Photo Credit: DeviantArt
Pittsburgh - Suspected gunman Robert Bowers opened fire during a weekly service at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. As the Guardian reports, the alleged gunman shouted “all Jews must die” before opening fire in a Pittsburgh synagogue on Saturday. He appears to have regularly posted antisemitic conspiracy theories on an extremist social media site, including accusing Jewish people of trying to bring “evil” Muslims into the United States. The eleven people killed in the mass shooting included a married couple, two brothers and a 97-year-old woman, authorities said Sunday.
On Gab (a social media network favored by white nationalists) neo-Nazis and other “alt-right” figures, including those kicked off other social networks for hate speech, there was a profile for a “Robert Bowers” who posted frequently about Jewish control of the American government. The account was taken down, but archived versions of the page remained available.
The account suggested white Americans and “Western Civilization” were “headed towards certain extinction,” and that Jewish and Muslim people were to blame.
The final post before the shooting read: “I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.”
That post, from Saturday morning, referenced “HIAS” (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society), a global not-for-profit organization founded in 1881 to help Jews fleeing pogroms in Russia and Eastern Europe. It now protects refugees. The post claimed the organization “likes to bring invaders in that kill our people.”
HIAS is an American nonprofit organization that provides humanitarian aid and assistance to refugees. In 1975, the State Dept asked HIAS to aid in resettling 3600 Vietnam refugees. Since that time, the organization continues to provide support for refugees of all nationalities and ethnic origins. The organization has worked to mobilize other Jewish organizations against the Trump administration’s attempts to limit and block the admission of refugees, particularly Muslims and, more recently, those from Central America. The Robert Bowers account reposted another user who wrote: “Open you Eyes! It’s the filthy EVIL jews Bringing the Filthy EVIL Muslims into the Country!!”
Federal prosecutors have charged Bowers with 29 charges, including obstructing the exercise of religious beliefs resulting in death, eleven counts of using a firearm to commit murder, weapons offences and seriously injuring police officers. The FBI was investigating the shooting as a federal hate crime.