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Richard Butler, founder of Aryan Nations, dies

His group's power fluctuated over more than three decades.

Sept. 8, 2004 -- Richard Girnt Butler, founder of the white supremacist and anti-Semitic Aryan Nations and the Church of Jesus Christ Christian, has died at the age of 86, according to the Kootenai County, Idaho, sheriff's office.

Long suffering from congestive heart failure, Butler reportedly died peacefully in his sleep.

For more than three decades, Butler preached his anti-Semitic and racist ideas from his Aryan Nations compound based near Hayden Lake, Idaho.

Members or former members of his group were convicted of numerous violent crimes across the country ý from assassination to armed robberies, bombings, counterfeits and racial assaults.

Indicted for seditious conspiracy in 1987, prosecutors failed to convince an Arkansas jury that Butler and several other prominent racists had conspired to start a race war.

At the 20-acre compound, where a sign warned "Whites Only" and German shepherds patrolled, the principal leaders and terrorists of the racist right gathered annually for the Aryan Nations Congresses.

Butler lost his 20-acre compound and much of his influence when a jury in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, ruled against him in October 2000 in a lawsuit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center on behalf of Victoria Keenan and her son. Butler and a small group of supporters moved into a house bought by a supporter in nearby Hayden, Idaho.