By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
After some time, the informant joined the Navy. ”We had on-and-off contact,“ said Barry Krugel. ”He was in the Navy, not around, in and out of town, up to a couple of months ago.“ At that point, the informant started to attend JDL meetings and protests, but ”he was a quiet kind of fellow. He wasn‘t demonstrative like Irv or myself, who are not afraid to mix it up. It takes a special individual to get in front of a crowd and make some noise.“
Apparently, the youth had a change of heart while in the military. ”If a person at a younger age does things, regrets it, then spends time away and they [the JDL] don’t know he is reformed, then he turns to law enforcement,“ said a police source.
The affidavit asserts that, in the recordings, ”Krugel stated that the Arabs needed a wake-up call and that the JDL needed to do something to one of their ‘filthy’ mosques.“ Moreover, the tapes allegedly record Earl Krugel discussing ”other bombings he was involved in or knew about.“ For his part, Rubin ”said that the JDL needed to let people know they were alive in a ‘militant way.’“
Potential targets were discussed or cased, including an Orange County bar that purportedly catered to Nazis, local mosques and the Muslim Public Affairs Council, in 11 meetings from October 19 through December 11, the day of the arrests. The affidavit recounts Krugel going through the finer points of bomb making while also directing the purchase of necessary raw materials, to be assembled at his modest home in Reseda. Rubin allegedly chose the final targets. Police swarmed in just after the informant unloaded explosive powder into Krugel‘s garage.
”They had all or most of the components for making an explosive device,“ said FBI spokesman Matt McLaughlin. ”If we were to wait a couple of hours, they could have very easily made the bomb.“
Barry Krugel countered that neither his brother nor Rubin is dumb enough to concoct such a scheme: ”You don’t bomb a congressman‘s office unless you want a permanent passport to jail. I think this may be a setup based on the government trying to placate the Arabs by showing some evenhandedness, because they’ve been rounding up Arabs. Now, they‘re going to round up some Jewish people.“
Attorney Charles L. Kreindler, who briefly represented Earl Krugel, suggested that his former client may have been unfairly entrapped by overzealous investigators. ”Something like what happened on September 11 is a very monumental event in the life of a person“ with Krugel’s beliefs. ”I think Mr. Krugel became very vulnerable to the type of suggestions made by the government informant. Mr. Krugel is a full-time dental hygienist. And also a gem and mineral collector. This is a really normal, good American.“
In its heyday, the JDL relished fomenting and taking credit for violent acts that it characterized as ”self-defense“ -- while also attempting to avoid legal culpability. Meir Kahane set up military-training and indoctrination camps, encouraged the purchase of guns, and spoke of a holocaust-to-come in America that would have to be resisted by an independent army of Jews.
”Here was a rabbi who went into the streets and fought with anti-Semites,“ recalled Barry Krugel. ”Someone who was proud to be Jewish. Don‘t turn the other cheek. This was a new idea. Beverly Hills Jews are worrying about ’What will they say?‘ if we get in the streets and kick butts. I liked those kind of ideas. Don’t sit back and write an article about Nazis marching through Skokie. Get out and do something about it. If Arabs were at a meeting and they said, ‘We love Yasir Arafat,’ we said, ‘Go to hell.’“
Barry Krugel recounted how he was once arrested for jumping Nazis who showed up outside an Academy Awards ceremony, and also for harassing Jewish industrialist Armand Hammer by picketing his house. The JDL accused Hammer of courting the Soviets for personal financial gain, while doing nothing for fellow Jews who faced persecution in the USSR. In part because it embraced the cause of Soviet Jewry, the JDL enjoyed a burst of nationwide support. Kahane‘s charisma and writings also won converts.
But the dissolution of the Soviet Union removed a centerpiece issue, and Kahane went to Israel. At his urging, many followers joined him. Kahane turned over the JDL to Rubin, but the organization rapidly became a shell of its former self, splintering into bitter factions that spent much of their time battling each other, especially after an assassin killed Kahane during a trip to New York in 1990.
The court record is replete with colorful charges and countercharges between JDL heirs apparent. A court document in a 1989 suit alleges of a JDL leader that ”while dressed only in underwear, combat boots, and a military helmet, [he] carried a rifle on [his] shoulder and marched back and forth in front of a full-length mirror while listening to Sousa marching music,“ a display that occurred ”on at least one occasion.“ Elsewhere, one JDL-er accused another of harassing him by ”personating [sic] an attorney“ and ”accusing me in a letter of having a sexual relationship with my former butler . . . and of committing bestiality with a Neapolitan mastiff.“
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