Klan Organizer Could Be Headed for U.S. Army

Ku Klux Klan

A northeastern Indiana Ku Klux Klan organizer told a judge in February that he'd been accepted as a recruit by the U.S. Army in 2006, despite his high-profile white supremacist activities. Fred Wilson, 21, said he was originally scheduled to report for basic training last July 13. But, he said in court, Army officials granted him delayed entry after he was arrested for his widely publicized role in a brutal attack on longtime American Knights of the KKK leader Jeff Berry last July 1.

The Army has strict regulations against active-duty personnel engaging in "racist extremist" activities and a stated commitment to weeding out hate group members. But as the Intelligence Report reported in a cover story last summer, recruiters and commanders, under heavy pressure to maintain enlistment levels in the midst of an unpopular war, often look the other way when it comes to a recruit or active-duty soldier's involvement with racist extremism.

The Pentagon's official response to the report, which detailed whistle-blower allegations of "thousands" of extremists admitted to the Army alone, was to describe it as "inaccurate and misleadingly alarmist." It shrugged off requests to enforce a "zero tolerance" policy toward racial extremists in the military.

Wilson revealed his Army plans at a hearing in DeKalb County Superior Court, where he pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of battery for throwing a chair at Jeff Berry during a barbecue in Spencerville, Ind., sparking an altercation that ended with Jeff Berry's son, Anthony Berry, beating the elder Klan leader almost to death. At the time, according to police, Anthony Berry and Wilson were attempting to reinvigorate the American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, which the elder Berry led before serving a prison term for holding two journalists at gunpoint. Wilson had recently helped establish new Klan chapters in Auburn and Albion, Ind.

Wilson was sentenced to 10 days in jail. He said he planned to report for Army basic training later this spring. Prosecutor ClaraMary Winebrenner, noting Wilson's previous convictions for drunk driving and possessing alcohol as a minor, said she hoped the military would "straighten him out."