White supremacists aren't the type of people you want to train to be unstoppable fighting machines, but that doesn't mean they're not signing up for the call of duty. In a disturbing Reuters investigation, Daniel Trotta uncovers the campaign by neo-Nazis and certain skinhead groups to encourage enlistment in the Army and Marine Corps so members can learn the skills to overthrow the government, or in neo-Nazi speak, the Zionist Occupation Government. "They call it 'rahowa' - short for racial holy war - and they are preparing for it by joining the ranks of ... the U.S. military," writes Trotta. "Get in, get trained and get out to brace for the coming race war."
The recruiting practice is gaining scrutiny in light of the Wisconsin Sikh temple shooting by gunman Wade Michael Page, a former U.S. Army soldier and neo-Nazi musician. As CNN reported last week, Page's base, Fort Bragg, "was home to a small number of white supremacists including three soldiers later convicted in the murder of an African-American couple." Reuters caught up with Marine T.J. Leydon, who served from 1988 to 1991 while openly promoting neo-Nazi causes:
"I went into the Marine Corps for one specific reason: I would learn how shoot," Leyden told Reuters. "I also learned how to use C-4 (explosives), blow things up. I took all my military skills and said I could use these to train other people," said Leyden, 46, who has since renounced the white power movement and is a consultant for the anti-Nazi Simon Wiesenthal Center.
As a result of this recruiting technique, the U.S. Defense Department is stepping up its efforts to clampdown on violent racists within the military. Sometimes that means making some difficult calls when it comes to screening out applicants at recruiting centers, as Sergeant Aaron Iskenderian tells the news agency:
Iskenderian cited the example of a young man who came in recently with a tattoo of the Confederate flag."We're in the South here. It's considered Southern heritage. It's on the General Lee," Iskenderian said, referring to the car from the television show "The Dukes of Hazzard."
"Is it racist? I asked him, 'What does it mean to you?' and he said, 'Southern pride.'"
The potential recruit also told Iskenderian he had a black girlfriend. Iskenderian sent the issue up the chain of command, and the young man was rejected.
Apparently, once a soldier signs on, it can be extremely difficult to remove the extremists, notes Carter F. Smith, a former military investigator. "They are some of the most disciplined soldiers we have," he said. "They really want to learn to shoot those weapons."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.