White Supremacist, 3 Followers Charged With Harassing 4 Officials
A 25-year-old man who has used the Internet to become a rising star in the national white supremacist movement has been indicted along with three followers on charges of harassing a Jewish congressman, a Latino mayor and two other officials, federal prosecutors announced Friday.
“We have zero tolerance for these kinds of cowardly acts,” said U.S. Atty. Gregory Vega.
Alexander James Curtis is charged as the reputed ringleader of a group that between 1997 and 1999 allegedly smeared anti-Semitic graffiti on two San Diego synagogues and left graffiti, stickers and leaflets outside the offices of Rep. Bob Filner (D-San Diego); Art Madrid, mayor of the suburb of La Mesa; local Anti-Defamation League leader Morris Casuto; and Clara Harris, former director of the Heartland Human Relations and Fair Housing Assn.
Indicted with Curtis were three men who met him through his extensive Web sites dedicated to preaching racial superiority and violence: Michael Brian DaSilva, 21; Robert Nicol Morehouse, 53; and Kevin Christopher Holland, 22.
The four defendants are charged with violating federal civil rights and hate-crime laws that make it illegal to target someone for mistreatment on the basis of race, religion or national origin.
They are not charged with any violent acts, but during a two-year investigation by the FBI and San Diego Police Department, authorities overheard them plotting violence, officials said.
Morehouse and Holland have pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and cooperated with authorities in the indictment of Curtis and DaSilva. DaSilva is already serving a state sentence for possession of a concealed and loaded sawed-off shotgun.
Curtis was arrested Thursday in his bedroom at his parents’ home in suburban Lemon Grove. FBI agents said they seized racist literature, a framed picture of Adolf Hitler, racist leaflets, a semiautomatic pistol, a Confederate flag and a book written by Che Guevara. The materials were seized as evidence that Curtis has mounted a campaign of hate.
Curtis and DaSilva face four charges that could bring a maximum of 40 years in prison. Morehouse and Holland face a maximum 10 years when they are sentenced next year. No promises of leniency have been made to them, Vega said.
Among other acts, the four are charged with sticking the skin of a boa constrictor through the mail slot of Filner’s Chula Vista office. Some of the group’s racist stickers contained the phone number for Curtis’ telephone hotline.
Filner said the graffiti and leaflets had left his younger staff members particularly frightened. “You keep seeing swastikas, pictures of Hitler, slogans like ‘Jews Must Die'--people get scared because they know people have guns,” the congressman said.
The Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League have called Curtis the most radical of a new generation of hate leaders who have rejected the limitations of traditional groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and the National Alliance and encouraged a much more violent racist underground.
With mainstream organizations infiltrated by law enforcement and plagued with civil penalties such as the $6.3-million judgment that bankrupted the Aryan Nations in September, Curtis has called for racial activists to move anonymously as “lone wolves” or to form small, anonymous revolutionary cells in the name of racial “leaderless resistance.”
Turning Curtis’ own slogan against him, authorities called their investigation Operation Lone Wolf.
Rocky Suhayda, chairman of the American Nazi Party, sent out an Internet appeal Friday for $5 legal aid donations to Curtis, whose father owns an engineering firm. “For all of you old fighters, he is one of the young leaders who will take our place when we are gone,” Suhayda said.
Internet Magazine Advocates Terrorism
Curtis publishes the monthly Nationalist Observer on the Internet and offers a weekly and daily telephone broadcast and a racist Internet magazine in which he advocates biological terrorism and regularly celebrates “lone wolves” such as Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and Buford Furrow, accused in the 1998 attack on a Jewish preschool in the San Fernando Valley.
“In the last 20 months we have witnessed the most prolific and vicious acts against Jews . . . in U.S. history,” Curtis proclaimed recently. “You haven’t seen anything yet.”
To fund his operation, Curtis has an extensive Internet mail-order catalog that features books, T-shirts, white power CDs and videos.
In 1997, he was arrested for distributing fliers that illegally featured police insignia. He was sentenced to three years’ probation, 100 hours of community service and 20 days of agricultural labor.
Tom Metzger of the Fallbrook-based White Aryan Resistance, one of Curtis’ longtime mentors, said the indictment reflects a growing federal campaign to suppress white supremacist political views.
“Alex Curtis is very highly respected throughout the country, and to go after him with relatively Mickey Mouse charges is just going to infuriate more of the people who are in our camp,” he said.
William Gore, head of the San Diego FBI office, said he is not worried about a backlash.
“If followers of Alex Curtis see him as a martyr, so be it,” Gore said. “I feel better having him off the street.”