YouTube attacker was vegan activist who accused tech firm of discrimination

Reuters , Wednesday 4 Apr 2018

Nasim Najafi Aghdam
vegan blogger Nasim Najafi Aghdam, identified by police as the attacker who wounded three people at YouTube's headquarters in California on Tuesday 3 April, 2018 (Photo: Nasim Najafi Aghdam website)

An Iranian-born woman who blogged about veganism had railed online about dictatorship and accused YouTube of limiting viewers of her videos before opening fire at its California corporate headquarters, wounding three people and killing herself.

San Bruno police on Wednesday were investigating why Nasim Najafi Aghdam, 39, of San Diego, opened fire with a handgun on Tuesday at the company owned by Alphabet Inc's Google.

A review of her postings online in Persian and English showed glimpses of resentment and anger at the video-sharing company.

"BE AWARE! Dictatorships exist in all countries. But with different tactics. They care only for short term profits," she wrote on a website called, which translates as "Green Breeze" from Persian.

"I am being discriminated. I am being filtered on YouTube. I am not the only one," Aghdam said in an English language video on YouTube before her channel was deleted on Tuesday.

A man was in critical condition and two women were seriously wounded in the attack at an outdoor patio at YouTube's Silicon Valley headquarters, which employ about 2,000 people. Police said Aghdam seemed to have chosen victims at random.

The shooting came in the midst of a particularly intense phase of the United States' long-running debate on gun rights, following the killing of 17 students and educators at a Florida high school in February. While mass shootings have become a regular occurrence in the United States, they are rarely carried out by women.

Writing in Persian on her Instagram account, Aghdam said she was born in the Iranian city of Urmiah and that she was not planning to return to Iran.

"I think I am doing a great job," she wrote. "I have never fallen in love and have never got married. I have no physical and psychological diseases. But I live on a planet that is full of injustice and diseases."

Warning From Family

Californian media reported that Aghdam's family had warned authorities that she could target YouTube prior to the shooting.

The San Jose Mercury News quoted her father, Ismail Aghdam, as saying he had told police that she might go to YouTube's headquarters because she "hated" the company.

Efforts to reach her relatives by phone were unsuccessful.

Her family in Southern California recently reported her missing because she had not been answering her phone for two days, police said.

At one point Tuesday, Mountain View, California, police found her sleeping in her car and called her family to say everything was under control, hours before she walked onto the company grounds and opened fire.

A survivor of the February shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in the Parkland, Florida, weighed in on the YouTube incident on Wednesday.

"The YouTube HQ shooting is proof that this is NOT just schools," Jaclyn Corin said on Twitter Wednesday. "Our country has a GUN problem. End of story."

Gun rights advocates have argued that more armed guards and citizens could prevent mass shootings.

YouTube has long faced complaints about alleged censorship on its site, and says it attempts to balance its mission of fostering free speech while still providing an appropriate and lawful environment for users.

In some cases involving videos with sensitive content, YouTube has allowed the videos to stay online but cut off the ability for their publishers to share in advertising revenue.

Criticisms from video makers that YouTube is too restrictive about which users can participate in revenue sharing swelled last year as the company imposed new restrictions.

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