Friday morning, I dropped by the offices of U.S. Attorney Diane Humetewa to attend a news conference announcing the indictment of identical twin white supremacists Dennis and Daniel Mahon for their alleged role in a 2004 mail bombing that injured three Scottsdale city workers, including Donald Logan, the city's Director of Diversity and Dialogue. Though Humetewa, along with representatives of ATF, the Postal Inspector, and the Scottsdale Police Department spoke, the media event was brief and anti-climactic. See, the night before, the AP broke the story of the indictments, and nothing kills the drama quite like your story getting leaked ahead of time to the press.(You can read the indictment for yourself, here.)
What wasn't discussed at the news conference was the fact that the Arizona branch of the Anti-Defamation League provided critical information to the investigators which aided in the arrests of the Mahon bothers in Illinois on Thursday. Also left unmentioned was the fact that the Indiana home of white nationalist godfather Tom Metzger was raided as well, and that he's been subpoenaed to an August grand jury, along with others. Another related arrest this week was that of Robert Neil Joos (an ironic last name for a white supremacist, if there ever was one), who was collared on weapons charges in Missouri.
Despite this other activity, the Phoenix press conference remained focused on the Mahon indictments. Attempts by various reporters to inquire about the Joos arrest and other matters were repeatedly swatted down by Humetewa, a holdover appointee from the Bush administration.
"We can only restate and reiterate what the grand jury has found in its indictment," said Humetewa at one point, adding, "We do look forward to providing additional information throughout the course of the prosecution."
After the press conference, ATF flack Tom Mangin confirmed what I'd heard earlier on the call-in line for Metzger's hate group White Aryan Resistance (or W.A.R.), with which the Mahon brothers are affiliated. On the recorded message, Metzger talked of the raid on his home, and his grand jury subpoena. Mangin indicated both of these facts were correct. He also said that both Mahon brothers would be brought to Phoenix next week after an extradition hearing in Rockford, Illinois.
Bill Straus, the regional director for the Arizona ADL was present at the news conference, but did not speak. Friday afternoon, I talked with him about the arrests, and he acknowledged ADL's role in bringing the Mahons to justice.
"We provided information on the Mahons and other persons of interest throughout this entire investigation," stated Straus. He pointed out that the arrests of the Mahons indicated the seriousness with which the public should view white supremacist activity.
Later in the day, his office issued a statement, in which he's quoted as saying that, "The indictment shows that the attack had all of the hallmarks of terrorism and a hate crime. The arrest of the Mahon brothers sends a powerful message that hate crimes are unacceptable in our society, and that those who seek to intimidate others based on race or ethnicity will pay a heavy price for their actions."
The ADL has been monitoring the Mahons for years, and there is extensive background on the pair on ADL's Web site.
As for Metzger, he's a proponent of so-called "lone wolf" tactics, where small cells or individuals can lash out at targets without the risk of endangering a broader conspiratorial network. Examples of lone wolf terrorism include Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, Olympic Park bomber Eric Rudolph, and more recently, alleged Holocaust Museum shooter James Von Brunn.
A sometime TV repairman and tireless crusader for right-wing hate, Metzger famously lost a lawsuit in 1990 brought against him by Morris Dees and the Southern Poverty Law Center regarding his liability in the murder of an Ethiopian immigrant in Oregon by a group of racist skinheads. The Oregon jury hit Metzger with a $12.5 million judgment. Though hobbled financially, he nevertheless remains one of America's kingpins of racial unrest. He's known for lecturing followers on the importance of secrecy and of remaining underground while actively pursuing acts of violence against the state.
However, the degree to which Metzger's pals the Mahons were able to keep their racist yaps shut is questionable, at least based on the indictment, and on Metzger's recent statements in his call-in messages. The indictment notes that Dennis Mahon allegedly demonstrated to others on more than one occasion how to construct mail bombs, and you have to wonder if some of these unnamed individuals were informants. Similarly, Metzger noted in one call-in phone message that Dennis Mahon likes to talk, and that Mahon's phone calls (as tracked by law enforcement) to his white nationalist brethren have apparently resulted in raids, subpoenas and arrests.
Mahon's verbal diarrhea was also evident in the 2004 cover story "Barbecue Nations" by former New Times scribes Susy Buchanan and David Holthouse. The piece documented the 2004 Aryanfest at McDowell Regional Mountain Park just north of Fountain Hills. The Volksfront-sponsored shindig drew 350 skinheads, Ku Kluxers, neo-Nazis and assorted white supremacists in what was described by the cops as "the biggest white power event ever in Arizona."
The article had fun with the white pride puddin' heads, describing the festivities as "reminiscent of a gay pride picnic, with shaved headed men merrily romping about with arms around each other."
Mahon is depicted as a braggart who spends his time shooting his mouth off and daydreaming about "nuking D.C." along with a beer-swilling neo-Nazi skinhead by the name of Poindexter.
A former Okie Klan wizard, Mahon claimed to have known Timothy McVeigh and carried out terrorist acts with the Oklahoma City bomber.
"After Oklahoma City, the feds came after me big time, boy," he said to someone at the white pride picnic. "But they never proved a thing."
A bit later, he sang the praises of domestic terrorism.
"Terrorism works," he said. "We did a lot of terrorism in Tulsa in the 1980s. We put heads in the road, and people paid attention..."
Interestingly, just weeks after Mahon said these words, and a matter of days after the story was published, a bomb disguised as a parcel package blew up in the hands of Donald Logan. An African-American, Logan was no doubt targeted for his race and his position. Now, thanks to the Arizona ADL and the law enforcement agencies involved, terror enthusiast Dennis Mahon and his bro are looking at the possibility of a decades long, all-expenses paid vacay in the federal pen. The question remains if the feds can reel in other white power players, or if the effort will remain confined to the Mahons and their alleged attack on a City of Scottsdale official.
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