Among the dozen-or-so armed militia men who have seized the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon is Jon Ritzheimer, an anti-Muslim extremist who has been tracked by the FBI for months.
The tattooed Marine from Arizona rose to infamy last May, after organizing an armed anti-Muslim protest at a Phoenix mosque. He frequently posts emotional and hateful videos to social media and begs for other extremists to send him donations.
“The likelihood for blood will be high,” Ritzheimer wrote on Facebook in August, referring to a war with Islam he anticipates. “True colors will be shown once again when we step up to this common enemy who attacks humanity daily and enslaves it’s [sic] followers.”
“We’re driving all the way across America, all the way to New York to go see those a**holes at the Islamic Post that decided to publish a paper calling me, me, a f*cking terrorist in this country.” Ritzheimer said in the video. “F*ck you Muslims! F*ck all of you! We’re going to stop at virtually every mosque on the way, take a picture flipping them off, telling them to get f*cked.”
“I’m not afraid! I fear for my family’s safety, but I’m not afraid, because these guys are f*cking cowards, and they have shown, time and time again, they do not come and attack hard targets. Well, guess what? [shows pistol] We’re f*cking ready for them! [racks pistol slide] Bring it on you Muslim f*cks!”
He also urged others to begin carrying rifles to “be ready” for Muslims, and cursed US President Barack Obama.
After losing contact with Ritzheimer while he was in Pennsylvania, the agency issued an alert citing a “potential threat to law enforcement.”
Another of Ritzheimer’s videos shows him shooting a copy of the Koran with a semi-automatic rifle and pistol. Several of his videos have reached nearly a million views.
“He’s come out of nowhere to become the anti-Muslim movement’s hateful poster child,” Heidi Beirich, who heads the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project, told the Washington Post. “I think he’s potentially very dangerous. He often comes across as literally unhinged. He’s rabid about everything. If I was a member of federal law enforcement up there in Oregon, I would be very concerned.”
Others occupying the federal building have not publicly stated whether or not they share Ritzheimer’s anti-Muslim sentiments.
“Everyone is entitled to their personal opinions,” Ryan Bundy, one of the sons of Cliven Bundy, told The Post. “I’m not saying that I believe or don’t believe his personal views. He’s an individual on his own — and, in other words, you cannot say that what he believes is what we believe. He’s entitled to his own views.”