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Catherine Thompson

Catherine Thompson is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. Before joining TPM, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She is a graduate of New York University, where she served as the deputy managing editor of NYU's student newspaper, the Washington Square News. She can be reached at catherine@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Articles by Catherine

The first image the American public saw of suspected Charleston gunman Dylann Roof was that of a scowling young man with a bowl haircut who wore a jacket emblazoned with the flags of two white minority governments.

The top patch on the jacket's right breast was the flag of South Africa's Apartheid government. The patch below it, with its three vertical stripes of green, white and green, was the flag of the white-controlled colony of Rhodesia that later became Zimbabwe. People who track extremists say both flags are symbols of the white supremacist movement.

The 21-year-old gunman would have been about a year old when Apartheid rule came to an end in South Africa in 1994.

Rhodesia, having gained independence from Britain and taken the name Zimbabwe in 1980, was already an entry in modern world history textbooks by the time Roof was born.

So how did Roof become so fixated on a white-controlled British colony that collapsed decades before he came of age?

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Dylann Roof allegedly photographed himself visiting slave burial grounds and scrawling white supremacist symbols into beach sand in the months before he opened fire at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina.

A chilling, racist manifesto surfaced Saturday at the website lastrhodesian.com alongside a ZIP file containing 60 photos of a man who appears to be Roof, the white, 21-year-old suspect in the Charleston attack.

Among the photos were images of Roof visiting plantation houses, burial grounds for Confederate soldiers and other historic sites around Charleston that hark back to the antebellum South. Other images of Roof posted on the website are dominated by white supremacist and neo-Nazi symbols. The photos were shot between August 3, 2014 and June 17 with the majority shot in March and April, according to CNN.

TPM has annotated the most significant photos in the file to help shed light on the symbols and locations depicted in them.

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