One of two brothers indicted this week in connection with the bombing of a Scottsdale, Ariz., diversity office was a former Klansman and leading skinhead recruiter with a predilection for explosives.
As part of a sweeping undercover investigation that led to the indictment, federal agents also raided the Indiana home of longtime white separatist Tom Metzger on Thursday, removing computers and other items, but not arresting him.
In another related move, a man described as a white supremacist with expertise in weapons and the making of napalm was arrested on his rural property in Missouri and charged with being a felon in possession of firearms.
Dennis Mahon, 58, and his twin brother, Daniel, were arrested Thursday following the search of a home in Davis Junction, Ill. A federal grand jury indictment in Arizona charges them with conspiring to damage and destroy buildings and property. “The object of the conspiracy was to promote racial discord on behalf of the ‘White Aryan Resistance,’” the indictment states. WAR is a white supremacist organization founded by Metzger more than a quarter century ago.
The Mahons each face up to 40 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if they're convicted of conspiring to damage buildings and property by means of an explosive. Dennis Mahon also has been charged with two additional violations: malicious damage of a building by means of an explosive, which carries up to 40 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, and distribution of information related to explosives, which carries up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The charges against the Mahon brothers stem from an incident in February 2004 when a bomb was mailed to Scottsdale’s diversity office. Diversity Director Don Logan needed extensive surgery to repair injuries to his hands and arms. His secretary suffered injuries to her face and eyes. A third employee was treated on the site for her injuries.
The indictment maintains that in September 2003, Dennis Mahon called Logan’s office and left a message saying that “the White Aryan Resistance is growing in Scottsdale. There’s a few white people who are standing up.”
Dennis Mahon helped make the bomb, the indictment says. In 2005, both Mahons traveled to Catoosa, Okla., in an attempt to buy literature and components on bomb-making, and they discussed how to avoid detection by authorities, such as by splitting up and wearing disguises, the indictment alleges.
In October 2007, Dennis Mahon directed someone to go to Missouri to learn how to make improvised explosive devices – homemade bombs often placed on roadsides – and learn techniques for avoiding detection by police, the indictment says. The following year, he directed someone to “conduct violent action on behalf of the movement” and show him proof of the results with copies of newspaper articles, authorities say.
Dennis Mahon, who in 1988 was fired from TWA for his Klan involvement, is a veteran white supremacist organizer. He was active in Oklahoma’s White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan throughout the 1980s, even serving as imperial dragon until he stepped down in January 1991. That fall, he recruited neo-Nazis and skinheads in the former East Germany, reportedly helping to organize Klan groups. He also met and enlisted Ian Stuart Donaldson, the late leader of the British racist rock group Skrewdriver and the father of the skinhead movement in Europe. (He wasn’t always successful at recruiting skinheads in the United States, however. Several of them later stabbed and beat him at a Georgia gathering.)
During the Persian Gulf War in 1991, Mahon organized a small rally in Tulsa in support of Saddam Hussein. He later claimed to have received a couple of hundred dollars in an unmarked envelope from the Iraqi government.
In 1992, Mahon parted ways with the Klan, disgusted by the way informants had infiltrated the groups and by the nonviolent image that some Klan leaders were trying to project. He joined Tom Metzger’s White Aryan Resistance, which by the late 1980s “appeared to be the primary racialist organization in the United States,” according to Jeffrey Kaplan’s Encyclopedia of White Power. Mahon expressed his frustration with the popular perception of Klansmen as “an uneducated hick half drunk, in bib overalls, with tobacco juice dripping down his chin, burning a cross on some poor Blacks [sic] lawn.”
He wrote: “…After 12 years of proudly wearing the robe of the Invisible Order, I feel that Tom Metzger’s leadership and personal strategies fit my personality and mind set better at this time of my life. Also, I just got tired of seeing so many mistakes in tactics and ideology of the leaders of the other 25 or so Klan groups in Zoglandia [referring to ZOG, the Zionist-Occupied Government]. So many of these mini-fuhrers of these other Klans have embarrassed me with these displays of weakness and idiotic statements of ‘Niggers are the cause of all our problems — we got to kill the niggers — nigger this, nigger that.’ It’s like a broken record.”
By August 1994, Mahon was calling himself the heartland director of WAR. That month, former debutante Carol Howe, an ardent racist who acquired a swastika tattoo on one arm, filed for a restraining order against Mahon after he allegedly raped her and threatened her. She agreed to become a paid informant for the ATF. Howe reported that Mahon wanted to bomb power lines in Oklahoma City to trigger a race war and that his group seemed to be amassing weapons, according to the Rocky Mountain News. Mahon boasted about his bomb-making prowess and said he once detonated an ammonium nitrate bomb beneath a truck. She also said that Mahon and Andreas Strassmeir, a German citizen who helped provide security at the white supremacist compound Elohim City in eastern Oklahoma, had mentioned a “Tim Tuttle” — the name Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh sometimes used as an alias.
Howe told the FBI two days after the Oklahoma City bombing that Mahon and Strassmeir had taken three trips to Oklahoma City in the months preceding the bombing, but that she doubted Mahon had been directly involved in the attack. Howe wasn’t allowed to testify during McVeigh’s trial. Mahon insisted he did not take part in the Oklahoma bombing.
But in 2001, Mahon announced his intention to move to Kingman, Ariz., where McVeigh lived while he plotted the Oklahoma City bombing. According to The Arizona Republic, Mahon liked Kingman because of the prevalence of anti-government types and wanted to develop links with white supremacist organizations in Phoenix. WAR would mainly go after undocumented immigrants from Mexico, he said.
At Aryanfest 2004, a gathering of skinheads near Scottsdale, he bragged about his connections to McVeigh. “Let’s just say he and I did some serious business together. And after Oklahoma City, the feds came after me big-time, boy, but they never proved a thing,” Mahon was quoted as saying in the Phoenix New Times.
Dennis Mahon also talked about destroying the nation’s capital. “You nuke D.C., you’re going to wipe out most of the politicians, plus a couple million crack head niggers,” he said.
“Terrorism works,” he added. “We did a lot of terrorism in Tulsa in the 1980s. We put heads in the road, and people paid attention. You have to give it to the Iraqis, they’re putting us to shame right now. I mean, I hate those cock-sucking towel heads, but they’re showing us how it’s done.”
Daniel Mahon, who was employed by American Airlines, was also involved in the movement, though not as prominently as his brother. He was also a member of WAR and in the early 90s served as grand kleagle (recruiter) of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
The same day the Mahons were being arrested, ATF agents served a search warrant on Metzger’s home in Warsaw, Ind. On his 24-hour hotline, Metzger said that three computers and an address book were among the items taken. Noting that he has been called before grand juries and jailed in the past, Metzger – sounding nonchalant, almost jovial -- called the raid “a little speed bump in the road.” He acknowledged knowing the Mahons since the early 1980s. “They’re friends of mine,” he said. “I’m sure the Mahon brothers are smarter than to do something like that.”
Something of an elder statesman in the white separatist movement, Metzger, 71, is a former John Birch Society member and former Klansman who made inroads into the skinhead movement. The Southern Poverty Law Center sued Metzger and his son, John, in connection with the beating death of an Ethiopian college student by skinheads in Portland, Ore., in 1988. The SPLC argued that the Metzgers should be found liable for intentionally inciting the skinheads to engage in violent confrontations with minorities. In October 1990, a jury returned a $12.5 million verdict against the Metzgers and WAR, with Metzger personally responsible for $5.5 million. He now advocates a “lone wolf” philosophy, maintaining that individuals acting alone or in small cells are the best hope for achieving a white revolution.
On Stormfront, the leading white supremacist web forum, some posters blasted the Metzger raid as yet another example of stepped-up government prosecution of white nationalists. “When the Obama feds begin taking down our leaders like this and attacking all our individual rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution, then how much longer do any of us have?” wrote one. “Will they come in the middle of the night and haul us all off to the camps as it was in Red Dawn? Were [sic] and when do we make our stand?”
Robert Joos, 56, the man arrested in Missouri, came to investigators’ attention when Dennis Mahon’s telephone records showed that the first call Mahon made the morning the package bomb was left in Scottsdale was to a cell phone in Joos’ name.
Joos has been identified as a pastor of the Sacerdotal Order of David Company. He has prior convictions of resisting arrest, carrying a concealed weapon and driving without a license. In 1984, some of his followers shot at a Missouri State Highway Patrol trooper. Joos was later charged with serving a false restraining order on the trooper, ordering him not to arrest one of the men involved in the shooting. Joos was ordered to serve one year in jail but was a fugitive until his arrest in 1994. He was then sentenced to two years.
Undercover ATF agents and a “cooperating individual” met with both Mahons in Catoosa, Okla., in February 2005, and the brothers told them about Joos’ “retreat” on more than 200 acres in Missouri, where members of the “movement” would train. One of the Mahons described Joos “as a longtime white supremacist associate and expert on weapons, explosives, bomb making and general survival skills,” according to a sworn affidavit by ATF Special Agent Kevin Farnsworth.
The undercover team met with Joos several times in 2008 and in January and February of this year, the affidavit says. He allegedly taught the informant how to make napalm and agreed to train others in the informant’s group.
Joos also told the undercover agents and the informant that he hid from law enforcement in the late 1980s and early 1990s in 18 caves on his property, which he said he still stockpiled with food, water and weapons “to avoid capture or attack by the government or other adversaries.”
The undercover operatives said they saw several weapons on Joos’ property, and that he told them he had a friend with a connection with a firearms dealer and that they were working to buy a dozen Russian-made sniper rifles.
Sonia Scherr contributed to this report.