A former South African intelligence operative, once accused of pro-apartheid crimes, is shoring up a U.S. neo-Nazi group
A notorious South African white supremacist, once accused of participating in planning a major terrorist assassination in his home country, has become a key player in the National Alliance, formerly America's leading neo-Nazi group.
Arthur Kemp, who now lives in Britain but was for years an intelligence operative working for the South African apartheid government, has visited the Alliance's West Virginia headquarters and several of the group's other chapters over the last two years. He also writes for and helps to edit the Alliance's National Vanguard magazine, as well as drafting speeches and radio essays for its leader.
It's unclear what Kemp's aims are — he refused repeated requests for an interview — but he is obviously helping to shore up the Alliance, which has largely collapsed since the death of founder William Pierce in 2002. He also may be trying to build stronger alliances between white supremacists in America and Europe, where he is a high-level cadre of the whites-only British National Party (BNP) and has important ties to other European white supremacist organizations.
A Radical in Uniform
Born in 1963, Kemp was raised in white-run Southern Rhodesia by a Dutch mother and a British father. In the early 1980s, he went to school at South Africa's University of Cape Town, where he tried to revive a "conservative" (meaning pro-apartheid) student club, and he has been a diehard ideologue ever since.
During the late 1980s and early 1990s, Kemp was a pro-apartheid journalist, and in 1990 he wrote a glowing history of the white supremacist Afrikaner Resistance Movement (Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging, or AWB). Founded in 1970, the AWB was created to establish a new Boer nation that would preserve white rule. In the 1980s and 1990s, the group was implicated in terrorist violence against anti-apartheid activists and, later, supporters of the post-apartheid government. The AWB's leader, Eugène Terre' Blanche, was finally imprisoned for six years for attempted murder.
Kemp ultimately went to work as a sergeant in the South African security forces, which were implicated in assassinations and other violence directed at the African National Congress (ANC) and other militant opponents of apartheid. Then, in 1993, leading ANC activist Chris Hani was assassinated, shot three times in the head at short range as he stepped from his car in Johannesburg. The assassination produced serious rioting and President F.W. de Klerk warned the country was on the brink of a race war. ANC leader Nelson Mandela appealed for calm and, ultimately, the crisis was resolved with a historic agreement to hold free elections in 1994.
Kemp, described by British newspapers at the time as an official of the National Intelligence Service (which denied any link to the Hani assassination), was interrogated by police in the murder but never charged. He admitted to drawing up a roster of names, headed by Mandela and followed by Communist Party leader Joe Slovo and then Hani, which authorities described as a hit list. Kemp claimed he didn't know it was to be used as a murder guide and offered up shifting explanations of the list, including the claim that it was "to be used merely for research purposes."
Later in 1993, murder charges in the Hani assassination were brought against the assassin (not Kemp) and a couple, Clive Derby-Lewis and his wife, Gaye. Kemp testified against the couple, saying they admitted to involvement during a lunch the three had together two days after Hani's death. (Kemp and Clive Derby-Lewis then both worked for a far-right newspaper, The Patriot.) Clive Derby-Lewis and the actual assassin, Janusz Walus, were found guilty and sentenced to death (both death sentences were later commuted to life), while Gaye Derby-Lewis was acquitted.
The fact that Kemp apparently avoided prosecution by cooperating with prosecutors and giving damning testimony against the Derby-Lewises may have made it difficult for him to remain on good terms with the South African radical right. Many activists in the racist movement believe Kemp moved on to Europe and the United States later because his former comrades came to detest him.
In any case, in 1996, two years after South Africa held free elections, Kemp relocated to Britain (he now resides near Oxford, England). That same year, the British anti-fascist magazine Searchlight reported that Kemp had addressed a neo-Nazi meeting in Germany and that one of his speeches was published in the German fascist publication Nation und Europa, founded by a former SS officer.
In the late 1990s, South Africa held Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings that offered amnesty to many of those who carried out violence either for or against the apartheid regime if they publicly confessed to those crimes. During one of those hearings, Gaye Derby-Lewis accused Kemp of aiding the assassination by providing the hit list and knowing what it was for. Kemp denied it.
Back in the USA
In the United States, Kemp is best known for a sarcastic racist essay, "An Apology to the Black Man from the White Race," that has been widely circulated by white supremacists. In his mocking response to the 1995 decision of the Southern Baptist Convention to apologize for slavery, Kemp "apologizes" to blacks for "teaching you how to read and write" and "for building you thousands of schools which we have repaired after you vandalized them and burned them down."
Kemp also is the author of March of the Titans: The History of the White Race. His massive 2006 book tracks the "white race" from 35,000 B.C. through the 20th century, ascribing nearly all cultural and scientific advances to white people. Kemp warns that multiculturalism and race-mixing are destroying this font of all that is good since "all civilizations rise and fall according to their homogeneity and nothing else." The book is anti-Semitic, containing chapters on such matters as "The Suppressed Link: Jews and Communism." Kemp and his book are favorites on the white supremacist forum Stormfront, where he occasionally weighs in on various topics. Stormfront's moderator, Jamie Kelso, has read sections of the book on the air, and the site carries a copy of Kemp's glowing history of the AWB.
(The 2006 hardback edition of March of the Titans is published by Burlington, Iowa-based Ostara Productions, a previously unknown outfit whose post office box is used by David Otto. Kemp thanks Otto in the hardback edition of the book.)
It was through his research for March of the Titans that Kemp first came into contact with the National Alliance. While reading up on "white history," he ran across the late Alliance founder William Pierce's series "Who We Are," which was published in the group's Attack and National Vanguard magazines. By 2000, Sam van Rensburg, then the Alliance's membership coordinator and himself a South African military veteran, was telling Alliance members about his countryman, Kemp. Two years later, Kemp told the neo-Nazi website, Tightrope, that Pierce's articles were "the best resource I found" and led him to contact the group.
Today, Kemp is working actively to rebuild the Alliance, which has fallen from more than 1,400 active members to a tiny handful (its chairman, Shaun Walker, was recently sentenced to seven years in prison on federal civil rights charges). And the Alliance has tried to repay the favor. In 2005, when Kemp's byline started appearing in Alliance publications, the group awarded him the "Dr. William Pierce Award for Investigative Journalism," which brought with it a $250 prize, for his article in National Vanguard, "White South Africa: What Went Wrong?"
Kemp writes for that magazine both under his own name and the pseudonym Richard Preston. He also has also been ghostwriting at least some of current Alliance Chairman Erich Gliebe's speeches and his "American Dissident Voices" shortwave broadcasts and other material — something that has not escaped movement stalwarts who don't believe the former boxer is capable of articles such as last year's "Iberian Drama: An Essential History of Spain from Antiquity through the Reconquest." "Who do they think they're kidding?" asked one post on a private E-mail list that includes many former Alliance leaders. "Erich couldn't find Spain on a map."
Gliebe's wife, Erika Snyder-Gliebe, has boasted to friends that she and Kemp share the Preston pseudonym and that she sometimes posts comments under that name to the website of Resistance Records, a music label owned by the Alliance. Kemp spent part of last two years in the United States, visiting the Alliance headquarters compound near Mill Point, W.V. and also some state chapters. He was slated to speak at the Alliance's May 2007 "Holocaust Revisionist Conference," but did not attend (Kemp did speak in 2006 at a Holocaust denial conference hosted by The Barnes Review, a denial journal run by veteran anti-Semite Willis Carto that has published Kemp). Kemp has major articles in the latest issue of National Vanguard and is believed to have visited the United States as recently as February.
Kemp's American outreach may be part of an effort to build bridges between white supremacists in Europe and the United States. In Britain, Kemp has worked for the white supremacist BNP since 2004, and he is well respected by the neo-Nazi National Democratic Party of Germany. According to Searchlight, Kemp this June was given the BNP's Excalibur merchandise outlet to run with another BNP activist. The magazine also reported that Kemp was put in charge of the ideological training of the BNP's "voting members" as part of plan to build a new elite within the party loyal to its leadership, particularly party chairman Nick Griffin (Griffin often travels to the U.S. to attend white supremacist events and solicit funds for his party). Searchlight also noted that Kemp isn't the only radical South African in a key BNP post. Lambertus Nieuwhof, who tried to bomb a mixed-race church school in South Africa in 1992, is also on their payroll and runs BNP Internet operations. Surprising no one, Nieuwhof has said he considers Kemp "a very good friend."
Kemp is clear about his goals for the white race. As he writes in his book on the AWB, "with new leadership, a new generation could easily once again take on the tradition of struggle handed down to them from previous generations." It may well be that his networking, along with his attempts to reinvigorate the Alliance that was once widely respected by white supremacists around the globe, is part of a concerted attempt to create "a new leadership" in both Europe and the U.S.