The group needed more supplies, he wrote, and weapons. Among them: a tank.
“Arizona Statues (sic) allow the fielding of most weapons short of nuclear weapons and certain chemical weapons,” he wrote on the website. “Therefore we are already in contact with brokers concerning a .50 cal semi-automatic rifle and a MBT- Main Battle Tank. Yes, you read this correctly. We have a goal to get a Main Battle Tank engaged against the Narco-Terrorists.”
Ready, who is also now running for sheriff of Pinal County, Ariz., describes himself these days as a humanitarian. As he takes a leading role in the new group, he has publicly disavowed the National Socialist Movement. However, he is still a frequent writer on the message boards of the white nationalist website Stormfront.org, where he is recognized as a “friend” of the website and a “sustaining member” — or donor. A search of the site shows he has posted there as recently as February.
Hughes, meanwhile, remains an avowed member of the National Socialist Movement and acts as its spokesman in Arizona. He occasionally posts updates from the field on the NSM’s main website.
As for Harbin, his attorney said in court documents earlier this year that the young man is done with the National Socialist Movement.
Harbin pleaded guilty late last year to two felonies in connection with the bombs. One was for possessing unregistered destructive devices and the other for transporting explosive material.
Harbin’s relatives did not return phone calls seeking comment for this story. But in January, his attorney, Philip Seplow, argued that his client’s change of heart about the neo-Nazi movement should lead to a lighter sentence.
“Harbin now rejects the white supremacist dogma,” Seplow wrote. He said Harbin planned to get his racist tattoos removed when he left prison. “People make mistakes,” he wrote, and one of them was associating with the group.
He asked the judge to sentence his client to just two years in prison.
Federal prosecutors, however, argued that Harbin’s crimes were more than just a mistake. The bombs he built were not created for simple curiosity, assistant US attorney Josh Patrick Parecki wrote in his recommendation. They were built on behalf of a racist ideology that wanted to cause havoc in the desert.
“Indeed, committing this offense with some knowledge or intent that the IEDs could later be used along the border makes this offense gravely serious,” the prosecutor wrote.
He asked for Harbin to be put behind bars for four years and four months..
In the end, Judge Neil Wake sided with Harbin. He sentenced him in February to two years in prison, with more than a year of it already having been served.
Prison records show Harbin, 29, is scheduled to be released on Oct. 11 of this year. When he does, he is then scheduled to spend three years on probation.
In his sentencing, Wake ordered Harbin to stay away from the white supremacist movement for the length of his probation. He also barred him from owning anything that could be considered white supremacist paraphernalia, such as the neo-Nazi patches and flag found in his home during the federal search.
If he breaks those conditions, Harbin could end up back in prison.
Court records show Harbin appeared willing to leave it all behind when he made the jailhouse call to his girlfriend shortly after his arrest. It was the same call in which he admitted to making the bombs.
“I think you should just leave the border up to the border patrol,” his girlfriend told him.
“Yeah,” Harbin replied. “I was thinking that, too.”
Nick Martin is an associate editor at TPM in New York City. He came to the site in 2011 as a reporter for TPMMuckraker. Previously, he worked in Arizona, first as a staff reporter for a local newspaper and later as a freelance journalist. He also ran the news blog Heat City. Contact him: nick [at] talkingpointsmemo.com