'Lone wolves' line up to take hate mission underground

Spokane Spokesman Review, September 10, 2000
By Bill Morlin

If Richard Butler is finally knocked off America's hate stage and his Aryan Nations compound shuts down, what's next?

Will blue-shirted Aryan guards be a thing of the past?

Will racists opt to exchange ideas on the Internet instead of at annual gatherings and cross-burnings on a 20-acre compound in North Idaho?

And who will emerge as key national hate leaders as Butler lives out the twilight of his life with a $6.3 million legal headache?

Experts say the legal blow dealt to Butler by a jury last week in Coeur d'Alene will further strengthen the "leaderless resistance" movement. The philosophy urges "lone wolves" to act independently on their racist beliefs and avoid being detected by law enforcement agents.

So hatemongers go underground instead of doing stiff-arm salutes at a neo-Nazi compound.

Butler could become their newest martyr.

The experts also say his waning leadership role could be superseded by William Pierce of the National Alliance in West Virginia.

The World Church of the Creator, headed by Matt Hale of Illinois, also is a re-energized hate group. Hale is talking about moving to Montana, where his atheist-ideology group holds annual meetings and burns swastikas.

Also emerging are Internet hate guru Alex Curtis of San Diego, Posse Comitatus leader August Kreis of Pennsylvania and two wealthy North Idaho retired businessmen.

Vincent Bertollini and Carl Story, who head up the 11th Hour Remnant Messenger, based in Sandpoint, began backing Butler and the Aryan Nations ideology in 1998 with mass mailings.

Bertollini said last week "there's more to come." The 11th Hour Remnant doesn't have a meeting place or even a membership roster. Story and Bertollini merely disseminate religious propaganda, hoping to convince others that white people are the true children of God.

Jonn Lunsford, a researcher with the Northwest Coalition for Human Dignity, said the verdict against Butler "unfortunately will not put hate out of business."

"There are nearly a dozen other groups in the Inland Northwest that walk hand-in-hand with Butler's message of hatred," he said.

"Across the country, some of the most violent racists are creating strategies that do not require compounds in the woods," Lunsford said. The so-called "lone wolves" do not join organizations, but instead surf the Internet for information and interaction with other white supremacists.

"They have seen how groups like Tom Metzger's White Aryan Resistance (WAR) and now Butler's Aryan Nations have been torn down, so many of them are going underground," Lunsford said.

The leaderless resistance concept has been evident for years. One of its first proponents was Louis Beam, Butler's longtime confidant and former Aryan Nations ambassador.

Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, Olympics bombing suspect Eric Robert Rudolph and ex-Aryan guard Buford Furrow, who is accused of murder and assault-rifle attacks in Los Angeles last year, are among the more notable recent examples of leaderless resistance.

The concept also was advanced by Pierce, who has attended Aryan World Congress gatherings at Butler's compound. Pierce's work of fiction, "The Turner Diaries," in the early 1980s inspired several of Butler's followers to form a terrorist group known as The Order.

Imprisoned members of The Order and its founder, the late Robert Mathews of Metaline Falls, Wash., are glorified and idolized by many in the racist movement.

Skinhead groups who don't buy into God or religion, as packaged by Butler's Christian Identity message, look to forms of racist paganism. Their role models are Order members and their acts of terrorism.

"The Aryan Nations has been declining in importance over the last several years as these bad guys are moving away from the `central compound' mentality," said Leonard Zeskind, an expert on the topic. "This jury verdict further enforces that trend," he said.

Pierce, who once taught physics at Oregon State University, has a 400-acre compound near Hillsboro, W.Va., in the Allegheny Mountains.

The soft-spoken 66-year-old broadened his standing in the racist movement last year by buying Resistance Records, the world's largest neo-Nazi music label.

Resistance carries 250 different titles from skinhead bands around the world. Last month, Resistance Records and another hate-music distributor donated money from mail-order CD sales to Butler's legal defense fund. Butler isn't saying how much money he got.

Pierce is well-financed and has been able to position himself "as a man capable of bringing up the next generation of hatemongers," said Brian Goldberg of the Anti-Defamation League.

"The National Alliance is poised to be the most dangerous organization in the country," Goldberg said.

Goldberg and other experts who track hate groups also point to Butler's new alliance with August "Chip" Kreis III of Ulysses, Pa. Kreis is the Webmaster for the Aryan Nations' Internet site. "I think August Kreis of Pennsylvania is attempting to become the new leader," said former Aryan Floyd Cochran, who is now a human rights activist.

But he also predicts increased visibility by the two Sandpoint men who are the 11th Hour Remnant. "If they succeed in becoming leaders, it's only because they have the money," Cochran said.

"I believe that in the end, you won't find many structured organizations with guards and uniforms and guns," Cochran said.

Because of the successful suit against the Aryan Nations, similar military-style hate groups "will be concerned about being sued," Cochran said.

Devin Burghart, of the Center for New Community in Chicago, said the verdict against the Aryan Nations "will be a major setback to the already faltering white supremacy group."

"With their numbers and significance with the movement already in decline, the group's base of operations will now likely shift from the Northwest to the Northeast," to Kreis' Posse Comitatus headquarters in Potter County, Pa., Burghart said.

"Given the specifics of the lawsuit, the group may be forced to adopt a slightly different organization name," the hate group researcher said. Morris Dees, whose Southern Poverty Law Center was behind the civil damages suit against Butler, said after the verdict that he wants to lay claim to the name "Aryan Nations" and retire it.

"Ultimately, those committed to this particular brand of bigotry will continue to preach the gospel of hate according to the Aryan Nations," Burghart said.

The possible departure of the Aryan Nations headquarters from North Idaho "does not spell the end for organized bigotry in the region, unfortunately," he said.

"Other white supremacist groups in the area, like the 11th Hour Remnant and America's Promise Ministries in Sandpoint, can easily step into the vacuum left by the departure of the Aryan compound," Burghart said.

America's Promise, led by pastor David Barley, will host a three-day Christian Identity conference next weekend at its church in Sandpoint. Other racist groups already are jockeying for leadership, Burghart said. "The one thing the Aryan Nations still has that can't be taken away is the group's status as a subcultural icon," Burghart said.

Aryan Nations, he said, achieved that status within the hate movement because it spawned the men who became members of The Order.

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