Who's Who in Terrorism
By Frank G. McGuire
Hidden Links of One "Anti-Extremist" Organization
(NOTE: After seeing and hearing several media references to "experts" in extremism at Atlanta's Center For Democratic Renewal. we believe this in-depth look at the Center by analyst Laird Wilcox will be of value to the security intelligence community. A more detailed report is available on request.)
It's not surprising, when one stops to think about it, that the primary enemies of "extremist" groups are opposing "extremist" groups from the other edge of the political spectrum. Several observers have noted that opposing extremist groups often form a kind of symbiotic relationship, each feeding off the other and justifying its own existence by the existence of its opposition. A significant deception occurs when the extremist enemies of another extremist group attempt to perfume themselves with a "human rights" cover. Such is the case with an anti-Ku Klux Klan group whose ties with various Marxist-Leninist groups suggest a possible hidden agenda at least as extreme, if not more so, than the group it targets.
Center For Democratic Renewal (CDR), Atlanta, GA, was formerly the Anti-Klan Network. Its research director is Lenny Zeskind. who was formerly publisher of The Hammer, an "anti-fascist" magazine in Kansas City, MO. In the past several years. Zeskind has established himself as an authority on right-wing extremism. The public record of Lenny Zeskind shows that in 1978 he was on the editorial board of Urgent Tasks: Journal of the Revolutionary Left, a publication of the Chicago-based Marxist-Leninist group, the Sojourner Truth Organization. Zeskind also ran notices in The Hammer promoting Searchlight, a UK-based "anti-fascist" magazine with a long history of support from Marxist-Leninist groups, including the Communist Party.
Another former key player at CDR is Lyn Wells, a veteran Marxist-Leninist activist who is also a board member of Zeskind's Kansas-City-based Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights. She was a member of The October League, which later became the Communist Party -Marxist-Leninist in 1977. This is one of the most extreme leftist groups in the US and a primary US supporter of the Peoples Republic of China. Ironically, Wells co-edited an educational text used by many US city officials. When Hate Groups Come To Town: A Handbook of Model Community Responses, is published and widely distributed by CDR. The publication instructs municipal authorities on how to deal with extremist groups on the right, but makes no mention of her own background.
Another CDR board member is Ann Braden, widow of Carl Braden, who once stood trial in Kentucky for sedition. She was a founding sponsor of the US Peace Council, offspring of the Soviet-controlled World Peace Council. She will be a participant at the 1989 Marxist Scholars' Conference in Louisville, KY. Her panel there will discuss "Progressive and Reactionary Trends in World Religions." Chair of the panel will be Alan Thomson, executive director of the National Council of American-Soviet Friendship. Thomson may not make the event, however, because he has been indicted for trying to launder $17,000 received from the World Peace Council.
A close Zeskind Associate is Chip Berlet, founding member of Chicago Friends of Albania, which operates as an unregistered agent for one of the most repressive regimes in the world. Berlet is with Political Research Associates, Cambridge, MA, and a member of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) which is afÞliated with the Soviet-controlled International Association of Democratic Lawyers. Berlet and Zeskind have promoted each other's publications extensively and both were recently interviewed together on National Public Radio as "experts on extremism!" No mention was made or their backgrounds. Berlet was publisher of an expose by Russ Belant charging that "anti-Semites, Fascists and Nazi collaborator Quietly Recruited Into Republican Party," which made headlines just prior to the 1988 presidential election. The report was regarded as "ridiculous" by Republican Parry leaders and has had little impact in the mainstream media.