An Iowa man with an allegedly nasty temper was arrested this week on charges he posted two messages on the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center's Facebook page that appeared to pose the threat he would shoot up the mosque.
Gerald Wayne Ledford was arrested in Clinton, Iowa on Tuesday and is scheduled for arraignment in US District Court in Boston later this month on a charge of "transmitting in interstate or foreign commerce a communication containing a threat to injure the person of another."
According to an affidavit from an FBI agent involved in the case, Ledford left two messages on the society's Facebook page on Oct. 19. One involved general death-to-Moslems hate ranting. The other, however, showed "a photo of a man bearing a long gun with the caption, 'This is for you.followers of the piece of shit Mohamed ... ' "
The ISBCC's employee immediately made a screenshot of the postings, saved it to a folder on his computer, and then notified another ISBCC employee of the messages. The ISBCC gets hate messages all the time. Although the first ISBCC employee felt that these were just another two offensive postings, the second ISBCC employee's initial response was fearful because the image posted was that of a man with a gun and hinted at violence.
The society contacted the FBI, which started an investigation that included not only tracking Ledford's Facebook posts and search queries - which included turning up other photos showing the man in the society posting was Ledford himself - but actual physical surveillance of the house where he lived with his wife and mother-in-law.
The affidavit continues:
Although at this time investigators have no evidence that Ledford intended to actually shoot anyone at the ISBCC, there is probable cause to believe that Ledford intended the posts to be perceived as threats.
A day before the threats were found by ISBCC, Ledford used Account 100006744708316 to search for the term "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant", a designated foreign terrorist organization, and then, about two minutes later, to search for the term "Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center (ISBCC)".
Both messages promise violence both explicitly -"we will destroy you here" and implicitly -"This is for you" accompanied by a picture of a person with a long gun.
Both messages include no indication that Ledford was joking or intended sarcasm, such as standard indications of such on the Internet, such as "LOL" ("laughing out loud"), "jk" ("just kidding"), "r)" (a smiley face), or ";)" (a winking smiley face).
Both messages promise violence against Muslims and were posted on the wall of an organization that serves Muslims.
They were posted not as a general rant on the poster's own Facebook wall, but rather on the Facebook wall of an organization that serves the people whom the posts threaten.
Ledford has threatened others with a firearm before. Ledford has a 2013 charge of "intimidation with a dangerous weapon" in Iowa for which he received a two-year suspended sentence, as well as one year of unsupervised probation. Reports from this incident state that he discharged a firearm and cite the victim as claiming that Ledford, "threatened to kill her, light the house on fire, and then kill himself."