Aryan Nations (AN) (also known as the Aryan National Alliance) is a right-wing anti-Semitic White supremacist anti-government group based in the United States. It was founded in the 1970s by Richard Girnt Butler as an outreach arm of his Christian Identity ministry, the Church of Jesus Christ-Christian.
Its origin lies in the teachings of Wesley Swift, a significant figure in the early Christian Identity movement. Swift combined British Israelism, extreme anti-Semitism, and political extremism. He founded his own church in California in the mid 1940s where he could preach this ideology. In addition, he had a daily radio broadcast in California during the 1950s and 60s. In 1957, the name of his church was changed to the Church of Jesus Christ-Christian, which is used today by Aryan Nations churches.
From the 1970s until 2001 the headquarters of the AN was in a 20 acre (81,000 m²) compound at Hayden Lake, Idaho. 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 both AN adherents and other right-wing groups. AN helped promote a network of prison gang members called the Aryan Brotherhood.
Until 2000 the leadership of the AN remained firmly in the hands of Butler. But by that year he was over eighty and had been in poor health for some time, so at the annual "World Congress", Neuman Britton was appointed as the group's new leader. In August 2001, he died of cancer, and was succeeded by Harold Ray Redfaeirn from Ohio, who had been agitating for control since the mid-1990s.
After losing a $6.3 million lawsuit in September 2000, brought by Victoria and Jason Keenan who were attacked by Aryan Nations guards in 1999, the group was bankrupted. 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.
The group splintered into more regional elements following the loss of its headquarters but with a strong presence in Potter County, Pennsylvania, under the leadership of August Kreis. Butler was removed from the group in January 2002 and Redfaeirn resigned in March, leadership passed to a 'High Council,' of Kreis along with Charles Juba and one other.
The head of Aryan Nations, August Kries has recently stated his goal to CNN of establishing ties to Al Qaeda. "You say they're terrorists, I say they're freedom fighters. And I want to instill the same jihadic feeling in our peoples' heart, in the Aryan race, that they have for their father, who they call Allah."
Butler died in 2004 at the age of 86.
In common with many right-wing groups AN has produced many small, transitory, subgroups. Bob Mathews formed a group called The Order, which committed a number of violent crimes, including murder. Their mission was to bring about a race war. Dennis McGiffen, who also had ties to the AN, formed a cell called The New Order, based on Mathews' group. The members were arrested before they could follow through on their violent plans.
A relatively new tenet among Christian Identity believers justifies the use of violence in order to punish violators of God's law, as interpreted by Christian Identity ministers and adherents. Christian Identity followers engaging in such behavior are referred to as Phineas Priests or members of the Phineas Priesthood.
Non-aligned members of AN later convicted of serious crimes include Chevie Kehoe, who was convicted of three homicides, conspiracy and interstate transportation of stolen property also spent some time at the AN compound. Buford O. Furrow, Jr., the man accused of the August 10, 1999, shooting at the Jewish Community Center in Los Angeles, California, also spent some time at the AN compound working as a security guard.
- Aryan Nations website
- Nizkor:Aryan Nations resources
- Aryan Nations, Christian Identity and fascist terror
- Keenan v Aryan Nations summary of a lawsuit against the Aryan Nations for its violent activities.