- More than a dozen alleged members of American Front face charges
- They are accused of participating in paramilitary training
- Police documents say they were plotting disruptions in an effort to attract new members
- They were also preparing for a race war, the documents say
More than a dozen alleged members of American Front, a down-on-its-luck white supremacist group, were charged Friday in Florida with participating in paramilitary training, prosecutors said.
The alleged ringleader of the group, Marcus Faella, was also charged with directing the activities of a gang and teaching paramilitary training, they said. Nine members of the group, including Faella and his wife, Patricia Faella, were charged with conspiracy to shoot at, within or into a building.
According to police, Faella was planning to stage provocative disruptions at the Orlando City Hall and at a Melbourne, Florida, anarchist gathering that included members of anti-racist skinhead groups.
Faella, police documents say, wanted to stir up media attention to help gain new recruits for American Front, which hate-tracking groups says has been faltering since the death of its leader, David Lynch, in California.
All but one of the 14 people accused in the investigation have been arrested, according to prosecutors. That person's identity is being held pending arrest.
"Today, Central Floridians sent a strong message to our communities: the message that criminal behavior whose thesis is hate and intolerance will not be allowed to flourish in our neighborhoods," said Lawson Lamar, state attorney for the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida.
Nationally, American Front has had a long and violent history, including the beating death of a Salt Lake City man and a string of 1993 bombings in California, according to hate-tracking groups.
The 25-year-old group enjoyed a resurgence in 2007 under Lynch, described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a charismatic leader who helped form it in 1987. But Lynch was shot to death in his home in March 2011, leaving the group with no clear leader, according to the Anti-Defamation League. It has shrunk significantly in the past year, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Most of the group's 50 or so members appear to live in Florida, according to the ADL.
"Faella views himself and the other members of the AF as the protectors of the white race," investigators wrote in an affidavit, referring to the group by its initials. "Faella has stated his intent during the race war is to kill Jews, immigrants and other minorities."
Faella bonded out of jail on Saturday, according to Osceola County, Florida officials. His wife was released on Sunday, they said.
According to police, Faella's group watched videos training them in fighting and the use of AK-47s and other weapons at the compound, which the affidavit said is ringed with barbed wire and protected by pit bulls and firing positions facing the driveway.
The property was meant to become a refuge for white supremacists after the fall of the U.S. government during a race war, investigators wrote. The group was making body armor and sniper suits and stocking up on supplies in preparation, according to police.
On at least one occasion, a group member who also belonged to the National Guard provided training to American Front members that he had learned in the military, according to the affidavit.
The arrests came on the heels of a two-year investigation based on the reports of a confidential informant who had to flee the fortified compound on April 28, according to the arrest affidavit.
At a meeting to plan the attack on rival skinheads that day, Faella nearly discovered secret recordings the informant had been making of training exercises, according to an affidavit released by police.