Year of birth:1946
Home: Texas and Idaho
Background: Started as a Klansman, then became active with Aryan Nations in the early 1980s
Publications: Essays on topics like "government terror," sedition, "the
Holocaust as a means of suppressing the truth" and the American
Works: Essays of a Klansman
Ideology: White supremacy, neo-Nazi
Connections: Ku Klux Klan, Aryan Nations, Tom Metzger
Strategy: The "lone wolf" or "leaderless resistance" theory of activism
Recent: Beam has maintained a significantly lower profile in recent years.
For more than three decades, Louis Beam has been on a crusade against a government
he views as tyrannical and controlled by Jewish conspirators. Beam first became active on
the far right as a paramilitary Klansman, later as a neo-Nazi with Identity ties. In each
incarnation he has been a powerful voice of anti-government hatred and white supremacy,
one of the most influential and incendiary figures on the far right. Generally considered
the first important proponent of the "lone wolf" or "leaderless resistance" model of
activism, Beam has encouraged anti-government and racist terrorism by means of small
underground cells that cohere through ideology rather than formal organizations. Once
considered Richard Butler's likely successor at Aryan Nations, Beam was passed over in
the mid-1990s. During the past five years, he has significantly lowered his public profile
and has limited his activity primarily to postings on his Web site.
Born in 1946, Louis Beam, a child of the post-World War II segregationist South, grew up
in the 1950s in Lake Jackson, Texas, south of Houston. He played Little League baseball and
attended an all-white school where he was, according to a childhood friend, "very much against
blacks." After an 18-month tour of duty with the United
States Armed Forces in Vietnam, he returned home in 1968
and joined the Texas branch of Robert Shelton's Alabamabased
United Klans of America (UKA), under the leadership
of Texas Grand Dragon Frank Converse.
In 1976, Beam apparently shifted his Klan allegiance
from the UKA to David Duke's fledgling Knights of the Ku
Klux Klan (KKKK) and later became a Grand Titan (district
leader) of the KKKK in Texas. In both Klan groups, Beam's
chief responsibility was to instruct members in guerrilla
warfare. He graduated from the University of Houston in
1977 with his extremist career already in full gear.
Beam hoped to invigorate a white supremacist movement that had entered the 1970s beset
by dwindling membership rolls, federal investigations and the imprisonment of some of its
national leaders. During 1978 and 1979, he spearheaded the Klan's efforts to recruit members
among United States Army personnel at Fort Hood in Texas. In fact, when Beam and Duke
addressed a summer 1979 Klan rally in Euless, Texas, they were escorted by several newly
recruited Klansmen from Fort Hood who were wearing military fatigues and were armed with
rifles, pistols and bayonets 1
By the end of the decade, Duke had promoted Beam to Grand Dragon of the Texas KKKK.
Beam continued to instruct fellow Klansmen in guerrilla warfare at Anhuac, one of several Klan
military encampments in rural East Texas. At the same time, Beam became active in the
paramilitary arm of the Texas Klan, known as the Texas Emergency Reserve; included in its
ranks were members of the KKKK as well as another small group, the Original Knights of the
Ku Klux Klan.
Beam also exploited local tensions to the Klan's advantage, orchestrating a 1981 confrontation
between refugee Vietnamese shrimp fishermen and native fishermen sharing the Gulf
Coast waters in the Galveston Bay area of Texas. Beam presided over a Klan rally near Santa Fe,
Texas, in support of the Texas fishermen and, along with other armed Klansmen, set fire to a
cross. He then raised his hand in a Nazi salute and shouted, "White Power! We will fight."
Weeks later, a local Houston radio station reported that Beam had invited some 50 local white
fishermen to participate in military training exercises with Klansmen. The Texas Klan also
harassed Vietnamese families residing in the area.
Working with the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Vietnamese Fishermen's Association
sought an injunction preventing the Klan from continuing its harassment and from operating
paramilitary training camps in Texas. The VFA alleged that Klansmen had set fire to boats
owned by the Vietnamese and burned crosses at their docks and homes. In May 1981, a United
States District Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and ordered Beam to cease engaging in
unlawful acts of violence and intimidation. Beam is said to have originated a far-right catchphrase,
"Where ballots fail, bullets will prevail," during this terror campaign against the
In the summer of 1981, Beam resigned as Texas Grand Dragon of the KKKK, which was
then led by Don Black (who currently runs the white supremacist Stormfront Web site). Beam
hitched his star to Aryan Nations, the notorious neo-Nazi and paramilitary Identity group
whose rural headquarters in Hayden Lake, Idaho, was perhaps the nation's best-known meeting
place for far-right activists. Richard Butler, Aryan Nations' founder, named Beam an
ambassador at large, and the group began selling tapes of his anti-Semitic radio broadcasts and
speeches. Butler offered Beam lodging on his 20-acre compound while Beam faced pending
federal charges of trespassing arising from a paramilitary training exercise in Fort Worth, Texas.
(Although he was initially convicted of these charges, his conviction was reversed on appeal in 1982)
While living at Hayden Lake, Beam established an elaborate Aryan Nations computer
network, Aryan Nations Liberty Net - a precursor to the Web's current use in organizing,
energizing and soliciting support. Beam's network provided a range of extremist services,
including a national computer bulletin board that posted racist and anti-Semitic messages (to
which he himself was a frequent contributor), a guide to "patriotic" Aryan groups and a "Know
Your Enemy" listing that included addresses of the Anti-Defamation League's regional offices.
Beam also featured an assassination "point system" that awarded scores to would-be assassins
based on the importance of their victims: killing a president was worth a full point, a federal
marshal merited one-tenth of a point, a national religious leader one-third of a point and so on.
As Butler's assistant, Beam pushed to expand Aryan Nations' prison outreach, writing in
1983 that "the ever increasing Prison Ministry of the Church of Jesus Christ Christian has
begun to be felt throughout the state prison system as a major force." This effort became an
important aspect of the radical right agenda during the 1980s, given that many members of
Aryan Nations and The Order were serving long prison sentences as a result of several major
federal prosecutions between 1985 and 1987.
The Sedition Trial
On April 24, 1987, Beam and 13 others were indicted by a federal grand jury in Fort Smith,
Arkansas. The charges filed by the Justice Department accused them of participating in "a
seditious conspiracy between July 1983 and March 1985 to overthrow the government." Also
indicted were Butler, the influential, now deceased organizer Robert Miles, and several members
of The Order, the far-right terrorist group that had issued a "Declaration of War" against the United States in 1984. Specific crimes in the alleged conspiracy included the firebombing of a
Jewish community center in Bloomington, Indiana; attempting to blow up a natural gas
pipeline in Fulton, Arkansas; purchasing firearms and explosives in Missouri and Oklahoma;
and stealing over $4 million from banks and armored cars in Washington State.
Before the indictment was issued, however, Beam fled to Mexico, fearing possible F.B.I.
surveillance. Using the code name "Lonestar," he spent five months on the F.B.I.'s Ten Most
Wanted list, classified as "at large…the object of a nationwide manhunt." After a shootout with
Mexican Federal Judicial Police in Guadalajara that left one officer critically wounded, Beam
was captured and turned over to United States officials on November 6, 1987. At his bail
hearing later that month, he told the federal judge, "What I'm charged with [seditious
conspiracy] is an honor, sir."
Beam represented himself in court, with the assistance of Kirk Lyons, a lawyer who has
described himself as an "active sympathizer" with his many radical-right clients. 2 On April 7,
1988, after seven weeks of testimony and 20 hours of deliberations, the jury acquitted Beam,
Butler and their co-defendants on all charges - the first major setback following several
successful prosecutions in the federal government's crackdown on the far right during the
Beam celebrated at an impromptu rally moments after the acquittal. "To hell with the
Federal government," he said. "I think ZOG [the Zionist Occupation Government] has
suffered a terrible defeat here today. I think everyone saw through the charade and saw that I was simply being punished for being a vociferous and outspoken opponent of ZOG."
Although rumored to be heir apparent to the aging and ailing Richard Butler at Aryan
Nations, Beam busied himself with launching and publishing a (now-defunct) quarterly
journal, The Seditionist; the title mocked the government's failure to convict him of sedition. In the journal's first issue, Beam announced that he was forming the "New Right," a movement
that married Christian Identity to "the creation of a national state for the white man, an Aryan
republic within the borders of the present occupied country."
Beam also promoted the New Right as forging "a new relationship of respect and
admiration for other races who have conducted successful campaigns of liberation in their
respective countries by throwing out Zionist Jews." Linking America's far right with the
"liberation movements" of Syria, Libya, Iran and Palestine, Beam singled out Palestinian leader
Yasser Arafat as a particularly admirable figure: "We need more men like Arafat and fewer of
the weaklings who have crumbled before the feds in the last three years."
While Beam's belief in Aryan superiority remained unshakable, his appreciation of Arabs
demonstrated a newfound willingness to suspend or mute his bigotry toward groups that
apparently shared his anti-Semitism. Beam proved ahead of his time in this regard, as he had
often been: when Palestinian-Israeli violence worsened significantly in the autumn of 2000,
others in the white supremacist movement took a similar tack in calling for alliances with the
Palestinians against the Israelis.
Beam has long been known as one of the
most unflinching and forceful spokesmen of the
far right in his writing and appearances. In
1983, for example, as one of the main speakers
at Aryan Nations' annual Aryan World Congress,
he told an audience of more than 500 that
the preservation of the white race required the willingness to act violently:
I didn't come here for your applause. I came here for your blood….The old
period is over and a new period is going to begin….I'm here to tell you that if
we can't have this country, as far as I'm concerned, no one gets it. The guns are
cocked, the bullets are in the chamber….We're going to fight and live or we're
going to die soon. If you don't help me kill the bastards, you're going to be
required to beg for your child's life, and the answer will be 'No.'
Almost a decade later, at a January 1992
Klan rally in Pulaski, Tennessee - his first
public appearance since the 1988 sedition trial
- Beam demonstrated to an estimated 400
Klan members and neo-Nazi skinheads that he
had not lost his fire. "I spit on you!" he said of
government authorities. "You're dogs. You're
scum! We're gonna dance on your graves." He
added, "The enemy is on the hill of power in America….Their guns are in place. And they're
waiting for you….Let's go get them! We're going to have to take America back….White
Beam's writings are equally raw and now available to anyone connected to the Web. In an
essay from 1983 entitled "Understanding the Struggle, Or Why We Need to Kill the Bastards,"
It is the obligation, even a sacred duty for those who believe in the ideas of our
founding fathers and the now dead Constitution, to execute the enemies
responsible for abolishing both. Those who have aided in the destruction and
subversion of America must either be driven off the land or put under it….
Paradoxically, only by administering death to anti-Christ enemies can there be
life for all that we hold dear. It is a matter of survival.
In the February 1992 issue of The Seditionist, Beam called for an overhaul of the
movement's tactics; he advocated the formation of small, autonomous underground groups
driven by ideology rather than by the directions of leaders and membership organizations.
Because those outside the cell would not be aware of planned attacks, Beam explained, leaks or
infiltration became far less likely. He warned that this approach would be more grueling than
the status quo; in tiny "phantom cells," in the absence of leadership figures, cell members would
need to be self-sustaining and committed ideologues capable of independent judgment and
activity. "Those who join organizations to play 'let's pretend' or who are 'groupies' will be quickly weeded out," he explained. "All individuals and groups operate independently of each
other and never report to a central headquarters or single leader for direction or
instruction….Participants in a program of Leaderless Resistance through phantom cell or
individual action must know exactly what they are doing, and exactly how to do it."
The concept of "leaderless resistance," also known as the "lone wolf" theory, was not
entirely new. Beam gave credit for its conception to Cold War anti-Communist Colonel Ulius
Amoss, who, in the early 1960s, proposed the strategy as a defense against a Communist
takeover of America. After the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991 removed the threat of
Soviet Communism, Beam wrote, "the purpose of Leaderless Resistance is [now] to defeat state
tyranny….Like the fog which forms when conditions are right and disappears when they are
not, so must the resistance to tyranny be."
Leaderless resistance has been promoted by other key figures in the white supremacist
movement - in particular, Tom Metzger of White Aryan Resistance and Alex Curtis, both of
whom have vigorously criticized other extremists for adhering to traditional organizational
models (though Curtis has been muted since being sentenced to a three-year prison term in
April 2001 on civil rights violations). While dangerous and effective groups like World Church
of the Creator and National Alliance continue to prosper, lone wolfism now permeates far-right
A Lone Wolf With Plenty of Company
Beam appears to have taken his own advice in recent years, generally keeping a low profile
and making few public appearances. In the first half of the 1990s, however, poised to assume
leadership of Aryan Nations, he was one of the most recognizable figures in American
extremism. He delivered a highly regarded speech at the 1993 Aryan World Congress and
another in 1995; by the end of that year, especially after Richard Butler's wife died of cancer in
December, he appeared a likely choice to succeed the ailing Butler. Along with Paul Hall, editor
of the Identity newspaper The Jubilee, Beam purchased property in Sandpoint, Idaho, near
Aryan Nations' Hayden Lake compound.
From "Leaderless Resistance"
It is clear, therefore, that it is time to rethink traditional strategy and tactics when it
comes to opposing a modern police state. America is quickly moving into a long dark
night of police state tyranny, where the rights now accepted by most as being inalienable
will disappear. Let the coming night be filled with a thousand points of resistance. Like
the fog which forms when conditions are right and disappears when they are not, so must
the resistance to tyranny be.
Beam was a no-show at the following year's gathering. Despite his credentials, he seemed to
have fallen out of favor with movement radicals at that time, allegedly because he had begun to
subordinate his anti-Semitism, concentrating instead on the supposed evils of the federal
government. He was also berated for making anti-Nazi remarks at the April 1996 Jubilee-sponsored
Jubilation '96 conference in Lake Tahoe. In 1997, Butler named another successor,
Neuman Britton, a longtime member also known for fiery oratory, who spoke at the 1996
gathering from which Beam was conspicuously absent. (Britton died of cancer in August 2001
at the age of 75; in September 2001, Aryan Nations announced that Butler had named Ray
Redfeairn of Ohio as his successor.)
While he was active in Aryan Nations, Beam also maintained ties with a range of far-right
activists. For example, he joined Pete Peters, a leading propagandist and preacher of Identity, at
an October 1992 meeting that Peters convened in Estes Park, Colorado. Richard Butler and
Kirk Lyons were also among the 160 attendees who gathered to discuss the federal siege of
Randy Weaver's mountainside hideaway at Ruby Ridge, Idaho. They pledged, in Peters' words,
"to confront the injustice and tyranny manifested in the killings of Vicki Weaver and her son
Samuel," both of whom had been shot by federal agents in the standoff. The meeting has gained
an inaccurate reputation as the birthplace of the militia movement; the consensus among those
in attendance that perceived government despotism had to be met with paramilitary action was clearly significant, however, as was the recommendation to propound leaderless resistance and,
specifically, Beam's essay about it.
Beam also served as a correspondent and frequent contributor to the California-based
Jubilee, an Identity tabloid whose contributors have included many leading lights of white
supremacy. Beam's pieces hammered away at anti-government themes - in particular, the idea
that United States leaders have created a "police state" that increasingly exerts totalitarian
control over its citizens. In April 1993, he covered the siege at the Branch Davidian compound
in Waco, Texas, labeling the tragedy "police state terrorism." Conflating Waco with Holocaust
denial, he stated:
Raised in small town America, I learned from television while still but a child
about the terrible gassing and executions alleged to have happened in Germany
during World War II. I would be 34 years old before I researched the matter
and found out that it was just wartime propaganda carried over to peace time
by Jewish organizations like the ADL. The absence of the Jewish holocaust in
my life over the last ten years has created a void that the federal government
filled on April 19, 1993. A shattered Jewish fable has been replaced with a
reality that I and 25 million other Americans were witness to.
A year later, in the May/June 1994 issue of Jubilee, Beam was more explicit, writing, "Guns
are not just for hunting, target shooting and sport, they are for control of the government."
Later that year, Beam appeared at a Jubilee-sponsored conference of states' rights and militia
activists in Bakersfield, California, delivering a speech entitled "To Hell with the Federal
Government." (Both Beam and Pete Peters have been regulars at the Jubilee's annual Jubilation
Celebration gatherings, appearing alongside various Identity figures and Holocaust deniers.) In
April 1995, he attended a rally of the Idaho Citizens Awareness Network, an anti-government
group co-founded by "Pastor" Dave Barley, leader of America's Promise Ministries/Lord's
Covenant Church, an Identity organization in Sandpoint, Idaho, near the Aryan Nations
homestead. As recently as the summer of 1999, Beam wrote in a letter to The Jubilee - using
an anti-American figure of speech common to the Middle East - "Expect no justice from the
United States Federal government…the Great Satan still occupies us with tens of thousands of
F.B.I., A.T.F., I.R.S. and other Police State agencies. We have lost control of our destiny."
In a letter to supporters in October 1996 that reads like a farewell to the movement, Beam
provided a better indication of why he may have stepped out of the extremist spotlight. "It is
now almost 10 years since my arrest, trial and subsequent release at Fort Smith, Arkansas, for
sedition," he wrote.
I have given the folk another decade of my life at great expense to my family.
Since 1969, I have been in the struggle….I intend to give my family the next
years of my life. They need me and have borne so much on my account.
Additionally, as a result of exposure to Agent Orange while in Vietnam, my
health declines. I have concealed this for years but now find myself less than fit
to continue as in days before. I have for 30 years given my all. I pray others will
do the same.
Since then, Beam has focused largely on his Web site. He has vociferously opposed what he
considers the latest outgrowth of ZOG: the "New World Order" as it has revealed itself in the
globalization of the world's economies and governments. In November 1999, after protesters
interrupted a meeting of the World Trade Organization in Seattle, Beam said on his Web site:
The new politics of America is liberty from the N.W.O. Police State and
nothing more. While some in the so-called right-wing sit at home and talk
about waiting for the Police State to 'come and get them,' some other really
brave people have been out confronting the Police State. Instead of hoarding
guns that will never be fired, these people were out bravely facing the guns of
the New World Order….Mark my words, this is but the first confrontation,
there will be many more such confrontations as intelligent, caring people begin
to face off the Waco thugs of the New World Order here in the United States.
Pointing to an increasing convergence between the tactics of the right and left wings of
extremist activity, Beam continued:
The New American Patriot will be neither left nor right, just a freeman fighting
for liberty. New alliances will form between those who have in the past thought of themselves as 'right-wingers,' conservatives and patriots with many people
who have thought of themselves as 'left-wingers,' progressives, or just
'liberal.'…Soon, there will be millions in this country of every political
persuasion confronting the police state on streets throughout America….Wake
up and smell the tear gas. Freedom is calling its sons and daughters.
1Subsequently, the Defense Department issued a directive to field commanders granting them the authority to prevent military personnel from engaging in activities sponsored by racist groups.
2Beam was the best man at Lyons's wedding, which was held at the Aryan Nations compound.
3Although Timothy McVeigh's bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building on April 19, 1995, also appeared to follow the lone wolf model, no evidence has been found to link Beam to this crime. Beam did, however, publish an essay on the topic.