|Founder||Richard Girnt Butler|
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Aryan Nations is an American anti-semitic, neo-Nazi, white supremacist terrorist organization that was originally based in Kootenai County, Idaho, about 2 ¾ miles (4.4 km) north of the city of Hayden Lake. Richard Girnt Butler founded the group in the 1970s.
In 2001 the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) classified Aryan Nations as a "terrorist threat." In a review of terrorist organizations, the RAND Corporation called it the "first truly nationwide terrorist network" in the United States.
The beliefs of Aryan Nations are based on the teachings of Wesley A. Swift, a leading figure in the early Christian Identity movement. 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, which continues to be used by Aryan Nations churches.
From the late 1970s until 2001, Aryan Nations headquarters was located in a 20-acre (8.1 ha) compound 1.8 miles (3 km) north of Hayden, Idaho. Aryan Nations had a number of state chapters, but it was highly decentralized and the chapter 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.
Until 1998, the leadership of Aryan Nations remained firmly in the hands of Richard Girnt Butler. By that time, he was over 80 years old and was in poor health. At the annual Aryan Nations World Congress in 2001, Neuman Britton was appointed as Butler's successor. But in August 2001, after Britton died, Butler appointed Harold Ray Redfeairn from Ohio 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. 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. 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. Redfeairn died in October 2003, and Butler died of heart failure in September 2004. At the time of Butler's death, Aryan Nations had about 200 actively participating members.
Shooting and lawsuit
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. The woman and her son were driving near the Aryan Nations compound when their car backfired, which the guards claimed to misinterpret as gunfire. 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.
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. 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.
The $6.3 million verdict caused Butler to file for bankruptcy one month later. 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. 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. 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.
Local fire departments demolished some of the church's former buildings by burning them during training exercises. 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.
Split and decline
There are three main Aryan Nations factions. One was led by Charles John Juba, followed by August Kreis III. In 2012, Kreis stepped down as leader and designated Drew Bostwick as his successor. 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. Juba resigned in March 2005, announcing that Kreis was the group's new leader.
Kreis established a new headquarters in Lexington, South Carolina and eventually moved it to near Union City, Tennessee. In 2005, Kreis received media attention by seeking an Aryan Nations–al Qaeda alliance.
In 2005, the Holy Order of the Phineas Priesthood, formerly in association with the faction operated by Kreis, seceded and formed Aryan Nations Revival, 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.
Aryan Nations Revival leaders were listed in the Congressional Record as domestic terrorists. The government concluded that the Holy Order of the Brotherhood of the Phinehas Priesthood was the enforcement/terrorist wing of Aryan Nations. Aryan Nations Revival hosted a weekly radio broadcast titled The Aryan Nations Broadcast. 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 were ardent Christian Identity adherents.
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. The Order's mission was to overthrow the Zionist Occupational Government and establish the Northwest Territorial Imperative through an orchestrated plan of domestic terrorism, to include murder, arson, armed robbery, theft, counterfeiting, and extortion between 1983 and 1984. Dennis McGiffen, who also had ties to Aryan Nations, formed a group called "The New Order", inspired by Mathews' group. 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 earlier worked as a security guard for some time at the Aryan Nations compound.
- Antisemitism in Christianity
- Aryan Brotherhood
- Aryan Brotherhood of Texas
- Aryan Circle
- Aryan race
- British Israelism
- Christian Identity
- Esoteric Nazism#Collective Aryan unconscious
- Fascism in Canada
- The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century
- German Christians (movement)
- Groups claiming affiliation with Israelites
- List of white nationalist organizations
- On the Edge: Political Cults Right and Left
- Positive Christianity
- Race and appearance of Jesus
- Religious views of Adolf Hitler
- Robert E. Miles
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