After Thriving in 2001, Radical Right is in Turmoil
The Alliance's troubles were only the beginning. During the same period that the group's new leader, Erich Gliebe, was struggling to avoid a schism, a wide array of other hate groups were experiencing devastating setbacks. Consider:
· On Nov. 7, British neofascist Mark Cotterill, who had worked to unite factions of the American radical right, was deported to England. Immigration and Naturalization Service officials investigated Cotterill in the wake of an Intelligence Report exposé that reported Cotterill had used his American Friends of the British National Party to raise some $85,000 for a British hate group — in contravention of a U.S. law that requires agents of foreign parties to register. Though Cotterill married an American woman last spring, he will not be eligible for reentry for 10 years.
· Former Klansman David Duke, the only figure on the American scene with stature approaching that of Pierce, returned after two years in Europe to plead guilty this December to federal charges related to his ripping off his supporters (see Insatiable). His standing in the movement has been badly damaged by revelations that the money he raised for the cause was actually blown at casino craps tables.
· The break-up of Aryan Nations, one of America's best known neo-Nazi groups until it was sued into bankruptcy by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2000, continued. In December, the aging and sickly Aryan founder, Richard Butler, named Ray Redfeairn as his heir — for the second time. After the first appointment, Redfeairn had booted Butler out of the group. But then he thought better of it, and the two made up.
Meanwhile, a small Aryan faction based in Pennsylvania and led by August Kreis continued to claim that it was the real Aryan Nations. Though Butler's faction absorbed a small Southern Klan group in early 2003, neither his Idaho-based faction nor Kreis' group appears capable of resuscitating the Aryan Nations of old, which held important annual congresses and was a key movement player.
· Butler's faction, now based in his Hayden tract home, is clearly in trouble. This February, Bradley Jenkins, who heads the new Aryan Nations Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (see Preserving Racism), pleaded for $1,700 for Butler's mortgage. "Pastor Butler stood for all of us when he was on trial," Jenkins wrote. "Now we can help give a little back. Pastor needs $1,700 before Feb. 20th or he is going to loose [sic] his home."
· The World Church of the Creator (WCOTC) has been hurt seriously by two splits, the loss of its name in a copyright lawsuit, and other legal actions against it (see Creator Crack-up). But that didn't compare to the damage caused by the arrest this January of WCOTC leader Matt Hale, who was charged with soliciting the murder of the federal judge in his copyright case. Hale could face 30 years in prison.
· In raids after Hale's arrest, authorities seized much of the racist line of goods that has sustained WCOTC financially. As a result, Hale stand-in Thomas Kroenke pleaded for money in a recent E-mail headed "BEG-A-THON," telling his comrades that WCOTC's many Web sites would be shut down if he didn't raise $600 right away.
· FBI agents this January testified about a bizarre espionage case involving the theft of top-secret U.S. military documents. An old acquaintance of well-known white supremacist attorney Kirk Lyons, the agents testified, sent a box of documents to Lyons' North Carolina organization (see Cashing in on the Confederacy); $2,000 was allegedly sent back. Lyons was not indicted, and strongly protested the way he was named, describing himself in a press release as "a loyal American."
· Immigration officials this February arrested Ernst Zundel, a notorious Holocaust denier and German citizen who lived for years in Canada, for immigration violations. Zundel had moved to Tennessee in 2001, after Canadian courts refused to grant him citizenship, and married his U.S. collaborator, Ingrid Rimland. In late February, officials deported Zundel back to Canada, which may decide to send him on to his native Germany. At the same time, the Germans issued an arrest warrant for Zundel for producing Holocaust denial material that is illegally distributed in Germany.
· Also this February, the proprietor of Stormfront, America's best-known white supremacist Web site, told backers that his site was being "relentlessly" attacked by antiracist hackers. Don Black said that the only solution was to buy more bandwidth and computer power, but that his site was already in the red. "My friends," he wrote, "we are in a crisis situation. If donations don't pick up, right now, Stormfront will soon be history. It's that bad. There is only a matter of a few weeks, if that."
Black Muslims and Al Qaeda
This litany of events, along with the arrests of an array of lesser lights and alleged criminal plotters (see The Blotter), has the radical right in a frenzy.
"It isn't being reported in the media, but there is a roundup taking place of those deemed most likely to lead insurrections against the American government in a time of civil disturbances," wrote Edgar Steele, an anti-Semitic Idaho attorney who once represented the Aryan Nations. "Suddenly, all the stops have been pulled out... . I speak for the politically incorrect among us who are being led away."
Taken together, the leading organizations that have suffered severe setbacks make up a sizeable portion of the movement. The National Alliance, David Duke's European-American Unity and Rights Organization, Matt Hale's World Church of the Creator and the two factions of Aryan Nations are composed of a total of 183 chapters — or almost 26% of the total number of U.S. hate groups operating in 2002.
Also ailing is the American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, which dropped in 2002 from 18 chapters to 14 and whose listing of "events" on its Web site remains blank. The so-called "bully-boy Klan" has been extremely weak since its leader, Jeff Berry, was sentenced to seven years in late 2001 for his role in holding two reporters at gunpoint. Prosecutors brought charges against him after the Southern Poverty Law Center sued on behalf of the journalists and won them a $120,000 judgment.
Racist black groups haven't suffered the same slings and arrows. But they have courted more controversy than many others on the radical right. Last summer, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan took an antiwar "peace tour" that included stops in Iraq and Libya. In October, after it came out that alleged Washington, D.C., sniper John Allen Muhammad had been a member, Farrakhan said he would not eject him unless he is proven guilty.
Another group, the New Black Panther Party, joined with other marchers calling for "Death to Israel" on the Capitol Mall in April. Panther leader Malik Zulu Shabazz, meanwhile, offered his "support" to accused Sept. 11 terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui during his trial. And another Panther leader, Quanell X of Houston, stood by former bodyguard Leon Battle after Battle and four others were charged with trying to join Al Qaeda and fight in Afghanistan.
There were some signs, however, that the Panthers had stalled. Late last year, principals of the original Black Panther Party — which, unlike the New Panthers, has no real history of racism — filed a copyright infringement suit against the new group. New Panther activity, including efforts to start chapters in three Alabama cities, fell off after the suit was filed. In October, the Panther Web page was taken down.