WaPo's Josh White Can't Figure Out 'Motive' of Jihadist Military Site Vandalizer, Shooter, and IED Preparer

Would someone please buy the Washington Post's Josh White a clue? He can't seem to get a handle on the "motive" for the actions of Yonathan Melaku (actually, I think White is pretending).

Melaku has just pleaded guilty and will be sentenced to 25 years in jail. Authorities say he vandalized military grave markers, shot at the Pentagon and military museums, and was working on an improvised explosive device. But the headline to White's story (HT Atlas Shrugs) and the reporter's content act as if no one has the foggiest idea what drop Melaku to do what he did (words which betray motivation are bolded):


Motive of shooter who targeted military sites is unclear

Yonathan Melaku was sneaking through Fort Myer and Arlington National Cemetery, his backpack filled with plastic bags of ammonium nitrate, a notebook containing jihadist messages, and a can of black spray paint. The 23-year-old former Marine was heading to the graves of the nation’s most recent heroes, aiming to desecrate the stones with Arabic statements and leave handfuls of explosive material nearby as a message.

Before police foiled the plan in June, the vandalism was to be Melaku’s sixth attack, months after he went on a mysterious shooting spree that targeted the Pentagon, the National Museum of the Marine Corps and two other military buildings in Northern Virginia. A video found after Melaku’s arrest showed him wearing a black mask and shooting a 9mm handgun out of his Acura’s passenger window as he drove along Interstate 95, shouting “Allahu Akbar!”It was all part of a solitary campaign of “fear and terror,” federal prosecutors said.

But authorities and Melaku’s defense attorney said no one knows for sure what led Melaku — a naturalized U.S. citizen from Ethi­o­pia, local high school graduate and former Marine Corps Reservist — down that path or what message he was trying to send.

Melaku stood in U.S. District Court in Alexandria on Thursday morning to plead guilty to three counts, including shooting at the Pentagon on Oct. 19, 2010, and attempting to injure veterans’ memorials on U.S. property. As part of a plea agreement, Melaku admitted to using his legally obtained 9mm handgun to shoot the National Museum of the Marine Corps, the Pentagon and two military recruiting offices in October and November 2010.

The agreement calls for Melaku to serve 25 years in prison. Judge Gerald Bruce Lee accepted the plea, and Melaku is scheduled for sentencing on April 27.

Although Melaku acknowledged shooting at the buildings — attacks that did not injure anyone but caused an estimated $111,000 in damage — it still remains unclear why he did it. In a video entered into evidence and released by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, Melaku says that he was targeting the museum as a military building, to “turn it off permanently.”

FBI officials and prosecutors said Melaku was on a personal terror mission. They said he researched jihadism on the Internet and had references to terrorism in a notebook and on his computer. It also seemed like he was gathering materials to make an improvised explosive device, though there was no indication how he would have used it.

Melaku wanted “to create fear and terror, which is what terrorists do,” said Dana Boente, first assistant U.S. Attorney in Alexandria.

... Gregory English, Melaku’s defense lawyer, said after the hearing that Melaku’s family is of the Coptic Christian faith and that they were stunned to learn of his involvement in the crimes and the references to Islamic jihad.

Dictionary.com carries two primary definitions of "motive":

1. something that causes a person to act in a certain way, do a certain thing, etc.; incentive.
2. the goal or object of a person's actions: Her motive was revenge.

White and WaPo really don't have any wiggle room here. Anyone with an ounce of sense will also know that even if they are banking on the first version of the definition to controlling, they can't really claim that "motive" hasn't been identified. The evidence based on the material presented is that exposure to and adoption of jihadist teachings caused Melaku "to act in a certain way." We don't have to sit the guy down on a couch and ask about his family history to know this.

It seems like the Washington Post and most of the establishment press is so bound and determined to look the other way and otherwise minimize how the very real and intensely dangerous phenomenon known as homegrown terror has arisen. Jihad is the motivation, and that's all we really need to know.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.