The man charged with planting the Martin Luther King Jr. Day bomb in downtown Spokane openly advocated a “white revolution” while pondering how race and class warfare could topple the U.S. government.
Kevin W. Harpham, who investigators believe posted to racist websites under the pseudonym “Joe Snuffy,” discussed stockpiling firearms and ammunition, commented on the effectiveness of bombing campaigns and dreamed of a “white homeland.”
“I personally think we need a couple thousand pro White psychopaths then maybe we might start getting somewhere with this White Revolution,” he wrote in a May 2009 post on the racist Vanguard News Network’s members-only Internet forum.
The Internet postings, filled with vulgar references to nearly every ethnic group, offer the first detailed glimpse into the violently racist views that may have prompted Harpham, 36, to build a sophisticated backpack bomb and try to detonate it during Spokane’s annual Unity March. The plot apparently was foiled by a cleaning crew that spotted the backpack and alerted police in time to reroute the march.
Authorities won’t publicly confirm the link between Harpham and “Joe Snuffy.” But a connection between the two can be found in a March 2008 posting by Harpham on the site seeking help from other forum users with a technical difficulty he was experiencing in his efforts to “reestablish Joe Snuffy,” a user that first created a forum account in November 2004.
Further, biographical information provided in postings by “Joe Snuffy” matches what’s known about Harpham, including where he lives, where he used to live, when he bought acreage in Stevens County, how much acreage he owns in Stevens County, when he built his cabin, and his military experience.
His last forum posting was on Jan. 16, the day before the backpack bomb was discovered in Spokane.
Mark Potok, who investigates hate groups for the Southern Poverty Law Center, said his organization has “confirmed definitely” that “Joe Snuffy” is Harpham.
“This is chilling material,” Potok said Thursday. “It shows that Harpham was exactly what he appears to be: a person very much part of the white supremacist movement and someone who talked for years about this kind of violence.”
Potok said racists often use pseudonyms to protect themselves from backlash at jobs or from others who don’t share their views.
“When you look at someone like Eric Rudolph, you find someone who was in the movement but was very quiet,” Potok said.
Rudolph, who was convicted of several bombings across the southern United States, including the bombing at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, “was virtually invisible. That obviously is not true of Harpham,” Potok said.
Agents search father’s home
Back in Eastern Washington, scores of federal agents – including the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team from Quantico, Va. – raided and searched Harpham’s home Wednesday in rural Stevens County near Colville.
The team of agents, which included lab technicians to test evidence immediately, remained there Thursday gathering items in what has been described as an intense investigation that began when the bomb was left along the route of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Unity March in downtown Spokane on Jan. 17.
Frank Harrill, supervising senior resident agent of the Spokane office of the FBI, said agents executed a second search warrant Thursday, that one on the Kettle Falls home of Harpham’s father, Cecil Harpham.
Neighbors told The Spokesman-Review on Wednesday that Kevin Harpham had periodically been staying at his dad’s home recently. However, Harrill did not indicate that Cecil Harpham was in any way connected to the bomb investigation. “He remains very cooperative,” Harrill said of Cecil Harpham.
Federal agents arrested the younger Harpham Wednesday morning as he drove across a bridge. While he wouldn’t explain how agents got Harpham out of the home, Harrill said “that was a planned evolution. We take great care to ensure the safety of our agents, surrounding public and the subject himself.”
Harrill said agents used an explosive charge to enter Harpham’s home “as a precautionary measure.”
In other developments, the Seattle Times has reported, citing an unnamed source, that federal investigators linked the bomb to Harpham through DNA evidence. But Harrill wouldn’t comment on any of the details that might be contained in sealed documents.
Harpham remains in the Spokane County Jail without bond and he declined a request by The Spokesman-Review for a jailhouse interview. He faces life in prison if convicted of attempted use of weapon of mass destruction and possession of an unregistered explosive device. Evidence from the case will be presented to a grand jury on March 22; Harpham is not scheduled to appear in court again until the next day.
Writings reference ‘Turner Diaries’
In his postings, Harpham, who attended Spokane Community College in 2002 and 2003, discussed several times trying to get the courage to kill.
“I can’t wait until the day I snap,” he wrote as “Joe Snuffy” in November 2004 after viewing a video of violence. “Fear of death is the only thing stopping me, and it is a fear that is hard to get over if you can relate to that.”
Harpham wrote in November 2004 that he was introduced to “The Turner Diaries,” a book about a race war that many white supremacists consider their manifesto, while serving with the Army’s 1st Battalion, 37th Field Artillery Unit at what is now Joint Base Lewis-McChord, where he served between 1996 and 1999.
“In the army, my lieutenant told me Timothy (McVeigh) read the ‘Turner Diaries’ and that there was a blueprint for a truck bomb in it,” he wrote. “After I was out of the service and was getting to the point of advanced anti-government libertarianism, I bought the book and when I was finished I was extremely disappointed that there was no plans for a bomb inside.”