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Shooting of Palestinian Americans raises tensions; where is Ammon Bundy now?

The shooting of three Palestinian-American men this week in Vermont is being investigated to determine whether it was a hate crime, while hate incidents across the country continue to spike. Meanwhile, far-right extremist agitator Ammon Bundy and his family have reportedly disappeared from their home in Idaho. And a new study shows that extremists continue to rake in cash across various social media platforms.

It’s the week in extremism.

Vermont shooting raises wartime tensions

This undated handout photo provided by the Institute for Middle East Understanding shows Hisham Awartani, Tahseen Ali and Kenan Abdulhamid, who were shot on their way to a family dinner. The three university students of Palestinian descent were wounded on Nov. 25, 2023, in a shooting in Burlington, Vermont, in what police said appeared to be a "hate-motivated crime."

Hisham Awartani and two friends were taking a walk around the neighborhood on Sunday after a child’s birthday party when a man silently approached, then shot all three men. Police arrested 48-year-old Jason Eaton, and are investigating whether the shooting was motivated by bias. Two of the three victims were wearing keffiyehs, traditional Palestinian neck scarves, and the men were speaking Arabic when they were attacked.

  • The three victims all survived, but one has been left with a bullet lodged in his spine.

  • Eaton was arrested at his home on Sunday and was arraigned on Monday. He has pleaded not guilty.

  • As USA TODAY has reported, hate-fueled incidents, hate crimes and hate speech have been soaring across the nation since the start of the Israel-Hamas war.

Report: Ammon Bundy has disappeared

Right-wing extremist, conspiracy theorist and firebrand Ammon Bundy appears to have abandoned his Idaho home in the wake of a $50 million civil judgment against him, The Atlantic reported this week.

  • Bundy gained national attention after he organized the 2016 occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, leading to a standoff with federal agents.

  • In July, he lost a defamation lawsuit brought by St. Luke’s Regional Health, a healthcare provider in Idaho.

  • The Atlantic’s in-depth story examines Bundy’s two decades of activism on behalf of extremist conspiracy theorists and far-right-wing militia groups.

  • Bundy has apparently abandoned his home and 5 acres of land and may be living in Southern Idaho, The Atlantic reports. His father and brother claim not to know where the former Idaho gubernatorial candidate is hiding out.

Report: Extremists fundraising on social media (still)

Extremists, including white supremacists and anti-semites, continue to rake in fundraising using mainstream social media platforms, according to a report released this week by the Anti-defamation League and the Tech Transparency Project.

  • The report concludes dozens of groups that explicitly violate platforms’ terms of service are making money by selling merchandise and soliciting donations.

  • “Much of this activity is taking place in plain sight. In some instances, the companies’ own products are helping hate groups achieve greater fundraising reach,” the report states.

  • Meta and YouTube both took down the content featured in the report once it was shared with them, the researchers wrote. X, formerly known as Twitter, did not respond to the report’s authors.

Meta founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks Sept. 27 during Meta Connect event at Meta headquarters in Menlo Park, California.
Meta founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks Sept. 27 during Meta Connect event at Meta headquarters in Menlo Park, California.

Statistic of the week: 9501.5%

That’s the increase in posting about the Pizzagate conspiracy theory on X after owner Elon Musk tweeted about the conspiracy theory last week, according to a newly released study by researchers at Montclair University.

Researchers found a total of 375,140 posts referencing PizzaGate in November, with most appearing after Musk’s post. (The completely discredited idea stems from a false – and rather absurd – claim about Democratic leaders and sex abuse at a pizza parlor, hence the name.)

“The reaction to Musk’s post indicates that receding conspiracies are potentially better understood as dormant with a prominent event allowing them to be reawakened,” the study states.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Where did Ammon Bundy go? Is Vermont Palestinian shooting hate crime?