Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Categorizing threats

Democracy Now! interview Mike German. German is a former FBI agent who infiltrated several white supremacist groups on the West Coast. Dave Neiwert describes one of his takedowns in this post. German feels too little attention is being given to right-wing terrorists:
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the groups that you think need to be watched in this country? And if you can give us a thumbnail sketch of the domestic terrorism attacks most famous one, of course, Oklahoma City bombing, 1995, Timothy McVeigh.

MIKE GERMAN: Right. Basically 19 -- that was actually in 1995, Timothy McVeigh's bombing in Oklahoma City. And, you know, what that was was their demonstration of the abilities that they had, and clearly, they can do a lot damage in this country. Any extremist group can do damage. And I think that a lot of the problem right now is we're in this kind of area where we're categorizing who's the greater threat. Well, to me, the guy with the bomb today is the greatest threat, and whether he is a white supremacist terrorist, an Islamic terrorist or an eco-terrorist doesn't really matter to me. My job as a criminal investigator out on the street is to try to stop the threat that’s there today. And if we do this sort of ranking where we're only going to pay attention to eco-terrorists because they're the number one threat or Islamic terrorists because they're the bigger threat, we're probably going to drop the ball in one of the other areas. So I think that the mission is let the agents on the street find out what's happening, but we have to fix that mid-level management area so we can manage the information that they're providing.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk more specifically, like Los Angeles, what exactly what that group was doing?

MIKE GERMAN: Well, in Los Angeles there were actually a number of different groups that we had had gotten into, and they were white supremacist groups. Los Angeles in 1992, of course, the community was suffering after -- the aftermath of the racial unrest following the Rodney King police beating, so there was a lot of racial animosity in the city. And the white supremacist groups were attempting to take advantage of that situation to spark a race war. So they were preparing for the race war by manufacturing machine guns and explosives, and one of the cells that we got into was actually already involved in a bombing campaign, and we were able to solve those bombings and recover more explosive devices and stop ongoing conspiracies to bomb synagogues and churches that were attended prominently by African Americans.
It's not 9/11, but it shouldn't be ignored. This terrorism is ideologically no different from the Taliban – attack those who differ from your religious standards.