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Airman Who Burned Himself Was Anarchist Grew Up on Religious Complex!

Less than two weeks before Aaron Bushnell marched into the Israeli Embassy gates on Sunday, he and a friend discussed by phone about their anarchist identities and what risks and sacrifices were needed to be effective.

Bushnell, 25, did not mention violence or selflessness, the buddy added. Bushnell texted the friend on Sunday, who requested anonymity to safeguard his safety. “I hope you’ll understand. I love you,” Bushnell wrote in a message reviewed by The Washington Post. “This doesn’t even make sense, but I feel like I’m going to miss you.”

A copy of his will was provided to the friend on Sunday. He gave his neighbor, his cat, and his pal a root beer fridge. Twelve minutes later, senior Air Force airman Bushnell doused himself in a liquid and set himself on fire. He posted a video declaring he would not be “complicit in genocide.” Burning, he shouted, “Free Palestine.”

The Secret Service put out the fire. In the hospital, Bushnell died seven hours later. Many antiwar and pro-Palestinian activists praised his suicide protest, while others were appalled.

How a 25-year-old who adored The Lord of the Rings and karaoke became the man blazing in a camouflage military outfit is unknown, even to his closest friends. Susan Wilkins, 59, a member of the organization from 1970 to 2005, said Bushnell was raised in a religious colony near Orleans, Mass., on Cape Cod.

She alleged Bushnell and his family were still on the compound when she left in 2005. Wilkins heard from Bushnell’s family that he departed the gang. Wilkins’s description matches that of others who said Bushnell had informed them about his religious upbringing or that they had heard about it from his family.

The Community of Jesus denies inappropriate behavior charges. In a lawsuit against an Ontario school, former students called the Community of Jesus a “charismatic sect.” They claimed it “created an environment of control, intimidation, and humiliation that fostered and inflicted enduring harms on its students.”

Glenn Diesen shared a post on Twitter:

Many officials were alleged to be members. The closed school denied the claims. Former Ontario school pupils from 1973 to 1997 received $10.8 million from a Canadian appeals court last year. A Community of Jesus receptionist refused to transfer a reporter’s call to an authority. Group emails went unanswered.

Former Community of Jesus members characterized their years after leaving the compound as complex. It was reported that after leaving the group, former members typically miss feeling like they belong.

“A lot of us that got out are very much into social justice, trying to defend those who don’t or can’t defend themselves because that is what we went through,” said Bonnie Zampino, 54, a three-year 1980s group member.

Wilkins said Community of Jesus members often join the military, shifting from “one high-control group to another high-control group.” Lupe Barboza, 32, met Bushnell at a socialist group gathering in San Antonio in 2022. She said they became friends over politics and started delivering clothes and food to homeless people.

“He was outraged, and he knew that no one in charge is listening to the protesters out there every week,” Barboza added. He realizes his privilege as a White military man.

Other San Antonio acquaintances claimed Bushnell discussed the Palestinians and their dislike of the U.S. engagement in the Israel-Gaza war. He didn’t tell them what would happen in Washington on Sunday.

They claimed he moved to Ohio earlier this year for military transition training. Although rare, antiwar rallies have led to self-immolations, such as Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc’s in Saigon during the Vietnam War.

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American Quakers self-immolated at the Pentagon in 1965. An antiwar demonstrator in Chicago self-immolated near the Kennedy Expressway during the Iraq War.

After a Tunisian street seller self-immolated in 2010, the Arab Spring began, forcing out many heads of state. A woman self-immolated outside the Atlanta Israeli Consulate in December. Authorities stated she carried a Palestinian flag.

Under the Pentagon’s longstanding policy of being impartial while civilian officials make policy, servicemen cannot protest politics. No one in uniform has spoken out against the Gaza war as strongly as Bushnell. Still, several service personnel are frustrated that opponents blame U.S. military support for Israeli military operations.

The Gaza Health Ministry reports 29,782 Gaza Strip deaths since the October Israel-Gaza war. Israel thinks 1,200 Palestinians died in Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack and 240 soldiers since its military incursion in Gaza began.

In the attack, Hamas and allies kidnapped almost 250 people. During a November truce, over 100 were released for over 200 Palestinian captives. Israeli authorities believe Gaza has around 100 hostages.

About 80 protesters supported Bushnell and denounced Israel for the war at the Israeli Embassy on Monday afternoon. Sam Osta played Bushnell’s suicide audio. “I wish I knew. Osta, 55, met Bushnell at a 2022 Lincoln Memorial rally and said she would have stopped him.” “His life matters, and what happened is horrifying.”

Barboza, among others, said they last saw Bushnell at his San Antonio going-away party in January. A karaoke bar. He sang many songs from “Les Misérables,” which he loved. The TV series based on “Tangled” featured Mandy Moore’s “Wind in My Hair.” “I got a smile on my face,” Bushnell sang, “and I’m walking on air.”

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