• May 25, 2024

SCOOP: Schizophrenic Man Inspired FBI’s Controversial Memo Targeting Catholics

(Ken Silva, Headline USA) The Justice Department’s Inspector General has released its review of the FBI’s controversial report on “radical-traditionalist Catholics”—finding that the bureau violated professional standards, but didn’t have “malicious intent,” when it crafted a memo that painted Catholics as potential terrorists.

The DOJ-IG report, which was released last week, also revealed the origins of the FBI’s Catholic memo.

According to the report, the FBI’s troubling memo was crafted by analysts involved in an investigation into a schizophrenic man who began attending a traditional Catholic church in early 2022. That schizophrenic man, 24-year-old Xavier Lopez, was arrested in November 2022 on a slew of domestic extremism-related charges. His mental health diagnosis was revealed during criminal proceedings.

The DOJ-IG does not identify Lopez or the Catholic church by name, but the facts described in the report are identical to the details of a case involving Lopez.

According to records from his case, Lopez was on law enforcement’s radar since September 2018, when he attempted suicide. Lopez was 18 years old at the time. The FBI opened an assessment into Lopez about a year later after he allegedly made online statements advocating civil war and the murder of politicians.

Law enforcement continued to monitor Lopez—including while he served a stint in jail for felony vandalism—into early 2022, when he began attending Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Chapel in Richmond, Virginia. Our Lady of Fatima is one of the Catholic chapel’s listed in the FBI’s memo.

Shortly after Lopez started attending Our Lady of Fatima, the FBI decided to run an informant at him inside the church, according to the DOJ-IG report.

“In the spring of 2022, FBI Richmond placed [an informant] in [Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Chapel] to interact with [Lopez] to determine if he was inciting or planning violence,” the DOJ-IG report said.

Infiltrating a Catholic church with an informant was supposedly necessary because “the only times [Lopez] left the house alone were to attend events at [Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Chapel] and it therefore provided the only potential opportunity for [an informant] to establish regular contact with him,” the DOJ-IG report said.

The FBI insisted that the informant was only used to monitor Lopez—and wasn’t used against any of the church’s other members, according to the DOJ-IG report.

The existence of the FBI informant is not disclosed in any of Lopez’s criminal records.

Lopez was arrested in November 2022 on a slew of state charges, including prohibited paramilitary activity, soliciting someone for a terrorist act and possessing firearms as a felon.

After his arrest, an FBI analyst with knowledge of the investigation worked with another analyst to craft the FBI’s memo about Catholics.

According to the DOJ-IG report, the FBI analysts wanted help conduct outreach to faith communities, “to make them aware of what we would call warning signs to radicalization, for the protection of everybody.”

“There was ample information in [Lopez’s] chats and in online chatter suggesting a potential link between white supremacist ideology and an attraction to certain religious beliefs and organizations, including [Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Chapel], but that the two analysts were searching for more definite substantiation,” the DOJ-IG report said, citing interviews with the FBI analysts.

One FBI analyst told the DOJ-IG that he found it “completely incongruous” that Lopez was attempting “to find common ground or find a community with this particular faith community.” He also said that there was no evidence that Lopez was being radicalized at Lady of Fatima Catholic Chapel, because he had been on the FBI’s radar “as an unstable, dangerous individual” before “any association with any Catholic related entity whatsoever.”

Rather, the FBI expressed concerns to the DOJ-IG that Lopez may have been recruiting other Lady of Fatima members to carry out an attack.

There is nothing in the charging documents against Lopez to suggest that he was recruiting other Catholics for an attack. Rather, the available evidence suggests that Lopez was interested in Catholic church to find a girlfriend.

“One place you will find [white women] is at a traditional church … I found a girl there that checked off every box on my list, but she’s 17 and I’m 22 so that’s not happening,” he said in an August 2022 post on Gab, according to charging documents.

FBI Director Chris Wray has since apologized for the report, which received heavy criticism from GOP lawmakers for—among numerous other reasons—underpinning its findings with information from the discredited Southern Poverty Law Center.

State prosecutors dropped their case against Lopez last July, around the time he was indicted federally.

Last August, his defense attorney disclosed his mental illnesses in a motion for a psychological exam, revealing that “[Lopez] has previously been diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Schizo Affective Disorder and Autism Asperger’s Syndrome.”

Despite those diagnoses, a federal judge ruled that Lopez was competent to stand trial.

Lopez then struck a deal last month to plead guilty to one charge of possessing a destructive device. He is set to be sentenced in September.

Ken Silva is a staff writer at Headline USA. Follow him at twitter.com/jd_cashless.

Source

The Daily Allegiant