By Jonny Lupsha, Wondrium Staff Writer
Authorities stopped multiple terror plots across the country in just one week, USA Today reported Tuesday. California, Ohio, and Florida were each nearly subjected to mass shootings in early September. Terrorism is often linked to secret societies.
According to the USA Today article, preventing the planned shootings of the first week of September was no small feat. In fact, many recent terror incidents have been foiled by tips called in by the public to local police or federal agencies. Terrorism frequently comes from so-called “secret societies,” using coordinated violence to inspire fear and panic in the public, thus, leading to political change and/or racial disparity in a nation. The September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center buildings in New York City is an example of terrorism carried out by a secret society, but this example isn’t the only one.
Galleani and Violent Anarchy
A popular misconception about anarchy is that its proponents believe in absolute lawlessness and chaos, when in fact they oppose the state itself, which they believe to be a tool made by the ruling class to oppress others. One of the best-known leaders of violent anarchy groups was an Italian man named Luigi Galleani, who came to the United States in 1901.
“He praised anarchist assassins such as Gaetano Bresci, who killed King Umberto of Italy in 1900; and Leon Czolgosz, who fatally shot President McKinley,” said Dr. Richard B. Spence, Professor of History at the University of Idaho. “Galleani published a do-it-yourself manual on bomb-making that included a home recipe for nitroglycerin [and] his followers called themselves the Galleanisti. Galleani didn’t order terrorist attacks; he inspired them.”
Dr. Spence said that Galleani himself was found out and deported in 1918, but his followers continued to make numerous attempts to assassinate lawmakers and law enforcement officials in order to affect political change in the United States. A bomb attack on U.S. Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer was only averted when it detonated prematurely outside his office, killing its handler—terrorist Carlo Valdinoci.
“Palmer believed he was battling a massive conspiracy,” Dr. Spence said. “It was a conspiracy, alright, though the Galleanisti probably numbered no more than a few dozen. But a secret society’s impact is almost never based on its numbers.”
The Latest War on Terror
The latest war on terror isn’t borne of anarchists but partially of Islamic extremism, which most notably came to light on September 11, 2001. “There might appear to be little connection between revolutionaries and holy warriors, but there’s one important similarity: all terrorists justify their actions as defensive,” Dr. Spence said. “To the revolutionary, it’s defense against an oppressive state; to the jihadi, it’s the defense of Islam against infidel godless materialism.”
Dr. Spence said that the idea of the West attacking Islam came from Jamal al-Din al-Afghani. “Born in 1838 or 1839, probably in today’s Iran, al-Afghani watched Islamic lands fall helplessly under the military, cultural, and financial dominance of the Europeans,” he said. “In 1868, al-Afghani was initiated into a Masonic lodge in Egypt—he later formed his own lodge with himself as master. Coincidentally or not, revolutionary societies formed within Masonic lodges like the one run by al-Afghani.”
One hundred fifty years later, the war on terror persists. In the United States, domestic sources include a seemingly endless litany of politically motivated shootings. Globally, terrorist history is noted by horrific events such as the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, the bombing of U.S. troops in Yemen in 1992, and the 9/11 attack plotted by overseas organizations. One can only hope that peace and cooler heads will prevail.
Dr. Richard B. “Rick” Spence contributed to this article. Dr. Spence is Professor of History at the University of Idaho, where he has taught since 1986. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Barbara (1981), and taught there as a visiting assistant professor from 1981 to 1985.