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Experts on terrorism suspect attacks have origins in Middle East

Tuesday, September 11, 2001

By Dennis B. Roddy, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

On a day the world came calling amid cataracts of flame and terror, the experts who monitor the fringe world in which politics meets murder weren't expecting this one.

Mark Pitcavage was preparing a report on home-grown terrorism -- the kind in which men in camouflage take to the woods awaiting invasion from the New World Order.

All changed. Changed utterly.

In New York, two of the tallest buildings in the world explodedand collapsed as airplanes tore into their centers. A hijacked plane struck the Pentagon. A 757 slammed into a hillside in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.

"Suicide attacks and hijackings are not the typical tools of home-grown terrorists," said Pitcavage, an Ohio-based researcher who has traditionally specialized in far-right groups.

Experts today were uniform in their speculation that the origins of today's onslaught are rooted in the conflict in the Middle East.

"This is not by any means over," said one expert on terrorism with the Anti-Defamation League who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The BBC reported that a Palestinian group had claimed responsibility for the attacks.

"We're going to get 400 or 500 groups claiming responsibility," the expert said.

The apparent targets -- the previously attacked World Trade Center, the Pentagon, the Department of Defense -- all carried strongly symbolic value overseas.

Government officials closed other high-profile offices today. Security was stepped up around the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. All airline flights were grounded.

Some American supporters of terrorism today applauded the horrors.

August Kreis, Potter County-based leader of the racist Posse-Comitatus and an associate with the neo-Nazi Aryan Nations, put up a celebratory message on his Web site:

"Hellelu-Yahweh! May the WAR be started! DEATH to His enemies may the World Trade Center BURN TO THE GROUND!"

This year, Kreis had reached out to Middle Eastern terrorist groups and has linked his Web site to the stridently anti-Israel "Radio Islam."

He was, however, rebuffed in his initial attempts to put together links, experts said. "They told him, 'We have governments, armies and God behind us. We don't need you,'" the ADL expert said.

Today, there seemed little doubt someone larger than an isolated hater was behind the day America crashed and burned.

"I can't say we're disappointed," Kreis said today.

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