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As King Hearings Continue, More Information on White Supremacist Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Hundreds in Spokane

Marcy is doing a great job liveblogging the McCarthyist hearings on Islamic radicalism chaired by terrorist sympathizer Peter King. She’s covered Keith Ellison breaking down when talking about a Muslim NYPD cadet and paramedic named Mohammed Salman Hamdani who died rescuing people on 9/11. She’s covered Sheriff Lee Baca of LA County, the only law enforcement member in the hearings, calling the whole thing counterproductive. And she also noted this early exchange:

King: “No equivalency of threat between al Qaeda and Neo-Nazis. Only Al Qaeda part of int’l threat to our country.”

Bennie Thompson: Raises yesterday’s Spokane arrest and notes the suspect has ties to same group as Tim McVeigh. “A narrow focus lacks clarity.” Then says that we all come to this hearing from our history, alludes to King’s background in a country split by religion, an implicit reference to King’s material support for terrorism.

The hearings as a whole are fascinating, but they take on a new resonance in light of yesterday’s arrest of a suspect in the Spokane MLK Day bombing case. Police found a sophisticated explosive device designed to detonate at a public event, killing large masses of people. How this isn’t an example of radicalism, and how it doesn’t constitute a “threat to our country,” whether international or domestic, is for Peter King to rationalize.

But it’s important to understand just what we know about Kevin Harpham, the racist accused of planting this bomb:

Kevin William Harpham, 36, of Colville, could face life imprisonment on charges of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and possession of an unregistered explosive device, according to documents on file in U.S. District Court. An initial court appearance is scheduled for this afternoon.

The Southern Poverty Law Center confirmed that Harpham in 2004 was a member of the National Alliance, which is one of the most visible white supremacist organizations in the nation. It was founded by the late William Pierce, who authored “The Turner Diaries,” a novel about a future race war. That book was believed to be the blueprint behind the 1995 bombing in Oklahoma City by Timothy McVeigh.

“What to me this arrest suggests is that the Martin Luther King Day attack is what it always looked like: A terror-mass murder attempt directed at black people and their sympathizers,” said Mark Potok, who is the director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project that tracks and investigates hate groups.

Eric Lach has more, including Harpham’s postings on an anti-Semitic and racist Web forum.

There exist, right now in America, extremists who are not religiously inspired whatsoever, driven by hate and racism into committing acts of terror against Americans. Kevin Harpham just fits into a continuum which is actually longer and more widespread than even Al Qaeda. We actually do need to know more about how this radicalism is bred, how it gets out its message and what can be done from a law enforcement perspective to protect people from it.

You won’t hear that today from Peter King.

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David Dayen

David Dayen