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Klansman accused of distributing pipe bombs

| Wednesday, May 12, 2004

The leader of a Ku Klux Klan splinter group also was known in a white supremacist newsletter as the "Unknown Terrorist" who built and gave pipe bombs to others and taught them to do the same, a federal prosecutor said Tuesday.

David W. Hull, 41, of Amwell in Washington County, a self-avowed imperial wizard of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, had a mission "to encourage and teach others to commit a federal crime of violence," Assistant U.S. Attorney Margaret Picking said.

U.S. District Judge Gary L. Lancaster told the jury of six men and six women that Hull's KKK membership and his views are not illegal but will be a factor in the trial, which continues today.

Picking said two of Hull's contacts were confidential informants working for the FBI and state police in connection with a domestic anti-terrorism task force in Philadelphia.

The prosecutor said the pleasant, pastoral atmosphere around Hull's farm in the Amity community in Amwell, was shattered on July 6, 2002, when two pipe bombs exploded in junked cars.

She said Hull also gave components of another pipe bomb to a government witness on Nov. 19, 2002.

Hull is charged with nine felony counts, including illegal possession of three pipe bombs and a firearm silencer, unlawful distribution of information relating to destructive devices and weapons of mass destruction, and tampering with a witness.

If convicted, Hull faces up to 120 years in prison and a $2.5 million fine.

Jurors will hear tape recordings of Hull describing in detail the making of a pipe bomb, Picking said.

Expected to testify for the government are John Keohane, a former Klansman who also was charged in the weapons investigation, and John Carmelo, a paid informant who used his expertise as a gun dealer to work his way into Hull's confidence.

Hull had given Carmelo a homemade silencer and asked if he could suggest ways to improve it, Picking told the jurors.

Hull's federal public defender, W. Penn Hackney, said Hull's views, though "radical and abhorrent," are not illegal.

"Those beliefs are, charitably put, outside the mainstream of public discourse," Hackney told the jury, which includes one black woman.

Hackney told jurors to be skeptical of the witnesses' testimony, claiming Keohane "has a reason to lie" because doing so affords him an easy way out of his problems, and Carmelo was paid $47,000 over two years by the FBI.

Picking said Hull tried unsuccessfully to get another government witness, who helped Hull format articles for the Knight Watch newsletter, to change her testimony and say the articles were written by someone else using the "Unknown Terrorist" moniker.

Hackney said much of the evidence in the government's case will not be contested but that the defendant did not intend to make or possess pipe bombs and did not try to change the witness' testimony.

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