By Linda Brady, 3rd March, 2001 (28 A.C.)

The ringleaders of the Rockhampton arm of the race hate group the World Church of the Creator have been identified.

Rockhampton residents Shaun Simmonds and Michael Ireland have so far declined to comment on their association with the church, but The Morning Bulletin has confirmed they are members.

The men were identified after their WCOTC email names were traced on the electoral roll - one listed as living on the north side of the city, the other on the south side.

Southside resident Shaun Simmonds said he was not authorized to make a comment about the church, and claimed he was only employed to collect and forward the mail from the group's post office box.

Surrounded by navy paraphernalia and with high-violence videos and computer games piled high on the shelves inside his West Street home, Mr Simmonds however was quick to allay fears his church was violent.

When asked about the violence perpetrated by the American wings he said simply : "We are not like them."

Mr Simmonds also denied he and Mr Ireland were responsible for the racist sticker attack on the Palmtree Wutaru Aboriginal Corporation last Wednesday.

Instead he suggested there may be other members in the area he was not aware of.

"I don't know how many members we have here; we may have two or a dozen - I'm not always told these things," he said.

"Or it may be someone else passing through - the address on the sticker was for Melbourne."

Meanwhile, the group's presence and the sticker attacks have been referred to the Human Rights Commission in Sydney.

HOUSE OF HATE .......cont.......


By Linda Brady, 3rd March, 2001 (28 A.C.)

They are Hitler-esque, they equate Christianity with smallpox, they claim there was no Jewish holocaust and make martyrs out of their murdering members and - with their arrival in Rockhampton - could be living next to you.

For some people, it all sounds too far-fetched to be taken seriously - but the discovery last week that an Australian branch of the American World Church of the Creator (WCOTC) had opened up in Rockhampton has more than a few experts worried.

For many Rockhampton people, the WCOTC is just another flirtation with the extreme right - a silly little testerone-driven group that will go away and return to reading KKK fan club magazines in their bedroom once the novelty and the notoreity of their church involvement has worn off.

But for others, particularly those who are familiar with extremist groups like this one, this is no time to stick heads in sand.

This is a time to find out just who and what has landed on our doorsteps.

The World Church of the Creator is not some small-time, insignificant white supremacist group. True, their numbers maybe small, but their ability to kill and attack has been proven time and time again.

As Sydney-based criminalogist David Fraser explains, as a "religious organisation" the WCOTC is able to tap into a deeper vein than a racist right political group might.

Using theology, religious righteousness and the glory of martyrdom, a "church" group can create fanatics much more easily than a political group.

"The WCOTC are pretty far out even in terms of the racial right", David Fraser said.

"They spend half their time in the States fighting with other far right racist groups because they believe these groups have softened, or believe too much in Christianity.

"I don't know if these people in Rockhampton are true believers, but if they are then they believe they are the absolute truth and anyone who stands in their way is the enemy.

"There is a lot of very sincere :'We are the true way' type of thing - so there is certainly good reason to be afraid of these people if they truly believe in the church. Remember there are people like this in the States who go around killing people."

The WCOTC's violent connections are no secret, despite feeble claims from the grandly named church leader Pontifex Maximus Reverend Matthew Hale that the church does not condone aggression.

But for the past 28 years, the WCOTC has been involved in murders, a planned secret police action against the African National Congress during the last few years of South African apartheid, a number of bashings, tortures and other hate crimes.

The World Church of the Creator (or simply COTC as it was known until 1996) was established in the United States by Ukrainian migrant Ben Klassen in 1973.

After dabbling with a number of already-established far right groups, Klassen decided to concoct his own group, inventing a theology he called Creativity and setting himself up as the saviour of the white race.

Under his leadership the COTC grew gradually but steadily, and within 10 years had attracted hundreds of skinheads, neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan members and other racial right supporters.

The growth of the group into Sweden, Canada and South Africa saw the COTC develop as one of only a handful of American-based hate groups to become truly international.

The activities of the group took a sinister twist in the early '90s when an African-American Persian Gulf War veteran was murdered by a COTC reverend in Florida. The murderer, Reverend George Loeb, and his wife barbara were both convicted, with George given a life sentence after being found guilty of first degree murder.

The following year white undercover police operatives in South Africa reported they had been ordered by their superiors to join the COTC in an effort to recruit South African racists to fight an underground war against Nelson Mandela's African National Congress.

At this point, Klassen handed his leadership over to a young tele-marketer, Richard McCarty, and suicided by swallowing three bottles of sleeping pills.

With a $1 million debt on his books, McCarty struggled to stop the group unravelling - a task made even harder after Californian police thwarted two COTC bombing attacks planned to kill Jewish, African-American and gay people.

It seemed the group was ready to collaspe until aspiring young lawyer and long-time extreme right lobbyist Matthew Hale came to the helm.

Since 28-year-old Hale's ascension to the WCOTC throne, the group has enjoyed a resurgence. It has spread its wings even further abroad, stepped up leaflet and recruitment campaigns and has mastered the Internet - despite the fact that Hale operates his hate campaign from a tiny bedroom in his father's home.

But along with the renewed interest in the group has come a return to the group's racial violence. Australia, and indeed Rockhampton, may not be like America but, as David Fraser emphasised last week: "We must not assume we are immune to this sort of violence".

The Australian leader of the WCOTC, Peter O'Sullivan, is a well-known skinhead.

The B'nai B'rith Anti-defamation Commission, which has been monitoring the WCOTC in Australia, describes O'Sullivan as: "A skinhead with a swastika tattoo on one side of his head and a Nazi SS symbol on the other, as well as other neo-Nazi tatoos on other parts of his body including the words White Power,RaHoWa (Racial Holy War) and the symbol for the WCOTC."

The group's two leading characters in this corner of the world have been identified as Brother Shaun Simmonds and Brother Michael Ireland.

Until today, the identities of the two men were shrouded in secrecy - the Rockhampton contacts known only by their e-mail addresses and a post office box.

Shaun Simmonds claims he is only a contact point for the area - not permitted to make comments on behalf of the church and tasked with mundane duties such as collecting the mail.

Michael Ireland, on the other hand, has made appearances in The Morning Bulletin's Letters to the Editor over the last few weeks - focussing, perhaps predictably, on contentious racial issues.

Neither man has agreed to speak publicly about the group - preferring to let O'Sullivan or Hale do the talking instead.

But their silence has drawn fire from politicians, community leaders and the general public alike - who argue that a group which espouses such hatred should have the courage of their convictions to show their face.

They ask for their right to practise their religion, but continue to deny the public the right to know who is making the demand.

They are racist, linked to violence, they are a hate group and they could be living next to you.

Clarifying this Article

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