Hamilton police announce arrest in fatal shootings of Angelo Musitano, woman in Vaughan

On September 21, 2018 Hamilton Police announced charges stemming from Project SCOPA resulting in three accused being charged in the deaths of Hamilton Mobster Angelo MUSITANO, Mila BARBIERI and the attempted murder of her boyfriend, Savario SERRANO, son of mobster Diego SERRANO.

Global News crime reporter Catherine MCDONALD interviewed me regarding my expert opinion in organized crime & the current turmoil in Southern Ontario’s underworld on a segment that aired on Global News. The video link is below:

Global News @5:30pm

GlobalNews

ABOUT:

BIO Pic - Oct2018
Stephen Metelsky, M.A.

Stephen G. Metelsky, M.A. is a freelance crime writer/journalist, criminologist, organized crime expert (CBC, Global News, AM 680, 980 News & 900 CHML) & college professor, with over 20 years experience as a police (ret.) sergeant. Stephen is a contributing columnist with Blue Line magazine and has covered true crime stories for various newspapers affiliated with Metroland Media Group & Postmedia Network Inc.

For more information, visit Stephen G. Metelsky on:

Twitter: @StephenGm_Jr
LinkedIn: StephenGMetelsky

Ontario Police Make Arrest in High Profile Gangland Murders, Including Death of Hamilton Mobster Angelo Musitano

On September 21, 2018 Hamilton Police announced charges stemming from Project SCOPA resulting in three accused being charged in the deaths of Hamilton Mobster Angelo MUSITANO, Mila BARBIERI and the attempted murder of her boyfriend, Savario SERRANO, son of mobster Diego SERRANO.

Award winning Journalist Alex PIERSON interviewed me on her radio show (broadcasted on AM 640, 900 CHML and AM 980 News) regarding my expert opinion in organized crime & the current turmoil in Southern Ontario’s underworld.

Below is a link to that radio interview:

AM 640 Radio Interview

ABOUT:

BIO Pic - Oct2018
BIO Pic - Oct2018 Stephen Metelsky, M.A

Stephen G. Metelsky, M.A. is a freelance crime writer/journalist, criminologist, organized crime expert (CBC, Global News, AM 680, 980 News & 900 CHML) & college professor, with over 20 years experience as a police (ret.) sergeant. Stephen is a contributing columnist with Blue Line magazine and has covered true crime stories for various newspapers affiliated with Metroland Media Group & Postmedia Network Inc.

For more information, visit Stephen G. Metelsky on:

Twitter: @StephenGm_Jr
LinkedIn: StephenGMetelsky

Public Slayings of Musitano, Iavarone meant to send a message, says expert

On the 16th of September 2018 I spoke to CBC crime reporter Dan TAEKEMA about the underworld murder of Albert IAVARONE in the city of Hamilton. My professional opinion as an organized crime expert is contained in the CBC news link written by Dan TAEKEMA below:

Musitano-FatPat-BlackWhite
Pictured: Pasquale “Pat” MUSITANO – photo courtesy of UnderworldStories.com

CBC Article

ABOUT:

BIO Pic - Oct2018
Stephen Metelsky, M.A.

Stephen G. Metelsky, M.A. is a freelance crime writer/journalist, criminologist, organized crime expert (CBC, Global News, AM 680, 980 News & 900 CHML) & college professor, with over 20 years experience as a police (ret.) sergeant. Stephen is a contributing columnist with Blue Line magazine and has covered true crime stories for various newspapers affiliated with Metroland Media Group & Postmedia Network Inc.

For more information, visit Stephen G. Metelsky on:

Twitter: @StephenGm_Jr
LinkedIn: StephenGMetelsky

Violent Video Games Desensitize Youth

Written by: Stephen Metelsky

Originally Published: Blue Line magazine – June/July 2008 edition

VideoGame
Photograph: Courtesy of Blue Line Magazine, June/July 2008 Issue

 

Navigating a robotic mouth through a maze of dots in ‘Pac-man,’ a 1980’s video game, is a far cry from realistically decapitating someone in ‘Postal 2,’ a popular 2003 game. This violent trend continues to thrive, as do the game makers. Profits ballooned from $3.2 billion in 1995 to $7 billion in 2003. (1)

Considering the average child spends some four to eight hours a day using electronic media, (1) its safe to assume many have access to violent video games. Research on video game violence has revealed a significant relationship between exposure and aggressive behaviour in society. (2)

As violent video games have increased, so have highly publicized violent incidents involving youths with strong affiliations to them. The Columbine high school shooting in 1999, for example, involved two students obsessed with the video game ‘Doom’ – so realistic that the U.S. military licensed it to train soldiers how to shoot and kill in an effective manner. (3) The students rehearsed by playing it incessantly. Some researchers argue that this repeated exposure to depictions of graphic violence can contribute to desensitization. (3)

Compared with other media, research into video game violence is sparse, yet “many of the underlying psychological processes identified in the TV-movie literature also apply to video games.” (2) Many are concerned about how video games and mass media validate violence on a daily basis. There is vicarious agreement among scientists that media depictions of violence substantially effect children, primarily by increasing aggressive and violent behaviour. (4)

Opinions vary on the causal connection linking aggressive behaviours with exposure to violent media forums. The entertainment industry argues that there is absolutely no relationship between violent media and aggressive behaviour(s), (5) and that violence perpetuated within the media is simply a societal reflection of what occurs in everyday life. (5)

If you cut the wires of all TV sets today, there would still be no less violence on the streets in two years,” argued Motion Picture Association of America president Jack Valenti. (6) This is simply an unsubstantiated opinion not supported by scientific research. Scientists have presented some clear and convincing behavioural evidence supporting the causal relationship between media violence and aggressive behaviour(s).

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Photograph: Courtesy of Blue Line Magazine, June/July 2008 Issue

 

Sales of violent video games have skyrocketed over the past few years. If they cause violence, why aren’t youths who have just played them committing more murders, the entertainment industry would like to argue.

Media violence exposure is not a necessary and sufficient cause of violence…not everyone who watches violent media becomes aggressive and not everyone who is aggressive watches violent media” (5) – but there is scientific evidence indicating that violent media does have an affect on violent behaviour.

At this time, well over 1,000 studies point overwhelmingly to a causal connection between media violence and aggressive behaviour in some children,” six professional/medical organizations noted in a 2000 joint statement. (7) Two critical implications can be derived from this.

First, there is valid and reliable scientific evidence from some of the most reputable U.S. professional agencies indicating a causal relationship between viewing media violence and the onset of aggressive behaviour(s). Second, the joint statement refers to “some” children being affected, not “all,” but given the amount of violent media available, that “some” could be a resounding and significant number.

Probably the most damaging aspect of youth overexposure to violent media is that the repeated depictions of violent behaviour become engrained as learned behaviour. Learning theories predict that violent video game play can influence behaviour through reinforcement, practice and observational learning. (8) Social learning theory (9) explains violence at the individual level as aggression vicariously learned through observation. (9)

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Photograph: Courtesy of Blue Line Magazine, June/July 2008 Issue

Bushman and Huesmann define observational learning as the process “through which behavioural scripts, world schemas and normative beliefs become encoded in a child’s mind simply as a consequence of the child observing others. Observational learning is a powerful extension of imitation in which logical induction and abstraction are used to encode complex representations.” (10)

Their research indicates children are susceptible to violence in both the short and long term after observing it depicted in the media. Emphasis is also placed on extra parameters to ensure protection for children against prolonged and/or repeated exposure to violent media. (10)

Consider the following factual scenario. There are hundreds of thousands of young children across the world who daily play, unsupervised, violent video games, including ‘Grand Theft Auto’,’ which encourages auto theft, car jacking, armed robbery, assault with a weapon, drug use and prostitution. Another game of choice may be ’25 to Life,’ where the user picks a weapon and then proceeds to hunt down and kill police officers.

Behavioural scientists argue that repeat exposure to violent media can lead to a process of desensitization, whereby children develop “normative beliefs that aggression is appropriate.” (10) This overexposure to observing media violence can create emotional desensitization towards violence in society. (7)

There is no doubt that children exposed to repeat images of violence in the mass media may suffer dangerous lifelong consequences. (11)

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Photograph: Courtesy of Blue Line Magazine, June/July 2008 Issue

Addicted to several forms of violent media – including musical lyrics, television, movies and most prominently, video games, especially ‘Doom’ – the Columbine killers superimposed the faces of students and teachers who had wronged them in the past onto the faces of the victims depicted in the game. They played it to the point of intense obsession, constantly rehearsing shooting their victims.

Research has shown youth learn behaviours, attain knowledge and have their value systems molded via exposure to violence in the media. (12) It’s difficult to speculate the exact role violent media played in the tragic Columbine scenario, as both killers ended their lives, but it undoubtedly played a significant role.

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Pictured: Columbine high school, April 20, 1999

Repeated exposure to emotionally stimulating media can significantly reduce emotional reactions to violence occurring in the real world. Furthermore, based on this desensitization process, youth can then “think about and plan proactive aggressive acts without experiencing negative affect.” (10) This is exactly what the Columbine killers set out to do, planning in a premeditated manner to shoot and kill innocent students and teachers as an outlet for their internalized aggression and frustrations towards students who didn’t make them feel a part of the school. They nonchalantly killed 13 people and wounded 24 others before killing themselves. It’s very difficult to determine if violent media played a role in this massacre.

How do researchers account for youth exposed to similar forms of violent media who are non-aggressive? Research indicates computer games can contribute to violent behaviour at certain times, as they may “trigger aggression in certain people already predisposed to violence.” (13)

There are a lot of kids that are angrier than they were 10 or 15 years ago,” notes Dr. Robert Butterworth, a trauma psychologist in an Arts & Entertainment documentary. “Stress of the family, a lot more broken homes, kids that don’t know any other reaction when they are frustrated than to strike out in a violent way. They don’t have anything else in their arsenal of responses. Add that to these violent images that will grow and fester to the point where you may have a full blown fantasy mixed in with violence and we’ve seen the tragic results.” (14)

Ironically this documentary aired two months prior to the Columbine shooting. The essence of the statement serves as a template for what transpired – youth who become engaged in criminality have to accept the consequences of their violent actions and take the full brunt of responsibility, in lieu of deflecting blame elsewhere.

Researchers must continue exploring the behavioural evidence linking exposure to media violence with real world violence. Violent media did not essentially create the violence at Columbine high school but it definitely contributed to the events. As Butterworth suggests: “you take a youngster who has the predisposition. You put them in an environment where the media shows these things (violence) and its like a triggering effect. The media doesn’t create, it triggers these people with the disposition.”

Joireman et al. (2003) and Anderson and Bushman (2002; 2001) define aggression as “a behaviour intended to cause immediate harm to another individual when it is understood that the target is motivated to avoid such harm.” (15)

It would be difficult to understand the innate behaviours of both Columbine killers, but it’s safe to assume they were both extremely frustrated with different facets of their life, including relationships with peers and teachers, school performance, etc. They were also addicted to violence depicted in various media forums. Based on the behavioural evidence, it would appear that the combination of high levels of frustration and an aggressive predisposition created a ticking time bomb waiting to be triggered. According to the Frustration-Aggression hypothesis, Dollard et al. (1939) proposed: “people who are frustrated, thwarted, annoyed or threatened will behave aggressively, since aggression is a natural, almost automatic response to frustrating circumstances. Moreover, people who exhibit aggressive behaviour are frustrated, thwarted, annoyed or threatened.” (16)

Columbine2
Pictured: the Columbine shooters

This psychosocial approach details the inverse relationship between frustration and aggression and is a relevant theory to explain the killers’ violent behaviours in terms of the motivating precursors to the shooting.

A second relevant psychosocial theory is ‘Displaced Aggression.’ Denson et al. (2006) theorize that this process occurs when a person is somehow provoked but unwilling (or unable) to act against the person who initiated the provocation. (17) The Columbine victims were not the source of the initial provocations of their killers. The retaliation involved innocent bystanders who had absolutely no involvement or previous conflicts with them and hence was an act of displaced aggression. (17)

A specific aspect of this psychosocial theory details how these frustrated people will intently focus on their anger and set out to plan a retaliatory attack. (17) This sub-theme specifically outlines the sequence of events that unfolded from the onset of the original sources of provocation to the aftermath, which involved extreme aggression displaced amongst victims with no connection to the initial sources of conflict(s).

Art sometimes imitates life in inappropriate ways. A few years following Columbine, the video game ‘Super Columbine Massacre’ was developed. (18) The user could assume the role of the ‘shooter’ and role play through different scenarios, using various weapons to kill teachers and students. Glorified violence (contained within various forums of media) clearly perpetuates and/or encourages copycat crime(s).

Consider this statement from Lieberman on the A&E documentary. “Each generation has been exposed to more and more media, so in a sense each new generation is more vulnerable to the psychological impact of media and to engaging in copycat crime.” There were several documented copycat incidents resulting from Columbine, including the 2006 Dawson College shooting by a crazed gunman obsessed with violent video games, including ‘Super Columbine Massacre’ and ‘Postal 2.’

The young Montreal gunman strolled into a local college equipped with an assault weapon and long dark trench coat (similar to the Columbine shooters) and, like them, killed himself. The aftermath of this tragedy revealed his dark obsession with death and violence. He had created an online profile on the vampires.com website which provided a detailed insight into his demented mind.

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Pictured: the Dawson College shooter

The killer indicated that he hated jocks, preppies and all people in authority. “Work sucks, school sucks, life sucks, what else can I say? Life is a video game, you’ve got to die sometime,” Kimveer Gill stated. (19) The frustration-aggression hypothesis again applies, as it is obvious that there was a high level of aggressive predispositions in his behavioural repertoire. These pent up frustrations eventually surfaced in a violent and aggressive response. (16)

The killers frustration levels ae captured in other online postings, made under the username ‘fatality666,’ including this one: “I am not a people person. I have met a handful of people in my life who are decent but I find the majority to be worthless. It’s not only the bullies fault, but the principal’s fault for turning a blind eye. It’s also the fault of the police. Anger and hatred simmers within me.” (20)

Gill’s words echo the sentiments highlighted in the theory of displaced aggression. He experienced a life of frustration resulting from various sources of provocation. Adhering to the psychosocial theory, he was intently focused on his anger and planned to seek retaliation. (17) His victims were not connected to him or his original sources of frustration. Furthermore, he never attended Dawson College, nor did he have any other affiliations with the school, a hallmark trait of displaced aggression.

Finally, it is difficult again to pinpoint the exact role violent video games played in this tragedy, but the research has shown that repeated exposure to depictions of graphic violence can contribute to desensitization. (3)

The video games containing the most violence have subsequently been given an ‘M’ rating for mature. Less violent games are rated ‘T’ for teen. The M rated games contain blood and profanity and depict severe injuries and death to human and non-human characters. (21) They are not to be sold to minors, yet consumers are overwhelmingly youth under the legal age of purchase, which varies by region.

In May, 2003, Washington became the first U.S. state to officially ban the sale of realistic ‘cop-killer’ video games to children under 17. (13) The idea of allocating specific ratings to prohibit minors from buying these games is only one way to control how youth access violent media. Parents must proactively play a role, and this is not emphasized enough.

It is one thing to put societal restraints on violent media content labels and warnings, but parents have the ultimate control in limiting or eliminating violent content in their children’s viewing habits. As Bushman and Huesmann suggest, they need to be aware of the consequences of viewing media with repeated violence and protect their children from it. (10)

Health care professionals, primarily child and adolescent psychiatrists, are now being encouraged to include a ‘media history’ in medical evaluations of children, incorporating it as a possible risk factor in a clinical diagnosis. (12) The starting point still revolves around the home environment.

The more that you are exposed to parents who are loving and affectionate and who will spend a lot of time with you (attention),” Lieberman suggests, “the more you can fight against these ideas and images you see on the screen.”

    Limiting children’s exposure to violent media, combined with positive family exposure, can be a preventative measure against negative media influences.

The behavioural research has clearly shown that there is a causal relationship between media depictions of violence and an increase in aggressive behaviour(s) in youths. Given the recent emergence of more sophisticated violent video games, including the recent release of the latest Grand Theft Auto game, it is vital that researchers add to the minimal research and continue exploring the dynamic relationship between video games and violence.

Recent tragic events have supported the hypothesis that violent video games are desensitizing and causing youths to become increasingly more violent.

Article by: Stephen Metelsky

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Photo: References from Blue Line Magazine article, June/July 2008 Issue

A W.A.V.E Against Violence – the story of Louise Russo

A W.A.V.E Against Violence – July 12, 2018

Stephen G. Metelsky

It was April 21st, 2004. A regular day in the city of Toronto. The mother of three parked her car and walked into a local sandwich shop. She would never walk again.

“I just walked in and they opened fire. Bullets shattered the glass,” says Louise Russo, the innocent bystander, caught in the middle of a botched underworld hit involving the mafia and outlaw motorcycle gangs.

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Pictured: Louise Russo & the Author (Stephen G. Metelsky)

The single bullet shattered Russo’s spine, leaving her paralyzed forever. The ripple effect from the California Sandwich shooting reverberates today, fraught with violence and murder. But this story isn’t about them. This is about one woman’s mission and determination to curtail senseless acts of violence in her community. For Russo, ‘violence stopped being a word and became a cause.’

When life gave her lemons, she not only made lemonade, Russo became the C.E.O of her own stand, taking control of her life. But it wasn’t an easy start after the shooting. She persevered with the love and support from her family, friends, and a determination to create change resulting in positive outcomes for her community. “My life was totally destroyed, I took it a day at a time, an hour at a time. But through this journey I have come to really know Louise and who I am, and I love who I am today, much more than before. I am mentally stronger than ever,” says Russo, reflecting about her incredible journey over a cup of tea in a local Toronto coffee shop.

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Pictured: Louise Russo & the Author (Stephen G. Metelsky)

Her sheer strength and determination culminated with a grass roots not-for-profit organization created in 2006 called Louise Russo W.A.V.E. – an acronym for ‘Working Against Violence Everyday.’ W.A.V.E subsequently received its charitable status three years later in 2009. W.A.V.E. works diligently at inspiring youth and members of the community to take action, make positive choices and initiate projects that will make schools and communities a safer place to live, learn and play – reads the mission statement for her organization.

Her outreach to youth in her community extends beyond the sole topic of violence. “When I go into schools I want the students to see the bigger picture. To educate them and create awareness about the impact of violence so they all have a better understanding of it,” says Russo.

Russo has also inspired and motivated youths with mental health issues, learning disabilities, physical disabilities, bullying, and issues with self-esteem. A bigger picture indeed. “I want to give kids the opportunity to express themselves freely,” adds Russo.

Louise sums up her life’s work in one word: Believe. It is inscribed on several leather bracelets she had made. Russo explains her definition of the word: “Believe is just finding that inner strength in you. Regardless of what you’re going through there is always something that can keep you going. To believe I made a difference in the life of a youth. That will make a change in their life and have them believe in themselves.”

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Pictured: “Believe” bracelet from the W.A.V.E organization (Photo by: Stephen G. Metelsky)

In 2010 Russo was appointed to be a board member for the Office for Victims of Crime, an independent advisory board to the Attorney General of Ontario on victim’s issues. Russo is passionate about victim’s rights and creating change. She has an important message for others who have unfortunately been victimized by crime. “Make the most of your life. You are a victim of violent crime but don’t continue to become victimized every day of your life. In time, I hope the victim can create change and eventually be a positive role model and give back.” It is clear Russo lives everyday of her life by these words.

What about the rise in gun violence in Toronto? To date, in 2018 there have been 26 homicides directly attributable to shootings in the city, compared to 17 deaths stemming from gun violence up until July 2017. “It’s horrible. But you can’t live in fear that way. We should always feel we are in a safe environment, but we must look at the root causes, prevention, and support. Let’s look at the people that are causing this, the gangs,” Russo says, adding her support for an increased police presence in Toronto, on the streets and in the schools.

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Pictured: California Sandwiches, Toronto. (Photo by: Stephen G. Metelsky) 

Hours after Russo was interviewed, Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders and Mayor John Tory held a press conference to announce a $3 million operational plan to deploy up to 200 hundred officers throughout the city, dictated by intelligence led policing, to curb the recent spate of gun violence. The eight-week initiative appears to be a short-term solution to an issue requiring a longer-term commitment in the city. “We have to work against violence everyday. Our communities need to be a safer place. Criminals need to be accountable for what they’re involved in. We need to look at some of the root causes of this violence and provide programs for our youth,” says Louise Russo, adding that “I’m thankful for the police.”

To effectively combat gun violence in Toronto a concerted effort needs to be exerted towards this issue continually on all levels: policing, financially and politically. Cutbacks due to reduced incidents and a heightened, yet false sense of security that the violence has dissipated, should be avoided. Russo adds: “We need more police officers to deal with the gangs.” We also need more people like Louise Russo – who exemplify the principles of respect, responsibility, and the role of leadership in their communities.

“I have learned so much from giving. I feel it’s important to give back. It’s been an incredible journey. If we volunteered a little bit of our time,” adds Russo. And time is of the essence in the city of Toronto. It’s time to proactively target the issue of gun violence to reduce victimization in our communities. As Russo attests, “we have to find more ways to make our communities safer. I feel it’s important to give back that way. To give people strength and encouragement.”

Louise Russo is truly inspiring. The interview ended with a W.A.V.E – and a hug.

To make Louise Russo’s cause yours, please visit:

Louise Russo W.A.V.E Website

Twitter: Twitter – @LRWAVE

The ISIS Effect & Tackling a Lone Wolf

The ISIS Effect & Tackling a Lone Wolf

Written by: Stephen G. Metelsky, M.A.

To read the edited/published version in Blue Line Magazine – click the link below:

The ISIS Effect: Tackling a Lone Wolf

BlueLine-ISIS
Blue Line Magazine: April 2018

Terrorism & Technology

The acronym is ISIS – the Islamic State, Iraq, and Syria. They are likely the most dangerous terrorist group to date in history. A group of highly military trained jihadists, with extremist ideologies involving destroying the West and attacking anyone in their way, particularly representations of government – such as military personnel and police officers. Given their access and possession to weapons of potential mass destruction, likely one of the most dangerous weapons ISIS has at their disposal is their ability to utilize digital social media to produce and release images that will intimidate, terrorize, and create a hysteric climate across the globe. ISIS is also adept at using social media, attempting to attract, influence and persuade some people towards radicalization and joining the jihadist cause through their technologically savvy propogandist messages strewn across the internet in several languages almost daily in various digital forms.

 

The violent videos projected across the globe via social media of ISIS soldiers beheading prisoners is by far the most blatantly constructed graphic images ever strewn across digital media. ISIS utilizes social media to fulfill two goals. The first, is to release their terrorist intentions to the world, capturing their murderous mantra with demonstrable, and heinous ferocity, in professionally produced graphic videos. The second, is to utilize social media to spread their extremist jihadi propaganda to not only recruit potential jihadists, but to create an aura of hysteria built on fear and paranoia across the world that a terrorist attack is imminent at anytime, anywhere. One of the main facilitators to the rise of ISIS is how they manufacture and manipulate social media to proliferate their propagandist messages to potential target audiences across the world. 1

ISIS-Online

ISIS is comprised of highly trained and educated individuals, some specifically tasked with recruiting potential new jihadists into their organization via digital media. The prolific ISIS propaganda targets and reaches an audience comprised of varying age, gender, culture, and countries of origin. 2 Having the ability to reach a worldwide audience with the strokes of a few computer keys has been an extremely effective media tool to recruit members into their terrorist organization, in the absence and proximity of being present in ISIS territory. There have been several documented cases of individuals being radicalized by ISIS mainly through their online terrorist propaganda that has prompted them to travel abroad to fight as a jihadist. Yet, ISIS utilizes an alternate form of terror attacks through their persuasive media tentacles across the globe, the seeds of terror being planted in the minds of potential radical converts whose only exposure and knowledge of ISIS has been through social media access.

“Lone Wolf” Attacks in Canada

In 2014-2015 ISIS recruiters built on this alternate form of planting and implementing the seeds of terror across the world with a new marketing message for their audiences via digital social media. The extremist campaign encouraged newly radicalized members to represent and serve the caliphate in their own home countries, without the need to travel abroad to fight for ISIS on their own turf. ISIS specifically encouraged individuals to carry out a terrorist attack in the west on their behalf. 3 This is what came to be known as the “lone wolf” terrorist ideology. A ‘lone wolf’ is an individual inspired by ISIS but acting independently without the groups support or direction. 4

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Lone Wolf Ideology

A majority of the ‘lone wolf’ radicalized individuals have never travelled abroad, nor have they met any members of the terrorist organization. Yet, the ramifications of this terrorist propaganda media message would have dire consequences world wide, with several “lone wolf” attacks being carried out across North America and Europe between 2014 to present. Most of the incidents involved individuals who became radicalized through social media contacts and ISIS videos and propaganda. In 2014 there were two high profile ‘lone wolf’ incidents that occurred in Canada. The circumstances involved two tragic incidents of radicalized individuals, both of Canadian descent, who carried out separate horrific incidents, hailed as “lone wolf” attacks, inspired and influenced by the digital media propaganda produced by ISIS.

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Lone Wolf: Martin Couture-Rouleau

The first incident in 2014 involved a radicalized Canadian citizen who decided to run down warrant officer Patrice Vincent and a second soldier in the province of Quebec, mortally wounding Vincent. The killer was Martin Couture-Rouleau, a ‘lone wolf’ who identified with the ISIS terrorist ideology, particularly in the year leading up to this tragic event, as his descent into the dark web of terrorist propaganda inspired him to travel abroad and fight as a jihadist and die as a martyr. His passport was eventually seized, leading the radicalized lone wolf down the path of committing a terrorist atrocity on his home turf – Canada.

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Radicalized Lone Wolf: Michael Zehaf-Bibeau

 

The family of Couture-Rouleau later claimed that his behaviour had drastically changed leading up to the tragic events, as well as his appearance – donning Islamic clothing and growing facial hair. He was also upset with the Canadian government regarding their approach and stance on ISIS. In the aftermath, it was discovered Couture-Rouleau had been spending a significant amount of time on the internet, including viewing jihadist/ISIS propaganda messages and videos via his Facebook page. Like most lone wolves, terrorist events and/or spree shooters, the planning and premeditation typically involves the knowledge that they will die during the event; precisely what occurred during this ‘lone wolf’ incident as Couture-Rouleau was fatally shot by the police. The troubling aspect involving individuals becoming radicalized on their own, in tandem with succumbing to the Islamic terrorist rhetoric, is the notion that they will be recognized and rewarded for the tragic circumstances as a ‘martyr.’

The second incident in 2014 also involved another radicalized Canadian citizen who shot and killed Corporal Nathan Cirillo while he stood guard at the National War Memorial in Ottawa, Ontario. He was Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, an individual with a troubled past, involving prior contact with the criminal justice system and speculation of lingering mental health issues and substance abuse. Yet, it was evidently clear Zehaf-Bibeau was devoted to Islamic rhetoric and motivated by political ideology. The video recordings he subsequently produced and documented, confirmed the fact Zehalf-Bibeau was a radicalized and articulate individual with a staunch political and ideological stance, a viewpoint clearly not pro-Canadian.

Michael Zehaf-Bibeau is seen in an undated picture from the Vancouver Police Department released by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Zehaf-Bibeau

 

After an unsuccessful attempt to obtain a Canadian passport, to facilitate travelling abroad to Syria to fight for the jihadist cause, Zehaf-Bibeau opted to formulate an alternative plan entailing a terroristic ‘lone wolf’ attack on Canadian soil, inspired by, but not under the direction of ISIS. The attack began when Zehaf-Bibeau drove towards Parliament Hill in a rented vehicle, void of license plates. After the tragic, unprovoked fatal attack on Corporal Cirillo, the shooter stormed the interior of Parliament Hill and died in a hail of gunfire moments later near the Hall of Honour. Both ‘lone wolf’ Canadian terrorist incidents in 2014 epitomize how two Canadian born, radicalized citizens succumbed to the Islamist rhetoric and ISIS terrorist ideology, opting to carry out terrorist ‘lone wolf’ attacks in their home country as per the directions ISIS provided via digital social media.

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Canadian Heroes: Corporal Nathan CIRILLO & Warrant Officer Patrice VINCENT

What are the root causes that propel these individuals to carry out these atrocious, violent criminal acts? Are the motivating criminal behaviours fuelled by their ideological beliefs or triggered by a mental health psychosis, or a combination thereof?

Psychosis versus Extremist Ideological Beliefs

During the aftermath of any tragic event, albeit a terrorist ‘lone wolf’ attack or a ‘spree shooting’, investigators and researchers vehemently attempt to discern the sequence of events that led a person to commit these heinous, atrocious crimes to identify additional evidence and the motivators that propelled these perpetrators to do what they did. At times, the public perception or collective conscious of society presumes the terroristic or spree shooter was operating under duress of some underlying psychotic disorder that was the motivating factor behind the crimes they committed. As difficult as it is to discern the internal motivators of killers, whether influenced by internal psychosis or internalized beliefs, the persuasive power of people’s extremist ideological beliefs can propel them to commit these ‘lone wolf’ terrorist attacks, in the absence of a psychotic mental illness.

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Terror Attack in Canada: Ottawa, Ontario (2014)

It is difficult to identify and discern if psychosis was a contributing factor and motivator in the two homegrown Canadian ‘lone wolf’ terror incidents. There is still some lingering debate about this contentious issue, particularly with Ottawa based terrorist Michael Zehaf-Bibeau. However, the video messages he produced reveal an articulate well-spoken individual, appearing to be a mentally balanced individual whose behaviour is more apt and influenced by the social external influencers of ISIS, which molded his internal extremist ideological beliefs, thus forming the premeditators for future criminality.

Similarly, Timothy McVeigh, the American responsible for the largest homegrown terror attack in the United States with the bombing of an Oklahoma federal building in 1995. The motivators for McVeigh did not evidently appear to be rooted in any form of psychosis or mental disorder as he had been deemed competent to stand trial. He was solely motivated by his extremist ideological beliefs, based on anti-government resentment stemming from the government intervention during the Waco, Texas standoff in tandem with his support for the supremacy movement in the United States. This tragically culminated in the loss of 168 lives in Oklahoma on April 19, 1995 – planned on the anniversary of the Waco incident and a day before the birthday of Adolf Hitler on April 20th. The date selected for this attack was not a coincidence. Anniversary dates of previous tragedies may sometimes serve a pivotal role in the premeditated mind of a potential terrorist and/or spree killer when they are planning an attack.

McVeigh
American Terrorist: Timothy McVeigh – & the Oklahoma Federal Building Bombing (1995)

Most of these terroristic, spree type attacks involve perpetrators with internal ideological beliefs so strong, albeit in the absence of a mental illness, that they are willing to act out in the most extreme way, culminating in what the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders terms – an ‘extreme overvalued belief.’ 5 Tahir Rahman, an assistant professor of Psychiatry at the University of Missouri school of Medicine defines this ‘extreme overvalued belief’ as: “a belief that is shared by others and often relished, amplified, and defended by the accused. The individual has an intense emotional commitment to the belief and may act violently as a result of that belief.” 6 The discussion of psychosis and ideological beliefs both involve internalized processes that may be difficult precursors for investigators, friends, and family to identify before tragedy strikes. However, there are some external indicators and commonalities that many of these perpetrators exhibit and share that need to be proactively examined, investigated, and inspected with a scrutinizing approach.

The Contagion Effect

When ISIS was actively promoting the ‘lone wolf’ ideology through a social media marketing campaign in 2014 it is difficult to discern if the terrorist organization anticipated the ripple effect their ideology would have in North America and Europe – specifically pertaining to the contagion, or “copy-cat” effect. For example, the two Canadian lone wolf terror attacks in Ottawa and Quebec occurred within two days of each other on the 20th and 22nd of October 2014. The factual evidence stemming from these two tragic instances confirms that both perpetrators were influenced and motivated to commit these violent actions due to their extreme ideological beliefs, rooted in Islamist rhetoric and propaganda-laced social media, produced by ISIS.

Both perpetrators experienced difficulties with their Canadian passports, forcing them to buy into the ISIS promoted ‘lone wolf’ ideology of instigating a terror attack on their home soil. It is a difficult theory to assert, but the contagion effect would suggest the media exposure surrounding the terrorist attack on October 20, 2014 in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec may have propelled Michael Zehaf-Bibeau to conduct his terrorist, murderous intentions two days later in Ottawa, Ontario. There is no doubt Zehaf-Bibeau was going to act on his extreme ideological jihadist beliefs in the form of a Canadian terrorist attack, but his plans may have been expedited due to the massive media exposure directed towards the Quebec ‘lone wolf’ terrorist attack.

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Corporal Nathan CIRILLO

Pertaining to media contagion, trauma psychologist Dr. Robert Butterworth suggests: “you take a person who has that predisposition. You put them in an environment where the media shows these things (violence) and it’s like a triggering effect. The media doesn’t create, it triggers these people with the disposition.” 7

Zehaf-Bibeau possessed the extremist ideological disposition to carry out a murderous terror attack. The proximity of these two Canadian ‘lone wolf’ attacks to each other suggests the media exposure on October 20th, 2014 may have triggered the Ottawa attacks two days later. The Columbine shooters, both obsessed with Timothy McVeigh, perpetrated the mass shootings at their high school on April 20th, mirroring Hitler’s birthday and anniversary of Waco, Texas, and the Oklahoma bombings. Another tragedy specifically planned to occur on a significant, yet tragic historical date. With the intense media coverage of the Columbine shootings, eight days later in Taber, Alberta another school shooting occurred, propelled, and motivated by the contagion or ‘copy-cat’ effect.

The troubling aspect to the contagion effect is the rippling effect of motivating other potential perpetrators viewing the repetitious media coverage of a violent event, with either an extreme ideological belief or underlying psychosis (or a combination of both), to act out in a violent way due to the media exposure of another violent tragedy. The contagion effect may trigger a person to act out violently who is suffering from a form of psychosis alone, without them even harboring extreme ideological beliefs affiliated to ISIS.

Precursors of Radicalization

It is very difficult for investigators to predict when a ‘lone wolf’ terror attack will occur, because most times they are not privy to the internal and external signs being exhibited by the potential perpetrator because nothing about them overtly places them on the radar as a potential ‘person of interest.’ Most perpetrators have a clean criminal record. It cannot be overstated why the family, friends, coworkers, peers et al. of potential extremists need to be proactively vigilant with recognizing, identifying, and reporting potentially troubling signs that may pinpoint an extreme ideological shift with a specific person’s mindset.

Radicalization
The following precursors, in no way represents a full, comprehensive list of specific descriptors to be cautious of when identifying a person who may be susceptible to, or is becoming radicalized. However, an increase in the number of precursors identified and associated with a specific person would warrant further inspection and monitoring et al. The following may be some of the common precursors to be cognizant of, including, but not limited to the following list:

a) Behavioural

• May not have a criminal record
• Possible onset or increase in alcohol and/or drug consumption
• Fluctuation in mood & overall demeanour
• Cognitive reasoning becomes more extreme (example: ‘anti-government’)
• Conversion to Islam from original family religious background
• Verbal utterances adhering to ISIS support and/or in relation to another terrorist incident
• Onset of psychosis/mental health issues

b) Social

• Socially withdrawn from family and friends
• Change in employment – termination and/or resignation
• Increased travel plans (either abroad or within Canada)
• If enrolled as a student, increased absenteeism, and a decrease in grades

c) Physical

• Change in style of clothing
• Longer hair and growing of facial hair
• Weight loss
• New tattoos possibly symbolizing radicalism/ISIS

d) Digital/Print Media

• Increased internet usage and streaming content
• Possession of more than one cellular device
• Travelling frequently outside the home to utilize free WIFI services (re: IP address)
• Newspaper clippings of terrorist attacks or pdf files on computer
• Utilizing several online pseudonyms on various fake social media accounts
• Various social media posts, images, videos and/or comments made on their own
Social media accounts that may appear anti-government and in support of ISIS et al.
• The printing of maps of potential Canadian locations (soft and hard targets)
• Handwritten or typed notes/drawings/journals et al.

e) Financial

• Closing of various bank accounts
• Paying off or incurring debt on credit card(s)
• Utilizing a rental vehicle(s)
• Wiring money abroad and/or elsewhere

f) Other

• Obtaining or updating a Canadian passport
• Purchase and/or possession of any type of weaponry
• Historical dates of significance (example: September 11th)

CONCLUSION

To successfully deter and prevent these atrocious events from occurring, a joint multi-faceted approach must be adopted and implemented, promoting ‘proactive resilience’ – comprised of research, investigation, collaborative intelligence, education, and awareness. This must occur on many institutional levels, incorporating joint responsibility and input from all facets of the judicial system, researchers, the family structure, the media, peer support programs/systems and the educational system to intercede and proactively prevent these tragic circumstances from occurring. Reacting after a tragic event has become more frequent today.

Not every situation is avoidable, however, with shared, focused due diligence, tragedy can be potentially deterred and avoided. This was evidenced by the successful teamwork with the recent sentencing of a radicalized Canadian citizen to 4.5 years in jail, who was communicating with and attempting to join ISIS in Syria. This came to fruition on October 31, 2017 after a joint investigation by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in partnership with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The key to combatting repeated victimology is a concentrated proactive focus on ‘intervention’ and ‘prevention.’ The proactive ISIS acronym to combat terrorism must involve an: Integrative Security & Intelligence Strategy. Tackling a lone wolf, let alone a pack, will require a joint collective effort.

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Lest We Forget

REFERENCES

1-4 Investigative Report (2016). Arts & Entertainment Television Network: “ISIS: Rise of Terror.” (Video Documentary) October 3, 2017

5-6 Chew, J. (2017). “Extreme Overvalued Belief & Anders Breivik: How Beliefs Can Be Mistaken for Psychosis.” Crime Traveller: Researching Crime & The Criminal Mind. (Online Journal) 17 July. From website: https://www.crimetraveller.org/2017/07/extreme-overvalued-belief-anders-breivik/

7 Investigative Reports (1999). Arts & Entertainment Television Network: “Copy-Cat Crimes.” (Video Documentary) February 1, 1999.

Belluck, P. (1995) “Terror in Oklahoma: Defense Strategy; McVeigh Said to Play Role in Seeking Holes in Government’s Case”, New York Times, 11 May. From website: http://www.nytimes.com/1995/05/11/us/terror-oklahoma-defense-strategy-mcveigh-said-play-role-seeking-holes-government.html

Dyer, E. (2015). “Was Michael Zehaf-Bibeau’s Attack on Parliament Hill his Plan B?”, CBC News, 28 February. From website: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/was-michael-zehaf-bibeau-s-attack-on-parliament-hill-his-plan-b-1.2970066

Gollom, M. & Lindeman, T. (2014). “Who is Martin Couture-Rouleau?”, CBC News, 21 October. From website: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/who-is-martin-couture-rouleau-1.2807285

Gollom, M. (2014). “Ottawa Attack: Was Michael Zehaf-Bibeau’s attack a terrorist act”, CBC News, 30 October. From website: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa-attack-was-michael-zehaf-bibeau-s-attack-a-terrorist-act-1.2818329

Rahman, T., Resnick, P.J., & Harry, B. (2016). “Anders Brevik: Extreme Beliefs Mistaken for Psychosis.” Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, Vol 44(1): 28-35.

Russell, A. & Bell, S. (2017) “Canadian Who Tried to Join Terror Group in Syria Sentenced to 4.5 Years”, Global News, 31 October. From website: https://globalnews.ca/news/3834323/kevin-omar-mohamed-canadian-terror-suspect-sentenced-jail/

BL - BIOPic
Author: Stephen Metelsky, M.A

 

𝓜𝓸𝓽𝓲𝓿𝓪𝓽𝓸𝓻𝓼 𝓸𝓯 𝓪 𝓒𝓸𝓷𝓯𝓲𝓭𝓮𝓷𝓽𝓲𝓪𝓵 𝓗𝓾𝓶𝓪𝓷 𝓢𝓸𝓾𝓻𝓬𝓮

By: Stephen G. Metelsky 

Originally published in Blue Line Magazine – October 2017

Motivators of a Confidential Human Source

What propels criminals to provide sensitive information to police under the guise of being a confidential human source?

whitey-aa333

Pictured: James “Whitey” Bulger 

The recruitment and handling of sources involves one of the most dangerous activities a police service can become affiliated with. The first phase of assessing the viability, credibility and reliability of a confidential human source involves identifying and determining the core motivators to decipher why a person becomes a confidential source. This should involve a continual process for the duration of the source’s involvement with the police, due to motives being fluid and not fixed. The motivators of an informant may fluctuate throughout their covert tenure with the police; therefore, the importance of continually assessing and reassessing their behavioural motives is key to ensure the balancing criminal pendulum is benefiting a police service and not potentially hindering it.

The three most common types of motivators for people to provide sensitive information is:
• In exchange for judicial consideration,
• Monetary compensation,
• The civic duty to do the right thing.

Whitey-333

Pictured: Johnny Depp portraying James “Whitey” Bulger in: “BLACK MASS” (2015)

The sources that provide information to the police merely on the grounds of “doing the right thing” typically do not seek or request compensation or consideration from the police. However, these types of sources still require a significant amount of due diligence from the handling officer(s), in tandem with adhering to respective policies and procedures.

Such handling becomes problematic when sources are more actively embedded within organized criminal groups. In these circumstances, the underlying motives for cooperating with the police may not be evidently clear to the handling officers, particularly if they are inexperienced handlers. A hypothetical scenario involving an entrenched organized criminal being handled by two relatively inexperienced handlers can potentially translate into exposing a police service to the elevated risks of confidential human source handling. With that said, the two most dangerous types of motivators a confidential human source can possess is: wanting to seek revenge (against competing organized crime groups) and/or attempting to corrupt a police officer.

Organized criminal groups, like certain outlaw motorcycle gangs and Eastern European crime clans, routinely encourage members to actively compromise and corrupt a police officer in order to snatch inside information about arrests, warrants and investigations.

The human source motivators involving ‘revenge’ and ‘corruption’ were tragically exposed in the FBI’s handling of former Boston mafia boss: James “Whitey” Bulger. Bulger did provide information to his FBI handler — agent James Connolly —but it was to eliminate his competition, the Italian mafia in Boston to facilitate the expansion of Bulger’s criminal enterprise. Eventually, the relationship between Bulger and Connolly involved the dissemination of information from the FBI directly to benefit Bulger — including the identities of other confidential sources, some of whom were murdered due to the one-way information exchange.

It’s an extreme and relatively isolated case, but it highlights the importance of adhering to the policies and guidelines for handling confidential human sources, including (but not limited to): meeting a source with a partner, protecting the identity of a source, maintaining the flow of information from source to the police (never the opposite), refraining from divulging your personal information and/or exchanging information electronically, documenting information so it can be followed up for verification, reliability and corroboration; and knowing the differences between a source and an agent.

Never task or direct a confidential human source. A confidential human source handler wants to know what a source sees and hears when they are active on the streets. Once a source is tasked with something as simple as retrieving a phone number, the handler has essentially elevated that source into the role of a police agent. That now incorporates a whole slew of additional policies, procedures and regulations.

At the end of the day, be professional and adhere to your respective policies and procedures, seek advice from other experienced handlers and/or consult with a designated Crown attorney versed in this type of intelligence work.

JamesConnolly

Pictured: Former FBI Agent: James Connolly 

Meanwhile, Connolly, the former FBI agent and confidential human source handler, is now living in a federal prison where orange is the new white(y).

Written by: Stephen G. Metelsky

𝓜𝓪𝓯𝓲𝓪 𝓜𝓾𝓻𝓭𝓮𝓻: 𝓐 𝓜𝓾𝓼𝓲𝓽𝓪𝓷𝓸 𝓜𝓸𝓽𝓲𝓿𝓮?

In October of 2017 I wrote about the May 2017 murder of mobster Angelo Musitano. The article appeared in the #NiagaraFallsReview #StCatharinesStandard & the #WellandTribune – the link to the article is below:

Whacked in Waterdown: The Murder of Angelo Musitano

On January 11, 2018 the Hamilton Police held a press conference regarding an update in the MUSITANO Homicide case.  Police have confirmed that Angelo Musitano had been under surveillance and stalked by unknown perpetrators in the days leading up to his death.

Musitano-FatPat-BlackWhite

Photo: Pasquale “Pat” MUSITANO

Global News did a follow-up story on the MUSITANO Homicide. As an Organized Crime expert, I was interviewed by reporter Catherine McDonald. The video link to the Global News story from January 11th, 2018 is below:

Global News: Musitano Homicide Update

GlobalNews

More to follow soon.

𝓢𝓽𝓮𝓹𝓱𝓮𝓷 𝓖. 𝓜𝓮𝓽𝓮𝓵𝓼𝓴𝔂

𝓣𝓻𝓪𝓰𝓮𝓭𝔂 𝓲𝓷 𝓖𝓻𝓲𝓶𝓼𝓫𝔂

A tragedy in this small Niagara town at the west end of the region transformed an otherwise serene evening in June of 2002 into a day forever etched in the memories of local residents. After a brief yet tumultuous relationship had ended in May, Shannon Cruse returned to Grimsby to be close to her family after living briefly with her boyfriend, Peter Kiss, in his hometown of Milwaukee, Wis. Cruse had ended the relationship amidst revelations to friends that she was afraid of her now ex-boyfriend and to alert authorities if they ever saw her ex in the Niagara area.

Grimsby
On Friday June 14, 2002 Kiss travelled from Wisconsin and crossed the Canadian border in possession of an undetected firearm. His premeditated intentions became clear as he swapped his own vehicle for a rental before arriving in Grimsby.

Grimsby4
Winston Road, western outskirts of town, bordering Stoney Creek, is within walking distance to Lake Ontario. It was dusk when Kiss travelled down this desolate road. When the reverberating sounds of gunshots permeated the air, a number of frantic 911 calls were made, prompting a tiered emergency response to the area. Shannon Cruse was located first, sprawled across the front driveway of her home, suffering from two gunshot wounds. She was transported to hospital but succumbed to the injuries inflicted by her murderous ex-boyfriend.

Grimsby5
Investigators frantically rushed to the home of Shannon’s parents in close proximity to the first crime scene. When investigators arrived at the second Cruse home they discovered the front door had been forced open. This led police to the master bedroom of the Cruse family home where three other victims were located. Shannon’s parents, Mary and Donald Cruse had also been fatally shot by Kiss. Sadly, Shannon’s six-year-old daughter Shaniya had also been victimized. The killer was never brought to justice for this cowardly and senseless act. His lifeless body was discovered in the home, the fatal shot having been administered by his own hand.
The carnage confronting emergency personnel upon their arrival that day inflicted a post-traumatic residue that lingered beyond the echoing of gunshots and the blood-stained asphalt. Some of the neighbouring residents from this tight knit community also sought post-event grief counselling after this horrific event. The tragedy sparked an ongoing issue pertaining to domestic violence and abuse, not to mention concerns about border security and the smuggling of firearms in and out of the country.

CrimeFlashbackStephenGBoyle

It’s been 10 years since the innocent lives of four people were taken. Long gone are the photographers and the crime scene tape draped across Winston Road, but the memories of the murdered victims never to be forgotten.

Story by: Stephen G. Metelsky (Pseudonym: Stephen G. Boyle)

Published: 2012

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