Police seek leader of neo-Nazi gang

POLICE WERE last night trying to track down the leader of a breakaway neo-Nazi gang which has claimed responsibility for the nail bombings in Brixton and Brick Lane.

Detectives are anxious to question Del O'Connor, theleader of the White Wolves, a renegade faction of the racist Combat 18 group, which has been calling on its supporters to initiate a race war.

A stencilled message, circulated last Friday, read: "C18 did not carry out the Brixton bombing. We, the White Wolves, did."

Last year Mr O'Connor, 39, made a film in which he boasted: "We have been forming small cells and if you're wondering where the money has gone, it's gone on guns. Now the war is on." The development coincided with a visit by the Home Secretary, Jack Straw, to the scene of Saturday's bombing in Brick Lane, the heart of Britain's Bangladeshi community. Mr Straw was shown damage to windows and buildings, as well as a nail from the bombembedded in metal sheeting above a shop.

The Home Secretary met shopkeepers in Empee Silk Fabrics and Cafe Naz, the businesses immediately next to the blast site. "There is no future in evil and race hatred," he said.

Mr O'Connor, a former Chelsea football hooligan, has been involved in neo-Nazi politics since the late Seventies, and is closely connected to far-right organisations in the United States, including the Ku Klux Klan.

Scotland Yard detectives are liaising with US police for information on Mr O'Connor's whereabouts.

Last November he travelled to Dallas to meet white supremacists and he is known to have attended a skinhead concert in Coventry the following month, but is said to have recently "disappeared" from his home in Wigan, Lancashire. Following the claims of responsibility from the White Wolves, police investigating the two London bombings, in which a total of 45 people were injured, want to speak to Mr O'Connor, if only to eliminate him from their inquiries.

Mr O'Connor, who comes from Streatham in south London, close to where the Brixton bomb exploded 11 days ago, considered himself the leader of C18 in the north of England. He claimed to have "units" in Bridlington, Halifax, Preston and Oldham.

He was a skinhead in the British Movement in the late Seventies, before joining the Ku Klux Klan and becoming its UK "security officer".

Mr O'Connor set up the White Wolves at the end of 1995, after serving a three-year jail sentence for assault. He also served a six-month prison sentence in Sweden after attacking an anti-racist while visiting Swedish neo-Nazis.

The White Wolves may be named after a ruthless Nazi war unit called the Werewolves. In crudely produced pamphlets called The Wolf, issued from "The Wolfslair", the gang calls on members to send letter bombs to the addresses of immigrant and anti-racist organisations.

Minority communities in cities across Britain are on alert after police warnings that the bombing campaign is likely to spread outside London.

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