As Norway struggles to understand the violent actions of Anders Behring Breivik, Channel 4 News speaks to a reformed neo-Nazi who warns the far-right movement is organised and growing.
TJ Leyden joined the “skinheads” at the age of 14 and graduated to a leading recruiter, organiser and propagandist for the white supremacist and neo-Nazi movement in the US.
In his own words, he spent 15 years “promoting hate, bigotry and racism” and earned a reputation as one of the big players in the white power movement.
Leyden has since reformed and now works with other former extremists from various religions and nationalities to promote tolerance and understanding between different ethnic groups.
When I heard Breivik dressed up like a police officer I had a very sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. TJ Leyden
Leyden told Channel 4 News that he was “very saddened but not shocked” by the events on Norway’s Utoya island and in Oslo.
He added: “I wrote about such an event in my book … about a group of right-wing guys dressing up like police and killing minorities.
“When I heard Breivik dressed up like a police officer I had a very sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.”
Leyden estimates there are more than 50,000 “hard-core racists spreading hate” in North America alone.
But he says the problem is global and that one group he used to belong to has around 10,000 members across the world.
When Leyden joined the movement he covered his body in tattoos (see right). His group believed in world expansion and domination of the white race.
He told Channel 4 News he initially joined the neo-Nazi movement because he was scared: “I was motivated by an overwhelming sense of fear which I turned into a twisted and sick sense of love.
“Love for my own kind, my own race and my own religion.”
Leyden said he did have doubts from “time to time”.
“If I was such a proud neo-Nazi then why did I do all I could to keep my younger brothers away? It was because deep down I knew it was a lie.”
Since turning his back on the white power movement Leyden has advised high-ranking politicians in the US on hate crime and has travelled to Europe to speak on panels promoting tolerance.
As a former US marine who recruited fellow soldiers to the neo-Nazi movement, Leyden told Channel 4 News western governments must do more to close off the military as a recruiting and training ground for the right-wing movement.
“My advice is to not lose focus and remember that terror can come from within as well as from outside.
“I often have to remind western governments that the right wing can be just as dangerous as Islamic terrorists.”
He also warns that the racist movement is very organised and has rich backers including “doctors, lawyers and computer software makers”.
The groups also have underground criminal elements which carry out armed robberies to fund their activities.
After 15 years in the white power movement Leyden cut his ties when he realised he did not want his children to follow his life of hate and bigotry.
He has admitted carrying out the acts but has denied breaking the law and has branded the people he targeted as traitors.
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Asked what he would say if he came face-to-face with Breivik, Leyden said: “I would ask him ‘what makes you different from the evil you sought to destroy?'”
“You did not conquer it, it conquered you.”
TJ served as a consultant and worked for over five years with the Task Force Against Hate at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in the US. In 2002 TJ started StrHate Talk Consulting, and in 2010 he founded From Hate to Hope, Inc., a non-profit organisation.