Aryan Republican Army
|Aryan Republican Army|
|Leader(s)||Peter Kevin Langan|
|Dates of operation||1992–1996|
|Major actions||22 bank robberies|
|Notable attacks||Alleged links to Oklahoma City Bombing|
The Aryan Republican Army (ARA), also dubbed "The Midwest Bank bandits" by the FBI and law-enforcement, robbed a series of 22 banks in the Midwest from 1994 to 1996 spearheaded by frontman Peter Kevin Langan. The gang who had links to neo-nazism and white supremacism, were alleged to have conspired with convicted terrorist Timothy McVeigh in the months before the Oklahoma City bombing terrorist attack. Although never legally acknowledged, many theorists believe the ARA funneled robbery money to help fund the bombing as a direct response to the Waco and Ruby Ridge sieges.
The ARA group, created in 1992 by Langan and his school best-friend Richard Lee Guthrie, considered themselves a leaderless organization. Although the group was mainly a criminal enterprise, they did have a terrorist like agenda. After filming and producing right wing propaganda videos, the group grew and recruited bank robber affiliates: Shawn Kenny, Kevin McCarthy, and Scott Stedeford. With the bank heist money the gang began stockpiling weapons and ammunition believed to help start a race war. Bank after bank the Mid West Bank Bandits became synonymous for leaving their signature decoy grenades and pipe bombs as calling cards, a strategy implemented to help the gang escape and delay the FBI's pursuit. The bandits used a strict time keeper who called out elapsed intervals and made sure they were in and out of heists within 90 seconds. The time keeping, along with the members wearing of presidential masks, were moves believed to be lifted directly from the Katheryn Bigelow movie Point Break.
In early 1996 the group began to fall apart as members of the Aryan Republican Army were arrested after former members of the group became informants as part of a plea bargain. Guthrie was arrested in Cincinnati on January. 15, 1996 concluding a 2-hour chase by bureau agents. Soon after, Guthrie gave up his counterpart Peter Langan. Three days later on January 18, 1996, the FBI arrested Langan after a gun fire shoot out near a safe house in Columbus. Langan survived the 50 round siege and was arrested.
Members of the Aryan Republican Army were responsible for a series of 22 bank robberies in the American Midwest. They reportedly targeted banks in the Midwest due to a belief that security measures there would be less thorough. The group often left fake explosive devices at the banks they robbed in order to divert law enforcement officials who could potentially be chasing them. Known members of the ARA include Michael William Brescia, Mark William Thomas, Shawn Kenny, Richard Lee Guthrie Jr., Peter Kevin Langan, Kevin McCarthy, and Scott Stedeford. Subsequent to their arrest, Guthrie, Langan, McCarthy and Thomas became witnesses for the prosecution. Richard Lee Guthrie reportedly hanged himself while in custody, a day before he was to give a television interview about an alleged cover-up related to the death of Kenneth Michael Trentadue, also found hanged while in custody. All members otherwise received prison sentences of varying lengths, on an array of state and/or federal charges.
Connections to the Oklahoma City bombing
Brescia and Guthrie both resided for a time at Elohim City, Oklahoma, a private community made up of followers of the late Christian Identity pastor Robert G. Millar, and other persons associated with right-wing extremist and White nationalist-style views. Other ARA members were known to frequent Elohim City as well. Elohim City security director Andreas Strassmeir was a known associate of Timothy McVeigh (having met him at a Tulsa gun show), and federal investigators determined that McVeigh had made a phone call to Elohim City on April 5, 1995, just two weeks prior to the Oklahoma City bombing (although no one at Elohim City claims to have spoken with him).
Additionally, five separate women from a nightclub in Tulsa have each identified Brescia as the man who was paying for Timothy McVeigh's drinks on April 8, 1995, just three days after McVeigh's suspicious phone call. Two more women in Kansas reported that McVeigh and Brescia were frequent associates, while Guthrie bore a distinct physical resemblance to "John Doe Number Two". Timothy McVeigh's sister, Jennifer, also claimed that he had been one of the participants in several, unspecified bank robberies.
David Paul Hammer, a convicted murderer who was imprisoned with McVeigh at the United States Penitentiary, Terre Haute, has alleged that McVeigh told him details of the Oklahoma City bombing that contradict the account related in court. According to Hammer, McVeigh claimed to have been working as a deep cover operative for the US Department of Defense, having infiltrated ARA and participated in several of the group's bank robberies. McVeigh is further alleged to have indicated Strassmeir and several others at Elohim City were similarly government agents involved in surveillance of extremist elements of the American far-right.
Peter Kevin Langan (Donna Langan)
Tagged with robbing "more banks than Jesse James" by the media, Langan was born "Peter Kevin McGregor Langan" May 18, 1958 on Saipan in the South Pacific Islands. He grew up in Vietnam where his father served for the military and CIA before moving to the United States when Langan was 6 years old. In the 1960s Peter led a rebellious youth where he handcuffed a policeman to a car before stealing his cruiser. in 1974 at age 16, Langan was sentenced up to 20 years for robbing a man of $78 and fleeing police. Having only served 5 years in prison, Langan moved to Ohio in 1988, where he converted to Mormonism and became an ordained minister at what authorities describe as a Ku Klux Klan-affiliated church. In 1992, after reconnecting with his childhood friend Richard Guthrie, Langan and Guthrie robbed approximately $1800 from a Pizza Hut in Georgia. A year later in 1993, Peter was arrested again. Agreeing to help the Secret Service track down Richard Guthrie for threats against president George Bush, Langan was released in order to help the government, but disappeared soon after.
During the early 1990s Langan and Guthrie formed the Aryan Republic Army, a white supremist group with motives to overthrow the US government. The group turned to robbing banks in order to fund their neo-nazi fueled movement.
On January 18, 1996 the FBI arrested Langan after being tipped off by Richard Guthrie - the arrest resulted in a shoot out near a safe house in Columbus. Langan survived the 50 round gun siege and was arrested and charged with Life plus 35 years in federal prison for the robberies and terrorism.
Langan has since renounced her political and racist views and completed the hormonal transformation into a transgender woman. After 18 years in a male prison, Donna was transferred to a female penitentary after a legal fight in 2014 during the Obama administration. In 2017 Donna and other 435 transgenders from female prisons led and an avid LGBT activist group in an effort to challenge the Trump administration against transgender prisoner's rights.
In 2010, the Aryan Republican Army was the subject of episode 82 of the Gangland television series. One episode of Gangland Synopsis of episode Shawn Kenny, a former Aryan Republican Army Associate and bank robber takes us through the history and operations of the ARA. The group has also created numerous recruitment videos that have been uploaded to sites like YouTube since the demise of the group.
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