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Spokane Backpack Bomb
Fri March 11, 2011
Suspect in bomb case expressed Neo-Nazi views as “Joe Snuffy”
This week Northeast Washington learned one of its residents is suspected of being a Neo-Nazi terrorist. The FBI arrested 36-year-old Kevin Harpham for allegedly planting a bomb in a backpack along the route of Spokane's Martin Luther King Day Parade. Harpham is now being held at the Spokane County Jail.
Kevin William Harpham was raised in Stevens County in Northeast Washington, and is registered to vote at his father's address in Kettle Falls. According to state records, he has no prior criminal convictions. But since his arrest, anti-racist groups and the press have turned up information not on the official record of Harpham's life.
For starters, there appears to be a pseudonym -- “Joe Snuffy.” Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center says they discovered more than a thousand online posts by someone named “Joe Snuffy” on a Neo-Nazi forum:
“He says, 'I can't wait 'til the day I snap. Videos like that bring me closer to it every time I watch them. Fear of death is the only thing stopping me.' This is in the context of a video clip that shows police versus Neo-Nazis in Germany and he's complaining about the way the police aren't nice to the Neo-Nazis.”
On the Neo-Nazi forum, Vanguard News Network, “Joe Snuffy” also posts about race wars, and the book “The Turner Diaries,” which allegedly influenced Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. All the posts are under “Joe Snuffy” – or almost all:
“At one point he writes to the administrators of the site to complain that his account under Joe Snuffy has been shut down and that he's having to write using his real name in order to get reinstated.”
And his real name – is Kevin Harpham.
The Southern Poverty Law Center says in November of 2004 Kevin Harpham also appears on the membership rolls of the National Alliance, a Neo-Nazi group – with a podcast – that advocates for creating what it calls an all-white society for Americans:
“… who value quality above equality, and are willing to do whatever must be done to restore America to racial and moral health.”
The National Alliance did not return calls for comment. But its chairman, Erich Gliebe told the Spokane Spokesman-Review that Harpham is not a member and that the National Alliance does not advocate illegal acts.
Harpham did seek out white supremacists closer to home. That's according to Paul Mullet. Mullet used to lead an Aryan Nations group in North Idaho and says Harpham came to him a few years ago.
“He just wanted information on the group. That was it. We had a couple of meetings. That was the extent of it. He didn't seem to be antsy or itchy or anything to that nature.”
Between 1996 and 1999 Harpham served in the U.S. Army as a field artillery specialist at what is now Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma. Base spokesman Joseph Piek declined to speak on tape. But he described Harpham's job as “putting rounds inside a cannon” and “not even remotely related to building explosives.”
The FBI has said the backpack bomb Harpham was arrested for allegedly planting was sophisticated and could have been highly lethal. In Spokane, the Rev. Happy Watkins of the New Hope Baptist Church helps organize the MLK Day celebration every year. He says an arrest – or even a conviction – doesn't solve the larger problem in his community:
“Someone asked me yesterday, 'Would you forgive him?' Of course, yeah, because that's my business. I gotta forgive. But my concern is if a person set a bomb to maim to kill to destroy, something's missing.”
Kevin Harpham will appear on March 22nd before a grand jury, which will decide whether to issue a formal indictment.
Law & Justice
MLK Parade Scare