Missouri National Guard Probes Claims of Neo-Nazis in Ranks

The Missouri National Guard is investigating a new claim that its ranks are infiltrated with neo-Nazis – this time a “patched member” of the violent American Front, whose members stand accused of plotting violence in Florida.

The inquiry comes after the Missouri Legislature conducted a hearing in April to look into how the Guard took more than a year to process three complaints about another guardsmen who was an admitted neo-Nazi.

In the American Front case, a Missouri Guard member identified as Ryan Riley provided firearms and military combat training to members of the white supremacist, militia-style group, including ex-cons, last summer in Florida, court documents allege.

“In July of 2011, Ryan Riley who is a patched member of the AF Missouri chapter was present at an AF compound in north Florida,” the Florida court documents, which just came to light, say. “Riley is also a member of the United States National guard.”

Riley was not among the dozen members of the American Front arrested last week in Florida on state charges of conducting illegal paramilitary training, attempting to shoot into an occupied dwelling, and violating hate crime laws.

American Front leader Marcus Faella “had Riley conduct paramilitary training on techniques (hand-to-hand combat, edge weapon techniques) he learned from the National guard,” the documents.

“During this particular weekend, a National AF meeting was being held.  Additional training was conducted on breaking down assault rifles, water purification and other survival skills.”

Asked about that development, the Missouri National Guard released a statement this week saying a new investigation was under way, the St. Louis-Post Dispatch reported Tuesday.

“The facts outlined in the affidavit are being investigated pursuant to military protocol,” a Guard spokeswoman told the newspaper. “Appropriate disciplinary and personnel action will be taken at the conclusion of the investigation, consistent with military regulations and procedures.”

In the earlier case, a legislative hearing focused on the way Missouri National Guard commanders handled three separate workplace complaints from other state guard employees who complained of a hostile work environment because of the presence of another guardsman who was a professed neo-Nazi.

A day before the hearing, the guardsman, Sgt. Nathan Wooten, was fired from his $27,000-a-year state job serving on a military honor guard that pays respect at funerals of military veterans, the Post-Dispatch reported. It wasn’t known if Wooten remains in the Guard for monthly and summer drills.

Wooten had a portrait of Adolf Hitler in his living room and actively attempted to recruit others to his neo-Nazi beliefs, the newspaper reported. The hearing did not look at the broader question of how many other potential neo-Nazis exist within the ranks.

White supremacists within active and reserve military units have been a problem for years, but the Pentagon enacted tougher regulations in late 2009, restricting active involvement in “supremacist doctrine, ideology or causes,” such as recruiting, fundraising, demonstrating or rallying, training, organizing and distributing white supremacist materials.

The SPLC had been urging the Pentagon to revise the regulations since 2006, when it published “A Few Bad Men,” a report revealing that large numbers of neo-Nazi skinheads and other white supremacists were joining the armed forces to acquire combat and weapons training – skills that could be used to commit terrorist acts against targets in the U.S.

The legislative hearing in Missouri was requested by state Sen. Bill Stouffer, a Republican from Napton, Mo., who told the Post-Dispatch on Tuesday that he “continues to get concerns voiced by guard members that there’s a problem” of  white supremacists with Guard ranks.

The senator was on the Senate floor Wednesday in the waning days of the legislative session and not available for comment.

But one of his senior aides, Heidi Kolkmeyer, told Hatewatch that the senator had not seen the Florida court documents detailing the alleged training conducted by Riley. Provided a copy of those documents, Kolkmeyer said she would be asking the senator if a broader legislative inquiry might now be in order.