PA. STATE TROOPER KILLER AND "JIHADI JOHN":
TWO FUGITIVES WORLDS APART
PRESENT SIMILAR CHALLENGES
Cpl. Bryon Dickson (right) was killed in the September 12 ambush
Trooper Alex Douglass (left) was wounded and released
from the hospital today.
TAGS: PENNSYLVANIA STATE TROOPERS AMBUSHED, SUSPECT FUGITIVE,
ERIC FREIN DOMESTIC TERRORIST, JIHADI JOHN. IS BEHEADING AMERICAN HOSTAGES,
EXTREMIST TERRORISTS, TERRORIST ALL HAVE SIMILAR GOAL - INCITE FEAR,
TAKE THE GLOVES OFF
UPDATED Sunday October 19, 2014
(Friday October 17, 2014 Pennsylvania State Police Barracks, Blooming Grove, PA) This densely wooded, sparsely populated rural corner of Northeast Pennsylvania is where as the 11 o’clock PM shift change on September 12 was underway at the Pennsylvania State Police Barracks here, a lone gunman concealed by the cloak of darkness, ambushed two Pennsylvania State Troopers killing one, critically injuring the other. The gunman slipped back into the heavy hilly, timbered terrain from which he had emerged briefly enough to conduct his cowardly act. State Police Officer Cpl. Bryon Dickson was killed instantly while Trooper Alex Douglass was severely wounded and was transported to a hospital in Scranton.
Within 48 hours of the ambush a suspect was identified. Eric Matthew Frein, 31, who had until recently resided with his parents in a small community in Pike County. Their exact address is being withheld from the public for security and privacy purposes. Frein, a self-taught and extremely experienced survivalist, is also an accomplished marksman. His father, a retired US Army Officer said of his son’s shooting skills, “He never misses”. Frein has also been a member of a “military simulation unit”. Friends and associates have said that his particular “unit” assumes the role of Eastern European soldiers. Some who know him have told the Police during interviews that Frein may have adopted the persona of a simulated character as his own. Whatever the case may be, he remains an extremely dangerous fugitive on the run and has evaded capture for 36 days despite the substantial forces brought to bear to apprehend him.
Friends and relatives of the suspect say that he has long expressed a deep-seated hatred of “The Police” and had spoken on occasion of “acting out” in some way. Some expressed more surprise than others after learning that Eric Frein was the primary – only – suspect. That he is thus far able to elude the dozens of law enforcement agents with their infrared, night vision and heat seeking technology, tracking hounds, helicopter surveillance and as some have reported, drone aircraft, speaks loud and clearly about the challenges of apprehending a man in an environment where he is most comfortable and confident. For some this may appear to represent a lack of skills or some measure of ineptitude among all the State and local police officers. That is not the case. A man determined to not be found can be a cunning, intelligent, adaptable, elusive prey. Trooper Alex Douglass was released from the hospital earlier today while; according to the authorities Frein remains loose. By their estimations they say he is within a five square mile box of rugged forested territory.
Several weeks ago some of the searches happened upon a make-shift campsite Frein had recently used. They found empty cans of tuna fish, some ammunition and a note providing the details of the ambush that could only be known by the perpetrator. Authorities have also stated without any details that Frein is “taunting” the police by leaving written messages in his wake for his pursuers to find. Likely it will only be by sheer luck or by Frein making a mistake that he will be captured anytime soon. Winter is fast approaching the Pocono Valley and obviously Frein prepared well for a protracted manhunt.
Perhaps the public has misconceptions about certain aspects of law enforcement based on the entertainment provided by dramatic TV crime series, police procedurals, and other forms of media. While forensics science has become increasingly advanced and sophisticated, much of police work is what it always has been. Yes, some of the equipment provides the police with great advantages but all the new science and technology available will never be able to replace “shoe leather detecting”, the nuts and bolts of tracking down leads and contacts, of gathering and analyzing information. In this particular case, the suspect has the upper hand in many ways. Eric Rudolph, the 1996 “Olympics Bomber” who had also bombed several abortion clinics throughout the south east remained a fugitive for five years before his apprehension. He made the mistake of sneaking into a small town during the night in search of food and a local Sheriff’s Deputy nabbed him. It was Rudolph’s mistake that lead to his capture not any police work involved.
Jihadi John with American journalist James Foley
shortly before Foley’s gruesome death
While the current Ebola crisis has driven him from the front pages of newspapers and lead stories on the TV news, the Islamic State (IS aka ISIL, ISIS) leader known as Jihadi John is also a highly sought fugitive. For whatever reason the man they are calling by this childish name, either chose or was appointed by others to be the spokesman for IS. He first entered the American conscience as he delivered his threats against America while by his side knelt a captured westerner. Eventually, those videos began to include footage capturing actual beheadings. Even some of the most experienced law enforcement and intelligence agents who viewed these videos were horrified by their brutality. As a means to authenticate whether or not the video clips depicted “real” decapitations required the CIA and FBI to seek other expertise such as Forensic Pathologists and some of the most experienced Homicide Detectives to view the clips and assess them within the area of their expertise. The “full length” videos which, for obvious reasons will never be shown to the public, did confirm that those individuals posed in the kneeling position wearing orange jumpsuits had in fact been beheaded. Due to the appearance of everyone else in these videos – they were all dressed identically as Jihadi John – it remains an open question that the actual decapitator has been Jihadi John himself. Decapitation by knife or sword is a horribly messy undertaking and it has been theorized that Jihadi John makes the video with the victim at his side, the tape stops rolling while another member of IS, indistinguishable from Jihadi John steps in and does the actual beheading. Afterwards Jihadi John continues his harangue with the head of the decapitated hostage placed on their own backs. Obviously this barbarism is intended to shock and repulse Americans and, in that regard, it has been effective. But why mention Jihadi John and Eric Frein in the same discussion? Just to provide a reality check.
THE REALITIES OF A MANHUNT
The annals of law enforcement are replete with the stories of famous and infamous manhunts; tales of highly sought criminals who lived in “plain sight” without being recognized. But, there are also some remarkable accounts of “high value” fugitives being captured or killed by law enforcement. The most recent of these amazing tales is the one detailing the 10 year efforts to locate Osama bin Laden who was killed by members of Navy Seal Team 6 at his fortified compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan in May 2011. Yes, it took 10 years and the combined efforts of the entire intelligence community, our military and other assets ultimately prevailed.
Despite that far flung success it is unrealistic to believe as British Prime Minister Cameron and the American President Obama have vowed, to find and capture Jihadi John. Given the difficulties in locating and capturing Eric Frein, a man most likely confined to a tight square of forest, where some of those law enforcement officers involved in the search might themselves hunt and fish illustrates, Jihadi John’s ultimate demise might come by way of a well-timed laser guided missile. Collateral damage will not be an issue just as has not been for many of the other terrorists and their leaders we have killed from afar.
In a criminal setting here in America, our constitutional and criminal law dictate what methods may be used to capture a fugitive. Since over 97% of murders in the United States are committed by a person(s) known by the victim(s), the investigation is often just connecting the dots, running down known associates and compelling witnesses and other to cooperate with the police. Those arrested and indicted on a murder or homicide charge are afforded an ironclad bulwark of constitutional and civil rights; that is our way. Where we or rather our government has gone astray is in maintaining the ideal that we can capture and “bring terrorists to justice”. Yes, our principles and system of jurisprudence is nothing if not noble. Even when that nobility has jeopardized our own interests we have not ever resorted to the tactics and methods of our adversaries; we have not, no matter what some on the liberal Left side of the political spectrum think, devolved into a brutal police state, an oppressive military or anything other than what we have stood for since 1776.
WHO WE ARE
It was the early autumn of 1998 and President Bill Clinton was in the White House. Just weeks before two American embassies, one in Kenya, the other in Tanzania, had been bombed by al Qaeda. The CIA and NSA had located Osama bin Laden then living in central Afghanistan. The military presented President Clinton with some options to kill the terrorist leader and it was decided that Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from naval ships at sea would be aimed at bin Laden’s encampment. Almost at the last minute satellite imagery revealed the presence of a swing set at the encampment indicating that bin Laden had his extended family with him that included up to 100 children. The missile strike was scrapped and bin Laden lived another day. He would go on to be responsible for the attacks on our soil on September 11, 2001. This account demonstrates one of the most profound differences between those who oppose us and seek to do us harm on a massive scale. The most vicious of those we fight, extremist groups such as IS, al Qaeda and its affiliates and groups practicing the most strict translation of Sharia law, have no qualms in committing gross atrocities, genocide, kidnapping and mass rape even on their fellow Muslims. We in the west have a hard time comprehending these facts of life but, we cannot ignore them any longer.
EYE FOR AN EYE
Individuals like Eric Frein and Jihadi John, by their own actions, have forfeited any kind of rights regarding capture and punishment. Frein, a cop killing domestic terrorist and Jihadi John, an Islamic extremist both practice variants of the same trade. For far too long many in the world have taken advantage of our legal restraint, our nobility. We, as a nation have always been gracious, if not magnanimous in victory; never an occupying force although we had ample opportunity to do so. After the bloody World War II the United States rebuilt the nations we had soundly defeated. There is true nobility in that. We treat or captured “enemy combatants” in very humane and decent conditions and manner.
Perhaps it is time we take off the proverbial gloves and go bare knuckles. Our adversaries only understand force and violence; half assed measures, tempered responses should not cripple our efforts abroad nor should political correctness paralyze law enforcement domestically.
UPDATE Sunday October 19, 2014: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/pa-police-spot-eric-frein-carrying-rifle-covered-mud-article-1.1979017
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