Political Assassins, Terrorists and Related Conspiracies in American History


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About the Book

Political assassinations and terrorism have both outraged and fascinated the public throughout American history, particularly in the modern era. Providing biographical summaries of more than 100 assassins and terrorists, this book aims at a more complete understanding of the motivations behind violent extremism. The lives of the subjects are analyzed with a focus on psychological and ideological factors, along with details of investigations and criminal trials. Conspiracy theories are evaluated for credibility. Social media features prominently in explaining political violence by members of extremist groups in the 21st century, including radical Islamic terrorists, anti-abortion activists and white supremacists.

About the Author(s)

Scott P. Johnson has been a professor of political science, coordinator of the Law & Society program, and pre-law advisor at Frostburg State University since 1999 and has authored numerous articles in law journals and law reviews. He received Faculty Achievement Awards for Academic Accomplishment in 2011 and 2014 and also received the FSU Outstanding Mentor Award in 2012.

Bibliographic Details

Scott P. Johnson

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 398
Bibliographic Info: bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2021
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8393-5
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4203-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments viii
Preface 1
Introduction 4

Part 1—Domestic Assassins and Terrorists

One—Presidential Assassins 8
Richard Lawrence  9
The Lincoln Assassination Conspirators  11
John Wilkes Booth 11
Lewis Powell (Lewis Paine or Lewis Payne) 14
David E. Herold 16
George Atzerodt 17
Michael O’Laughlen 19
Mary Surratt 21
John Surratt 23
Samuel Arnold 25
Dr. Samuel Mudd 26
Edman Spangler 28
The Lincoln Conspiracy Trial  30
Charles Guiteau  32
Leon Czolgosz  37
John Schrank  39
Joseph Giuseppe Zangara  41
Oscar Collazo  44
Griselio Torresola  48
Lee Harvey Oswald  49
Samuel Byck  55
Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme  58
Sara Jane Moore  61
John W. Hinckley, Jr.  66
Francisco Martin Duran  71

Two—Domestic Political Assassins 75
Patrick Eugene Prendergast  76
Carl Weiss  78
Jack “Ruby” Rubenstein  80
Byron De La Beckwith  84
Thomas Hagan (a.k.a. Talmadge X Hayer and Mujahid Abdul Halim)  86
John Patler (Yanacki “John” Patsalos)  92
Sirhan Bishara Sirhan  94
James Earl Ray  98
Charles Harrelson  101
Arthur Bremer  103
Dan White  106
Charles L. Koster  111
Walter Leroy Moody, Jr.  113
Byron (Low Tax) Looper  115
Sidney Dorsey  118
Othniel Askew  121
Jared Lee Loughner  123

Three—Domestic Political Terrorists 128
William “Bill” Ayers  128
Bernardine Dohrn  131
Timothy McVeigh  133
Terry Nichols  138
Theodore Kaczynski  140
Wade Michael Page  145
Aaron Alexis  148
Dylann Roof  152
James T. Hodgkinson  156
Robert Gregory Bowers  160
Patrick Crusius  164

Four—­Anti-Abortion Extremists 167
Michael Frederick Griffin  167
Rachelle Ranae “Shelley” Shannon  169
Paul Jennings Hill  173
John C. Salvi III  175
Eric Rudolph  178
James Charles Kopp  182
Scott Roeder  184
Robert Lewis Dear, Jr.  187

Part 2—Foreign Political Terrorism

Five—The Nazi Saboteurs 194
George Dasch  194
Ernst Burger  198
Heinrich Heinck  199
Richard Quirin  200
Edward Kerling  202
Herbert Hans Haupt  203
Herman Neubauer  205
Werner Thiel  207
Ex parte Quirin  209

Six—Puerto Rican Nationalists 211
Lolita Lebron  211
Rafael Cancel Miranda  213
Andres Figueroa Cordero  215
Irvin ­Flores-Rodriguez  216
Oscar Lopez Rivera  218

Seven—Islamic Fundamentalists 221
Ramzi Yousef (Abdul Basit Mahmoud Abdul Karim)  221
September 11, 2001, Terrorist Attacks: Planners  225
Osama bin Laden 226
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed 232
September 11, 2001, Terrorist Attacks: American Airlines Flight 11  236
Mohamed Atta 237
Abdulaziz ­al-Omari 242
Satam Muhammed Abdel Rahman ­al-Suqami 245
Wail Mohammed ­al-Shehri 248
Waleed Mohammed ­al-Shehri 250
September 11, 2001, Terrorist Attacks: United Airlines Flight 175  254
Marwan Yousef Mohamed Rashid Lekrab ­al-Shehhi 254
Fayez Rashid Ahmed Hassan ­al-Qadi Banihammad 259
Mohand Muhammad Fayiz ­al-Shehri 261
Ahmed Salah Said ­al-Ghamdi 264
Hamza Salih Ahmad ­al-Hamid ­al-Ghamdi 267
September 11, 2001, Terrorist Attacks: American Airlines Flight 77  270
Hani Saleh Hasan Hanjour 270
Khalid Muhammad Abdallah ­al-Mihdhar 274
Majed Mashaan Ghanem Moqed 279
Nawaf Muhammed Salim ­al-Hazmi 281
Salem ­al-Hazmi 286
September 11, 2001, Terrorist Attacks: United Airlines Flight 93  289
Ziad Samir Jarrah 289
Saeed Abdallah Ali Sulayman ­al-Ghamdi 293
Ahmed bin Abdullah ­al-Nami 296
Ahmed Ibrahim ­al-Haznawi 298
9/11 Conspiracy Theories  301

Eight—­Post-9/11 Terrorists 304
Richard Reid  304
Zacarias Moussaoui  307
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (a.k.a. Umar Abdul Mutallab and Omar Farooq ­al-Nigeri)  312
Nidal Malik Hasan  315
Tamerlan Tsarnaev  320
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev  326
Syed Rizwan Farook  332
Tashfeen Malik  336
Omar Mir Seddique (“Omar Mateen”)  339
Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani  343

Conclusion and Discussion 347
Political and Religious Extremism  347
Psychological and Emotional Disorders  348
Insanity  350
Discrimination Based Upon Race, Ethnicity and Sexual Orientation  351
Money and Power  352
Mass Media  353

Bibliography 357
Index 381

Book Reviews & Awards

• “Readers will be hard-pressed to find a more exhaustive study than Johnson’s work examining many of the most notorious acts in American history. Providing theory and context for countless violent plots aimed to affect American politics, this work is a must read for those interested in fringe activities in the United States.”—Robert M. Alexander, founding director of the Ohio Northern Institute for Civics and Public Policy

• “For centuries, people who struggle with psychological and emotional disorders have been perceived as dangerous and unpredictable. Although clinical psychologists warn against the use of such labels, Political Assassins, Terrorists, and Related Conspiracies in American History provides historical accounts of how political extremism, personality disorders, and psychological trauma have contributed to devious and reckless behaviors towards high-profile political figures. From the conspirators who plotted against Abraham Lincoln, through the mysterious story of Lee Harvey Oswald, to the extreme fundamentalists of today, you will find all of the details you need in this historical encyclopedia of some of the world’s most disturbing political occurrences. This book is a must read for anyone who is curious about the juncture where political history and psychological conspiracies collide.”—Ronald Holste, M.A.S.S. Instructor of Psychology and Political Science, Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute

• “Scott Johnson deftly combines analysis of the psychological, ideological, and religious motivations of assassins with broad historical insight into the circumstances surrounding acts of political violence. His framework of comparing presidential assassins, domestic assassins, and domestic and foreign terrorists provides ground for understanding the psychology of immoderate acts”—Hans Hacker, associate professor of Political Science, Arkansas State University