Outing The Order
A former neo-Nazi talks about his past

In the early 1980s Thomas Martinez was a member of The Order, a small, violent neo-Nazi group whose members killed, robbed, counterfeited... and then went down in flames after Martinez became an informant for the FBI. The Order was responsible for the killing of Alan Berg, the radio show host upon whose life the movie Talk Radio was based. Buford Furrow, the man who burst into a Jewish daycare center last August and shot three children, was also a member of The Order.

See also...
... by Eric Umansky
... in the Scope section
... from December 10, 1999

Another neo-Nazi organization decided to make Martinez pay for snitching out The Order. It hired a goon (who was in fact an FBI agent) and instructed him to "separate Martinez's head from his body." Despite this, Martinez refused to enter the FBI Witness Protection Program. Instead, he decided to confront his past and give speeches to Jewish groups warning about the dangers posed by his former buddies.

In 1988, Martinez co-wrote Brotherhood of Murder, with John Guinther (a literary helper), detailing his time in The Order. A movie starring Billy Baldwin, based on the book, will premier on Showtime this Sunday.

GettingIt: How did you get involved in The Order?

Thomas Martinez: It was the greed and the money. I had the chance to take part in a robbery [which netted over $2 million]. But there's a point between being greedy and being a murderer. I can't even shoot a deer, let alone a human being.

How did I originally get involved? For me, if you have a dog, and you keep kicking and kicking that dog, it's going to end up being a vicious dog.

GI: So who was doing the kicking?

TM: I saw a lot of things happen to me and my family. My brother, Lee, got stabbed by a black person when he was seven years old. He lost his lung. My parents lost their home in 1960 -- my Dad couldn't work because he had TB.

I got bused to a black school. It was controlled by black gangs like Zulu Nation. The teachers didn't have boo-hoo to say. We didn't learn nothing. The abuse I took as a white kid was sickening. [Martinez dropped out of high school after a black schoolmate threatened to kill him.] I hated them -- I foamed.

GI: It's interesting, after you left The Order, and started giving speeches, you spoke to Jewish, and not black, groups.

TM: Right, and public schools, where there were plenty of blacks.

GI: Did you ever talk to the NAACP?

TM: Nope, I've never been invited. If they invite me I'll be there.

GI: But you went uninvited to Jewish groups.

TM: Well, I became an anti-Semite without ever knowing Jews. Jews were the major target for these guys. Everyone on their hit list was Jewish.

GI: Have you ever been asked to do an intervention with kids who are neo-Nazis?

TM: Yup, one was a millionaire's daughter. We're sitting there in her father's beautiful home. The daughter, a student at Oxford, comes in. She was about 6 feet tall, 180 pounds, blonde, very, very attractive. She has a few small Nazi markings, but she was very polite. "Hello Mom, Hi Dad," she says. We got to talking and chatted for about 15 minutes. Then she said, "I know who you are... You're Tom Martinez, that fucking Jew-lover."

I just sat there. She yelled at me and cursed me. I spent five hours with her. But it fell apart. I think her father later disowned her.

GI: In your book you make a distinction between neo-Nazi groups and militias. I always lumped them together in the "wackos" category.

TM: Naw, some of the militia guys might as well just be card-carrying Republicans. The group I think is the most dangerous is the Christian Identity movement. One time I was eating a hot dog and about to drink some milk and these guys lost their shit. They're kosher. They believe they're the true Israelites, and they're armed.

GI: One of the things I noticed in reading the book was how well armed these guys were. At one point you wrote about being in a house with 44 grenades. Where'd those come from?

TM: They stole equipment from military bases. It's actually very common. One guy I knew was building a bomb with material from a military base. He had the stuff in his lap. It went off and he blew off his testicles.

GI: You still concerned about your safety?

TM: Oh definitely. I mean, there are a lot of guys from The Order still in jail. What have you got to do in prison but think and be angry? And one thing to think about is that guy, Tom Martinez.

I changed my name, and I won't tell you where I live. On TV, I only let them show me in silhouette. And I don't allow any photos when I give talks.

GI: Did you ever feel guilty about what happened to the guys from The Order?

TM: I was a hair away from being insane. One day I'm sitting with Bob [the leader of The Order] at a [neo-Nazi] convention laughing together. A year later the guy's blown up in his house by the FBI. It does something to you as a human being.

Eric Umansky is the former editor of Mother Jones Interactive. He covered the Granada Hills Jewish Center shooting for The Forward, the country's oldest Jewish newspaper.