Chris Harper Mercer may have been an ISIS supporter and may have been on a terrorism list ignored by the United States, a shadowy and thinly sourced report from the internet is claiming.
In the wake of Thursday’s mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, many people have tried to dissect the motives of the now-deceased shooter. While online postings have painted a picture of a lonely and angry young man, others are suggesting that his motives were connected to the Islamic terrorist groups ISIS.
A report from the European Union Times claims that Chris Harper Mercer “had been included on a list of 87,000 ‘known/suspected’ Islamic terrorists” that was compiled by Russia, one that the United States reused to accept.
The report claims the following.
“According to this report, the black-Islamist terrorist who committed this act of terror, Chris Harper Mercer, had previously been identified by electronic intelligence specialists within the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) as being an Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) adherent after he had attempted to gain passage to Syria via Turkey during the first week of September, 2015.”
Though the report has been popular and shared on a number of sites, evidence for the claim appears to be sparse. The news outlet cited a Russian newspaper claiming that Mercer had support for ISIS, but wiped it from his online history before the massacre. Others pointed out that Mercer had listed ISIS terrorist Mahmoud Ali Ehsani as a friend on MySpace.
ISIS terrorists may also be trying to claim Chris Harper Mercer as one of their own. A tweet from the account @K_H_O00 praised Mercer’s shooting and appeared to take credit for the terrorist group, but it was later deleted by Twitter.
This would not be the first time that ISIS sympathizers have tried to take credit for an American massacre. In the time shortly after this summer’s mass shooting at a church in Charleston, a different ISIS sympathizer on Twitter claimed that the attacker was a terrorist.
The the wake of Thursday’s shooting, there were rampant and often disconnected rumors about the shooter’s motives. After online profiles revealed that he was was mixed race, many jumped to the conclusion that the shooting was an act of domestic terrorism tied to the Black Lives Matter movement.
— Vanguard 14 (@keksec_org) October 2, 2015
But online postings from the suspected killer showed just the opposite, with Harper a vocal critic of the movement.
Addicting Info posted a screen capture of Mercer’s thoughts on the shooting of Texas police officer Darren Goforth, which was connected to the Black Lives Matter movement.
“‘On the Houston [sic] shooting it was reported that the suspect was influenced by black lives matter protests/movement,’ he wrote. Noting that he could not confirm if the highly-touted right-wing assertion was true, he explained that ‘with all the issues about police and blacks/protestors in the news the past couple of years, it certainly seems like someone would be inspired to take action.’ ‘With the constant chants of anti police rhetoric this was bound to happen, adding that he’s “on the side of the officer, and generally don’t agree with the black lives matter protests.'”
Other rumors indicated that Chris Harper Mercer was an atheist, targeting Christians during the massacre. This seemed to be backed by witness accounts that claimed he asked victims their religion, shooting the ones who said they were Christian.
Anastasia Boylan, who was shot multiple times, told her father that Mercer shot those who said they were Christian.
“And they would stand up and he said, ‘Good, because you’re a Christian, you’re going to see God in just about one second,'” Boylan’s father told CNN. “And then he shot and killed them.”
— Kyung Lah (@KyungLahCNN) October 2, 2015
But others rantings online showed that Mercer appeared to believe in the afterlife, though he disliked organized religion.
While police are still trying to determine the motives of Chris Harper Mercer, it appears that no evidence points to him being connected to ISIS.
[Image from Twitter via Heavy.com]