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MIxTRAC: Active Shooter Kills 13 in California Nightclub, Anarchist Suicide Bomber Attacks FSB Facility in Russia

 

The information, data and findings from the below brief was collected by and sourced from TRAC: Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium, in partnership with the Mackenzie Institute. Please click here to visit TRAC.

Active Shooter Kills 13 in California Nightclub, Anarchist Suicide Bomber Attacks FSB Facility in Russia

Active Shooter During “College Country Night!” at Borderline Bar & Grill (Nightclub) in Thousand Oaks, Ventura County, California (7 November, 2018)

On the evening of 07 November 2018, at 11:20pm Pacific Standard Time, a man later identified as Ian David Long entered the Borderline Bar & Grill at 99 Rolling Oaks Dr. in Thousand Oaks, Ventura County, California, and allegedly began shooting randomly into the crowd. The nightclub was popular with local college students from Pepperdine University in Malibu, and was particularly crowded with hundreds of patrons at the time of the shooting. The gunman killed 12 people, including one police officer, and left at least a dozen more severely injured before he took his own life.

Eyewitnesses reported that Long said nothing upon entering the bar and had no identification on his person. John Hedge, who was at the front of the restaurant section of the establishment with his stepfather reported, “the gunman was throwing smoke grenades all over the place. I saw him point to the back of the cash register…and he just kept firing. I ran out the front door.” Mr. Hedge also described the gunman as bearded, wearing a hat and long black trench coat and may have had glasses.

Ian David Long was a heavily-tattooed 28 year old male and veteran of the United States Marine Corps, and allegedly drove his mother’s car to the attack. Long was a regular patron at Borderline Bar & Grill and lived with his mother in the Newbury Park area in western Thousand Oaks. A neighbour believed Long suffered from PTSD. The United States Marine Corps released Long’s service records from 2008 to 2013; he was deployed to Afghanistan from 16 November 2010 to 14 June 2011, and during that time earned 10 medals whilst serving as a machine gunner.

Barring minor traffic violations, Long had no criminal history. After being discharged from the USMC, Long enrolled as a student at California State University Northridge, where he also worked. Long left after three years, supposedly due to his loss of interest.

In April 2018, police were called to Long’s mother’s residence after loud noises were reported.  Police responding to the calls found holes in the sheetrock interior walls, broken furniture and described Long as “irate, acting a little irrationally.” A psychologist was called to interview Long and determined that he was not a threat.

At the time of this writing, the motivations for the attack remain unclear, but there are several indications that the attack was strategic and well-planned. First, Long attacked during the peak hours of the nightclub; knowing that the live DJ would begin at 11 p.m., he arrived at the country western dance club at 11:20 p.m. Second, Long was well-equipped, armed with a 45-caliber Glock with an extended magazine. Witnesses were alarmed at how quickly Long was able to reload, with mere seconds of pause in-between magazines. Additionally, the assailant strategically threw smoke bombs into the front of the nightclub and shot the security guard upon first entering the building. Third, Long was prepared for a police response. The first law enforcement officer to respond to the scene, sheriff’s Sgt. Ron Helus, was shot immediately after entering the building. He later died in hospital.

As usual, Islamic State supporters are rejoicing on Telegram over the attack. This does not mean that the attack was IS-inspired but there have been two notorious IS attacks on nightclubs in 2016: Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida and the Reina Nightclub in Istanbul, Turkey. In what is called a tragic irony, at least 47 of the survivors of the controversial IS-claimed sniper attack at Jason Aldean Concert in Las Vegas in October 2017 were also present at Borderline Bar & Grill the night of 7 November 2018. In fact, the survivors of the Las Vegas sniper event had routinely gathered at the country nightclub.

Pepperdine University confirmed that students from the college were present at Borderline Bar & Grill during the attack. Though it is unclear how many students were at the bar, the establishment often held “College Nights” for the students of the university.  It also unclear if the students of Pepperdine University were the intended targets of the attacker, but it should be known that Pepperdine University is affiliated with the Churches of Christ and has had two well-publicized conflicts (2012 & 2014) with the LBGT community. Most of the images of the victims and patrons at the establishment appear to be young and white.

It is also worth considering that attacks from men who identify with the Incel movement have been on the rise. Incels, short for “involuntary celibates” are a group of disenfranchised males who believe that their appearance forces women to reject them; they often spread messages of hate for both women and minorities in private forums as well as mainstream social media sites like Facebook, Reddit and 4chan. There is some evidence to suggest that Long fits the profile of a Incel attacker, thought at this stage it is far too early to make a definitive judgement either way.

Image: Corporal David Ian Long, United States Marine Corps; serving from 2008 to 2013. Long was deployed to Afghanistan from 16 November 2010 to 14 June 2011 as a machine gunner. Long had earned 10 metals during his service including: Navy Meritorious Unit Commendations, a Combat Action Ribbon, the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, two Sea Service Deployment Ribbons, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; the National Defense Service Medal and the NATO Medal-ISAF Afghanistan.

Anarchist Suicide Bombing Attack at local FSB facility in Arkhangelsk, Russia (31 October, 2018)

On 31 October 2018, at around 8:52 a.m. (local time), a young man entered a local FSB building and detonated a homemade explosive device inside the building in Arkhangelsk, Russia.

The attacker was a 17-year-old local college student, Mikhail Zhlobitsky, who carried the bomb which exploded and killed him and seriously injured three FSB officers. His motives and connections remain unknown, however it should be noted that the bomber was an active member of an online anarchist community on Telegram: the community of “Rebel’s conversations,” which includes 660 other members. According to the Russian media, before the attack was carried out, on the group’s public post thread, a member by the nickname “Valery Panov” published a post claiming responsibility for this blast. The poster expressed numerous grievances with the FSB, and stated that the community member did not expect to survive the attack. He concluded: “… Bright anarchistic communism to all of you!”

Screenshot of the post:

The bomber’s student ID card:

Surveillance camera footage of the suspected bomber inside of the FSB building prior to the explosion:

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The above has been compiled by Alexander Sawicki, an Undergraduate Teaching Assistant for the Department of History at Ryerson University, specializing in the interplay between technological innovation, warfare, and social change throughout history. He was formerly a Research Analyst for the NATO Association of Canada (NAOC), where he published articles that dealt with Cybersecurity, US-Russia relations, and Canadian Military Procurement. You can find Alexander on LinkedIn.

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