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Press ReleaseNeo-Nazis/Skinheads
March 2, 1998
Aryan Nations
  • Headquartered near Hayden Lake, Idaho, Aryan Nations is a paramilitary hate group founded in the mid-1970s by Rev. Richard Girnt Butler, now 78 years old. It was formed around Butler’s Church of Jesus Christ Christian, one of several hundred churches affiliated with "Identity," a pseudo-theological hate movement. Identity doctrine maintains that Anglo-Saxons, not Jews, are the Biblical "chosen people," that non-whites are "mud people" on the level of animals, and that Jews are "children of Satan." The group has a following of several hundred.
  • Aryan Nations militantly advocates anti-Semitism and the establishment of a white racist state. Although primarily an Identity group, Butler’s Aryan nations reflects a Nazi-like philosophy; Butler himself has praised Hitler. During the 1980s, several of Butler’s followers joined members of the neo-Nazi National Alliance and some KKK splinter groups to form a secret organization called The Silent Brotherhood, also known as The Order, which planned to overthrow the U.S. government. To raise money for their planned revolution, The order engaged in a crime spree involving murder, counterfeiting, bank robberies and armored car hold-ups. The group’s activities ended with the death of its founder and leader, Robert J. Matthews, in a shootout with Federal agents in December 1984 and the incarceration of many of its members.
  • As noted, anti-Semitism is a basic tenet of the Aryan Nations ideology. Dennis Hilligoss, the group’s state coordinator in Oregon, recently said, "The Jew is like a destroying virus that attacks our racial body to destroy our Aryan culture and purity of our race."
  • In 1996, Aryan Nations published a "Declaration of Independence" for the Aryan race on its Web site. This "Declaration" states that "all people are created equally subject to the eternal laws of nature … such is now the necessity which impels them [Aryans] to alter their form of government. The history of the present Zionist Occupied Government of the United States of America is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations [sic], all having a direct object – the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states; moreover throughout the entire world … We, therefore, the representatives of the Aryan people, in council, appealing to the supreme God of our folk for the rectitude of intentions … solemnly publish and declare that the Aryan people in America, are, and of rights ought to be, a free and independent nation; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the United States of America, and that all political connection between them and the Federal government thereof, is and ought to be, totally dissolved; and that as a free and independent nation they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances. Establish commerce, and to perform all other acts which independent nations may of right do." The "Declaration" concludes, "WE MUST SECURE THE EXISTENCE OF OUR PEOPLE AND A FUTURE FOR WHITE CHILDREN."
  • To aid in recruitment efforts, Aryan Nations hosts many racist activities during its summer festivals of hate at Hayden Lake, called the "World Congress of Aryan Nations." At these conferences, Butler’s organization has offered courses in urban terrorism and guerilla warfare. Numerous extremists have addressed Aryan Nations gatherings. John Trochmann, a featured speaker at the 1990 Congress, later became the leader of the Militia of Montana.
  • Since 1979, Aryan Nations has been engaged in prison outreach. This is an important aspect of the Aryan Nations’ agenda, given that so many members of The Order and Aryan Nations are serving long prison sentences. Aryan Nations corresponds on an ongoing basis with prison inmates through letters and its periodicals. In 1987, Aryan Nation began publishing a "prison outreach newsletter" called The Way, which has facilitated recruitment and connections between Aryan nations and its offspring, Aryan Brotherhood, a network of prison gang members.
  • With Richard Butler’s failing health and increasing inability to assert himself as a viable leader, Aryan Nations Ohio chapter appears to be positioning itself as a possible new headquarters for the group. In late 1997, members held rallies in several Ohio cities and distributed anti-black and anti-Semitic fliers throughout northern Kentucky and southwestern Ohio. One of the fliers specifically targeted local rabbis and synagogues in Dayton, Ohio. In November, about 100 Aryan Nations supporters attended a fundraiser hosted by the Ohio chapter.
  • In September, 1997, Ohio’s Aryan Nations leader, Harold Ray Redfeairn, was sentenced to six months in prison for carrying a concealed weapon.
  • On February 16, 1997, the Church of Jesus Christ Christian, an Aryan Nations "church" in New Vienna, OH, and the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan organized a rally at the State Capital in Columbus, OH to protest Black History Month. The existence of the group in the area was publicized in the wake of a shootout in nearby Wilmington, OH a day prior to the rally between two brothers with ties to the Aryan Nations and police officers. The two may have been on their way to attend the rally.
Further Background

Butler has called Hayden lake – an otherwise peaceful community – the "international headquarters of the White race." Recently, though, Butler’s organization has suffered from internal difficulties, with several of its members leaving to form new groups. Carl Franklin, chief of staff for Aryan Nations, left in 1993 as a result of disagreements with Butler, who had previously named him his successor. Wayne Jones was security chief at the Aryan compound since the late 1980s and departed along with Franklin. They and two other members moved to western Montana to form their own white supremacist group called the "Church of Jesus Christ Christian of Montana."

Following these departures, two more key members, Charles and Betty Tate, left to join Kirk Lyons, their son-in-law, a North Carolina-based lawyer who has defended right-wing extremists and has called himself an "active sympathizer" with their causes. In addition, a one-time Aryan Nations official, Floyd Cochran, has quit the group and renounced anti-Semitism and racism.

The growing leadership crisis became even more apparent at the annual Aryan Nations "World Congress" held at the group’s compound on July 21-23, 1995. Attendance was approximately 125. About 25 of these were Skinheads, including a contingent from a Utah-based Skinhead gang called the Army of Israel. A fistfight broke out over charges that the wife of Staff Leader Tim Bishop was stealing money from the organization. The fracas contributed to Bishop’s decision to resign his post and quit the compound for Kansas, where he once was Ku Klux Klan Grand Dragon.

Adding to the Leadership crisis is the apparent decline of Butler’s health, coupled with is wife’s death in December, 1995.

Aryan Nations has been mentioned prominently in connection with one of the incidents that militia groups cite as evidence of a government conspiracy against citizenry – the 1992 Randy Weaver confrontation in Idaho. Weaver, a white separatist who had reportedly visited the Aryan Nations compound in the past, resisted an effort by Federal agents to arrest him at his remote cabin for alleged weapons violations. Weaver’s wife and son were killed during the ensuing standoff, along with a deputy U.S. Marshal. During the siege, groups of Aryan Nations supporters, in addition to Skinheads and other neo-Nazis, rallied in support of Weaver near his cabin.

The Aryan Nations has for years hosted youth gatherings in its rural Idaho compound. These events, usually held in April to coincide with Hitler’s birthday, have attracted numerous Skinheads.

The post of successor to Butler remains vacant. It is believed, however, that Louis Beam, who has been touted in the past as Butler’s heir apparent, may step in to fill the void. Beam, who was David Duke’s Texas KKK Grand Dragon in the 1970s, has served as the Aryan Nations Ambassador-at-Large. He purchased property on the northern Idaho panhandle not far from the Aryan Nations headquarters at Hayden Lake. He attended a gun rights rally whose sponsoring group, reports the Spokane Spokesman-Review, included militia members and sympathizers, and was at a recent Aryan Nations World Congress. Moreover, he has written in support of "leaderless resistance" – a strategy that calls for the formation of autonomous cells organized around ideology, not leaders, so as to be better able to carry out actions against perceived enemies with reduced risk of infiltration.

In addition, Beam delivered a rousing speech at the Aryan Nations 1995 World Congress which bolstered his standing as the number one possibility to succeed Butler.

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1998 Anti-Defamation League