Robert K. Brown

Bob Brown (Board Member)

Bob Brown - NRA Board Member
Publisher of Soldier of Fortune magazine

Robert K. Brown, born in 1932, served in the U.S. Army from 1954 through 1957 and again between 1964 and 1985, retiring with the rank of lieutenant colonel.

Brown is the editor, publisher, and founder of Soldier of Fortune magazine, which has been in circulation since 1975. The magazine includes reporting on overseas conflicts and famously featured a classified section where purported mercenaries offered their services. The nature of the classified ads led then-Congresswoman Patricia Schroeder (D-CO) to call for an investigation in the 1970s to determine whether the magazine published content that violated the “The Neutrality Act,” a federal law which prohibits United States citizens from performing mercenary work in foreign countries. Brown denied the allegations, purportedly saying, “Some State Department official stated something to the effect that Mr. Brown was staying within the bounds of the law, but not the spirit of it. Well, that’s tough shit.

Controversial Actions and Statements

Controversial Actions and Statements:

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Bob Brown (Board Member)

In 2011, Brown supported the campaign of far-right gun lobbyist and Firearms Coalition of Colorado president Steve Schreiner for the National Rifle Association Board of Directors. Schreiner was not endorsed by the NRA’s Nominating Committee. “NRA will not endorse him 'cause they think he's 'too much of a zealot’" Brown told gun rights activist/blogger David Codrea. "My response is that we could use a few more zealots on the BOD [board of directors].”

2011-01-01

Bob Brown (Board Member)

In 2003, Soldier of Fortune published a two-part article applauding the activities of “Ranch Rescue,” a Texas vigilante border patrol organization. Ranch Rescue leader Jack Foote has referred to Mexicans as “dog turds.” Two members of Ranch Rescue were later arrested for assaulting two individuals they suspected of being illegal immigrants during a vigilante raid.

Immigration | Vigilantism
2003-01-01

Bob Brown (Board Member)

Soldier of Fortune distributed copies of a newsletter called The Resister during the 1990s. The Resister was published by Steven Barry, then a member of the Army’s Special Forces and leader of the unsanctioned Special Forces Underground organization. The newsletter initially drew inspiration from the controversial siege at Ruby Ridge. The content of the newsletter evidenced a “white Christian militia mentality,” according to Michael Reynolds from the Southern Poverty Law Center, containing racist and anti-Semitic content while also exploring “New World Order” conspiracy theories. When Timothy McVeigh was arrested for the Oklahoma City Bombing, in his possession was a Soldier of Fortune-distributed copy of The Resister.

Political Violence | Race
1997-01-01

Bob Brown (Board Member)

In September 1996, the U.S. Army initiated an investigation into Steven Barry, who was a member of both the Army’s Special Forces and the unsanctioned Special Forces Underground organization. Concerned that Barry was leaking sensitive information, the Army provided him with false intelligence. That intelligence later appeared in a Soldier of Fortune article written by national affairs editor James Pate. Pate has publicly downplayed his association to Barry in spite of clear evidence to the contrary.

1996-01-01

Bob Brown (Board Member)

During a 10-year span covering the early 1980s to the early 1990s, “more than a half-dozen” contract murders were linked to Soldier of Fortune:

Criminal Activity |
1993-01-01

Bob Brown (Board Member)

In 1986, Brown wrote in a Soldier of Fortune op-ed, “For the last decade, I’ve hunted terrorists with the Rhodesian African rifles and fired up a Russian fort in Afghanistan with the mujahideen.” The Rhodesian African rifles were a regiment that fought under the rule of white supremacist Ian Smith in Rhodesia from 1965 to 1979. The Rhodesian Army fought rebel forces that opposed Smith's white minority rule and apartheid policies. The conclusion of the war led to universal suffrage and the eventual creation of Zimbabwe as a country. The mujahideen that Brown fought with opposed the Soviet Union during their war in Afghanistan, which lasted from 1978 to 1989. The mujahideen received significant financial backing from deceased Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who used his family fortune to establish training camps and pay for foreign fighters to travel to Afghanistan.

Repressive Regimes |
1986

Bob Brown (Board Member)

A Chicago Tribune reporter doing a story on Brown’s involvement in the civil war in El Salvador in March 1984 witnessed Brown become the victim of an accidental shooting when one of Brown’s friends pulled the trigger of a gun he thought was unloaded. The friend shot himself through the hand and the bullet struck Brown in the calf. “You stupid son a bitch, you shot me,” Brown said. “And now I can’t go to El Salvador.”

Gun Accidents | Repressive Regimes |
1984-03-01

Bob Brown (Board Member)

In September 1984, Brown claimed to have sent over 100 men and $4 million in supplies to the Contra rebels in Nicaragua, who engaged in widespread human rights abuses, including the rape and murder of civilians. Brown justified expending these resources by saying, “Those cretins in Congress won’t do anything about [toppling the ruling, left-wing Sandinista FSLN party in Nicaragua].”

Repressive Regimes |
1984

Bob Brown (Board Member)

In 1983, Brown accompanied a team of mercenaries to El Salvador. The purpose of the trip was to provide training to the forces of fascist leader Roberto D'Aubuisson. Brown tried to strike a deal with D'Aubuisson where his own mercenaries would replace U.S. Army advisors in El Salvador. The offer was accepted, but never came to fruition. Brown, however, went as far as engaging in combat missions alongside D’Aubuisson’s death squads. These paramilitary units assassinated D’Aubuisson’s political enemies and “talked of the need to kill 200,000 to 300,000 people to restore peace to El Salvador.” Known as “Blowtorch Bob” for his torture techniques, D’Aubuisson’s most high-profile victim was Bishop Óscar Romero, who was assassinated in 1980 after speaking out about human rights abuses in El Salvador.

Repressive Regimes |
1983-01-01

Bob Brown (Board Member)

Brown sold enlistment materials for the Rhodesian National Army through other magazines in order to finance the creation of Soldier of Fortune in 1975. During that time, the Rhodesian National Army fought under the leadership of white supremacist Ian Smith, the Prime Minister of the apartheid regime in Rhodesia from 1964 to 1979. Soldier of Fortune magazine itself prominently featured recruitment material for the Rhodesian National Army during the Rhodesian Bush War, in which Smith's army targeted those who advocated for universal suffrage.

Repressive Regimes | Race
1973-01-01

Bob Brown (Board Member)

Soldier of Fortune magazine has been used by advertisers to sell Nazi memorabilia.

Repressive Regimes | Race
1972-01-01
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