The Conversation: Decoding Alleged Arizona Shooter's YouTube Posts

VIDEO: A fringe group specialist on suspected gunman?s state of mind.
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Almost immediately after Jared Lee Loughner allegedly pulled the trigger outside a Tucson, Ariz., supermarket Saturday, Americans began to look for clues as to what prompted a 22-year-old suburban student to allegedly go on a rampage, taking the life of six people and injuring 14 others, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

Millions have turned to Loughner's apparent YouTube channel, which includes a series of rambling videos, including one called "Final Thoughts." Loughner posted the videos Dec. 15, about three weeks before the Tucson attack.

The videos, which consist of slates of white text, are seemingly incoherent rants from what appears to be a disturbed individual, but they may offer some clues as to what Lougher may have been reading and how he chose his target.

"It's absolutely correct to say that he appears to be very mentally ill," said Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, but "it seems pretty clear that he's absorbed at least some ideas from the radical right."

Potok, who wrote about the videos on a SPLC blog, points to specific ideas that Loughner seems to heve glommed on to, including the idea that the federal government controls through grammar.

"You don't allow the government to control your grammar structure, listener?" the video states.

Potok believes the idea comes from David Wynn Miller, a conspiracy theorist who believes the government manipulates the public through such things as the use of capital letters on official documents.

"I don't know of any other place where those ideas come from, so [the connection] seems quite clear," Potok said, adding that Miller had also said he believed that Loughner had read his website.

Loughner also seemed fixated on the issue of currency, suggesting that individuals could "create and distribute" their own bills.

"Every human who's mentally capable is always able to be treasurer of their new currency," he stated in the video.

That idea is similar to claims about the U.S. dollar and the gold standard made by some extreme right wing anti-government movements, Potok said.

Potok believes it's incorrect to blame the right or even Sarah Palin, as some have, saying Saturday's attacks were clearly the work of a crazed and unstable person. But he does believe the language in the videos gives clues as to why Loughner allegedly targeted Giffords.

"I think there are some elements fo the political scene that eventually got him to see the government as the enemy," Potok said. "Of course, the congresswoman was the highest representative of the federal government where he was in Tucson."

Potok spoke to ABC's Jeremy Hubbard for today's Conversation. We hope you'll watch for more.

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