Special Report: THE feared American racist organisation Ku Klux Klan has infiltrated Perth, a senior US-based KKK leader has claimed.
Speaking from Arkansas, Thomas Robb, the US national director of the major Klan faction, The Knights Party, told The Sunday Times that the group - infamous for murders and violence against African- Americans - was in Perth and other major Australian cities.
"We have members in Sydney, around Melbourne and Perth (and) Darwin," Mr Robb said in a phone interview this week.
Mr Robb, who hosts what the KKK boasts to be "the world's first and only white pride internet TV show", would not confirm numbers or details of Australian members because Klan rules prohibit him from doing so.
But his claims were backed by a former national KKK leader, Johnny Lee Clary, who quit the Klan in 1989 and is now an internationally renowned anti-racism campaigner who regularly advises US and other law-enforcement agencies about the group.
Mr Clary warned that the KKK and other white-supremacist groups were actively recruiting in WA and said even Perth high school students knew KKK members.
He had toured WA since 1999 and people regularly told him about local KKK members after he gave motivational speeches at WA churches and schools.
"I know that the Ku Klux Klan is in Western Australia. I know that they're in the Perth area," he said in Perth this week.
"The National Front is here, I know that the Nazi Party is here. I've talked to people here and they've said to me `I know so and so, that belongs to the Klan'."
Disturbingly his latest report of KKK activity had come from children when visiting a school in Rockingham about a week ago.
"I said `How many in here have ever met somebody from the Ku Klux Klan?' and three kids have raised their hands," he said.
His previous experiences and research about the KKK in WA convinced him the children were serious.
Mr Clary, 49, who was Grand Imperial Wizard, or national boss, of the militant White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan before he quit, said WA should take very seriously the threat of having local Klan members.
"People who join the Klan are prone to commit violence," said Mr Clary, who during an interview with talk-show host Andrew Denton in 2005, admitted burning an African- American priest's church.
"Almost everyone in the Klan threatens and intimidates people."
Mr Clary said the Klan's violent activities were not limited to the US.
"I was told by police that Klansmen were involved in Cronulla," he said. "They got out there and rallied the people, and got them out there fighting.
"That's the sort of thing you in WA should worry about.
"All one has to do is look at the record of the Ku Klux Klan in America. It's a record of violence, beatings, lynchings, burnings and murders."
The economic downturn would make recruitment easier for such groups.
"This man's hurting, he doesn't know how going to pay his bills and feed his family," Mr Clary said.
"The Ku Klux Klan comes along and says, `Australia is letting all these immigrants come in here and they're taking your jobs and the Asians are buying up everything'.
"I'm ashamed of it, but that's how I recruited people when I was leader."
Mr Clary said he would be saddened if authorities believed the latest information was "not a big deal" and ignored it until something terrible happened.
"By God, it only took one card-carrying member, Timothy McVeigh, to blow up that federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995 and that killed 168 people," he said.
Police Minister Rob Johnson promised to act on the information from The Sunday Times investigation.
"I will be discussing this matter with WA police and I have every confidence that if this group breaks any laws in WA, they will be dealt with severely," Mr Johnson said.
Police said they were not aware of any "upsurge" in KKK activity and that the Klan, like similar groups, was monitored by police.
The revelations of local KKK members follow the arrest last week of Maylands man Brendon O'Connell, 38, who was charged under racial vilification laws for allegedly posting anti-Semitic videos on YouTube.
Opposition multicultural interests spokesman John Hyde said he was appalled to discover the depth of white-supremacist activity in Perth since reporting the YouTube allegation to police.
Mr Hyde said he would examine potential amendments to WA's anti-vilification laws to ensure multicultural West Australians could live peacefully.
Mr Robb denied the KKK _ which can be joined online _ was promoting violence against, or hatred of, non-whites.
He blamed a few bad people and propaganda for the Klan's negative image.
The KKK was merely protecting "white people's right to love their heritage and culture", he said.
Ethnic Communities Council of WA president Ramdas Sankaran said racist elements in Australia had been strengthened "thanks to the demonisation of religious and ethnic minorities" by former prime minister John Howard and his senior colleagues.