Aryan Nations on Verge of Collapse Following Judgment
Several interesting points came out in testimony:
A security manual that was purportedly written before the attack on the Keenans was actually prepared after the lawsuit, one witness testified.
Butler, according to a former Aryan who testified against him, helped to dispose of the rifle that Warfield fired at the Keenans as they fled.
Criminal violence and hatred were seen in heroic terms at the compound. Butler routinely glorified people who had committed violent crimes in the name of his racist cause, displaying a plaque for the guards and others to see that honored John Paul Franklin, a serial killer who targeted interracial couples.
Others who had committed violent crimes in the name of racism were "prisoners of war."
Butler claimed to have a rule, in effect since 1980, against security guards leaving the compound. But testimony made it clear that working guards regularly left the compound on missions for the group.
In one, Warfield followed two youths to their home after seeing them allegedly steal an Aryan Nations flag. In another, police arrested Yeager for possession of a concealed weapon after he chased a man off the compound.
In none of these cases — including the attack on the Keenans — did Butler ever discipline any of the guards for breaking the supposed rule.
Warfield was selected as security chief even through he was thought by the Aryans to lack the intelligence required, was suspected of drug addiction and was believed to have accidentally shot and killed one of Butler's dogs.
A background check, had it been performed, would have revealed that Warfield had previously been charged with burglary and assault with a deadly weapon.
In the run-up to the trial, Warfield had sent the Keenans an ominous letter from his jail cell. "Those in the [Aryan Nations] group may overreact" to a verdict against them, Warfield warned.
"There have been some Aryan Nations people who have done some crazy things. ... Please don't let Mr. [Morris] Dees [co-founder of the Center and one of the Keenans' lawyers] put you and Jason in a spot where you might need to look over your shoulder for the rest of your life."
Violence, Bomb Plots and Murder
The case capped a quarter century of trouble.
The Aryan Nations and its Christian Identity doctrine — a theology that depicts whites as God's chosen people and Jews as the biological descendants of Satan — have inspired hatred and violence since the beginning.
The group known as the Order, composed largely of Aryan Nations members, waged a campaign of terror in the 1980s, murdering a talk show host in Denver and robbing a total of some $4 million in armored car heists.
Members of other major terrorist groups like the Aryan Republican Army (which robbed 22 banks in the 1990s) and The New Order (which plotted in the late '90s to blow up the Center and assassinate Dees) frequented the compound. And literally dozens of individuals associated with the Aryans have been convicted of violence, bomb plots and even murder.
The Aryan security guards hold a special place in this history. One security chief, apparently incensed by Butler's tirades, offered $2,000 to a hitman to kill the informant who helped bring the original Order down. Another security chief went to prison after bombing the home of a civil rights activist and four other buildings.
And last year, former security guard Buford Furrow allegedly went on a rampage, shooting up a Jewish community center and murdering a postal worker.
'You Will See'
Through it all — and even a sedition trial in the 1980s in which he was ultimately acquitted — Butler has emerged legally unscathed. His group's power has fluctuated over the decades, but it has survived, and at times, flourished.
And while it may be in permanent decline now, there are still many sympathizers who in years past moved to the area to be near Butler and who remain there now.
That is obvious to Victoria Keenan. Walking through a supermarket parking lot in October, she and her husband were trailed by a van sporting Aryan Nations stickers. They asked the driver, who wore an Aryan cap, what he wanted.
"You will see soon," he replied.
Now, several of those around Butler seem to be trying to revive what's left of Aryan Nations under a new name, Aryan National Alliance.
Bertollini, part of an Idaho propaganda ministry called the 11th Hour Remnant Messenger and Butler's financial patron, has been more public in his role, speaking out at the time of the trial in Butler's defense. But he is seen as a highly unlikely leader.
And Kreis, who only joined the Aryan Nations last summer and became its webmaster in the process, does not seem particularly interested in bringing Butler back to power.
He has invited members of the group to come to hold future Aryan World Congresses at his place in Ulysses, Pa. — but he seems to have pointedly avoided acknowledging Butler as the group's future leader.
Neuman Britton, who lives in Escondido, Calif., and shows no inclination to move to Idaho, may have best summed up the prospects for the future.
"Unless there are people who come forward with resources," said the 74-year-old who Butler designated as his heir, "I don't think there will be much to turn over to me."