squire to determine Wilson’s involvement in two public Telegram channels for neo-Nazi groups: one for the National Socialist Movement (NSM) and one for the violence-oriented Vorherrschaft Division (VSD).
According to Martin, Wilson was an administrator of the NSM’s public Telegram chat, active there as recently as Tuesday afternoon, just prior to the FBI raid. He posted his view that the coronavirus pandemic was a government ploy, an “excuse to destroy our people.”
“Mark my words it’s [sic] coming I hope people are ready,” he wrote.
He had also used anti-Semitic language the day prior in a comment on the coronavirus outbreak.
“If you don’t think this whole thing was engineered by Jews as a power grab here is more proof of their plans,” Wilson wrote. “Jews have been playing the long game we are the only ones standing in their way.”
Martin observed that Wilson was apparently an admirer of the Northwest-based neo-Nazi gang The Order, which in 1983-84 had engaged in a running series of bank and armored car robberies and several murders, including a Denver radio talk show host. Wilson made frequent references to Robert Mathews, the leader of The Order, who perished in a shootout with FBI agents in December 1984, calling him “Uncle Bob.”
A January post on the VSD channel by Wilson featured images of members of The Order with the caption: “Remember our heroes.” On Sunday, Martin reported, Wilson posted a photo of Mathews.
“Don’t be the cuck that gives up without a fight,” Wilson wrote. “Make uncle bob proud.”
Even before the pandemic erupted, the FBI had identified white nationalist extremism as the most lethal terrorist threat facing Americans, with good cause. Of particular concern is the recent trend among the radicalized fascists to advocate for a civil war—or, in their lingo, the coming “Boogaloo”—by committing acts of terrorism.
The same faction has also discussed weaponizing the coronavirus itself. Some of them, apparently, are not content to wait for the infection to arrive before acting.
Published with permission of Daily Kos