Return to

July 21, 2016
Notes from the Pentagon

La. cop killer renounced ‘slave name,’ joined black anti-government group
The former Marine sergeant who murdered three Louisiana police officers this week was part of a black anti-government movement called the Moorish Nation, according to a law enforcement intelligence report.

Gavin Eugene Long shot six police officers, killing three and wounding the others in an attack Sunday in Baton Rouge. He was killed by a police sniper.

According to a report by the Symbol Intelligence Group, a private intelligence contractor, Long was a “textbook spiritual seeker” who had joined several anti-government groups, including the Washitaw Nation, New Freedom Group, National of Islam, and Freedom from Covert Harassment and Surveillance.

Last year, Long changed his name to Cosmo Ausar Setepenra and declared himself to be a Moor, part of the so-called Moorish Nation movement of African-Americans who regard themselves as descendants of Moors from Northwest Africa.

The name change symbolized giving up his “slave name” and taking an original Moorish name.

“Long’s new name has origins in ancient Egypt, which is consistent with Washitaw National beliefs that combine sovereign citizen ideas with Pan-African and Egyptian ideologies,” the report said.

The Washitaw Nation is a black “sovereign citizens” group that claims to be a Native American nation in the United States. It was the first Moorish sovereign citizen group and was founded in Louisiana, which may account for Long’s targeting of Baton Rouge for the attack, acceding to the report said.

“Gavin Long believed that he was a long-term victim of ‘gang stalking,’ an alleged form of overt and covert govt sanctioned community based, systematic, illegal electronic harassment and intimidation of targeted individuals and their families,” the report, labeled “law enforcement sensitive,” states.

He also was involved in several conspiracy groups related to government surveillance.

“Members of the Moorish Nation have been identified among members of various security threat groups, including the Black P Stone Nation, Five-Percenters, RBG Rebels, and the New Black Panther Party.”

The report noted that Long was killed on his 29th birthday and noted that studies have shown that men frequently commit suicide on their birthday, and that some believe that dying on a birthday is a blessing the completes the cycle of life.

“The Baton Rouge shooting demonstrates that birthdays, similar to other significant anniversaries, should be factored into threat assessments,” the report said.

One of two men who met at the Ferguson Missouri anti-police protests and who were later charged with conspiracy to blow up the St. Louis Arch, Olajuwan Ali, claimed to be Moorish and was a member of the New Black Panther Party.

The Justice Department took over the case from state police and reduced the charges to minor gun charges in an apparent bid to cover up links to the New Black Panther Party.

Retired Army Lt. Col. Joe Myers, a former Pentagon intelligence official, said Long’s ties to separatists shed light on his anti-police mentality.

“The cop killers represent a true and lethal form of left-wing anti-government extremism, sprinkled with black and Islamic separatist symbology, ideology and racism,” he said.

New details emerged this week about the terrorist behind the deadly Bastille Day massacre in Nice, France, that killed 84 people who were mowed down in refrigerator truck driven by Tunisian-born Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack on a 1.2-mile stretch of a waterfront road with crowds of people who had just finished watching a fireworks display.

Like other French Islamists who carried out the November 2015 suicide bombing and shooting rampage in Paris, Bouhiel, 31, appears to have been radicalized into Islamic jihad through connections with criminals.

French authorities had no indication Bouhiel was tied to terrorism before the attack. But he had a criminal record for acts of violence. The attack was planned in advance, and authorities are looking for signs of any accomplices.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said Saturday that Bouhlel “became radicalized very quickly.”

“This is a new type of attack,” Mr. Cazeneuve told reporters. “We are now confronted with individuals that are sensitive to the message of ISIS and are committed to extremely violent actions without necessarily being trained by them.”

A U.S. official told Inside the Ring that rapid jihadi radicalization is a new feature of the Islamic State recruitment efforts, despite the terrorist group being weakened on the battlefield by U.S.-led military operations.

“The recruitment time has been reduced from months to weeks,” the official said.

U.S. officials familiar with reports about the case said Bouhlel appears to have been Islamicized through contacts with criminal networks.

The region in southern France where the terrorist lived is one of six areas of the country that have produced the majority of insurgents who traveled to Syria and Iraq in recent years.

A French national from Senegal, Omar Diaby, is one of the Islamic State’s key foreign fighters from the region around Nice and leads French Islamist fighters, including several from Nice, in Syria.

U.S. tactical nuclear weapons stored at Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base remain secure in the aftermath of the failed military coup and an ongoing power outage at the key military base, U.S. officials said.

The Pentagon does not officially acknowledge Incirlik is one of two U.S. nuclear storage sites for the F-16-delivered B61 bombs that are part of the United States’ extended deterrence forces.

Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook told reporters on Monday he would not discuss nuclear assets.

“We’ve taken the prudent steps that need to be taken to make sure that our people, our facilities, their families are protected and in the safest place possible,” he said.

Concerns were raised in some security circles about whether the nuclear arms are safe and secure in the aftermath of the failed coup. Turkish authorities cut off electrical power to the base in the wake of the military takeover attempt. The base has been operating on backup generator power.

Anti-nuclear advocates have questioned whether the nuclear bombs should be withdrawn.

Security officials said there are no plans to withdraw the weapons, which are needed as a deterrent to an increasing danger posed by Moscow’s nuclear forces buildup and a new doctrine that calls for using them in combat.

A U.S. official familiar with nuclear forces said the weapons are safe and secure despite the power outage.

The base also is being used for airstrikes against Islamic State targets in nearby Syria. Incirlik is located about 68 miles from the Syrian border.

The government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has launched a massive crackdown on dissent in recent days, arresting an estimated 20,000 government civilians, 8,000 police officers and 9,000 troops. The crackdown has fueled speculation that the failed coup may have been orchestrated by Mr. Erdogan. The post-coup activities appear to have been planned well in advance of the attempted July 15 putsch.

Nuclear weapons analyst Hans M. Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists estimates there are about 50 nuclear bombs within 25 underground storage vaults at Incirlik. Additionally, security at the nuclear storage site was increased with new fortifications last year.

The air base was used by rebel military forces who launched the coup against the increasingly Islamist government of Mr. Erdogan.

“Reassurances about security are only worth so much,” Mr. Kristensen said. “We saw that clearly at Minot in 2007 where the best system broke down despite reassurances because people didn’t follow the rules. And accidents and incidents have a nasty way of always happening in ways we don’t anticipate.”

Mr. Kristensen said a better assessment of the weapons’ security would be to ask the Pentagon if no nuclear arms were stored in Turkey would they be deployed there today under the current situation.

Currently no nuclear-capable F-16s are deployed full time at Incirlik, so any jets that would use them would first have to be flown to the base from other locations, such as Aviano, Italy.

  • Contact Bill Gertz on Twitter via @BillGertz.

  • Return to