A Profile of Brian Isaack Clyde: What We Know About the Dallas Courthouse Shooter

Photo courtesy of Tom Fox Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News via AP)

On June 17 at 8:50am, a gunman dressed in full tactical gear opened fire outside of the Earle Cabell Federal Courthouse in Dallas, Texas. No officers or citizens were injured except for the gunman, who was later identified as Brian Isaack Clyde. Clyde was shot outside of the courthouse and transported to a local area hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Brian Isaack Clyde was a 22-year old U.S. Army veteran who was discharged after serving 2 years as an Army infantryman. The reason for his discharge has not been disclosed. Clyde was seen wearing a 101st Airborne Division patch on his bullet proof vest outside of the courthouse.

During Clyde’s time in the Army, he achieved the rank of private first class and was never deployed to a warzone. One of the individuals who had served with Clyde stated that he, “felt pressure to stay in the military, but after 2017 wanted to look for a ‘new path.’ ” Clyde left the military and enrolled at Del Mar College, where he received an award for being an outstanding student.

Clyde had come from a family of military veterans and was infatuated with military history and medieval weapons. He participated in war re-enactments and was noted by fellow soldiers as a gun enthusiast. Although he had no prior criminal record, an anonymous FBI official said that the FBI had received a call from Clyde’s half-brother in 2016. His half-brother reported that Clyde was suicidal and had a fascination with guns. At this time, Clyde was still enlisted in the Army and no action was taken by the FBI.

Although a motive has yet to be determined, Clyde’s social media pages seemed to have foreshadowed this event. Just before the attack on Monday, Clyde had posted a photo on his Facebook page of several gun magazines, with the caption stating, “2 40 rounders and 8 30 rounders total”. Although Clyde’s Facebook page has since been removed, several people reported seeing disturbing videos that Clyde had posted. In one video, Clyde refers to a coming “storm” but states that he “is not without defense” while wielding a gun. Another video posted on his page features Clyde looking disheveled, saying “You don’t want to get in my way when I’m angry … because I don’t see you as a person… I see you as food.”

Clyde’s video where he stated a “storm is coming” can be traced back to QAnon conspiracy theorists. The QAnon conspiracy believes that “Trump is part of a countercoup to restore power to the people after more than a century of governmental control by a globalist cabal.” The members of this group believe that a “storm is coming” and that they must be prepared to destroy everyone and everything that stands in their way of creating a state filled only with loyalists. This also includes mass arrest of those that are connived against them. Clyde’s video suggests that he may have been a QAnon conspiracy theorist, although that has yet to be confirmed.

Clyde also frequently posted memes on his personal media pages; these memes referenced incel subculture, which is a forum for men that describe themselves as “involuntarily celibate”. These men gather to commiserate and blame women for their alienation. Members of incel subculture have a history of isolation and rejection, turning to the internet in order to feel a sense of inclusion. They describe themselves as unwanted by society and find women to be the root of their isolation and distress. This incel subculture is one filled with rage, where mass killings are glorified and members are encouraged to take their frustrations out on women.

Not only did Clyde post about QAnon conspiracies and incel subculture, but he also frequently posted about Alex Jones, an American radio show host and alt-right conspiracy theorist, swastikas and confederate flags, verbal attacks against Hillary Clinton, and references to “Hollywood Pedophiles”.

Through his social media activity, Clyde appears to be involved in groups that are generally consistent of isolated, alienated, and depressed individuals. Clyde was involved in the same subculture as other mass shooters, such as the 2014 Isla Vista shooter, who was glorified in incel forums following the shooting. This suggests that Clyde was radicalized online through a combination of these forums. Whether or not Clyde was mentally stable remains under investigation; he may have been particularly vulnerable to radicalization if he was suffering from serious mental illness. Further research into Clyde’s social media activity is necessary in order to identify what influenced him to carry out an attack of this nature.

Caitlyn Ryan is a Counter-Terrorism Research Fellow at Rise to Peace. She holds a Bachelors degree from Amherst College and is also pursuing a Master of Arts degree in international security with a concentration in counter-terrorism from the University of Massachusetts Lowell. 

US-Iran Relations No Longer Have Use for Sanctions

Image Credit: Gulf News

All is not well on the eastern front, as Iranian-American relations have hit their lowest point in decades.

The current round of escalation began on June 20th, when it was reported that Iran shot down an American drone over the Straits of Hormuz, in international waters. In response, the United States prepared to retaliate against three Iranian targets. However, the attack was called off at the last minute by President Donald Trump, allegedly because of the estimated death toll. Instead, the US response included cyber attacks and new sanctions on Iranian leaders, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, preventing them from using international fiscal institutions. While the cyber attacks have been described as a “game changer,” the sanctions are frankly an ineffective stick in the US policy deck of cards.

It would be an understatement to describe the new sanctions as “unsurprising,” as every US president since Jimmy Carter (barring George H.W. Bush) has imposed sanctions on Iran in response to its unacceptable behavior. In recent years, sanctions have been imposed with the intent of creating an economic chokehold that would force Iran to halt its nuclear program.

However, it appears this tactic is ineffective, as countries such as China continue to buy Iranian oil in violation of the sanctions. Iranian citizens mocked them, one of them declaring, “The only people left to sanction are me, my dad and our neighbor’s kid.” Furthermore, just a week after the newest sanctions were imposed, Iran announced it had exceeded the enriched uranium limit previously imposed by the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran Deal.

Whereas in the past the United States may have responded to events such as the Russian invasion of Crimea, or the use of chemical weapons in Syria with military force, the generational trauma of Iraq and Afghanistan have made the Obama and Trump administrations reluctant to use force, for fear of entering into another seemingly endless, unpopular war. As a result, unfriendly ambitious states such as China take advantage of the United States’ retreat from its role as the world’s policeman to further territorial ambitions without fear of violent escalation with the world’s most powerful army.

A decade of avoiding confrontation with rising powers, even in circumstances in which the use of force could have been legitimate, has undermined US deterrence credibility. Iran is now emboldened to upend the status quo, violating international law by shooting down the drone over what were technically international waters; enriching uranium despite anti-proliferation norms; and, increasingly worrisome, growing Iranian military presence in strategic areas in its regional neighborhood.

The sanctions policy has become reflexive and ineffective, as only part of the world abides by them; releasing new ones is widely viewed as symbolic, and has no real deterrence value. If the United States and its allies wish to maintain an international order based on democratic values, sovereignty, and diplomacy, they must give up the façade of national and personal sanctions. Instead, the threat of retaliatory cyberattacks, like the one carried out in response to the drone attack, must become the new US deterrence against states violating international norms.

The Hezbollah Dilemma

On March 22, American Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Lebanon to convince countries in the region to join the United State with enacting harsh sanctions against Iran. The US believes that Iran is funding terrorist organizations around the world and believes it must be stopped.

Under the Trump administration, the US has been hard against Iran by increasing sanctions and pulling out of the Iran Nuclear Deal. Pompeo discussed Hezbollah with the Lebanese government. According to Pompeo, Hezbollah is a terrorist organization and will start wars, end democracy in Lebanon, and allow Iran to rule it.

Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri understand the United States’ perspective with the issue of Hezbollah, but they view Hezbollah as a legitimate party organization, not terrorists.

Hezbollah has 70 of the 128 seats in the Lebanese Parliament and has gained momentum in recent years. However, the US continues to sanction them and Iran. President Aoun has said that even though these sanctions target Hezbollah, Lebanon suffers as well. Pompeo says that if the Lebanese government helps him, the US will help Lebanon.

The issue Lebanon faces is quite difficult because Hezbollah is an important actor since the Lebanese Civil War. Their military power is also important because they help defend Lebanon against its enemies, such as Israel.

Lebanon does not want to cut ties with the US but they cannot afford to lose an important military and political actor. But Hezbollah is not just invested into Lebanon, they also have a presence in Syria and support Al-Assad militarily. This is also a conflict of interest for the United States.

In previous administrations, they have all condemned Hezbollah and deemed them to be a terrorist group, but no other president has been so severe against the group and Iran than Trump.

This dilemma has been shrugged off year after year by both the Americans and the Lebanese, but it could change today. The economy of Lebanon could suffer under the sanctions posed on Hezbollah; thus, forcing the Lebanese to change their political affiliations with the group.

The country has not been this stable in decades. Lebanon is open for commerce, tourism, and development. They do not want Hezbollah to be in the way of being more connected with the rest of the world.


Nick Webb is the Research Fellow at Rise to Peace.

 

Iran and Saudi Arabia: Funding Terrorism

The Ministry spokesman, Bahram Qassemi said, “Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of fundamentalist ideology and a source of organized international terrorism, lacks competence and credit to accuse other countries of terrorism.” Qassemi said this in response to Saudi Arabia’s Minister Adel al-Jubeir’s comments in a press conference in Pakistan that accused Iran of funding terrorists. He calls out the Saudis hypocrisy of calling an end to terrorism with one hand while funding it with another.

This press release by Iran is quite interesting because it shows that the proxy conflict with Iran and Saudi Arabia is still alive and well. Iran is making it seem like Saudi Arabia threw the first punch at Iran. It is essentially a blame game for who is allowing terrorists to thrive in the Middle East and North Africa. It is no secret that Iran funds terrorist organizations.

They created the group during the Lebanese Civil War and during the Israeli occupation in the south of Lebanon. Iran funds Hezbollah to commit terrorist attacks on Israel and other targets in Lebanon to create the proxy Islamic Republic. Iran notices the power and more openness of Saudi Arabia to the West, so it uses terrorist to disrupt systems in the Middle East to prevent Westernization and Saudi reach/power. Iran has made great strides doing this because they have more control in Lebanon through Hezbollah with a growing movement in the country, as well as more power in Syria with supporting radical Shi’a groups.

It is no surprise that Iran funds terrorism, but Saudi Arabia is not so innocent either. Both states are at fault for supporting and funding terrorist organizations. Reports show that Saudi Arabia has funded terrorist organizations in Yemen to support their efforts in the Yemeni civil war.

It is almost comical that both states go back and forth for blaming each other for supporting terrorists when they both are at fault. They simply blame the other and reassure the public that they do not support terrorism. Yes, of course, they kill terrorists and support the West in this regard. They continue to aid them as well. It seems that there is no answer and ending the Saudi-Iran sour relations due to their control of proxies through the region.

The only way to really create change would be through regime change if that is a revolution or peaceful succession of a more liberal leader. Neither of these tends to be in sight because at the end of the day both want full control of the Middle East and North Africa. They will both continue to aid terrorist groups and publicly mudsling each other.

This Cold War type conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran is difficult because it is multi-faceted. It impacts the entire region including countries like Syria and beyond with countries like the US/EU and Russia. The best way to deescalate the conflict is for larger powers, such as the US, to call out Iran and Saudi Arabia for supporting terrorism.

Saudi Arabia should be punished like Iran from the US and its allies by imposing sanctions or to cut military aid. The US punishing and isolating Iran will only further the proxy/cold war conflict in the Middle East.

It is also a national security risk for the US and any other country, including America’s adversaries like Russia and China to allow Saudi Arabia and Iran to fund terrorist.

In the present time, it might be helpful to continue this aiding, but in the long-term, these terrorist groups can create damage and harm Americans. For example, in the 1980s when the US helped arm the Mujahidin during the Soviet invasion in Afghanistan. Some of those fighters joined organizations that the US considers a major terror threat today. The US needs to take a different direction regarding Saudi Arabia and Iran to prevent inefficiency and furthering the deaths of innocent people.

IRGC

US Deems IRGC “Terrorists”

As part of the Trump Administration campaign to isolate Iran, Secretary Mike Pompeo declared the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist group.

The IRCG was created in 1979 to protect the newly established Islamic Republic of Iran. Today it does much more. In Iran, the IRCG is an important actor for business including telecommunications, and energy.

They have close ties with the current Supreme Leader of Iran, Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, which gives them influence beyond the Iranian boarders. For example, their sub-group Quds operates in Syria, Israel, and other Middle Eastern states.

Pompeo cites the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia and the 2011 foiled plot by the Quds to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the US. It seems as if this move has been a long time coming due to previous attacks relating to the US and its allies.

Trumps use of ‘maximum pressure’ is a part of this move to add IRCG to the list of terrorists and it is used as a way to stabilize the region to create peace.

However, the timing suggests this action may be political to support Benjamin Netanyahu, who was running for Prime Minister of Israel. Trump and Netanyahu have very close relations since the end of the Obama administration, so it would be plausible for Trump to make this move to support his friend in the Middle East, while continuing his campaign to isolate and threaten Iran.

The Islamic Republic of Iran has also responded in word and action with Trumps decision to designate the IRCG as a foreign terrorist group. In return, the Iranians have declared all American forces in the Middle East as terrorists.

This latest development increases the already heightened tension. This could be catastrophic in the Middle East. Since both militaries consider their counterparts terrorists, it could lead to war between the US and Iran.

The US has made many harsh moves to isolate Iran since the election of Trump. Although, it seems that tensions between the US and Iran are at an all-time high. President Trump just might want to reevaluate the way he’s using his power.

 


Nick Webb is the Research Fellow at Rise to Peace.