Aryan Nations

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Aryan Nations
FounderRichard Girnt Butler

The Aryan Nations was a North American antisemitic, neo-Nazi,[1] white supremacist[2] hate group that was originally based in Kootenai County, Idaho, about 2+34 miles (4.4 km) north of the city of Hayden Lake. Richard Girnt Butler founded the Aryan Nations in the 1970s.

In 2001, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) classified the Aryan Nations as a "terrorist threat."[3] In a review of terrorist organizations, the RAND Corporation called it the "first truly nationwide terrorist network" in the United States and Canada.[4]


Flag commonly used by the Aryan Nations[5][6][7]

The beliefs of the Aryan Nations are based on the teachings of Wesley A. Swift, a leading figure in the early Christian Identity movement.[8] Swift combined British Israelism, extreme antisemitism, and political militancy. He founded his own church in California in the mid-1940s. He hosted a daily radio broadcast in California during the 1950s and 1960s. In 1957, the name of his church was changed to the Church of Jesus Christ–Christian, a name which continues to be used by Aryan Nations churches.[9]

From 1974 until 2001, the headquarters of the Aryan Nations was located in a 20-acre (8.1 ha) compound 1.8 miles (3 km) north of Hayden, Idaho.[9] The Aryan Nations had a number of state chapters, but it was highly decentralized and the chapters' ties to the organization's headquarters were extremely loose. The group hosted an annual World Congress of Aryan Nations at Hayden Lake for Aryan Nations members and members of similar groups.[9]

Until 1998, the leadership of the Aryan Nations remained firmly in the hands of Richard Girnt Butler. By that time, he was over 80 years old and his health was poor. At the annual Aryan Nations World Congress in 2001, Neuman Britton was appointed to lead the Aryan Nations as Butler's successor. But in August 2001, after Britton died, Butler appointed Harold Ray Redfeairn who was from Ohio to lead the Aryan Nations as his successor; he had been agitating for control of the organization since the mid-1990s. Redfeairn had brought in Dave Hall, an FBI informant who exposed the group's illegal activities.[10] After this was discovered, Redfeairn was distrusted by some in the group. Redfeairn and August Kreis III, the propaganda minister for Aryan Nations, formed a splinter group, and Butler expelled them from Aryan Nations.

A few months later, Redfeairn returned to form an alliance with Butler.[9] Butler's 2002 World Congress drew fewer than 100 people, and when he ran for mayor, he lost, garnering only 50 votes against more than 2,100 votes.[11] Redfeairn died in October 2003,[12][13] and Butler died of heart failure in September 2004.[9] At the time of Butler's death, Aryan Nations had about 200 actively participating members.

Shooting and lawsuit[edit]

In September 2000, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) won a $6.3 million judgment against Aryan Nations from an Idaho jury, who awarded punitive and compensatory damages to plaintiffs Victoria Keenan and her son Jason. The two Native Americans had been beaten with rifles by Aryan Nations security guards in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho in July 1998.[14][15] The woman and her son were driving near the Aryan Nations compound when their car backfired, which the guards claimed to misinterpret as gunfire.[16] The guards fired at the car, striking it several times. The car crashed and one of the Nations guards held the Keenans at gunpoint, beating them.[2][15]

The SPLC filed suit on behalf of the Keenans. A jury found that Butler and Aryan Nations were grossly negligent in selecting and supervising the guards, and awarded the Keenans $6.3 million.[15] A local attorney from Keenan's legal team said that the large verdict was partly to compensate the Keenans, but largely to punish Butler and his followers, and serve to deter similar conduct in the future.[17]

The $6.3 million verdict caused Butler to file for bankruptcy one month later.[18] As part of the bankruptcy process, the group's property was put up for auction. SPLC loaned the Keenans $95,000 to bid on the 20-acre property.[19] In February 2001, the group's Hayden Lake compound and intellectual property, including the names "Aryan Nations" and "Church of Jesus Christ Christian", were transferred to the Keenans.[15] Idaho native and millionaire philanthropist Greg Carr purchased the property from the Keenans, donating it to the North Idaho College Foundation. It has been converted to a park dedicated to peace.[20]

Local fire departments demolished some of the church's former buildings by burning them during training exercises.[21] Edgar Steele, the attorney who had represented Butler, was later convicted of hiring a handyman to kill his own wife. In 2014, Steele died while serving a 50-year prison sentence.[22]

Split and decline[edit]

There were three main Aryan Nations factions. One was led by Charles John Juba, followed by August Kreis III.[9] In 2012, Kreis stepped down as leader and designated Drew Bostwick as his successor.[23] In 2002, Juba's group was based on a 10-acre (4.0 ha) compound in the rural town of Ulysses in Potter County, north central Pennsylvania; it hosted the 2002 Aryan Nations World Congress.[24] Juba resigned in March 2005, announcing that Kreis was the group's new leader.

Kreis established a new headquarters in Lexington, South Carolina, and he eventually moved it close to Union City, Tennessee. In 2005, Kreis received media attention because he attempted to form an Aryan Nations–al Qaeda alliance.[25]

In 2005, the Holy Order of the Phineas Priesthood, previously in association with the faction which was led by Kreis, seceded and formed Aryan Nations Revival,[citation needed] based in New York City. The Holy Order was created in opposition to Kreis's acceptance of adherents of Wicca, Islam, and Odinism. It considered such groups to be a deviation from the core Christian Identity belief of Aryan Nations. This Revival rapidly became the largest faction.

In the Congressional Record, the leaders of Aryan Nations Revival were listed as domestic terrorists. The government concluded that the Holy Order of the Brotherhood of the Phineas Priesthood was the enforcement/terrorist wing of Aryan Nations. Aryan Nations Revival hosted a weekly radio broadcast which it titled The Aryan Nations Broadcast.[citation needed] Airing from 1979 to 2009, the radio program was authorized by Richard Butler. The program ended when host Hal Turner was arrested for threatening the lives of federal judges in Chicago. While incarcerated, Turner announced, through his attorney, that he was a federal informant, and that Aryan Nations was among those organizations which had been informed upon.

In 2009, Aryan Nations Revival, which was then based in Texas, merged with Pastor Jerald O'Brien's Aryan Nations, which was based in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Both parties ardently adhered to Christian Identity.[8][26][27][28]


The emblem (or shield) of the Aryan Nations is designed to reflect aspects of British Israelism.[29][30]


In 1983, Robert Jay Mathews, who had visited the Aryan Nations compound many times, formed The Order, along with Aryan Nations members Dan Bauer, Randy Duey, Denver Parmenter, and Bruce Pierce.[31] The Order's mission was to overthrow the Zionist Occupational Government and establish the Northwest Territorial Imperative through an orchestrated plot to commit acts of domestic terrorism, which would include murder, arson, armed robbery, theft, counterfeiting, and extortion between 1983 and 1984.[9] Dennis McGiffen, who also had ties to Aryan Nations, formed a group called "The New Order", inspired by Mathews' group.[9] The members were arrested before they could follow through with their violent plans.

Buford O. Furrow, Jr., who was convicted of both the Los Angeles Jewish Community Center shooting and the murder of Filipino American postal worker Joseph Ileto, had previously worked as a security guard at the Aryan Nations compound for some time.[32]

On April 4, 2004, intending to start a "Race War", Sean Michael Gillespie (former member of Aryan Nations) threw a Molotov cocktail at B'nai Temple Israel in the city of Oklahoma, Oklahoma. There were no casualties, but the building sustained material damage.[33][34][35] Gillespie was arrested in Little Rock, Arkansas, on April 16 of the same year, but it was not until August 2005 that he was sentenced to 39 years in prison for attacking the Jewish temple and then trying to send a racist letter to the congregation. The defendant raised his hand in a Nazi salute with stiff arms as the judge left the courtroom.[36][37][38]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Aryan Nations/Church of Jesus Christ Christian". Anti-Defamation League. Anti-Defamation League. Retrieved May 19, 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Supremacist suit might include punitive damages". The Seattle Times. August 16, 2000. Retrieved June 16, 2017.
  3. ^ Freeh, Louis Joseph (May 10, 2001). "FBI Press Room - Congressional Statement - 2001 - Threat of Terrorism to the United States". FBI. Archived from the original on August 12, 2001.
  4. ^ "Terrorist Organization Profile: Aryan Nations (AN)". University of Maryland. Archived from the original on December 30, 2013. Retrieved June 16, 2017.
  5. ^[bare URL image file]
  6. ^[bare URL image file]
  7. ^[bare URL image file]
  8. ^ a b "Intelligence Files - Groups - Aryan Nations". Southern Poverty Law Center. 2011. Retrieved June 16, 2017.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h "Extremism in America: Aryan Nations/Church of Jesus Christ Christian". Anti-Defamation League. 2007. Retrieved June 16, 2017.
  10. ^ Hall, Dave; Tym Burkey, Katherine Ramsland (2008). Into the Devil's Den Archived January 13, 2009, at the Wayback Machine (1st ed.). New York: Ballantine Books. ISBN 0-345-49694-9.
  11. ^ Wakin, Daniel J. (September 9, 2004). "Richard G. Butler, 86, Dies; Founder of the Aryan Nations". The New York Times. Retrieved June 16, 2017.
  12. ^ "Harold Ray Redfeairn, Aryan Leader, Dies". Associated Press. October 26, 2003. Retrieved August 22, 2007.
  13. ^ "At Death's Door". Southern Poverty Law Center. Fall 2003. Archived from the original on August 7, 2007. Retrieved August 22, 2007.
  14. ^ Chebium, Raju (September 8, 2000). "Attorney Morris Dees pioneer in using 'damage litigation' to fight hate groups". CNN. Archived from the original on December 24, 2004. Retrieved June 16, 2017.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  15. ^ a b c d "Keenan v. Aryan Nations". Southern Poverty Law Center. 2000. Retrieved June 16, 2017.
  16. ^ "Jury Verdict Could Bankrupt Aryans". Los Angeles Times. September 8, 2000. Retrieved January 13, 2021.
  17. ^ "North Idaho marks 10 years since Aryan Nations verdict". Spokesman. September 7, 2010.
  18. ^ "Idaho 'Hate Compound' Converted Into Peace Park - 2002-08-14". VOA. October 29, 2009. Retrieved July 17, 2018.
  19. ^ "Pair Who Sued Hate Group to Buy Compound at Auction". Associated Press. February 8, 2001. Retrieved July 17, 2018.
  20. ^ Boggs, Alison (September 7, 2010). "North Idaho marks 10 years since Aryan Nations verdict". The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved July 17, 2018.
  21. ^ Dawson, James. "Slideshow: Rise And Fall Of Aryan Nations In North Idaho". Boise State Public Radio. Retrieved July 17, 2018.
  22. ^ "Former Idaho Aryan Nations Attorney Has Died". Boise State Public Radio. Associated Press. Retrieved July 17, 2018.
  23. ^ "From The Desk Of The AN Administration". Aryan Nations. 2012. Retrieved January 23, 2012.
  24. ^ "Aryan Nations — About Us". Aryan Nations. 2007. Archived from the original on January 16, 2007. Retrieved January 18, 2007.
  25. ^ "An unholy alliance: Aryan Nation leader reaches out to al Qaeda". CNN. March 29, 2005. Archived from the original on November 6, 2007. Retrieved September 25, 2007.
  26. ^ "A Weakened Aryan Nations Spins Off Many Factions". Anti-Defamation League. January 16, 2009. Archived from the original on February 14, 2011. Retrieved March 13, 2011.
  27. ^ "Will the Real Aryan Nations Please Stand Up?". Southern Poverty Law Center. 2011. Archived from the original on March 4, 2011. Retrieved March 14, 2011.
  28. ^ "Aryan Nations Website". Archived from the original on July 25, 2011. Retrieved March 12, 2011.
  29. ^ "Neonazi Flags in the United States". Retrieved July 22, 2022.
  30. ^ Race and new religious movements in the USA : a documentary reader. Emily Suzanne Clark, Brad Stoddard. London. 2019. ISBN 978-1-350-06399-0. OCLC 1112379591.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  31. ^ McClary, Daryl C. (December 6, 2006). "Robert Jay Mathews, founder of the white-supremacist group The Order, is killed during an FBI siege on Whidbey Island on December 8, 1984". HistoryLink. Archived from the original on April 29, 2011. Retrieved March 12, 2011.
  32. ^ "L.A. shooting suspect surrenders in Las Vegas". CNN. August 11, 1999. Archived from the original on August 26, 2007. Retrieved August 17, 2007.
  33. ^ "Terror From the Right: 75 Plots, Conspiracies and Racist Rampages Since Oklahoma City" (PDF). Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved August 9, 2022.
  34. ^ "Informants lead to arrest in firebombing FBI agents were told the man taped his attack on a synagogue". The Oklahoman. Retrieved August 9, 2022.
  35. ^ "Man convicted in temple attack Former Aryan Nations member faces 35 years for his role in federal crimes". The Oklahoman. Retrieved August 9, 2022.
  36. ^ "Washington state man convicted in attack on synagogue". News 9. Retrieved August 9, 2022.
  37. ^ "White Supremacist Sentenced in Oklahoma Synagogue Attack". The Anti Defamation League. Retrieved August 9, 2022.
  38. ^ "Oklahoma synagogue bomber gets 39 years". CBS News. Retrieved August 9, 2022.

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