June 11, 2009

Suspect in US Holocaust museum guard killing has links to BNP

James Von Brunn attended meetings of the American Friends of the British National Party

A white supremacist who killed a security guard at a Holocaust memorial in the US has links to the British National party, which gained two MEPs in last week's European elections.

Thousands of visitors fled the museum in Washington yesterday after James Von Brunn opened fire, killing a security guard. In the gunfight that followed the 88-year-old was shot and is now being treated in hospital.

Today it emerged that Von Brunn, a longtime antisemite, had attended meetings of the American Friends of the British National party (AFBNP), the party's fundraising arm set up to raise cash from rightwing activists in America.

Mark Cotterill, who ran the US-based organisation before it folded in 2001, said: "He did attend meetings. I have just checked my database and he is down as 'meetings only' so he was not a major donor, although he may have put some money on the plate when it was passed round."

The AFBNP treasurer, Todd Blodgett, also told the Washington Post that he and Von Brunn had attended fundraising meetings together in Arlington county, Virginia. Nick Griffiin spoke at least two AFBNP meetings and the BNP leader said the money raised by the organisation made a "significant contribution to the BNP's [2001] general election campaign".

Yesterday a spokesman for the party said: "You get a lot of people coming to meetings but I don't think you can blame us for that. Even if he did go to meetings it was nothing to do with us."

However, anti-racism campaigners said Von Brunn's links to the BNP underlined its extremist agenda.

"It is clear that Nick Griffin is at the centre of an international network of white supremacists," said Dan Hodges from Searchlight. "The BNP must explain the full extent of his organisation's links with this antisemitic gunman."

The far-right party gained its first two MEPs in last week's European elections – Griffin in the north-west and former National Front leader Andrew Brons in Yorkshire and the Humber.

During the campaign photographs emerged of Griffin alongside the former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard Stephen "Don" Black – one of the extremists banned from the UK by the then home secretary, Jacqui Smith – and he was widely criticised for defending a BNP leaflet that said black and Asian Britons "do not exist" and should be referred to as "racial foreigners".

US police today said Von Brunn, who is in a critical condition in hospital, would be charged with murder and may also be charged with hate crimes and civil rights violations.

At a press conference in Washington police chief Cathy Lanier said security guard Stephen T Johns was shot when he opened the door of the museum for Von Brunn. Other security guards opened fire, and Von Brunn slumped to the ground just outside the museum door.

Joseph Persichini, assistant director of the Washington FBI field office, said Von Brunn was known to the police "as an antisemite and a white supremacist, who had an established website that had espoused hatred against African Americans, Jewish [sic] and others".

Von Brunn wrote an antisemitic treatise, Kill the Best Gentiles, decried "the browning of America" and claimed to have exposed a Jewish conspiracy "to destroy the White gene-pool".

In 1983 he was convicted of attempting to kidnap members of the US federal reserve board. At the time, police said Von Brunn wanted to take the members hostage because of high interest rates and the nation's economic difficulties. On the website, Von Brunn blames his six-year imprisonment on "a Jew judge" and "Negro jury".

Civil rights groups said they had been monitoring Von Brunn for decades. Heidi Beirich, director of research for the Southern Poverty Law Centre's intelligence project, said: "He thinks the Jews control the Federal Reserve, the banking system, that basically all Jews are evil. He's an extreme antisemite."

His Internet writings say the Holocaust was a hoax: "At Auschwitz the 'Holocaust' myth became Reality, and Germany, cultural gem of the West, became a pariah among world nations."


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