A Revolution Betrayed
When a frightened young Army recruit testified this week at the start of the Midwest Bank Bandits trial in Columbus about the man who once was his mentor, nobody was surprised that he ratted out his former friend. Shawn Kenny, 24, supplied damning evidence that defendant Peter Langan was co-leader of the 2-year crime spree alleged by the federal prosecutor, robbing 22 banks in 7 states of an estimated $250,000. After all, this gang has been unravelling fast, testifying against each other since the minute the first of four known members was caught. What few observers expected was that Kenny would begin his testimony with the announcement that he had already testified before a federal grand jury in Philadelphia and been granted immunity from prosecution. Thus, the information elicited from him this week in Columbus, including excerpts from his testimony in Philadelpia, was far more explicit than expected about the racist politics, national connecions, and violent plans of the small cell on trial here, which called itself the Aryan Republican Army.The Philadelphia grand jury has heard testimony linking Mark Thomas, a Christian Identity/Aryan Nations leader, with the Aryan Republican Army bank robberies. According to published reports, another target of the probe is Michael Brescia, who has been named by conspiracists and militia members as the mysterious John Doe #2 responsible for the Oklahoma City bombing. Kenny's startling announcement indicates that the federal government is not satisfied with simply bringing the white supremacist bank robbers to account individually, but also is looking at both the source of recruits for the ARA and the ultimate destination of the stolen money. The government has portrayed the Aryan Republican Army as a mini-version of The Order, the white supremacist gang that robbed banks throughout the northwest and murdered Denver talk show host Alan Berg in 1984. Mark Thomas has said in at least two issues of his publication The Watchman that he views bank robbery as a noble act, comparing The Order's crimes to those of pseudo-populist bank robber Pretty Boy Floyd.The Aryan Republican Army's robbery string began in January 1994 and ended when co-leader Richard Guthrie was arrested in Cincinnati last January, and three days later Peter Langan was apprehended in Columbus. Guthrie turned state's evidence immediately; two other conspirators, Scott Stedeford and Kevin McCarthy, were arrested in May in the Philadelphia area. After taking Langan into custody, the FBI found numerous copies of a recruiting videotape made by the bank robbers, in which they call for a violent right-wing revolution to cleanse this country of non- whites and Jews.Guthrie eventually pled guilty to bank robbery charges after cooperating with the FBI, but committed suicide 10 days later. By then Kevin McCarthy also had begun cooperating with federal authorities. Until he testified this week, most observers thought Kenny's relationship to the Aryan Republican Army, which he called "the Cause," was fairly peripheral. Kenny was known only as the person who had fingered Guthrie and brought him to the neighborhood where he was caught. During his testimony at the Langan trial this week, it became clear this was no misguided innocent along for the ride. Kenny, who is now in the Army stationed at Ft. Hood, testified he had been a skinhead since he was 13 years old. Attorney Jim McNamara, of the national network Anti-Racist Action, says he remembers Kenny from Cincinnati, where anti-racist and racist skinheads battled outside music clubs during the early 90s. Kenny was then a member of the Hammer Skins. Kenny graduated from the minor leagues of organized hate when he met Langan at a Christian Identity Church in Northern Kentucky in 1991. Langan and Kenny talked revolution, and Langan gave Kenny books including The Silent Brotherhood, a critical portrait of The Order, and Vigilantes of Christendom, about the Phineas Priesthood strategy for defense of the white race. Kenney also took actions to back up his views by becoming the southeastern Ohio coordinator for Aryan Nations.Kenny testified that Langan and Guthrie discussed emulating The Order, and that he himself joined Aryan Nations and the American Rifle and Pistol Association because members of The Order belonged to those organizations. Kenny wanted to finance right-wing activities for "the Cause." In the event, it wasn't Kenny who took up the challenge but Langan and Guthrie. Kenny decided to stay above ground, probably because of his oldest child's health problems. He was still game to help the others: although on probation at the time for a concealed weapons charge, he rehearsed with Guthrie a plan to rob the Springdale, Ohio branch of Society National Bank in early 1993. Later that year he made a second run at the bank, this time with both Guthrie and Langan -- locked and loaded -- and ready to rob the bank, but it was called off by the other two. At the time, according to Kenny, both Langan and Guthrie were "underground," wanted for armed robbery of a Pizza Hut in Georgia in 1992. Kenney even went as far as to drive Langan to meet Guthrie in a Kentucky hotel when Langan was leaving his family to go underground in November 1993. His most important role, however, was connecting Guthrie and Langan with Mark Thomas. Because Kenny was a prominent racist youth activist, he already knew Thomas. At Guthrie's request, Kenny brought a package of false identification cards to Thomas, acting as Guthrie's "ambassador." Thomas said he had "people who could use these [IDs]," which Kenny took to mean his mission was successful and that Thomas would bring recruits to join the Aryan Republican Army. After that meeting Stedeford and McCarthy, both proteges of Thomas, also joined the ARA. Alan Katchen, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) of Ohio/Indiana/Kentucky, found Kenny's testimony both "chilling" and "absolutely fascinating." He pointed out that the ADL had predicted in 1987 that new groups like The Order would grow out of that organization's ruins. Mike Brescia's name has not been mentioned in the Columbus trial, but he was alluded to in testimony late last year at Stedeford's trial in Des Moines. Kevin McCarthy testified there about a fifth person helping on the Madison, Wisconsin robbery, and law enforcement sources say that this fifth conspirator was Brescia. Scott Stedeford, who was convicted last November on three counts of bank robbery, has been added to the internet listing of Aryan POWs (www.alpha.org/pow/pow.html), along with imprisoned members of The Order. Stedeford made the list because he is, they say, "accused of crimes against ZOG (Zionist Occupational Government)."