'Screw Your Optics, I'm Going In': Suspected White Supremacist Shooter Behind Pittsburgh Synagogue Attack

Suspected shooter, who has been identified as Robert Bowers, expressed hatred online for Jewish 'infestation' ■ Two hours before the attack, he wrote a post on social network Gab in which he assaulted HIAS, a Jewish U.S. organization helping refugees

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Posts by Robert Bowers, the man charged with killing 11 people in an attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue
Posts by Robert Bowers, the man charged with killing 11 people in an attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue

NEW YORK – Robert Bowers, a 46-year-old far-right nationalist, was arrested under suspicion of carrying out the attack on the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday.

According to local media outlets, Bowers entered the synagogue and yelled, "All Jews must die."

Eleven have been confirmed dead so far, with several wounded, including three police officers. Bowers eventually surrendered and was taken into custody.

Two hours before the attack, an account under Bowers' name on the Gab social media site posted an attack on HIAS, a Jewish-American organization that helps refugees in the United States and worldwide.

Posts by Robert Bowers, the man charged with killing 11 people in an attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue

Bowers wrote: “HIAS likes to bring invaders that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics. I’m going in.”

Gab has been described by several outlets as an alt-right platform.

Two weeks ago, Bowers wrote: "Why hello there HIAS! You like to bring in hostile invaders to dwell among us? We appreciate the list of friends you provided," enclosing a link with information on a project called National Refugee Shabbat.

Image of Robert Bowers' post on Gab

Earlier this week, after President Donald Trump said he was a "nationalist," Bowers wrote: "Trump is a globalist, not a nationalist. There is no MAGA [Trump's Make America Great Again slogan] as long as there is a kike infestation."

Referring to the alt-right conspiracy theory, Bowers wrote that "QAnon is here to get patriots that were against martial law in the 90's to be the ones begging for it now to drain muh swamp. But go ahead and keep saying you are Winning."

The posts by Bowers were published by journalist Robby Starbuck before his account was shut down, and are available in archive form.

Another repost by Bowers said: "It’s the filthy Evil Jews Bringing Filfy evil Muslims into the country! Stop the Kikes then Worry about the Muslims."

The post features pictures of Jewish activists at pro-refugee demonstrations.

In another post on Gab, Bowers appears to be responding to a comment that claims Trump “betrayed Americans in Charlottesville, by comparing them with a violent mob.” Bowers replied that “For the record, I did not vote for him nor have I I owned, worn or even touched a MAGA hat."

In response to Saturday's attack, HIAS issued the following statement: “There are no words to express how devastated we are by the events in Pittsburgh this morning. This loss is our loss, and our thoughts are with Tree of Life Congregation, our local partner Jewish Family and Community Services (JFCS) of Pittsburgh, the city of Pittsburgh and all those affected by this senseless act of violence. As we try to process this horrifying tragedy, we pray that the American Jewish community and the country can find healing.”

HIAS was not the only national Jewish organization targeted by the murder suspect. His social media posts reveal that the Anti-Defamation League, which monitors anti-Semitism in the United States, was also on the firing line.

According to a Tweet posted by Oren Segal, director of the organization’s Center on Extremism, the ADL was mentioned in two of the suspects' posts on Gab (one was a repost and the other a comment).

“Modern white supremacy is centered on the notion that whites must fight against growing numbers of non-whites, who are in turn controlled and manipulated by the Jews,” wrote Segal in a tweet reposting one of the references.

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