Estaban Santiago, an immigrant from the US territory of Puerto Rico, took a flight from his home in Anchorage, Alaska aboard Air Canada. When the plane touched down at its destination in Fort Lauderdale he claimed his bags, which included a checked gun. He walked into the rest room and loaded a clip. When he emerged he opened fire without saying a word, wounding 13 and killing 5.
Like Fort Hood shooter Major Nidal Hassan, Santiago is a strange cocktail of military service, psychiatric instability and fixation with radical Islamic ideology. Like with Nidal Hassan there were warning signs, ignored by authorities perhaps fearing political correctness or, in this case, dismissing the incongruency of a hispanic ISIS militant. There was a borderline schizophrenic instability to Santiago. A man at war with himself to some degree. Months before the attack he turned himself in to the FBI office in Anchorage claiming that he had been “forced to fight for ISIS”, “”forced to watch their videos”. This was likely the last great gasp of caution from whatever self-critical conscience still existed within his mind. Santiago’s metaphorical war within ran deep. He recently became a father, but was himself the subject of a child pornography investigation.
There is evidence that Santiago’s broken mind was compromised by Radical Islam. He lived mere blocks from the Islamic Community Center Anchorage, the only mosque in Alaska. One of his online pseudonyms, Naota33 was discovered trying to download jihadi propaganda on a site frequented by firearm and explosives enthusiasts. He’s also been pictured giving an index finger salute popular among ISIS militants (pictured above) which refers to tawhid or ‘the belief in the oneness of God’. The garment he wears around his neck is a keffiyeh, worn in the Middle East to avoid sandstorms. It has become popular among some US soldiers stationed in the Middle East but it is also a sign of identification with Middle Eastern culture and a popular Islamist fashion accessory.