Two Killers Eluded FBI Hunt for 'Lone Wolves'

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 15, 2009 8:02 AM CDT
The FBI evidence response team arrives at the US Holocaust Museum after a gunman opened fire at the museum in Washington Wednesday, June 10, 2009.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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(Newser) – The shootings of George Tiller and a National Holocaust Museum guard came despite a renewed FBI effort to preempt solo acts of political violence, the Wall Street Journal reports. Identifying such extremists—while respecting their civil rights—is a challenge. Both James von Brunn and Scott Roeder expressed their views online, but neither set off any warning bells at the bureau's "Operation Vigilant Eagle," a 6-month-old initiative in response to evidence of stepped-up activity among violent extremists. 

“The FBI does not have the capability to know when a person gets up in middle America and decides: ‘I’m taking my protest poster to Washington or I’m taking my gun," says a former counterterrorism official. The lone-wolf initiative has emphasized finding individuals who had been shunned by groups as too radical, or who left groups they deemed insufficiently radical—something neither von Brunn nor Roeder did.