Who is Jared Lee Loughner?

on January 10 2011 11:24 AM

The U.S. prosecutors have filed five different charges, at the federal court in Phoenix, against the man suspected of the gruesome Arizona shooting, including two counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted assassination.

Even as the law takes its course and the accused is to be produced before the court on Monday, no two people apparently agree on the killer's motives, ideological affiliations and if he was politically motivated.

The killer, identified as Jared Lee Loughner, who is held responsible for the killing of six people including a federal judge and critically wounding Gabrielle Giffords, Democratic Congresswoman from the state, is variously described as a right wing extremist, a mentally deranged killer, an anti-government fanatic, a white supremacist and as a die-hard leftist who adored Che Guevara.

Was he just an ordinary but highly-stressed youth who was detrimentally influenced by vitriolic political propaganda, or, closer to truth, just one of those worst criminals?

Following are some key facts about Jared Lee Loughner:

PERSON

Loughner is a 22-year-old white man who attended educational institutions like Northwest Aztec Middle College and Pima Community College. He was born on September 10, 1988. Huffington Post quoted a witness who described the assassin as a young white man who looked like a fringe character, in his mid-to-late 20s, clean-shaven with short hair and wearing dark clothing.

The shooter, who tried to flee the crime scene after running out of ammunition but overpowered by the Congresswoman’s staffers, has reportedly posted paranoid text messages and videos on his YouTube account. His notes on MySpace and YouTube are rambling and sometimes unintelligible, says a report in National Conservative Examiner.

Schoolmates of the alleged shooter describe Loughner as a loner, an ultra-liberal with a penchant for hard rock music, flag burning, and pot smoking, reports Examiner. 

Those who think he was lunatic should perhaps pause as evidence of some solid planning in the run-up to the murder has emerged.

According to The New York Times, investigators from the FBI found an envelope in Loughner's house bearing handwritten words: I planned ahead, My assassination and Giffords.

VIEWS

Articles on the Internet variously describe him as a 'semi-literate' who was thrown out a local college, and whose writings display 'weird syllogisms' and 'unexplained numbers and references'.

Conversely, there are suggestions that he could be a well-read person who leaned over to the fringe theories concerning patriotism and government, especially to some pseudo-intellectual lines of thinking.

MANIACAL LEFTIST OF RIGHT WING FANATIC?

Was he a leftist? His personal heroes include Venezuela's communist leader and arch enemy of the U.S. Hugo Chavez as well as iconic revolutionary Che Guevara. But it's much more complex than it looks - his list also includes President Barack Obama!

Conversely, he could, in fact, be far from being a patriot as it's emerged that one of his videos shows a man burning a U.S. national flag. And then it should be clubbed with his inclusion of The Communist Manifesto among his favorite books.

All this could well be interpreted as his being a left winger! But Mark Potok, writing in Southern Povery Law Center (SPLC), discounts this theory. The main enemy of the Patriot movement is certainly the federal government. And so-called Patriots have certainly engaged in acts like burning the flag.

However, Potok says inferences can be made about his intellectual leanings from his reading list that includes books that run a theme of individual versus the totalitarian state. Some of his favorites were Ayn Rand’s 'We the Living' and 'Atlas Shrugged' and George Orwell’s '1984' and 'Animal Farm' as well as Hitler's 'Mein Kampf.'

... I think Loughner’s reading list, although it included children’s books and a few classics, had an underlying theme — the individual versus the totalitarian state. Certainly, that’s the explicit central theme of Ayn Rand’s We the Living and Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm, among others.

There is also speculation over his possible allegiance to the American Renaissance ideology that espouses white supremacist ideals.

SPLC describes American Renaissance thus: Founded by Jared Taylor in 1990, the New Century Foundation is a self-styled think tank that promotes pseudo-scientific studies and research that purport to show the inferiority of blacks to whites — although in hifalutin language that avoids open racial slurs and attempts to portray itself as serious scholarship.

WHY GIFFORDS?

If the killer was a maniacal anti-government activist, Gifford presented herself as an obvious target, as she was the nearest he could get to the 'government'. Potok concurs with the view: One thing that seems clear is that Giffords, who was terribly wounded but survived, was the nearest and most obvious representative of “the government” that Loughner could find.

However, the Examiner reports, quoting law enforcement officers in the area, that he had made threats against Giffords prior to her shooting on Saturday. It also reports he had various confrontations with law in the past. Reports have emerged that he had been booked in a case involving drug possession in 2007.

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