The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

Onetime Antiwar, Environmental Protester Veers Into the Seamy World of Anti-Semitism

Posted in Anti-Semitic, Antigovernment, Extremists in the Military by David Neiwert on January 27, 2015 - 2:45 pm

While most American-born activists who become involved in defending Palestinian rights avoid becoming overt anti-Semites even while steadfastly criticizing Israel, Kenneth O’Keefe is not one of them.

O’Keefe, a former Marine-turned-antiwar and anti-environmental activist who specializes in what he calls “direct action,” has morphed in recent years into a raving, David Duke-endorsing anti-Semite, particularly in the speeches he gives to well-known white-supremacist groups.

The most noteworthy of these was O’Keefe’s speech to the IONA London Forum, a gathering of academically oriented white supremacists and anti-Semites held last August. The speech was noteworthy for its crude ugliness: the 50-plus-minute-talk by O’Keefe revolved around the repeated phrase “fucking Jews.”

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“You know, I remember as a kid, the worst insult you could say to somebody — which I didn’t even know the origin of it, but we used to all use it — and it was no basis of any kind of discrimination, it was just this term — and it was Jew. In the worst way, fucking Jew. You know, you’re a fucking Jew, or something like that.

And you know, I never really thought about it. I didn’t have any Jewish friends as far as I knew, and yet I look back at it now and I realize it must be that there is some truth behind this, that it would be the ultimate insult, that’s somehow there’s this awareness without even being aware of the historical reality of Jewish impact on human history.”

That’s only the start of what was an epic emission of hate speech from O’Keefe at the forum. In the past, he has specialized in “straight talking” appearances before various groups, but now he has shaped them in the mold of a profane David Duke, the neo-Nazi and former Klan leader.

As his mainstream-seeming bio at Veterans Today explains, O’Keefe was a Gulf War veteran who first garnered attention in the 1990s by exposing the use of depleted uranium in that war.

O’Keefe also was involved for many years in fairly radical environmental causes, having hooked up in 1998 with Paul Watson and his Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, where he eventually became the organization’s regional director in Hawaii and led the group as it rescued sea turtles and spoke out against Navy sonar activities.

A turn in O’Keefe’s career occurred in May 2001, when he was aboard the Turkish ship M.V. Mavi Marmara when it attempted to break the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip and was subsequently boarded by Israeli commandos, resulting in the deaths of nine activists. Then, in 2003, he began leading delegations of peace activists who attempted to act as “human shields” to protest the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

In 2004, he burned his U.S. passport in an attempt to renounce his American citizenship — he was replacing his old documents with a “world passport,” he explained, and called himself a “Citizen of the World” with “ultimate allegiance to my entire human family and to planet Earth.” However, as O’Keefe’s Wikipedia page explains, the State Department has never recognized this renunciation, even though O’Keefe describes himself at his website now as the holder of “Irish, Hawaiian and Palestinian citizenship.”

O’Keefe became closely identified with the Palestinian cause, and even appeared as the keynote speaker at a fundraising dinner for the Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund in 2012.

As it happened, that was the same year that O’Keefe began forming a close association with David Duke. The first signs of this came in August 2012 when O’Keefe defended Duke on his Facebook page, saying: “I had a lovely 2 hour conversation with David yesterday and as per usual, the slander and lies made about anyone who is truth telling is obvious.” A little later, in the comments on his Facebook page, he claimed that Duke no longer was a white supremacist (a false claim that Duke himself is fond of making).

Then, O’Keefe appeared on Duke’s radio show in February 2013, where the pair discussed, according to Duke’s description, “the Hollywoodism Conference in Tehran, Iran. It exposes the Zio control of Hollywood which not only promotes lies about the enemies of Jewish extremism, but literally poisons the hearts and minds of hundreds of millions of people in West and all over the world.”

Later that year, Duke’s website featured an exchange between O’Keefe and anti-Semitic saxophonist/“scholar” Gilad Atzmon, a self-described “self-hating ex-Jew” whose writings and pronouncements are rich in conspiracy theories, Holocaust trivialization and distortion, and open support of anti-Israeli terrorist groups.

O’Keefe also made an appearance on a Russia Today interview program in October 2013, where he declared that President Obama should be tried for treason and added that “this man is a dictator who has assigned himself the right to execute anyone.”

When he was introduced at the London gathering in August 2014, his host boasted that O’Keefe was “a friend of David Duke.” But even that couldn’t have prepared the audience for the profanity-laced rant against “the fucking Jews” that followed.

Notably, O’Keefe savagely disavowed his onetime involvement in the peace movement:

“The mantra that I’ve gone by for many years now is TJP: truth, justice, peace. It’s pissed me off, the peace movement – what do you mean, “peace”? Fuck peace in this world. Fuck that shit, I’d rather die. I’d rather kill some of these bastards that are trying to destroy this world and take control of everything. Fuck you. I’d rather die. Peace without justice is not worth having, bottom line. Peace at the barrel of a gun is not fucking peace.”

And he predicted that eventually the scenario would play out in mob violence and retribution:

“I really feel that as long as we know the truth, the truth, an honest truth about what these people have done, then justice will play itself out quite naturally. We won’t really need to even manipulate it or set it up. It’ll happen. But we need to know the truth. And a lot of people are going to be hanging from lampposts or worse, I’m sure. I don’t doubt that for a second. All these people — they’ve got hell to pay.”

O’Keefe described former Rep. Ron Paul, a frequent candidate for the presidency with a penchant for attracting extremists to his cause, as “an incredible exception” to the corruption of American politics, which he described as “a servile, disgusting, treasonous body of assholes who actually have sold the American nation down the river.”

“The rest of ‘em, almost without exception, are a bunch of fucking puppets, and they’re a disgrace. And they should be rounded up and arrested for fucking treason — forthwith.”

For adopting such extremist beliefs and espousing such hateful nonsense, O’Keefe and Atzmon have been heavily marginalized within the larger Palestinian-rights and antiwar communities.

Even before O’Keefe made his presence known on the extremist scene, a group of pro-Palestinian activists and writers published a letter denouncing the kind of anti-Semitism being peddled by Atzmon and his cohorts:

“We reaffirm that there is no room in this historic and foundational analysis of our struggle for any attacks on our Jewish allies, Jews, or Judaism; nor denying the Holocaust; nor allying in any way shape or form with any conspiracy theories, far-right, orientalist, and racist arguments, associations and entities. Challenging Zionism, including the illegitimate power of institutions that support the oppression of Palestinians, and the illegitimate use of Jewish identities to protect and legitimize oppression, must never become an attack on Jewish identities, nor the demeaning and denial of Jewish histories in all their diversity.

Indeed, we regard any attempt to link and adopt antisemitic or racist language, even if it is within a self-described anti-imperialist and anti-Zionist politics, as reaffirming and legitimizing Zionism. In addition to its immorality, this language obscures the fundamental role of imperialism and colonialism in destroying our homeland, expelling its people, and sustaining the systems and ideologies of oppression, apartheid and occupation. It leaves one squarely outside true solidarity with Palestine and its people.”

A similar group of Palestinian intellectuals and activists co-signed a lengthy statement denouncing Atzmon and his supporters, concluding: “At this historic junction — when the need to struggle for the liberation of Palestine is more vital than ever and the fault lines of capitalist empire are becoming more widely exposed — no anti-oppressive revolution can be built with ultra-right allies or upon foundations friendly to creeping fascism.”

For his part, O’Keefe dismisses these critics by labeling them “cultural Marxists” – a far-right concept regarding the sources of liberal politics that inspired Anders Behring Breivik to kill 77 people in Norway in July 2011.

West Virginia Klan Leader Claims Returning Military Will Help Them Train for ‘the Upcoming Battle’

Posted in Extremists in the Military, Klan by David Neiwert on June 13, 2014 - 1:34 pm
A scene from the documentary

A scene from the documentary

A British television crew filming a gathering of Ku Klux Klansmen in West Virginia this spring recorded one of the group’s leaders discussing a plan to use returning military veterans to train KKK members in combat techniques for “the upcoming battle” – presumably the “coming race war” that the Klan and other white supremacists have long predicted.

The nine-minute video documentary by Barcroft TV is a striking portrait of the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, an organization based in Pelham, N.C., with chapters throughout the South, including this one in West Virginia. It includes some appalling insights into their children’s upbringing and their certainty about a looming social apocalypse.

But most disturbing is the segment in which the hooded Klansman leading the rally tells the crowd about the group’s future plans:

We’re looking at something a little different for probably the next couple of years, trying to get our men and women ready for the upcoming battle that we’re about to take upon us. And this is something that no Klan has ever done, and we’re going to start it. All our boys are finally coming back home from the military, which is good. And we’re getting a lot more military members joining, which is good, as we’re going to start doing a lot more military training.

Now that we got our Marines and our Army back, they’re going to start showing us how to skin, how to survive off the land. We’re going to try to move in another direction with the Loyal White Knights, and that is starting armed training, hand-to-hand combat, and stuff like that, just for the upcoming battle.

The Klansman is not correct, of course – this has been attempted previously by other KKK organizations. Indeed, the presence of far-right extremists within the military is a longstanding problem and frequently involves a Klan recruiter joining the armed forces.

The plan described by the Klan leader in the video is exactly the type of scenario that the Department of Homeland Security warned about in a 2009 law enforcement bulletin: ( continue to full post… )

Judge Finds Georgia Militia Leader Guilty of Murdering Pregnant Wife

Posted in Antigovernment, Domestic Terrorism, Extremists in the Military by Bill Morlin on March 27, 2014 - 3:28 pm
Isaac Aguigui

Isaac Aguigui

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.

Minnesota Militia Leader Arrested in Military ID Ripoff

Posted in Extremist Crime, Extremists in the Military, Militias by Bill Morlin on December 12, 2013 - 3:19 pm

The “commander” of an antigovernment Minnesota militia — a man who was trained in intelligence gathering by the U.S. Army and currently serving in the National Guard — was arrested yesterday by the FBI on charges of stealing the classified personnel roster of 400 members of his former military unit.

Keith Michael Novak, 25, who served in Iraq with the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division before joining the Minnesota Army National Guard, stole the identity information in a scheme to fund and provide fake identities for his militia unit, according to a federal criminal complaint.

The case was the latest example of extremists in military units, a problem that the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has focused much public attention on over the years. In 2006, the SPLC’s Intelligence Report detailed a large number of extremists in the military, eventually leading to a tightening of military regulations. ( continue to full post… )

Army Secretary Wrong to OK Participation in Anti-LGBT Hate Groups

Posted in Anti-LGBT, Extremists in the Military by Josh Glasstetter on December 12, 2013 - 12:00 pm

The U.S. Army, in its guide on extremist activities, notes that the “Department of Defense has a longstanding policy of intolerance for organizations, practices, or activities that are discriminatory in nature.” It also notes that “[h]igher and more restrictive standards of conduct distinguish military personnel from their civilian counterparts.” As a result, “[p]articipation in extremist organizations and activities by Army personnel is inconsistent with the responsibilities of military Service.”

Unfortunately, recent actions by Army Secretary John McHugh have worked to undermine this standard. Facing sustained pressure from prominent anti-LGBT hate groups, McHugh has thrown open the doors for service members to actively participate in such groups – and worse.

McHugh and the Army came under fire in October when Todd Starnes, a commentator on Fox News Radio, wrote an article about an equal opportunity briefing at Camp Shelby in Mississippi. The briefing, which apparently drew from Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) materials, correctly listed the American Family Association (AFA) as a hate group.

Starnes’ sensationalized pieces suggested that the Army had “labeled Christians as extremists” “because of their support for traditional marriage.” That couldn’t be further from the truth. First off, it’s laughable for Starnes to equate all Christians with a viciously anti-LGBT group. Secondly, the SPLC’s designation of AFA as a hate group had nothing to do with biblical beliefs or opposition to same-sex marriage and everything to do with the group’s demonization and lies about LGBT people. The group routinely smears gays as pedophiles and claims, incredibly, that “homosexuals in the [German] military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and six million dead Jews.” ( continue to full post… )

Families of Slain Couple in FEAR Militia Case File Claim Against U.S. Army

Posted in Antigovernment, Domestic Terrorism, Extremists in the Military by Don Terry on August 29, 2013 - 5:18 pm
Victims Tiffany York and Michael Roark

The families of two teenagers shot to death execution-style in the Georgia woods in 2011 by a gang of American soldiers trying to cover up their criminal enterprise and delusional plot to overthrow the government took the first step today in a $30 million wrongful death lawsuit against the U.S. Army.

Charging the Army with a long list of negligent acts, the families are seeking $15 million for each murdered loved one: Tiffany York, 17, a high school junior, and her boyfriend, Michael Roark, 19, a former soldier who was discharged three days before he was killed.

The Army’s negligent acts and omissions – particularly its handling of an earlier investigation into the death of the gang ringleader’s wife – “directly and foreseeably caused the deaths of Claimants’ children,” says the document. ( continue to full post… )

Leader in Georgia Antigovernment Terror Plot Pleads, Gets Life in Prison

Posted in Antigovernment, Domestic Terrorism, Extremists in the Military, Patriot Groups by Don Terry on July 19, 2013 - 1:21 pm

LUDOWICI, Ga. – The suspected leader of a murderous militia of military men was the last to be interrogated that mild Georgia winter evening 18 months ago. Although he was only 20 at the time, United States Army Pvt. Isaac Aguigui played it cool and defiant. “You can go to hell,” he told an agent from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI). His tough-guy act didn’t last long. Within 20 minutes, Aguigui deserted his rigid military discipline and whimpered, “I’m just going to end up in a jail cell alone for the rest of my life.”

Today, his tearful prophecy came true.

The now 22-year-old soldier was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole after pleading guilty to the murder of Tiffany York, 17, and her boyfriend, Michael Roark, 19, a former soldier who served with Aguigui at the Fort Stewart Army base in Hinesville. Georgia state prosecutors say the young sweethearts were shot to death in the woods not far from the sprawling military facility to keep secret Aguigui’s video-game inspired militia and its delusional plans to overthrow the government of the United States through a torrent of bombings, kidnappings and political assassinations. ( continue to full post… )

After Hatewatch Story, Maryland Military Engineer is Suspended

Posted in Anti-Black, Extremists in the Military, White Nationalism by Bill Morlin on July 8, 2013 - 2:37 pm

The U.S. Army is not commenting on its decision to suspend with pay one of its chemical and biological research engineers while he is investigated for his reported close ties to two racist groups espousing white nationalist views.

John Stortstrom, a mechanical engineer who worked for the Army at its Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC) in Maryland, was suspended May 28 after published reports disclosed he was among 150 white nationalists who attended the American Renaissance conference in early April in Tennessee. American Renaissance is a journal dedicated to race and intelligence, with a heavy focus on the “psychopathology” of black people. Its editor has written that black people are incapable of sustaining any kind of civilization. ( continue to full post… )

Alleged Leader of Soldiers’ Terror Gang Faces Murder Hearing Today

Posted in Antigovernment, Domestic Terrorism, Extremists in the Military by Don Terry on July 1, 2013 - 9:43 am

HINESVILLE, Ga. – FEAR goes on trial today.

Court-martial proceedings against Pvt. Isaac Aguigui (right), the accused ringleader of FEAR, an antigovernment gang of active-duty American soldiers, are scheduled to begin here this morning on the Fort Stewart Army base where, military prosecutors charge, the young soldier murdered his wife nearly two years ago.

Sgt. Deirdre Wetzker Aguigui, a promising Army linguist, was found unconscious on July 17, 2011, on the sofa in the living room of the Aguiguis’ home on the sprawling base and later pronounced dead at a post hospital. She was 24 years old and five months pregnant.

Aguigui allegedly financed the Fort Stewart-based gang – including a frantic two-month buying spree of $87,000 worth of military-grade weapons – with $500,000 in life insurance money he received shortly after his wife’s death.

A few months later, state prosecutors say, the gang murdered two teenagers to keep secret its plot to overthrow the government through a torrent of kidnappings, bombings and political assassinations. The murder weapon was one of the guns purchased with Deirdre Aguigui’s insurance proceeds. ( continue to full post… )

Engineer at Elite Army Weapons Lab Tied to Racist Groups

Posted in Anti-Black, Extremists in the Military, White Nationalism by Bill Morlin on May 23, 2013 - 9:53 am

A young research engineer at the U.S. Army’s elite chemical and biological research laboratory in Maryland has close ties to two racist groups espousing white nationalist views, one of which has called for a homeland for white people.

John Stortstrom, a mechanical engineer who works for the Army at its Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC), was among 150 white nationalists, many of them young, who attended the American Renaissance conference held in early April in Tennessee. American Renaissance is a journal dedicated to race and intelligence, with a heavy focus on the “psychopathology” of black people. Its editor has written that black people are incapable of sustaining any kind of civilization. ( continue to full post… )