Terrorism by some other name.

News Desk

A serving US marine and two others firebombed premises for political purposes, intending to put persons in fear in order to influence them. But in the USA, that is not, it seems, terrorism. It's merely "of malicious destruction of property by fire and explosives, possession of an unregistered destructive device and intentionally damaging a reproductive health services clinic."

22 year old Tibet ERGUL, 24 year old Chance Brannon and 21 year old Xavier BATTEN plotted action against sexual minorities and abortion clinics in California. According to the FBI, on "12 March, 2022, in Ergul’s garage, Ergul and Brannon knowingly assembled a Molotov cocktail." They "wanted to make a statement about abortion, scare pregnant women away from obtaining abortions, deter doctors, staff, and employees at the clinic from providing abortions, and intimidate the clinic’s patients" and "wanted to encourage others to engage in similar violent acts." At least one defendant admitted his actions were motivated by the decision of the US Supreme Court that did not "overturn Roe v Wade" (as the FBI says in its report of this case) but decided that the Court had had no jurisdiction to hear it and the judgment was therefore invalid.

But it was not the only target. A rally for sexual minorities was targeted in 2023 with an explosive device that could be detonated remotely: that was at a sports stadium where the rally was being held. A fourth attack was planned on an electricity substation with no stated purpose other than causing harm.

The latter attack was not, on the face of it, terrorism but the other three clearly were within the definition of serious harm or the threat of serious harm with the intention of putting a section of society in fear or of influencing government or other lawful authority for political or ideological purposes, which is, in broad terms, the generally, worldwide, definition of terrorism.

But apparently not in the USA and in particular not in California even though the investigation involved a specialist terrorism investigation unit and despite this: "“ Ergul chose violence and destruction while targeting a wide array of innocent victims with whom he disagreed ideologically, putting their lives at risk,” said Amir Ehsaei, the Acting Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI's Los Angeles Field Office. “The FBI and our partners on the JTTF will continue to seek out violent extremists before they strike.”

Sentencing

Brannon was sentenced to nine years in federal prison for his role in the attack and plots. Brannon pleaded guilty in November 2023 to one count of conspiracy, one count of malicious destruction of property by fire and explosives, one count of possession of an unregistered destructive device, and one count of intentionally damaging a reproductive health services facility in violation of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act.

Xavier Batten, 21, of Brooksville, Florida, was sentenced to 3½ years in federal prison for advising Ergul and Brannon on how to construct the Molotov cocktail used in the Planned Parenthood attack. Batten pleaded guilty to one count of possession of an unregistered destructive device and one count of intentional damage to a reproductive health services facility.

Ergul was sentenced to 72 months in federal prison for firebombing a Planned Parenthood clinic in Costa Mesa in March 2022 and planning to attack an electrical substation in Orange County, California and ordered to pay USD1,000 in restitution.


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