Aryan Nations

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Aryan Nations
Aryan Nations emblem.
FounderRichard Girnt Butler
Years active1970s–present
Criminal activitiesTerrorism

Aryan Nations is an anti-Semitic, neo-Nazi,[1] white supremacist[2] terrorist organization originally based in Hayden, Idaho. Richard Girnt Butler founded the group in the 1970s, as an arm of the Christian Identity organization Church of Jesus Christ–Christian. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has called Aryan Nations a "terrorist threat",[3] and the RAND Corporation has called it the "first truly nationwide terrorist network" in the United States.[4]


The origin of Aryan Nations is in the teachings of Wesley A. Swift, a significant figure in the early Christian Identity movement.[5] Swift combined British Israelism, extreme antisemitism and political militancy. He founded his own church in California in the mid-1940s, and he had 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 is used today by Aryan Nations churches.[6]

From the late 1970s until 2001, the Aryan Nations headquarters was located in a 20-acre (8.1 ha) compound 1.8 miles (3 km) north of Hayden, Idaho.[6] There were a number of state chapters, only loosely tied to the main organization. The group ran an annual World Congress of Aryan Nations at Hayden Lake for Aryan Nations members and for members of similar groups.[6]

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 had been in poor health for some time. At the annual Aryan Nations World Congress, Neuman Britton was appointed as the group's new leader. In August 2001, however, Butler appointed Harold Ray Redfeairn from Ohio, who had been agitating for control since the mid-1990s. Previously, Redfeairn brought in Dave Hall, a Federal Bureau of Investigation informant who exposed the group's illegal activities.[7] Afterwards, Redfeairn was distrusted by some in the group. Redfeairn and August Kreis III, propaganda minister of Aryan Nations, formed a splinter group, and as a result they were expelled from the organization by Butler. A few months later, Redfeairn returned to form an alliance with Butler.[6] Butler's World Congress in 2002 drew fewer than 100 people, and when he ran for mayor, he lost, garnering only 50 votes against over 2,100 votes.[8] Redfeairn died in October 2003,[9][10] and Butler died of heart failure in September 2004.[6] At the time of Butler's death, Aryan Nations had about 200 members actively participating in the group.

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 had been beaten with rifles by Aryan Nations security guards in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho in July, 1998.[11][12] The woman and her son were driving near the Aryan Nations compound when their car backfired, which the guards claimed to misinterpret as gunfire.[citation needed] The guards fired at the car, striking it several times, leading the car to crash, after which one of the Aryan Nations guards held the Keenans at gunpoint.[2][12] 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.[12] A local attorney from the Keenan's legal team said that the large verdict was partly to compensate the Keenans, but largely to punish Butler and his followers and to serve to deter similar conduct in the future.[13]

The $6.3 million verdict caused Butler to file for bankruptcy one month later.[14] 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.[15] 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.[12] Idaho native and millionaire philanthropist Greg Carr purchased the property from the Keenans, which he then donated to the North Idaho College Foundation. It is now a park dedicated to peace.[16]

Local fire departments demolished some of the church's former buildings by burning them during training exercises.[17] The attorney who had represented Butler was later convicted of hiring a handyman to kill his own wife, and died in 2014 while serving a 50-year prison sentence.[18]

Split and decline[edit]

There are three main Aryan Nations factions. One is led by August Kreis III and Charles John Juba.[6] In 2002, Kreis' group was on a 10-acre (4.0 ha) compound in the rural town of Ulysses in Potter County, north central Pennsylvania, which was host to the 2002 Aryan Nations World Congress.[19] Juba resigned in March 2005, announcing that Kreis was the group's new leader, with a new headquarters in Lexington, South Carolina. In 2005, Kreis received media attention by seeking an Aryan Nations–al Qaeda alliance.[20]

In 2005, the Holy Order of the Phineas Priesthood, formerly in association with the faction operated 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, which it viewed as a deviation from the core Christian Identity belief of Aryan Nations. This revival rapidly became the largest faction.

Aryan Nations Revival leaders were placed on the Congressional Record as domestic terrorists, and the Holy Order of the Brotherhood of the Phinehas Priesthood was determined to be the enforcement/terrorist wing of Aryan Nations. Aryan Nations Revival hosted a weekly radio broadcast titled The Aryan Nations Broadcast, which had more than 100,000 listeners.[citation needed] Airing from 1979 to 2009, the radio program was authorized by Richard Butler. The broadcast promptly ended when the 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 based in Texas merged with Pastor Jerald O'Brien's Aryan Nations which was based in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, since both parties were ardent Christian Identity adherents.[5][21][22][23]

In early 2012, Kreis quit the Aryan Nations while in prison, passing leadership of the organization to Drew Bostwick.[24]


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.[25] The Order's mission was to overthrow the Zionist Occupational Government and establish the Northwest Territorial Imperative through an orchestrated plan of domestic terrorism engaging in a number of crimes, including murder, arson, armed robbery, theft, counterfeiting and extortion between 1983 and 1984.[6] Dennis McGiffen, who also had ties to Aryan Nations, formed a group called "The New Order", inspired by Mathews' group.[6] 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 spent some time at the Aryan Nations compound working as a security guard.[26]

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". 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. Retrieved June 16, 2017.
  5. ^ a b "Intelligence Files - Groups - Aryan Nations". Southern Poverty Law Center. 2011. Retrieved June 16, 2017.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ Hall, Dave; Tym Burkey, Katherine Ramsland (2008). Into the Devil's Den Archived 2009-01-13 at the Wayback Machine. (1st ed.). New York: Ballantine Books. ISBN 0-345-49694-9.
  8. ^ Wakin, Daniel J. (September 9, 2004). "Richard G. Butler, 86, Dies; Founder of the Aryan Nations". The New York Times. Retrieved June 16, 2017.
  9. ^ "Harold Ray Redfeairn, Aryan Leader, Dies". Associated Press. October 26, 2003. Retrieved August 22, 2007.
  10. ^ "At Death's Door". Southern Poverty Law Center. Fall 2003. Archived from the original on August 7, 2007. Retrieved August 22, 2007.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ a b c d "Keenan v. Aryan Nations". Southern Poverty Law Center. 2000. Retrieved June 16, 2017.
  13. ^ "North Idaho marks 10 years since Aryan Nations verdict".
  14. ^ "Idaho 'Hate Compound' Converted Into Peace Park - 2002-08-14". VOA. 29 October 2009. Retrieved 17 July 2018.
  15. ^ "Pair Who Sued Hate Group to Buy Compound at Auction". Associated Press. 8 February 2001. Retrieved 17 July 2018.
  16. ^ Boggs, Alison (7 September 2010). "North Idaho marks 10 years since Aryan Nations verdict". The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved 17 July 2018.
  17. ^ Dawson, James. "Slideshow: Rise And Fall Of Aryan Nations In North Idaho". Boise State Public Radio. Retrieved 17 July 2018.
  18. ^ "Former Idaho Aryan Nations Attorney Has Died". Boise State Public Radio. Associated Press. Retrieved 17 July 2018.
  19. ^ "Aryan Nations — About Us". Aryan Nations. 2007. Archived from the original on January 16, 2007. Retrieved January 18, 2007.
  20. ^ "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.
  21. ^ "A Weakened Aryan Nations Spins Off Many Factions". Anti-Defamation League. January 16, 2009. Archived from the original on March 13, 2011. Retrieved March 13, 2011.
  22. ^ "Will the Real Aryan Nations Please Stand Up?". Southern Poverty Law Center. 2011. Archived from the original on March 14, 2011. Retrieved March 14, 2011.
  23. ^ "Aryan Nations Website". Archived from the original on March 12, 2011. Retrieved March 12, 2011.
  24. ^ "From The Desk Of The AN Administration". Aryan Nations. 2012. Retrieved January 23, 2012.
  25. ^ 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 March 13, 2011. Retrieved March 12, 2011.
  26. ^ "L.A. shooting suspect surrenders in Las Vegas". CNN. August 11, 1999. Archived from the original on August 26, 2007. Retrieved August 17, 2007.

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