A fight for control of the Aryan Nations has broken out between its aging founder, Richard Butler, and the two men he appointed last fall to assume its leadership.
Butler surrounds himself with "idiots with guns whose incompetence and stupidity" jeopardize the organization, said dissidents Ray Redfeairn and August Kreis in an online posting. Butler accused Redfeairn and Kreis of being "pirates who are trying to steal" leadership of the white supremacy group.
Redfeairn, of Dayton, Ohio, and Kreis, of Ulysses, Pennsylvania, say they no longer will take orders from Butler. Butler's name, writings and e-mail address were removed January 28 from the Aryan Nation's website, which Kreis controls.
Last September, Butler, 84, picked Redfeairn as his successor, despite Redfeairn's 1979 conviction for shooting an Ohio police officer six times. At the same time, Butler appointed Kreis as Aryan Nations director of information. Butler said he removed the two on January 20 in a dispute over who can be Aryan Nations members.
The infighting "may be the last gasp for Richard Butler's control of the Aryan Nations," said Joe Roy, director of the Center's Intelligence Project. "It's gone from one of the largest and most dangerous neo-Nazi groups in the country to an old man with a house in Idaho being cannibalized by its own membership for control."
The Aryan Nations compound near Hayden Lake, Idaho, home to some of the nation's most violent white supremacists, was recently converted to a peace park after a successful Center lawsuit against Butler and the Aryan Nations.