Prosecutor: FBI, Fearing Neo-Nazi Violence, Aborted Several Probes
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The FBI decided to abort several white supremacy investigations and arrest eight people after learning a group of neo-Nazis plotting a race war was about to mail a bomb to a rabbi, a prosecutor said Friday.
The other investigations had to be halted, and some people connected with them arrested, because authorities knew that the bomb plot and the plans for a race war would be highly publicized, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Marc R. Greenberg. The publicity, he said, could have tipped the supremacists targeted in the other investigations to the identities of the undercover agents who uncovered the bomb plot.
″It was simply a matter of assessing the danger level,″ Greenberg said in a telephone interview. ″We felt we could no longer take the risk.″
Authorities announced Thursday that they had arrested eight people and foiled a plot by a group called the Fourth Reich Skin Heads to start a race war by bombing a black church and killing several prominent people, including police beating victim Rodney King.
An FBI agent and an informant who infiltrated the Fourth Reich Skinheads also were involved in other cases, including that of a San Fernando Valley couple who were among those arrested Thursday, Greenberg said.
Fourth Reich leader Christopher D. Fisher had sold pipe bombs to undercover agents, threatened to bomb a prominent black church and was hunting for King’s address because killing the police beating victim would precipitate racial violence, authorities charged in court papers.
Fisher’s threat to mail the letter bomb to a rabbi made it too risky to continue the undercover work, so arrests were made in that case and others, Greenberg said.
A cache of machine guns, along with a poster of Adolf Hitler, were seized at the San Fernando Valley home of two of those others, Continental Airlines flight engineer Chris Nadal, 35, and his wife Doris, 42, a real estate agent.
The Nadals apparently never met the Fourth Reich members, but they knew the same informant and undercover agent, Greenberg said.
″When I saw those weapons coming out of the house, you have no idea how relieved I felt. I had no idea what was in there,″ Greenberg said.
Charged with weapons offenses were the Nadals, Geremy Rineman, 22, and Jill Scarborough, 22, both of Orange County; and Josh Lee, 23, of Costa Mesa.
Fisher, 20, was charged with conspiring to attack and destroy the First African Methodist Episcopal Church in Los Angeles, the city’s oldest black church.
He and juvenile members of his Fourth Reich group had talked of machine- gunning the congregation as it worshipped, officials said. Two of those juveniles also were arrested.
On Friday, state prosecutors filed a felony count of sale or transportation of a destructive device against one of the two juveniles. The youth was scheduled to be arraigned Monday in Juvenile Court in Long Beach.
Authorities said those arrested in raids in four Los Angeles-area counties had ties to the White Aryan Resistance and the Church of the Creator, two supremacist groups.
Mrs. Nadal, who was freed on bail Thursday, and John Metzger, son of White Aryan Resistance leader Tom Metzger, identified the informant as Joe Allen, a minister in the Niceville, Fla.-based Church of the Creator.
Metzger said the group’s leaders discovered Allen a year ago and had warned others to stay away from him. But Fisher didn’t listen, Metzger said.
″I think they wanted to net quite a few more people,″ Metzger said. ″I think they wanted to drag us into this.″
Greenberg declined to discuss Allen, saying there were ″layers of informants″ in white supremacist circles.
At a news conference Thursday, Charlie Parsons, the FBI’s special agent in charge for Los Angeles, particularly thanked one unidentified agent who went undercover for months and ″risked his life almost on a daily basis.″
Brotherhood Crusade President Danny Bakewell, a local activist whom the skinheads allegedly had discussed killing, said he feared gang members would use the foiled plot as an excuse for violence.
In a news conference, Bakewell said he had been inundated with phone calls from gang members and black organizations offering to help protect him. Some also talked of retaliation, Bakewell said.
″I have asked, ’Please do not resort to violence,‴ Bakewell said. ″I do not want this to become an opportunity for authorities to swoop down on our community.″