Two would-be führers are squabbling over remnants of the Aryan Nations.
Followers of the Byzantine power struggle that has engulfed the remnants of one of America's oldest neo-Nazi groups have a question: Will the real Aryan Nations please stand up?
Capping a disastrous year, two would-be führers are once again squabbling over whether the Aryan Nations is headquartered in Idaho or in Pennsylvania.
Founder Richard Butler, who was forced to sell the Idaho compound he'd run for a quarter century after losing a civil lawsuit brought by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2000, insists the outfit is located in the Hayden, Idaho, house he now lives in. Rival August Kreis, for his part, says it's really found on the piece of Pennsylvania scrubland where his mobile home sits.
Crammed into Butler's house in a Hayden subdivision, a small group of his ragtag loyalists have spent more time fighting among themselves than saving the white race.
Within two weeks this May, Butler's "staff leader" Shaun Winkler managed to get himself arrested on two separate occasions for pepper spray attacks — one of which hit Hayden Lake Police Chief Jason Felton in the face.
On the first, a fight between two young women that started on Butler's front porch spilled out into the street. Following a night of drinking, Winkler sided with his girlfriend, trying to spray long-time staffer Michael Teague, who Butler was trying to eject from his house along with the other woman.
Instead, Winkler hit the chief. Two weeks later, Winkler sprayed three adults and two children at a local store. Police said Winkler didn't "see eye to eye" with two of the unnamed adults, who live with Winkler in Butler's home. The others were hit by accident.
Winkler now faces four charges of battery and one of resisting arrest.
Things don't seem to be going much better for the Pennsylvania crew. Initially, Butler appointed Kreis and pal Ray Redfeairn as his successors last fall. But this January, the pair kicked their own former leader out of the Aryan Nations, saying the organization Butler founded had turned into a group of "weirdos, winos and clowns."
Butler retorted that no, it was Kreis and Redfeairn who had actually been ejected.
Then, in May, another twist: Redfeairn has a change of heart, accuses Kreis of thievery, drops out of Aryan Nations and acknowledges Butler as rightful boss.
"That makes me happy, you bet," the 83-year-old Butler said.
Since then, Kreis and Butler have run dueling Web sites claiming to be the genuine article. Kreis' site is especially optimistic, calling on followers to "hail the new dawn" that presumably will accompany his victory in the Aryan Nations succession battle.
Kreis recently named fellow Pennsylvanian Charles Juba as his faction's "national director" (Juba's first column on Kreis' Web site, accepting the post, is entitled "Fire Up the Ovens!"), and appointed himself, Jay Faber and Joshua Caleb Sutter to its "High Council."
Kreis' site also now carries a novel announcement: He has created a "Ministry of Islamic Liaison," complete with descriptions of Christians and others as "infidels," that seeks to reach out to fellow anti-Semites.
Posting a letter to the "ministry" was Briton David Myatt. Myatt has worn a multitude of hats — as Christian and Buddhist monk, Taoist, neo-Nazi, and even affiliate of the Satanist Order of Nine Angles and other "magical racialist" groups — but his most recent incarnation is as a messenger of Allah.
Another alleged Muslim wrote in praying for the day when "heroes" like Timothy McVeigh and Taliban convert John Walker Lindh "fight side by side until America is free again."