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18 Feb, 2010 22:25

US small plane crash not terrorism

A small plane has crashed into an building in Austin, Texas, housing offices of the CIA and the IRS, but the act seems the work of a disgruntled US citizen rather than terrorism.

 A computer programmer and amateur pilot frustrated with the government has crashed his plane into a building in Austin, Texas housing offices of the IRS and the CIA. Joseph Andrew Stack published a manifesto on his Web site and set his house on fire before heading to the airport. In the rambling document some are now calling a suicide note, Stack railed against the US government in general and the IRS in particular.

Although the US Department of Homeland Security was called in to investigate, the consensus was that the crash was an intentional, criminal act – but not a terrorist attack.

“This doesn’t fit Department of Justice guidelines for an act of terrorism,” said Fred Burton, vice president for counterterrorism at global intelligence consultancy Stratfor. “The thing that would be key is if he [Stack] belonged to a group on the domestic terrorism watchlist.”

Stack’s anti-government rant has raised concerns that such acts are the natural outgrowth of the current anti-government mood in the United States. While most Americans have focused on international terrorists as a threat, the Obama Administration has long considered the possibility of domestic terrorism.

“For [Department of Homeland Security Secretary] Janet Napolitano and the rest of the administration, the idea of white supremacists or right-wing anti-government terrorism is something they have focused on,” said Chris Stirewalt, political analyst for The Washington Times.

However, Stack was not a part of any domestic terror groups and did not seem to be active even in anti-government political movements such as the Tea Party, so his act may indeed have been the disparate act of a desperate man.

“This guy feels that he’s a victim and he sees the IRS as the vehicle for the government’s persecution of him,” said Stirewalt. “He’s not left wing or right wing – he’s just out on a wing.”