Extremist Ex-Cons Back on the Street

A fresh batch of extremist ex-cons hits the streets


(AP Wide World Photo)

David Duke

When America's most famous neo-Nazi pleaded guilty in 2003 to charges that included defrauding his own supporters, he was dispatched to a medium-security facility in Texas, bunking in an open space with 72 other prisoners, many of them Hispanic and African-American. "They weren't that thrilled to see me," Duke told the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

But when Duke went free this past May, the movers and shakers of the white supremacist world were thrilled indeed.

Duke was welcomed back with a well-attended racist unity conference in Louisiana, co-sponsored by Duke's own hate group, the European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO), along with several other hate groups including the neo-Nazi National Alliance, the white-supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens and the Holocaust-denying Barnes Review.

Several white-supremacist leaders signed Duke's "New Orleans Protocol," a set of principles "pledging adherents to a pan-European outlook" — and, ironically enough, to "honorable and ethical behavior." An estimated 67,000 racists logged onto EURO's Web site for a simulcast of the main festivities.

While Duke works on a new book tentatively titled For Love of My People, speculation is rampant about whether he will step into a more exalted leadership position in the hate movement — or perhaps make another run at public office. The ex-Klan grand wizard was elected to one term as a Louisiana state representative in the late 1980s, but lost bids for governor, U.S.. senator and president.

"Of course I'm contemplating a return to public office," he told the Times-Picayune.


Dennis McGiffen

Once grand dragon of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in Illinois, 42-year-old Dennis McGiffen quit the KKK because he found it "too wimpy" and started a racist gang with seriously violent aims.

Patterned after The Order, a band of underground revolutionaries that murdered a Jewish radio host in 1984 and robbed armored cars to the tune of $4 million, McGiffen's New Order planned bold acts — assassinations, bombings, even poisoning a public water supply — which would again be financed by bank robberies and armored-car heists.

Investigators found a hit list including filmmaker Steven Spielberg, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, and Southern Poverty Law Center co-founder Morris Dees.

The New Order didn't get nearly as far as the old Order; its plans were foiled when a government informant told authorities the group was stockpiling automatic weapons, even a "light anti-tank rocket system," to ignite a race war against blacks and Jews. McGiffen claimed that his murderous plans were nothing more than drunken ramblings he never intended to carry out.

"If getting drunk and running your mouth can get you guilty of conspiracy," he told the judge, "it's a sad day for America." But in September 1998, he pleaded guilty to weapons charges.

This past July, after serving almost six years in prison, the 42-year-old McGiffen was let out on parole.


Joshua Caleb Sutter

Twenty-two-year-old Joshua Caleb Sutter and his Aryan Nations mentor, August Kreis, have been called the "dumb and dumber" of the neo-Nazi movement by a local newspaper editor.

Sutter, who held the curious title "minister for Islamic liaison," sat on the "high council" of Kreis' Aryan Nations faction until he was arrested last February for illegally purchasing an unmarked pistol from an undercover agent in a Philadelphia parking lot.

Sutter drew the FBI's attention by trying to form alliances with anti-American Islamist groups after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, posting a "message of solidarity and support" to Saddam Hussein on the Aryan Nations Web site, and expressing his hope that "the evil regime of the United States ... shall be utterly wiped off the face of the earth."

Sutter told a reporter he was in contact with Islamic extremists "by phone and Internet, because it's difficult to get to places like Iran."

As this issue went to press, Sutter, who has boasted that he "cannot be broken by any institution," was scheduled for release from a Georgia federal prison on Nov. 9.