Washington: America`s premier civil rights group has urged authorities to probe the Wisconsin Gurdwara shooting incident as a "potential hate crime”.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), who had been tracking the alleged gunman, Wade Michael Page, 41, for quite some time now, alleged he was a "white supremacist skinhead" and a leader of "End Apathy", a white power music band affiliated with the Hammerskins, a longstanding hardcore racist skinhead group with a history of violence an hate crimes.
"We are deeply shocked by this heinous act of violence against peaceful innocent Americans targeted at their house of worship, apparently singled out because of their faith and appearance that makes them appear different from other Americans," said Abraham H Foxman, ADL national director.
"We strongly condemn violence against any religious group and we are confident that federal, state and local law enforcement officials are closely examining the possibility that this was a hate crime," he said.
Page, who sometimes referred to himself by the pseudonym "Jack Boot”, is festooned with white supremacist tattoos, including a Nazi Death`s Head tattoo and a Hammerskins tattoo, ADL said.
According to ADL, his band has been featured at many Hammerskin-organised white power music concerts in recent years, including the August 2010 "Meet & Greet BBQ & Bands in North Carolina, the Hammerskins` St Patty`s Day Show in March 2011 in Orlando, Florida, and Hammerfest 2011 in October 2011, also in Orlando.
"Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, ADL and law enforcement officials have documented many apparent `backlash crimes` directed at Muslim, Sikh, and Arab Americans," Foxman said.
"We have raised concern about a spike in bigotry against Muslims and others perceived to be of Middle Eastern origin.”
“This attack is another gruesome reminder that bigotry and hate against those whose religion makes them `different or other` can have deadly consequences," he added.
According to ADL, the US Department of Justice has investigated over 800 incidents since 9/11 involving violence, threats, vandalism and arson against Arab-Americans, Muslims, Sikhs, South-Asian Americans and other individuals perceived to be of Middle Eastern origin.