The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.
After letting a special unit devoted to monitoring domestic terrorism fall dormant following the Al Qaeda attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced this week that it was reviving the group. The Domestic Terrorism Executive Committee will focus on extremists motivated by antigovernment and racial hatred, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement Tuesday.
Predictably, pundits from the extreme conspiracist right, particularly antigovernment “Patriot” groups, worked themselves into a frenzy over the announcement, warning their followers that a “war on the white man” was about to come down from the Obama administration. A similar reaction greeted the 2009 leak of a report from the Department of Homeland Security that focused on the domestic radical right, with right-wing groups describing it as an attack on the political conservatives.
In his statement announcing the DOJ committee’s revival, Holder noted that this decision comes after more than a decade of focus on the threat of international terrorists, while a number of recent incidents have underscored that they are not the only threat. “We must also concern ourselves with the continued danger we face from individuals within our own borders who may be motivated by a variety of other causes from anti-government animus to racial prejudice,” Holder said.
Several news accounts noted the move appeared to be in response to such incidents as the April murder of three people at Jewish institutions near Kansas City, Mo., the bombing of the Boston Marathon last year, a neo-Nazi attack on a Sikh temple in 2012, and a number of similar attacks. Non-Islamic domestic terrorist activity has clearly picked up in the years since Barack Obama was first elected in 2008.
“We’ve been pushing DOJ to devote more resources to domestic terrorism for a long time, so we’re delighted that the Attorney General has taken this step,” said SPLC President and CEO Richard Cohen, who recently wrote a column for MSNBC describing how the committee was meant to meet on 9/11 but never did again. ( continue to full post… )
After his arrest for a racially motivated rape and killing spree committed the day after Barack Obama was inaugurated in 2009, white supremacist Keith Luke told police he had planned to end his rampage by killing himself.
It took Luke five years behind bars, Obama’s second inauguration, and at least one other suicide attempt, but the plan has finally been completed. The 28-year-old killer, who was serving two consecutive life sentences in a Massachusetts prison, is dead, apparently by his own hand, the Boston Globe reported today.
Luke was pronounced dead at a hospital Monday afternoon after being on life-support since Saturday, when he was discovered unresponsive in his cell. “We suspect it’s another suicide attempt by Luke,” Massachusetts Department of Correction spokesman Darren Duarte told the Globe.
Luke, who had a history of mental illness, showed up at his first court appearance with a swastika carved into his forehead. He had used a jailhouse razor to cut the bloody symbol into his own flesh, officials said.
He was convicted last May of murdering a man and a woman and raping and critically wounding another woman in Brockton, Mass., the day after Obama was inaugurated, becoming the nation’s first black president. Luke’s victims were immigrants from the West African archipelago Cape Verde.
Luke, who was 22 during the spree, told investigators that he decided to kill blacks, Latinos and Jews after reading about “the demise of the white race” on the white supremacist website, Podblanc. He also told them that had he not been arrested, he planned to go on that same day to kill as many Jews as possible at a local synagogue’s bingo night. ( continue to full post… )
U.S. Army Sergeant Anthony Peden, who served two combat tours in Afghanistan and a third in Iraq before returning home and joining an antigovernment militia called FEAR, was sentenced today in Georgia to life in prison for the murder of two teenage sweethearts in December 2011.
Tiffany York, 17, and her boyfriend, Michael Roark, 19, were shot and killed in the Georgia woods by Peden and three other soldiers, prosecutors charged, in an attempt to keep secret the militia’s plans to overthrow the government through a campaign of sabotage, bombings and political assassinations.
But unlike two of his co-defendants, Pvt. Isaac Aguigui and Pvt. Christopher Salmon, who were sentenced previously to life without the possibility of parole, Peden, 28, could be eligible for parole in 30 years.
“It’s still a long, long time,” Peden’s lawyer, H. Burton Baker of the Office of the Georgia Capital Defenders told Hatewatch today. “But it’s a bad, bad crime.”
Baker said the reason Peden received a bit of mercy and the faint hope of distant freedom was because of his combat experience and the obvious damage it did to his heart and soul.
“What distinguishes Anthony’s case from Aguigui and Salmon,” Baker said, “was Peden did perform heroically in combat. He saved people. These other guys never had to fire their weapons in anger. They never had to soldier in the way Anthony did.” ( continue to full post… )
Nineteen years ago today, evil came to Oklahoma City. Timothy McVeigh, fueled by hatred of the government he saw as an oppressive tyrant, set off a massive truck bomb at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, tearing away the lives of 168 Americans, including 19 small children in a day-care center.
He was one of ours. Although many rushed to declare that the bombing bore all the hallmarks of an attack by foreign Muslim jihadists, they were quickly shown to be completely wrong. McVeigh was a U.S.-born white man, what the Ku Klux Klan of old liked to call a “100 percent American.”
For a moment, it seemed the lesson was learned. Law enforcement officials, many of whom had been skeptical of the whole notion of domestic terrorists, came to see that there was a dangerous underbelly to American society, a world of radical-right activists who were willing to kill. Plot after plot was dismantled as the militia movement coursed through the country. But then came the Al Qaeda attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and it appeared that the lesson had once again been lost.
Six days ago, the nation was served with a grim reminder that the United States faces its own homegrown terrorists. A well-known neo-Nazi named Frazier Glenn Cross (formerly Miller) allegedly stormed on to the grounds of two Jewish institutions in Overland Park, Kan., and shot to death three strangers. As he was led away by police who captured him almost immediately, he shouted “Heil Hitler!”
Although the news coverage implied that this was a uniquely horrific attack, the reality is that it was only the latest in recent years. Other known neo-Nazis murdered a guard at the U.S. Holocaust Museum, killed six Sikhs in a Wisconsin temple, tried to slaughter hundreds in a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade in Spokane, Wash., and more. According to the New America Foundation, right-wing extremists have slain 34 people in the United States for political reasons since 9/11, while terrorists motivated by Al Qaeda’s ideology have killed 21. That’s not to diminish the jihadist threat, but merely to point out that there are others, too.
Despite that and other compelling evidence of the domestic threat from the radical right, the Department of Homeland Security, tasked with developing intelligence about such perils, seems to have taken its eye off the ball. Since 2009, when then-DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano pulled back a DHS report that soberly assessed the threat because certain conservatives were offended by its perfectly accurate observations, the DHS unit that once handled analysis of domestic non-Islamic terrorism has been gutted. Most members quit the agency, disgusted by Napolitano’s political cowardice and their own shabby treatment.
The work that DHS used to do is needed. As the Southern Poverty Law Center has documented, the last five years have seen an enormous expansion of the radical right, largely driven by the demographic “browning” of the population and predictions of the loss of a white majority in the next 30 years. Anger at the dramatic changes occurring in our society is real, and it is steeped in blood.
One thing DHS might consider examining is the role of the Internet in breeding and facilitating men like Frazier Glenn Cross. As pointed out by Jeffrey Simon, a scholar of so-called “lone wolf” terrorism, all today’s lone terrorists need is provided by the Internet, where both technical information about bombs and other weapons is freely available, and where a chorus of moral support can be found.
A study by the SPLC, two years in the making and released four days after the Kansas murders, probed the role of an enormous racist Web forum called Stormfront that is run by a former Alabama Klan leader. It found that in the last five years alone — since the election of the nation’s first black president — registered members of Stormfront (an incredible 286,000 people, though many are inactive) have been responsible for the murders of close to 100 people. ( continue to full post… )
Almost 100 people were murdered over the last five years by registered users of Stormfront, the largest racist Web forum in the world, according to a report released today by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The forum in effect acts to nurture budding killers and give them moral support, the report says.
A similar racist forum, Vanguard News Network (VNN), was used by neo-Nazi and former Klan leader Frazier Glenn Cook (formerly Miller), who was charged earlier this week with the murder of three people he mistakenly believed were Jews. Miller logged more than 12,000 posts on VNN in recent years.
Read the report here.
The two triggermen for a murderous militia of renegade American soldiers pleaded guilty today in a Georgia courtroom to shooting to death a former soldier and his 17-year-old girlfriend a few weeks before Christmas 2011.
The couple was lured to a patch of woods in the middle of the night and killed, according to prosecutors, to keep secret the militia’s delusional plans to overthrow the government through a terror campaign of murder and mayhem. The group’s plans included the eventual assassination of their commander-in-chief, the president of the United States.
The soldiers called their broken band of brothers Forever Enduring, Always Ready, or FEAR for short.
Dressed in a business suit, his wrists and ankles shackled, Pvt. Christopher Salmon was the first of the two confessed killers to appear before Judge Robert L. Russell in Long County Superior Court this morning and enter his plea – guilty on two counts of murder and other charges.
Salmon, 27, who faced the death penalty, was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole as part of a negotiated plea agreement, the prosecutor, Isabel Pauley, told Hatewatch today, adding that the disgraced soldier was the second in command of FEAR, the close friend and confidant of the group’s ringleader, Pvt. Isaac Aguigui.
“They were like brothers,” Pauley said.
On March 27, Aguigui, 22, already serving his own life sentence for the murder of the couple, was found guilty in an Army court of murdering his wife, Sgt. Deirdre Wetzker Aguigui, and their unborn child. The sergeant was seven months pregnant when she was killed in her apartment on Fort Stewart in July 2011. The militia leader also received a life sentence in that case. ( continue to full post… )
FBI agents in Texas have arrested a man who allegedly was plotting to use C-4 explosives and weapons to kill police officers, rob banks and armored cars, and blow up government buildings and mosques, authorities announced today.
Robert James Talbot Jr., 38, of Katy, Texas, was arrested Thursday on federal charges of attempted interference with commerce by robbery, solicitation to commit a crime of violence and possession of an explosive material, the FBI said.
After setting up a Facebook page called American Insurgent Movement (AIM), Talbot allegedly sought to recruit five or six like-minded people who wanted “to restore America Pre-Constitutionally and look forward to stopping the Regime with action by bloodshed.” He wrote this year on the AIM page that he was seeking people interested in “walking away from your life … to stop the regime.”
The crimes Talbot was plotting to carry out — detailed in a six-page criminal complaint filed in the Southern District of Texas — sound eerily similar to a series of terrorist attacks carried out 30 years ago by members of an infamous neo-Nazi group called The Order, also known as the Silent Brotherhood (or Brüders Schweigen in German). There’s just one big difference: Talbot talked about some of his planned crimes on Facebook, the complaint says, while The Order committed murders, robbed armored cars, and carried out a number of other attacks.
Talbot was expected to be held without bond as a flight risk and danger to the community after an initial appearance today before a U.S. magistrate judge in Houston.
Court documents say the FBI opened an investigation into Talbot’s activities last August after learning of his desire to recruit others for terror attacks. The “like-minded” individuals he initially attracted worked for the FBI, it turns out. The FBI used a confidential informant and two undercover FBI agents assigned to the agency’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. ( continue to full post… )
The leader of a secret, murderous militia group, already serving life in prison for murder, today was found guilty in an Army court of the earlier murder of his wife and their unborn child.
Immediately after finding U.S. Army Private Isaac Aguigui guilty of the murder of his pregnant wife, the military judge who heard the case began the penalty phase in a military courtroom at Fort Stewart, Ga.
Sgt. Deirdre Wetzker Aguigui, an Army linguist, was found dead in her home on the Georgia Army base on July 17, 2011, about the time her husband began forming a militia he named FEAR – Forever Enduring, Always Ready. An autopsy concluded the woman was either choked or smothered.
Investigators determined Aguigui used the $500,000 proceeds from his wife’s life insurance to buy weapons for the video-game inspired militia. Many of the weapons were purchased from a firearms store in Washington state, near where Aguigui was raised.
Before arrests were made, investigators say Aguigui and members of his FEAR militia – all with ties to the military – discussed bombings, kidnappings and political assassinations.
Aguigui pleaded guilty last July in a civilian courtroom for his involvement in the murders of Tiffany York, 17, and her boyfriend, Michael Roark, 19, a former soldier who served with Aguigui. They were shot to death, execution style, in a wooded area just beyond the federal boundaries of the sprawling military base.
Roark was killed “to be silenced,” investigators said, because Aguigui believed the militia group had been betrayed by Roark, who left the military two days before the murders on Dec. 5, 2011.
Five days later, authorities arrested Aguigui and three of his Army buddies and fellow FEAR members – Pfc. Michael Burnett, Sgt. Anthony Peden and Pvt. Christopher Salmon. Ultimately, Army and civilian investigators identified seven other current or former military members who were affiliated with the secret militia group.
Last August, the families of the murdered teenagers filed a $30 million wrongful death lawsuit against the U.S. Army. The plaintiffs alleged the Army failed to correctly investigate the death of Sgt. Deidre Aguigui, waiting two years to determine it was a homicide. If that had been done and arrests promptly made, the families contend their teenagers wouldn’t have been murdered by Aguigui and his gang.
Instead of going to trial on multiple federal charges, Kirby K. Kehoe, 65, and his 37-year-old son, Cheyne, struck plea deals with federal prosecutors, with each pleading guilty to a single count before Magistrate Judge Michelle H. Burns. The elder Kehoe pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition, and his son to being a felon in possession of firearms.
The Kehoes are best known for the exploits of Cheyne Kehoe and his brother, Chevie, who is still serving a life term for his leadership of a terrorist cell called the Aryan Republican Army. Both were involved in shootouts with police, and Chevie led the gang in the torture-murder of a family of three, including an 8-year-old girl who was smothered to death after being shocked with a cattle prod.
As part of the plea bargains, four other federal felony charges will be dismissed against Kirby Kehoe and three will be dismissed against Cheyne Kehoe, court documents show. The judge ordered background reports on both defendants and set sentencing for mid-May. Under the deal, Kirby Kehoe faces a maximum of 10 years in prison, and his son faces the low-end of the sentencing guideline range, probably about five years.
The pair, who have been affiliated with a series of white supremacist groups, were arrested last Oct. 14 when agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives raided an “off-the-grid compound” 140 miles north of Phoenix, near Ash Fork, Ariz. Kehoe and his son were indicted on Nov. 6 by a grand jury in Phoenix. ( continue to full post… )
Come on, all you antigovernment militia members and wannabe guerrilla fighters. Surely, you can employ more stealth and cunning than three alleged domestic terrorists arrested recently in Georgia.
Brian Cannon and Cory Williamson appeared in federal court today in Rome, Ga., for a detention hearing after being arrested on federal weapons charges last weekend for allegedly trying to obtain pipe bombs and other explosives to launch a series of attacks on government facilities. The men were detained at the end of the hearing.
The third suspect, Terry Peace, is scheduled to make a court appearance on Feb. 24.
Their goal, according to a nine-page federal criminal complaint, was to force the declaration of martial law and spark a national uprising of militia groups.
“This case is a stark reminder of the threat we face not just from abroad, but from within our own borders from our own citizens,” U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said this afternoon in a press release. “When plans turn violent, law enforcement must step in to protect our communities from harm.”
The trio, the complaint alleges, hatched their plot “in online chat discussions, which were monitored by [the] FBI, during which they chatted about carrying out an operation against the government.”
Didn’t these guys ever hear of the NSA? ( continue to full post… )