Is the man accused of leaving a backpack bomb along a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day parade route a white supremacist?
Shortly after news broke Wednesday that Kevin William Harpham had been arrested in connection with the January incident in Spokane, Wash., the Southern Poverty Law Center announced that its records show Harpham was, in 2004 at least, a member of the white supremacist National Alliance.
But, National Alliance Chairman Erich Gliebe told TPM that Harpham is not a member of his group, and U.S. Attorney Michael Ormsby only said “we’re not commenting on that” when asked by TPM if Harpham had any known supremacist connections. Meanwhile, Paul Mullet, the former self-proclaimed leader of the Aryan Nations, told KXLY yesterday that Harpham expressed interest in joining the Aryan Nations a few years ago. Mullet claimed he had a number of conversations with Harpham, but that Harpham had never joined the group.
There is, however, one other trail of evidence that suggests Harpham may have interacted with white supremacists or was indeed a supremacist himself.
On March 30, 2008, a user with the name “Kevin Harpham” posted a message on the VNN Forum, the discussion section of the Vanguard News Network website (slogan: “No Jews. Just Right.”). Vanguard News Network was founded and is run by Alex Linder, who the SPLC describes as “a foul-mouthed but nattily dressed neo-Nazi.” According to the SPLC, Linder split with the National Alliance in 2003.
The March 2008 VNN Forum post by “Kevin Harpham” reads as follows:
All I did was try to change my email and it screwed up everything. I could not PM anyone or even post so I reregistered and then realized that there was a verification for email change sent to my mailbox but it never told me before hand. I then tried to follow the verification link to reestablish Joe Snuffy but was still unable to do so. If a mod could clear this up for me or at least tell me what to do to fix it I would much appreciate it and get rid of this Kevin Harpham guy too, if you desire.
“Joe Snuffy,” it turns out, is a very active member of the VNN Forum community. And among the 1,072 posts written by “Joe Snuffy” since he joined the forum in November 2004 are several clues that match up with the little biographical information available about the Kevin William Harpham arrested Wednesday.
While Joe Snuffy’s public VNN Forum profile lists his location as “Soon to be Oregon,” several of his posts suggest he lived or lives in Washington State. On August 11, 2007, Snuffy wrote:
Anyone know the legal limit of ammo one can have in possession (at home)? I have heard of limits on powder but not rounds. I live in WA if that makes a difference.
On May 23, 2008, Snuffy was more specific:
Thanks Daniel but I am not interested in being a part of ANSWP. I am interested in meeting people close to me unless they are the kind of people that are waiting for Jesus to come back, then I can do without. Do you know anyone up here in northeastern Washington.
[Note: ANSWP apparently refers to the American National Socialist Workers Party.]
On January 6, 2011, Snuffy wrote the following on the thread apparently discussing the recent legal troubles of American neo-Nazi Craig Cobb:
Craig, if you read this and you need a place to stay for the winter I have an empty basement with a couple rooms, a bed and bathroom you can live in till spring. I live in Washington not too far from Kalispell. You would have your own space but would have to share the fridge on the main floor. Do you have a car, I live 10 miles from town. If not I have an extra car but it needs licensed and insured. You could also use my primary vehicle but it couldn’t be for long trips that last more than a day.
PM me if you are interested or have any questions.
Kevin William Harpham was arrested yesterday at his home near the small community of Addy, Wash., about 50 miles north of Spokane. According to Google Maps, Addy is a 4.75 hour drive from Kalispell, Montana.
And, perhaps incidentally, the last post by Snuffy on the VNN Forum was written on January 16, 2011 — the day before the backpack bomb was found in Spokane.
TPM’s review of Snuffy’s postings found him writing about a variety of topics, ranging from vile and hateful screeds to mundane inquiries.
On December 25, 2009, Snuffy responded to a thread titled: “Italians….Is it me or are 95% of them as bad as Jews and Niggers?”
“I have come to the conclusion that you go to race war with the Whites you have, not the Whites you want,” Snuffy wrote.
On August 12, 2009, on a thread titled “Feds try to detect ‘lone offenders,’” Snuffy wrote:
A lone Wolf would be hard pressed to compete with the level of destruction the jew bankers are doing to the country right now.
On November 6, 2010, Snuffy started a thread called, “Anyone want to help me with network advise?[sic]”
On June 21, 2010, Snuffy expressed dismay upon finding out that the lead singer of the heavy metal band Judas Priest is gay:
I just found out Rob Halford is gay, this is terrible news. I don’t know if I will be able to listen to Judas Priest the way I used to. :(
Finally, one post turned up by TPM suggests that Snuffy contributed money to VNN. On December 28, 2006, a VNN Forum senior member named “Rounder” thanks Snuffy for a $500 donation.
“Many thanks Joe, for the gigantically large donation. One single VNN’er pays for the printing of almost 7,000 copies of our 16-page WN newspaper,” Rounder wrote.
Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website’s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl(at)talkingpointsmemo.com