The Right-Wing Conspiracy Theory That May Have Driven the LAX Shooter

Federal officials are looking into whether Paul Ciancia, accused of killing a TSA agent last week, is a right-wing conspiracy theorist.

A passenger is scanned by a TSA agent at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on February 05, 2009.
Photo Credit: Carolina K. Smith MD /

Was the man who killed a federal agent at the Los Angeles airport last week a New World Order conspiracy theorist? That’s the question Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents are now looking into, according to an Associated Press report.

FBI officials got a warrant on Monday to search the cellphone of Paul Ciancia, the 23-year-old suspected shooter who killed a Transportation Security Agency (TSA) guard last week at LAX. The FBI is searchingfor material on Ciancia’s “views on the legitimacy or activities of the United States Government, including the existence of a plot to impose a New World Order.”

On November 1, Ciancia walked into LAX and tried to shoot TSA agents. He killed Gerardo I. Hernandez, a TSA screener. Two other people were injured.

A note that Ciancia carried with him ranted against the TSA, stating that the searches the agency carried out were in violation of the Constitution. He also railed against Janet Napolitano, the former head of the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the TSA. The note also mentioned the “NWO,” the moniker for New World Order. That conspiracy theory, popular on the fringes of the right, claims “that global elites are plotting to form a socialistic ‘one-world government’ that would crush American freedoms,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Despite the fact that Ciancia had clear political beliefs and violently acted on them in a way that fits the government definition of “terrorism,” that word has been absent from discourse on his actions.Ciancia has not been charged with terrorism.


Alex Kane is former World editor at AlterNet. His work has appeared in Mondoweiss, Salon, VICE, the Los Angeles Review of Books and more. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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