Neo-Nazis and hate groups are infiltrating the U.S. military in order to get first-class combat training and specialized training in demolitions, intelligence, and other aspects of warfare, according to a civil-rights group. Reports also indicate that black and Hispanic gangs are active within the armed forces.

The Southern Poverty Law Center requested that U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld adopt a zero-tolerance policy toward racist groups in the military. Mark Potok, director of the center’s Intelligence Project, said, “Neo-Nazi groups and other extremists are joining the military in large numbers so they can get the best training in the world on weapons, combat tactics and explosives.”

He added, “[The U.S. Government] should consider this a major security threat, because these people are motivated by an ideology that calls for race war and revolution. Any one of them could turn out to be the next Timothy McVeigh,” a reference to the decorated Gulf War veteran and white supremacist who detonated a truck bomb outside a federal office building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in April 1995, killing 168 people.

The Pentagon said they took steps to keep racist extremists from the ranks after the Oklahoma City bombing, but standards have been relaxed because of wartime recruiting pressures, allowing large numbers of people with links to neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups to join the military, according to the civil-rights group.

The watchdog group pointed to neo-Nazi and white supremacist brochures and newsletters that encourage their members and supporters to join the military in order to get combat and specialized training.

US Department of Defense gang investigator, Scott Barfield, told the New York Post that neo-Nazis “stretch across all branches of service, they are linking up across the branches once they’re inside, and they are hard-core,” adding that, “We’ve got Aryan Nation graffiti in Baghdad. That’s a problem.”

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman acknowledged there have been incidents involving gang-related graffiti, but says, “Good order and discipline is the responsibility of commanders and to the extent there are any activities that are inconsistent with good order and discipline it is incumbent upon the commanders to address those.”

The report said that neo-Nazi groups like the National Alliance, whose founder, William Pierce, wrote “The Turner Diaries,” the novel that was the inspiration and blueprint for Timothy J. McVeigh

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