KANSAS CITY, MO — Never shy about bantering with reporters, former Kansas City area Ku Klux Klan leader Dennis Mahon always seemed to be on the public relations side of the white supremacy movement — a virulent talker, but not a violent doer.
That changed Friday when federal prosecutors in Arizona announced that Mahon, 58, and his twin brother, Daniel, had been indicted in the 2004 mail bombing of a Scottsdale city office that promoted racial and cultural diversity.
“There are few criminal acts as cowardly as a parcel bomb,” said Christopher White of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Phoenix.
The Mahons’ arrests Thursday in Illinois coincided with unrelated charges being announced against Robert Joos, a Powell, Mo., man whom Dennis Mahon allegedly called the morning the bomb arrived in Scottsdale.
Authorities charged Joos, 56, with being a felon in possession of firearms.
According to court records, Mahon allegedly sent an undercover federal informant to Joos, who taught him how to make napalm.
Also Thursday, agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives searched the Warsaw, Ind., home of Tom Metzger, director of the White Aryan Resistance and an associate of the Mahons.
In a Warsaw newspaper interview Friday, Metzger, said the search was related to the charges against the Mahons. He said that agents took a computer and address books.
Robert M. Fagan, an attorney representing Dennis Mahon, said that the bombing accusations still must be proven.
“He’s a veteran and a contributing member of society,” Fagan said.
Attorney Dennis Ryan, who represents Daniel Mahon, said his client believed he was innocent.
“He’s denied any knowledge or participation in this,” Ryan said. “He believes this is more about his views and his persona. He’s at a loss of how he could have gotten to this point.”
An attorney for Joos could not be reached for comment.
Dennis Mahon is a former Northmoor resident and imperial dragon of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. In 1989, he unsuccessfully ran for a seat on the Northmoor Board of Aldermen, vowing to keep the community “white.”
He also was involved in a skirmish over a public access channel of a Kansas City cable TV company. After a long battle, which included a federal lawsuit filed on behalf of the Klan, his group produced one TV program that aired in 1990.
According to court records, the Mahons long have been suspects in the Feb. 26, 2004, Scottsdale bombing. Prosecutors accused Dennis Mahon of using his brother’s phone to call the Scottsdale office on Sept, 26, 2003, and leave a voice message stating that “the White Aryan Resistance is growing in Scottsdale. There’s a few white people who are standing up.”
Authorities began investigating Joos in 2005, after they noticed that a string of calls was made from Dennis Mahon’s phone on the morning of the bombing, the first to Joos’s cell phone, according to court records.
The Mahons grew up as Illinois farmboys, said Leonard Zeskind, a Kansas City expert on hate groups. In the 1970s, they joined David Duke’s Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, he said.
They stayed with that group until 1988, when Dennis Mahon created his Missouri White Knights in Kansas City.
When he moved to Tulsa, Okla., he tried to make a living selling Klan paraphernalia at gun shows, Zeskind said. He later set up camp in Arizona among a group of skinheads.
“Mahon had long associated himself with the most violent aspects of white nationalist ideology,” Zeskind said, “and his arrest may signal a new turn towards tougher law enforcement policies in the wake of recent high-profile murders by racists and anti-Semites.”
Prosecutors alleged that Dennis Mahon helped construct the Scottsdale bomb five days before delivery. The blast injured three people.
Investigators allege other connections between Joos and the Mahons.
According to federal court records, the Mahons met with an undercover federal agent in February 2005 at an Oklahoma gun show. The Mahons purportedly told the agent about a 200-acre Missouri “retreat” Joos operated where “movement” members received survival training. Mahon allegedly described Joos as “a longtime, white supremacist associate and an expert on weapons, explosives, bomb-making and general survival skills.”
Undercover agents visited and allegedly saw Joos with many firearms, which he could not legally possess because of felony convictions.
Joos gained notoriety in Missouri in the mid-1990s when an alleged associate, Timothy Thomas Coombs, purportedly shot a Missouri Highway Patrol trooper who earlier had arrested Joos.
Domestic terrorism experts said they have seen a recent spike in extremist rhetoric and violence, and attribute some of it to the election of President Barack Obama.
Heidi Beirich, director of research for the Southern Poverty Law Center, said some anti-government groups that aren’t necessarily racist — such as sovereign-citizen activists and tax protesters — now are finding common cause with white supremacists.
“These two things have dovetailed due to the election of the first black president,” said Beirich. “The anti-government movement is more racialized.”
The economic crisis also has played a role, said Mark Pitcavage, a research director for the Anti-Defamation League. Occasionally, people in desperate financial shape look for scapegoats and take extreme actions, he said.
Dennis Mahon never strayed far from the movement.
After moving to Tulsa, he became the Midwestern consultant for the White Aryan Resistance and operated a Dial-a-Racist hot line. In 1991, he made headlines for going to Germany to recruit. He said his audiences included racist skinheads.
After the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, he told The Kansas City Star that he had never met bomber Timothy McVeigh but often had visited Elohim City, a white supremacist compound in Oklahoma that McVeigh called about two weeks before the bombing.
Mahon also told The Star he sent McVeigh a supportive message in 1996, but also told him, “You should’ve done it at 2 in the morning. You don’t kill innocent people. That’s not the way to run a revolution.”
In 1997, McVeigh’s attorney filed court documents naming Mahon as a possible suspect in the bombing. Mahon denied involvement. But later that year, he was mentioned by witnesses testifying before an Oklahoma grand jury investigating allegations of a wider conspiracy.
A former federal informant who testified had said in previous interviews that Mahon had discussed blowing up federal buildings in the past and had cased the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in the months before the bombing.
Mahon appeared before the grand jury, but he said he pled the Fifth Amendment on everything.
Mahon ran for mayor of Tulsa on a platform that included: “Do all I can legally to close down any baby-killing factory (abortion clinic) in Tulsa,” and “Do all I can legally to close down homosexual/lesbian taverns/bars for public health reasons.”
In 1999, Daniel Mahon was fired from his job as an avionics mechanic at American Airlines in Tulsa for conduct detrimental to the company and employees and for violating policies against threatening or intimidating co-workers. He and others attending a company diversity fair allegedly passed out a pamphlet that company officials said contained racist rhetoric.
At a later meeting with managers, Daniel Mahon wore a T-shirt depicting the cover of the “Turner Diaries,” a racist novel said to have been used by McVeigh as a blueprint for the Oklahoma City bombing.
In an interview with The Star in May 2000, Dennis Mahon predicted more violence similar to the Oklahoma City bombing.
“I can tell you right now, before this year is over, there will be several Tim McVeigh instances of major buildings being bombed,” he said.
“I think white men are finally realizing there’s no other solution but violence,” he said.
In a 2005 interview, Mahon said many supremacist groups had turned into “wimps.”
“After the bomb went off in Oklahoma City, the White Knights completely collapsed,” Mahon said.
“They shut down the post-office box, they shut down the hot line. They were scared to death. They just went down the hidey-hole.”
The militia movement did the same, he said. It was time, he said, for a new strategy.
“There’ll be a time when we can go ahead and go with leadership movements,” he said. “But right now … , I think it’s just we all want to overthrow the government and get a state of our own. There’s many ways to do that. It’s called small cells and lone wolfism.”