Jihadi and Psyops Speculations:
The blogs, left and right, have their theories about Cho.
The right-wing blogs are concerned about the jihadi aspects of the case – viz., the name Ismail (need to verify exact spelling) Ax in ink on Cho’s arm and on the return address of the video packet sent to NBC; also his high kill rate and the execution-style killing (using a chain purchased at Home Depot to fasten outer doors of Norris Hall) and the use of words like al-qaed and anti-terror in the files on the video sent to NBC.
The left wing blogs are looking at the possibility of a military psy-op of some kind. They are noting that Cho’s sister, who graduated from Princeton, worked for the government. This is the piece that is heading the popular wordpress blog posts on the subject now:
“His older sister, Sun-Kyung, graduated from Princeton University in 2004. A source, who asked to be identified as a senior Administration official, said she works for McNeil Technologies, a firm contracted by the State Department to manage reconstruction efforts in Iraq (my emphasis). Woh. Ok. Stop right there.
“What does McNeil Technologies do?
“Oh, the usual black bag intelligence agency cut out kind of stuff… Actually, there’s more here than you can shake a stick at.
“The McNeil Technologies Services page lists the following categories: Language Services, Information Management Services, Program Support Services, Security Services, Intelligence Services.”
End of quote.
My Comment: I honestly don’t know if that’s enough to go on, since DC is filled with people who work for the government in some way or other. I taught at a school in the area for a while, and there were people on the school board, connected to the US government and to the CIA, but the school functioned as any school would. Intelligence is a huge business and recruiters look for people with language skills. Since they pay well, first or second generation immigrants are often attracted to that kind of work – which is mostly not cloak and dagger stuff. So, it’s interesting, certainly, but proves nothing much, IMHO.
However, I did find this rather odd:
“Cho’s high school has produced TWO psychotic young adults who went on gun rampages within one year of each other. Last May, Michael Kennedy, a student at Westfield High School in Chantilly, Virginia, went on a shooting rampage at a police station, killing two police officers before being fatally shot himself (my emphasis). Authorities consider this just a “horrible coincidence”. Adding to the coincidence is that Michael’s father, Brian Kennedy, was just recently released from jail in charges related to that killing. In fact, he was due in court the day after the Cho killings.”
Take a look at this article, cited in the above post, which details the trove of weapons found in Kennedy’s possession:
“The nightmare began May 8, 2006, around 3:40 p.m., when Michael Kennedy carjacked a van and drove into the rear lot of the Sully District Police Station. Unarmed, Garbarino was inside his cruiser after his shift, preparing to leave on vacation. Suddenly, from a few yards away, Kennedy fired more than 20 rounds at him with an AK-47 rifle.
“Garbarino was struck five times; yet though gravely wounded and in pain, he radioed other officers, alerting them to the danger. He provided suspect information, directed responding officers and told the police helicopter where to land.
“Armel went outside to respond to the carjacking and, when she reached her cruiser, Kennedy arrived and began shooting at Garbarino. Drawing Kennedy’s fire away from Garbarino, she and Kennedy exchanged gunfire, and a bullet from his 30.06-caliber rifle pierced her ballistic vest and struck her in the chest.
“ARMED WITH FIVE handguns, an AK-47 assault weapon, a high-powered rifle and more than 300 rounds of ammunition, Kennedy fired 70 rounds-plus before other officers killed him. Later that night, armed with a warrant, Det. Craig Paul and other police officers searched Kennedy’s home at 6200 Prince Way for three hours, seizing a veritable arsenal of weapons and more than 2,500 rounds of ammunition.
“The indictment states that Brian Kennedy illegally possessed 20 firearms, including an AK-47 and several bolt-action and semi-automatic rifles and shotguns. He also owned a large variety of handguns — among them a .38 Special Taurus and a 9 mm Luger Commander semi-automatic pistol.
“Weapons were everywhere in the Kennedy home; the inventory list of items seized is 10 pages long. Under the mattress in the master bedroom were a Colt 9 mm handgun with one round in the chamber and a leather sheath containing a 9-inch knife. On the nightstand were a bayonet plus high-velocity ammunition for a Remington, semi-automatic shotgun.
“A Smith & Wesson knife was under the left, loveseat cushion in the living room, and both a 12-gauge shotgun and a 22-caliber long rifle stood in the corner of the hallway to the basement. An M80 explosive was tucked inside a kitchen cabinet to the right of the stove, and an Atlanta Sharptec knife was stored in the ceiling above the utility-room door.”
My Comment: Whew! My interest is not only in the coincidence of a psychiatric killer with multiple weapons coming out of the same high school, but also in what that suggests about VA Tech police procedures.
Surely, as a state school and with the state already having encountered this classic school shooter incident, they would have had specialized training and a specialized response ready. But they didn’t, despite this shooting and then the Morva shooting, in just the previous year. It would be good to find out why the record of arson and stalking at the school – which they knew about – did not lead them to suspect Cho in the bomb threats – at least to the extent of questioning him.
More on Psyops:
This other thread here strikes me as much more speculative but not unworthy of investigation.
For me right now, though, these are the questions I want to pursue:
1. What accounts for the failure to enter Cho’s psychiatric condition into the state or federal record (do I have this right)? Or for the university not following up in some way on his treatment?
2. What accounts for the failure of the police to close down the campus after two people were killed and there were two recent bomb threats? Also, the behavior of the police was extremely lax, as this piece by Alexander Cockburn, indicates.
3. Where or how did Cho acquire his expertise in shooting?
4. How does the methodical nature of the killing and the posting of a video in the middle of it all square with the rest of the profile we have of Cho?
5. Cho is said to have had a speech impediment or autism early on, but on the video his voice seems clear enough. Puzzled.
Oddities with regard to possessions and contacts:
I have posted this separately, but felt the contents of his room, emails, and books also warranted classification as oddities, as they may contain clues to his state of mind and his connections:
Contents of Search Warrant
Here is a list of items found in Cho’s room. As you can see there are not video games (so far). I mentioned earlier that the Counterstrike obsession may have been more a rumor set off by accounts from high school classmates that were never fully substantiated, because Karan Grewal, his suite mate said that he never saw evidence of it. But I would still like to learn more.
*Chain from top left closet shelf
• Folding knife & combination padlock
• Compaq computer from desktop
• Assorted documents, notepads, writings from desktop
• Combination lock
• Dremel tool and case
• Nine books, two notebooks, envelopes, from top shelf
• Assorted books & pads from lower shelf
• Compact discs from desktops
• Items from desktop & drawers: winchester multi tool, 3 notebooks, mail, checks, credit card
• Items from 2nd door: Kodak digital camera, Citibank statement
• Two cases of compact discs from dresser top
• Drive: Seagate: 80 Gb
• Six sheets of green computer paper
• Mirror with blue plastic housing
• Dremel tool box with receipt
• Dell Latitude service tag
More about those books and CDs from this report:
“Cho, 23, also used the eBay account to sell items ranging from Hokies football tickets to horror-themed books, some of which were assigned in one of his classes.
A search warrant affidavit filed Friday stated that investigators wanted to search Cho’s e-mail accounts, including the address Blazers5505@hotmail.com. Durzy confirmed Cho used the same blazers5505 handle on eBay.
Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said investigators are “aware of the eBay activity that mirrors” the Hotmail account.
One question investigators hope to answer is whether Cho had any e-mail contact with Emily Hilscher, one of the first two victims. Investigators plan to search her Virginia Tech e-mail account.
Experts say that when the subject of an investigation is a loner like Cho, his computers and cell phone can be a rich source of information. Authorities say Cho had a history of sending menacing text messages and other communications — written and electronic.
On March 22, Cho bought at least two 10-round magazines for the Walther P22. A day later, he made a purchase from a vendor named “oneclickshooting,” which sells gun accessories and other items. It appears that he bought three Walther P22 clips in that purchase, but the seller could not be reached for comment.
Cho sold tickets to Virginia Tech sporting events, including last year’s Peach Bowl. He sold a Texas Instruments graphics calculator that contained several games, most of them with mild themes.
“The calculator was used for less than one semester then I dropped the class,” Cho wrote on the site.
He also sold many books about violence, death and mayhem. Several of those books were used in his English classes, meaning Cho simply could have been selling used books at the end of the semester.
His eBay rating was superb — 98.5 percent. That means he received one negative rating from people he dealt with on eBay, compared with 65 positive.
“great ebayer. very flexible,” the buyer said of his Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl tickets, which went for $182.50.
Andy Koch, Cho’s roommate from 2005-06, said he never saw Cho receive or send a package, although he didn’t have much interaction with the shooter. Students can sign up for a free lottery on a game-by-game basis, and the tickets are free.
“We took him to one football game,” he said. “We told him to sign up for the lottery, and he went and he left like in the third quarter, and that was it. He never went again. He never went to another game.”
Cho sold the books on the eBay-affiliated site half.com. They include “Men, Women, and Chainsaws” by Carol J. Clover, a book that explores gender in the modern horror film. Others include “The Best of H.P. Lovecraft: Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre”; and “The Female of the Species: Tales of Mystery and Suspense” by Joyce Carol Oates — a book in which the publisher writes: “In these and other gripping and disturbing tales, women are confronted by the evil around them and surprised by the evil they find within themselves.”
End of Quote
I have more on the eBay handle in my post about Cho’s emails/books (see categories, where I have classified the VTech posts into three categories. Obviously, they overlap, but they will help organize the posts into materal that relates to
1. The failure of the police response
(including nature of killings, wounds, crime scene footage, autopsy, victim and witness accounts)
2. The Psychiatric/Legal failure
(centering around the history of pathological or criminal failure, the laws of privacy, the failure to report or follow up on these, lack of information given to the Feds, failure of the background check to find Cho’s history, gun laws and policy, mental illness and civil rights laws, privacy laws).
3. The theories and evidence for some kind of terrorist or intelligence related activity
(centering around Cho, including the Ismail Ax name and related material. Much of the material will overlap with the other categories too).
A report on the crime scene has this:
“Crime scene technicians recovered 17 spent magazines of ammunition, the majority of which were for Cho’s 9mm handgun, a law enforcement official said.
“He ended up buying a load of mags from Wal-Mart and Dick’s Sporting Goods,” said an official, who asked not to be identified. “This was a thought-out process. He thought this through.”
I am adding this quote about the autopsy findings, which show repeated shooting at the victims, as it is also peculiar:
This is from an earlier report on the multiple wounds –
” The official said investigators believed that most of the 32 dead were shot a minimum of three times, and that many of the 28 wounded were shot more than once.”
Partly answering one of my questions (how did he get so good at shooting) is this account of his practicing in the week before the killing. Obviously that doesn’t explain the whole thing, but taken together with the account of his getting up early and going to the gym, you can see he practiced for this).
“In the weeks before the violence, the investigator said, Cho went to a shooting range in Blacksburg, not far from campus, spending an hour practicing with the weapons and buying more magazines there.
“Investigators believe, based on interviews with an employee at the range, that Cho recorded part of his video statement in a van in the range parking lot because, they said, the employee described an Asian youth recording himself there.”
On Sunday, state police also indicated that so far they have not definitely been able to tie Cho to the first killing at Ambler Johnston, although his gun was “linked” to it.
(My Comment: Was it used there, found there, or did the bullets match up..more research needed here? Needs clarification).
There is still a possibility, in other words, that there could have been two different killers. The whole scenario of Cho killing two people and then walking a couple of miles to and fro to post his videos (at least, the reports I read did not mention that he drove), in time to massacre 30 more students does seem strange to me, although, you don’t really expect normalcy in this sort of business.