ADL blasts hate group with Sacramento followers

The single most dangerous hate group in America today is the neo-Nazi organization National Alliance, according to a new report by the Anti-Defamation League.

ADL released its findings this week, holding press conferences in Washington, D.C., and Sacramento, just minutes away from the residence of one of the Alliance's more active leaders.

Concerned about the Sacramento branch's rising notoriety, Barbara Bergen, director of ADL's Central Pacific Region office in San Francisco, said, "It's useful to raise awareness where the most immediate threat is."

Dozens of violent crimes, including murders, bombings and robberies have been linked to National Alliance members or appear to be inspired by the group's propaganda, the ADL alleges in its report — "Explosion of Hate: The Growing Danger of the National Alliance."

With membership estimated at 1,000, more than double that of 1992, and evidence of activity in at least 26 states, the well-organized National Alliance seems to be spreading at an alarming rate, according to ADL.

But a more ominous trend may be the group's shift away from local and obscure activities to international visibility via the Internet.

Bergen suggests a disturbing scenario of how, with current technology, the National Alliance can walk into any unsuspecting home:

"Say a 10th-grader is given an assignment to do a research report on the Holocaust. He goes to a search engine and uses the keyword `Holocaust.' Much of what he comes up with is material on Holocaust denial.

"Let's say he is not Jewish; why wouldn't he think there is some question whether there was a Holocaust?

"These kids are in jeopardy of absorbing ideas that are false and intended to deceive," she added.

ADL is currently working on software, similar to Internet pornography-blocking programs, which will allow parents to prevent access to hate Web sites.

On top of global accessibility, the hate group is garnering international support, ADL notes.

In the past few years, the National Alliance has been a speaking forum for David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan leader, a two-time candidate for U.S. Senate and current chairman of the Republican Party's executive committee in St. Tammany Parish, La.

David Irving, an attention-grabbing British Holocaust denier, also has spread his message at several National Alliance events.

The group claims additional connections with right-wing extremist and neo-Nazi groups in Germany, France and Holland.

William Pierce, a former American Nazi Party officer, masterminds the National Alliance. Under the pseudonym Andrew Macdonald, Pierce wrote the novel "The Turner Diaries," which describes a successful world revolution by an all-white army and the systematic extermination of blacks, Jews and other minorities.

The book, easily located and read on the Internet, includes a scene in which a white-supremacist group loads a bomb into a Ryder truck and detonates it early in the morning before a federal building. Timothy McVeigh is an avowed fan of the book, which was published in 1978.

"There is very little question in my mind that book was the blueprint for Oklahoma City," Bergen said, referring to the April 1995 bombing of a federal building there. "I don't want another Oklahoma City."

Another reason the National Alliance has gained momentum is due to its ability to attract educated, middle-class people who previously had no connections to neo-Nazi groups. The Alliance courts these members at gun shows and by putting ads in college newspapers.

These developments mark the National Alliance as the most powerful group to succeed the Ku Klux Klan, according to Bergen. Moreover, by not connecting to the famously racist and brutal name the Klan has earned, the National Alliance avoids tainting by name recognition and appeals to unknowing potential members.

But in reality, there is no difference between the two groups, Bergen said.

"The history of the National Alliance is of violence in the past. And violence is not just an incidental part of the agenda, it is the agenda."

Hoping to stem that violence, the ADL sent copies of its report to law enforcement officials and leaders at the FBI.

"The wonderful and terrible thing in America is you have total freedom to hate, and you can express it as long as it doesn't threaten someone," Bergen said.

"Our response is to expose it. We believe the antidote for bad speech is good speech. As long as we can show these are marginal groups with unsubstantiated notions, I think we can win."