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'Gurdwara gunman a neo-Nazi who was angry after 9/11'

August 11, 2012 18:59 IST

A sociologist, who had interacted with the gunman who killed six Sikhs at a gurdwara in Wisconsin, said that he was a neo-Nazi whose primary targets were blacks and Jews.

For nearly two years, Pete Simi, a sociologist doing fieldwork on hate groups, hung out with 40-year-old Wade Michael Page, the army veteran who gunned down six Sikhs at the gurdwara on Sunday.

Simi, an associate professor of criminology at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, stated that Page disliked blacks and Jews, but never mentioned Sikhs.

"Blacks and Jews," Simi said. "Those were the primary targets of his rhetoric."

After 9/11, Simi said Page sent him an email in which he expressed a lot of anger about Muslims.

"He said something like, "America should just plaster all of the Middle East,'" Simi was quoted by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel as saying.

Simi has written a book, "American Swastika: Inside the White Power Movement's Hidden Spaces of Hate", after interviewing dozens of other neo-Nazis and white supremacists as part of his research.

"We became friendly," Simi recalled of his time with Page.

"I wasn't his friend, but he was friendly to me. I didn't believe it at first when I saw his picture (in connection with the gurudwara shooting). I had to do a double take," he said.

Simi said Page hung out with people who were members of well-known hate groups, including Volksfront and Hammerskins. There were people who still called themselves members of the White Aryan Resistance, a well-known hate group.

Page drank heavily, Simi said, but never used drugs. Even people Page hung out with knew Page had a problem with alcohol, he said.

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