NOTE: See below for press release from ADL.
A U.S. Department of Homeland Security memo reportedly notes that Gabriel Giffords is Jewish in describing the motives of the Arizona congresswoman’s alleged assailant.
The memo, obtained by Fox News Channel, says that Jared Lee Loughner mentioned American Renaissance, an extremist anti-immigrant group, in some of his own postings.
“The group’s ideology is anti-government, anti-immigration, anti-ZOG (Zionist Occupational Government), anti-Semitic,” says the memo sent to law enforcement, which also notes that Giffords, a Democrat, was the first Jewish congresswoman from Arizona.
Loughner was arrested after Giffords and at least 16 others were shot Saturday at a meet-your-lawmaker event at a Tucson shopping mall. Six people were killed, including a 9-year-old girl, Giffords’ staffer Gabe Zimmerman and a federal judge, John Roll. Loughner was tackled and arrested. Giffords, a Democrat in her third term, remains in critical condition after being shot in the head.
Loughner, who is being held by the FBI and has been described by authorities as “unstable,” reportedly listed Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” and Karl Marx’s “Communist Manifesto” as two of his favorite books on his Myspace page. Several hours before the shooting he reportedly left a “Goodbye friends” message, which also said “Please don’t be mad at me.”
Giffords was outside one of her signature “Congress at your corner” events outside a Safeway in Tucson, part of her congressional district, when the gunman approached and shot her. A Giffords staff member, Gabe Zimmerman, 30, the organizer of the event, was among the six casualties.
A suspected accomplice whose image was captured on a surveillance video camera outside the shopping center also is being sought, according to reports.
Dr. Michael Lemole a surgeon at the University Medical Center in Tucson, Ariz. said Sunday morning at a news conference that Giffords was responding to doctors’ commands. During a two-hour surgery on Saturday, doctors removed bone fragments from her brain in order to help reduce swelling. The bullet went through the left side of her head, he said.
Giffords was elected to Congress in the Democratic sweep in 2006. She made her Jewish identity part of her campaign.
“If you want something done, your best bet is to ask a Jewish woman to do it,” Giffords, a former state senator, said at the time. “Jewish women — by our tradition and by the way we were raised — have an ability to cut through all the reasons why something should, shouldn’t or can’t be done, and pull people together to be successful.”
Giffords, 40, was raised “mixed” by a Christian Scientist mother and Jewish father, but said she decided she was Jewish only following a visit to Israel in 2001. She attended services at a local Reform synagogue.
In a recent photo, she posed with the new U.S. House of Representatives speaker, Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), at her swearing-in with her hand on the Five Books of Moses.
Giffords fought a hard re-election battle last year against the national anti-incumbent, anti-Democratic mood. She tacked to the right of her party on immigration, saying border security was of primary consideration.
The election was called in her favor weeks after the vote.
Giffords’ office had been vandalized in March after she voted for health care reform. Friends said she had received threats for her positions on health care and for opposing her state’s new law allowing police to arrest undocumented immigrants during routine stops.
The National Jewish Democratic Council suggested that the heated rhetoric of the last year contributed to the climate that led to the attack.
“One suspect, now in custody, may be directly responsible for this crime,” the group said in a statement. “But it is fair to say — in today’s political climate, and given today’s political rhetoric — that many have contributed to the building levels of vitriol in our political discourse that have surely contributed to the atmosphere in which this event transpired.”
Giffords Jewish staffer Gabe Zimmerman among the dead
“Zimmerman was 30, and had been on Giffords’ staff since 2007.
“Zimmerman was among 24 employees currently employed by the congresswoman, according to House salary disclosure information posted on Legistorm.com. The site listed Zimmerman as deputy scheduler as of the end of September.”
PRESS RELEASE FROM ADL:
ADL Condemns Attack on U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords;
Calls for Thorough Investigation into Motives of Shooter
Phoenix, AZ, January 9, 2011 — The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today condemned the tragic shooting rampage that wounded U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and killed and wounded more than a dozen innocent bystanders in Tucson, with reports of six dead and 14 wounded.
Miriam Weisman, ADL Arizona Regional Board Chair, and Bill Straus, ADL Arizona Regional Director, issued the following statement:
We are shocked by this unconscionable and horrific act of violence against one of our highly respected public servants. We agree with President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner that this was more than an attack on one member of Congress – it is an attack on all public servants and the very fabric of our democracy.
During her years in the statehouse, Rep. Giffords served on the ADL Arizona Regional Board. Her affiliation with ADL, which monitors and exposes hate and extremist groups, contributed to her awareness of the nexus between hate ideology and violence. It is a testament to her dedication to her constituents that despite past threats against her, Rep. Giffords has always been so accessible to the people she represents. Our thoughts and prayers are with Congresswoman Giffords and the other victims and their families.
ADL remains in contact with law enforcement as investigators endeavor to establish a motive for the attack. It is critical to determine whether the alleged shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, acted alone or with others, and whether he was influenced by extremist literature, propaganda or hate speech. While it is still not clear whether the attack was motivated by political ideology, the tragedy has already led to, as Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik put it, “soul searching” about the connection between incivility and violence. We applaud Sheriff Dupnik’s statements condemning the volatile nature of political discourse in America and for taking this investigation seriously.