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3 Leaders of Aryan Hate Groups Held

Orange County authorities charge two with having materials to make bombs. A third faces perjury and weapons counts.

November 19, 2002|Jeff Gottlieb | Times Staff Writer

Orange County authorities arrested two white supremacist leaders Monday, charging them with having had materials to make a bomb in 1999, including 50 gallons of gasoline they kept in their Anaheim apartment, enough to blow up the building.

A third white supremacist leader was arrested on perjury and weapons charges.

The bomb complaint against Christine Greenwood and her boyfriend, John Patrick McCabe, said authorities also found BBs, razor blades and 16 nails that could be used as shrapnel, several battery-operated clocks that could operate as timers, and a shopping list of bomb-making materials.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Nicholas S. Thompson said Greenwood and McCabe did not appear to have a target. He said authorities did not move against them two years ago because fears of terrorism weren't as high a priority as now.

The third suspect, John Frederick Steele II, was charged with perjury and falsifying documents relating to financial statements he was required to give his probation officer. Thompson said that during a search of Steele's home Monday, authorities found a letter addressed to the white supremacist Christian Defense League advocating that members align themselves with Palestinian extremists to target Jews.

Steele is the California leader of Aryan Nations, known as the Brandenburg Division. Aryan Nations is one of the country's most influential racist groups.

Greenwood is active in Women for Aryan Unity and was organizer of the Aryan Baby Drive, which collects donated clothing for poor white families. She also is active with the group Blood and Honour, as was McCabe, her live-in boyfriend. The group promotes rock music with racist themes.

Greenwood, 28, and Steele, 29, were being held in the Orange County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bail. McCabe, 23, already was in prison for a probation violation. None of the three were represented by attorneys as of late Monday.

"This is the continuing effort by law enforcement to suck the oxygen from these groups by going after their leaders and using every legal remedy to raise the price of doing their business in our community," Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas said at a news conference announcing the arrests.

The bomb materials were discovered in April 1999 when probation officials searched the apartment McCabe and Greenwood shared. At the time, McCabe was on probation for a hate crime, Thompson said. He had served six months in the Orange County Jail.

A search of McCabe's apartment turned up child pornography on a computer, which is what sent McCabe back to prison to serve 16 months for violating probation, Thompson said.

Thompson acknowledged that authorities could come in for criticism and "potential embarrassment" for not acting earlier. "There's a clear crime here that was frankly missed," he said.

He said that before the Sept. 11 attacks, the emphasis was not on terrorism. Thompson said that after the attacks, he became the district attorney's representative to local terrorist task forces. The Orange County Probation Department later brought him the information about the bomb-making materials found in April 1999.

McCabe's arrest two years earlier seemed to have broken the momentum of the bomb plans, Thompson said. Until the new charges were filed, McCabe had been scheduled for release from prison in three months.

Steele, a security guard at the Port of Los Angeles, was on probation for assault with a deadly weapon for stabbing a Latino man, Thompson said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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