We've become so inured to terrorist attacks that it would take actual deathray-wielding supervillainy to raise so much as an eyebrow these days. But what if we told you there was someone even worse than a regular terrorist? What if we told you there exists a subspecies of asshole that doesn't commit mass violence out of principle, but for profit, spite, or god forbid, the lulz? We're talking about ...
It's hard to know who you're dealing with on the internet. You might think you're in a perfectly legitimate Twitter feud with user BongJamesBong420, when in fact you're the victim of a bored retiree pulling the world's pettiest catfishing. And of course, nowhere is anonymity more coveted than in the darkest sewers of the web, where extremists of all creeds plot and scheme. Even if it's past their bedtimes.
AusWitness, or AustraliWitness, was a notorious online jihadist who regularly incited violence against Western targets. In 2015, when a hate-baiting "draw Muhammad" art exhibit was held in Texas, he drew up the map that was used by Elton Simpson, the gunman who attacked the convention and was promptly shot dead by police.
AusWitness then happily took credit for the attack on jihadi forums, the only place outside of a Jackass audition where successfully convincing idiots to get themselves killed is a considered an achievement.
That same year, AusWitness hatched a plan to attack a 9/11 commemoration in Kansas City. He sent plans for a pressure cooker bomb to a wannabe bomber, specified that the bomb should be filled with metal screws and dipped in rat poison to maximize casualties, and instructed him where to hide it. As a reward, AusWitness promised he would post and share a video of the bombing online -- which, granted, is the closest a dead terrorist will ever get to coming in touch with 72 virgins.
But the wannabe bomber turned out to be an undercover FBI agent trying to expose AusWitness after the Garland attack. Finally, with enough information to determine the identity of this Islamic death cultist, the FBI found he was ... a nerdy Jewish kid from Florida? AusWitness turned out to be one of many online identities maintained by Joshua Ryne Goldberg, who lived with his parents in Jacksonville. To fill the massive void in his non-life, Goldberg pretended to be various extremists online, including a neo-Nazi named Michael Slay and "social justice warrior" Tanya Cohen. Possibly because of his own complete lack of personality, Goldberg was really good at impersonating others, once even getting a shockingly racist column published in The Times of Israel under the name of a Jewish lawyer who had pissed him off.
What surprised the police most was that, like any online troll, Goldberg didn't have the spine to believe in any of the horrendous things he was saying. After his arrest, he claimed he only incited terrorism because online jihadists were "pussies," and he never thought anyone would go through with the attacks he meticulously planned. Maybe he'll be able to extend that fatalist attitude to all the beatdowns he's getting now that he's serving ten years in federal prison on terrorism charges.
Borussia Dortmund is one of the most popular and successful soccer teams in the world. In 2017, the team boarded their bus before a crucial Champions League semifinal against Monaco. As the bus pulled out of the hotel, three powerful bombs hidden in a roadside hedge detonated, sending metal screws scything through the air. Luckily, soccer players are really good at diving, and the attack only injured defender Marc Bartra. But when police found the bomber, it wasn't some radicalized extremist. It was a douchebag stockbroker.
After the gruesome attack (which would've killed everyone on board had the bomber known what he was doing), notes were found at the scene claiming that ISIS held responsibility, prompting shock and horror throughout Europe. But then the police received a tip from an Austrian trader who noticed someone had tried to make money off the soccer club moments after the bombing. You see, for some reason, Borussia Dortmund is a publicly traded company, with shares freely available on the German stock market. It must be a weird kind of pressure for a soccer player to know that a missed penalty could ruin some fan's retirement portfolio. The trader noticed that right before the attack, someone had bought a fortune's worth of put options on the club's stock. This would allow the trader to buy low and sell at an artificially inflated price if for some reason Dortmund's stock price suddenly and wildly plummeted. Like, say, if half the team was blown into a fine mist.
When the trader reported this info to the police, they discovered that the guy who shorted the stock was staying at the same hotel as the team, and was not some ISIS mastermind, but a 28-year-old plumber named Sergey W. who dabbled in market trading. Not only was this guy dumb enough to book the room under his real name, but he had also insisted on a room with a window facing the site of the bombing, then used the hotel's WiFi to buy the put options right after the bombs were planted.
Friedemann Vogel - Pool/Getty Images
Of course, with only one of the players hurt by the attack, Dortmund's stock barely budged, and this econo-terrorist barely made $5,000 (instead of the expected 3.8 million Euros). But he did get a consolation prize: an easy and immediate arrest by German police, and a trial for 28 counts of attempted murder. It just goes to show, if you're not smart enough to play the stock market, you're probably not smart enough to assassinate a bus-full of celebrities and get away with it either.
In 1949, Quebecois Joseph-Albert Guay started cheating on his wife, Rita Morel, with a 17-year-old waitress named Marie-Ange Robitaille. Guay felt trapped, supporting both his wife and his mistress. What he needed was more money and fewer women, and divorce would only supply one of those things. So he decided to kill two birds with one stone -- or in his case, one plane with one bomb.
Guay convinced his wife to take a plane to Baie-Comeau under the ruse of picking up some jewelry for him. He also convinced her to take out a $CAD 10,000 insurance policy, because flying was so "dangerous." Guay recruited two accomplices for his assassination, his buddy and expert clock maker Genereux Ruest, and Ruest's sister Marguerite Pitre. He had Ruest craft a time bomb, and Pitre drop the parcel off at the plane. The bomb was perfectly timed (Ruest was a clock maker, after all) so that the plane would crash into the St. Lawrence River, sending the evidence straight to the bottom.
The Montreal Gazette
But there was a glitch. The flight was delayed, so instead of going into the river, the plane was only a short distance away from the tarmac when witnesses saw the forward luggage compartment spectacularly blow to smithereens and the plane crash into the ground. At that point, the shipping people remembered some lady dropping off a large package that morning, insisting that it be handled carefully, since "these ain't eggs I'm carrying." It's hard to get good help when committing wholesale slaughter.
With the cops onto Pitre, Guay did the gentlemanly thing: He convinced her she should kill herself by overdosing so he could pin the whole thing on her. (It seems he was really good at convincing women to do stupid things for him.) Fortunately, paramedics managed to pump her stomach, giving her a second chance to realize that a friend who hands you a bottle of sleeping pills to save his own skin isn't really a friend at all. Guay was arrested and convicted to hang for all 23 murders. Ruest and Pitre were also arrested. Guay, realizing he had been a selfish scumbag his entire life ... decided to double down and rat his friends out, in the hopes that it would delay his own execution.
Guay was hanged days later, his last words being "at least I die famous" -- not realizing that Guays like him are a dime a dozen in this world. Who did become famous? Marguerite Pitre, since she was the last woman ever to be executed in Canada. Silver lining, right?
Alexander Keith Jr. was the nephew of famed Canadian beer pioneer Alexander Keith Sr., but most people knew this shifty bastard by his nickname, Sandy. Sandy got his start by embezzling from his uncle and blowing up a gunpowder magazine to cover his tracks. But his real descent into villainy started with the U.S. Civil War, where this Canadian became a secret agent/smuggler/terrorist for the South, helping Confederates plot terror attacks for the promise of some sweet slave gold. Sandy was so unscrupulous that he even pioneered bioterrorism, trying to ship thousands of clothes of yellow fever victims into the U.S. in the hopes of starting an epidemic. And he did it all for cash.
But Sandy's most diabolical scheme came after the war, when he took on the alias William King Roberts, fled to Europe, and immediately blew through all his money like a drunken nobleman. In order to make some quick cash, he devised a ruthless insurance scheme: He was going to ship valises on an ocean liner called Mosel, have them heavily insured by claiming they contained gold coins, but instead fill them with dynamite and a timer. He would sink the Mosel and collect the tragic payout. But there were two problems with the plan. Firstly, he could only get a 150-pound policy by pretending to ship a barrel containing caviar, meaning he was about to murder hundreds of people for the price of a used carriage. Secondly, the barrel never made it onto the ship.
While being loaded onto the Mosel in Germany, a winch dropped the dynamite barrel onto the docks, only blowing up the family and friends of the people on the ship it was actually supposed to blow up. The resulting blast killed 81 people and injured hundreds. Realizing that the authorities were certain to close in on the owner of the barrel, Sandy immediately shot himself in the head ... twice. In an odd bit of justice, the bullets didn't kill him right away, and he lived in agony for another week. But Sandy never expressed any remorse, only saying, "I have simply had ill luck; that's all" -- the ill luck being that he was born without a soul.
In 2013, letters laced with deadly ricin were sent to President Obama, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and prominent gun control activist Mark Glaze. Fortunately, all three letters were intercepted by security, and nobody was harmed. The attack seemingly came from a pro-gun terrorist, as the letters read "You will have to kill me and my family before you get my guns. Anyone wants to come to my house will get shot in the face." Investigators were baffled (Ted Nugent had an alibi) until Shannon Richardson, an actor who had appeared in The Walking Dead and The Vampire Diaries, went to the police and claimed she thought her husband was the terrorist.
Richardson, who was pregnant with her sixth child at the time, told the cops she had discovered ricin ingredients and envelopes addressed to Obama and Bloomberg in her husband Nathan's office. But investigators quickly discovered that the letters had been drafted and printed on their home computer while Nathan was at work. They also traced the PayPal account that had bought the ricin ingredients back to Richardson. When confronted with this, she revealed the basic cable twist: Nathan had been seeking a divorce, so she had decided to frame him for trying to assassinate the president.
Titus County Sheriff
Richardson was arrested and given 216 months in prison for the manufacturing and possession of a biological weapon, the rest of the charges having being dropped under the "crazy ex" statue of '96. So remember, if you're going to make a fake PayPal account in your ex's name, don't use it to order polonium from a disgraced Pakistani nuclear scientist. Just buy some weird fetish porn stuff and mail it to his work address. Much safer.
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