The FBI in 2010 disrupted what its agents now believe was a terrorist plot that involved killing President Obama, according to testimony and court documents filed in U.S. District Court in Spokane, Wash.
The revelation came at the two-day sentencing hearing for white supremacist Wayde Lynn Kurt, the accused mastermind of an alleged plot that was foiled with his arrest on federal firearms and forgery charges.
At the time of his arrest on Aug. 30, 2010, Kurt was associated with a gang of violent neo-Nazi skinheads and white supremacist Odinists who proudly talked of carrying out “coon-hunting” racial attacks in the Pacific Northwest. Their conversations were captured on a videotape that was later turned over to the FBI and shown in court during Kurt’s sentencing hearing.
“I believe Mr. Kurt had a terrorist plan that involved the president of the United States,” FBI Special Agent Joseph Cleary testified Thursday.
U.S. District Court Judge Frem Nielsen granted prosecutors’ request at the hearing for a “terrorism enhancement” to Kurt’s prison sentence. The judge ruled that Kurt’s activities met the definition of terrorism after hearing testimony that included newly released excerpts from secret tape recordings from conversations Kurt had with an FBI informant.
“You are a risk to the public because your criminal life is serious,” the judge said today in sentencing Kurt to 13 years in prison – two more than requested by federal prosecutors.
The judge noted the 54-year-old defendant has six prior federal felony convictions and shows no remorse for his acts. During his almost 20 years in federal prison, Kurt associated with other white supremacists and militia leaders and became a high priest – or “gothi” – in the Asatru religion popular with a growing segment or racists.
Kurt’s “final resolution” terrorist plans were given additional credence, federal authorities say, because Kurt is a master counterfeiter who not only made counterfeit currency but embossed driver’s licenses, Social Security cards and other forms of identification. He had 24 different names with his photo on forged Washington state driver’s licenses and even obtained a set of dental records using one of his false identities, investigators said.
But it was his talk of violence with other white supremacists and illegal contact with firearms that concerned the FBI the most, testimony and court documents disclose.
In a conversation recorded on Aug. 12, 2010, Kurt referred to President Obama as “Barry Soetoro,” the name used by those in the so-called birther movement who falsely claim the chief executive wasn’t born in the United States and is actually an Indonesian citizen.
Kurt talks on the tapes about setting up a paramilitary group or “militia-type organization “based loosely on concepts of the Northwest Front headed by Harold Covington” and using polygraphs and voice-stress analyzers to screen prospective members.
Kurt talked about other white supremacist groups, including the Aryan Nations, being bankrupted and put out of business by lawsuits filed by Morris Dees and the Southern Poverty Law Center (publisher of this blog).
On the transcript, Kurt boasts that his antigovernment, white separatist militia would avoid such civil suits by leasing buildings and equipment and using debit cards for cash transactions “so (they) can’t even be traced, you know. Morris Dees and his pig shit wouldn’t even be able to figure (it) out.”
Kurt then refers to discussions “about how to rip off nuclear materials,” assassinating the president, replicating the April 1995 deadly attack on the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City, suicide missions and using an aircraft to turn a city into an inferno.
“Just fucking, I mean, you know, killing the President of the United States ‘cause he is a fucking nigger and how to do it,” Kurt says on the tape excerpts, admitted as a public court document.
Obama has “got no interest in the United States whatsoever other than running us right into the ground,” Kurt says, quickly adding: “He needs to be killed. He needs to be killed.”
Later in the tapes, Kurt talks about spending almost 20 years in prison for various federal crimes, including counterfeiting, and how he now wants to deal with “the rats” whose testimony helped convict him. In 1989, he was acquitted of aggravated first-degree murder in Snohomish County, in western Washington, after being found in possession of Mac-10 machine gun ammunition linked to the murder of a 6-year-old child.
On the stand Wednesday, Kurt said he wasn’t involved in that child’s murder but admitted breaking other federal laws that he doesn’t consider crimes.
“They’ve got to answer for what they’ve done,” he says on the tapes of informants who have testified against him, “but business first. Take care of business. Got to stop Barry Soetoro from being re-elected. Absolutely.”
After learning Kurt was planning a terrorist attack that he described as his “final solution,” the FBI used terrorism task force agents and an aircraft to follow Kurt to a shooting range in northeastern Washington. Nine days later, in line with the FBI’s stated goal of disrupting potential terrorist plots, the decision was made to arrest Kurt on Aug. 30, 2010, in Spokane.
“You could say you were ‘just talking,’ but that talk was really serious and of great concern,” the judge said as he sentenced Kurt. “I don’t know what that ‘final solution’ was you talked about, but I think the FBI was living up to its responsibility by stopping this before something happened.”
At the time of his arrest, Kurt was associated with an Odinist group, Vanguard Kindred, and a sister neo-Nazi skinhead gang called Valhalla Bound Skinheads, whose members had carried out racial attacks in Eastern Washington and North Idaho, referring to the forays as “coon hunting.”
While previously in prison, Kurt befriended another Odinist, Richard Kemp, a convicted member of the 1980s terrorist group The Order, which went on a murderous rampage in hopes of starting a race war, in an effort funded through armed robberies and counterfeiting.
At Thursday’s hearing, the prosecutors played a video of a group holding an Odinist “blot” ceremony, in which the master of ceremony asks four Norse gods for protection from “niggers, beaners and chinks” as Nazi swastikas and National Socialist Movement flags hang on nearby trees.
When he voluntarily took the witness stand at the sentencing hearing, Kurt testified he is merely a race separatist and doesn’t condone violence. Under questioning by defense attorney Richard Wall, Kurt flatly refuted his involvement in any terrorist plot or plan to assassinate the president.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Earl Hicks later argued that Kurt was committing perjury in a failed attempt to dispute overwhelming evidence against him.
“I don’t know specifically what he had planned,” FBI agent Cleary testified. “He was desperate. He was old, and he was going to make something happen.”
The agent’s testimony was supported in a 22-page sentencing memorandum and dozens of pages of additional evidence submitted to the court by Hicks and fellow Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Van Marter.
The Justice Department believes the evidence supports the conclusion that Kurt intended to carry out a “terrorist act against the government to include ensuring that President Obama would not be re-elected,” the prosecutors’ memorandum says.
Portions of the tapes were not played for a jury last October that convicted Kurt of being a felon in possession of a firearm. The following month Kurt was indicted on additional federal charges of aggravated identity theft, two counts of unlawful production of an identification card, two counts of unlawful possession of an identification card, and making a false statement.
On Feb. 8, Kurt pleaded guilty to unlawful production of Social Security cards and making a false statement to federal investigators. The judge sentenced Kurt to the maximum 10 years on the firearms conviction from the jury trial and added three more years for the false identification conviction.