The National Alliance, a white supremacist group with headquarters on a West Virginia farm, may be on the ropes, according to one watchdog group.
Joe Roy, who works for the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center said in a recent interview that the death of National Alliance founder William Pierce in 2002 has left the organization reeling.
"It's on shaky ground," Roy said. "It's gone from 1,500 members (nationwide) to 500 or 600 members. They've gone from 17 paid employees up at their compound down to two or three volunteers."
But while the organization seems to be limping, Roy said it's too early to write it off.
"The thing to be alarmed about is that they're recruiting," Roy said.
The National Alliance targeted Bozeman beginning last fall, distributing leaflets and membership applications in various parts of town. Kevin McGuire, who recently filed for a school board seat, claims to be the local representative of the National Alliance, which advocates a whites-only society.
The National Alliance Web site is still quite active, having been updated at least 13 times in the past month. It serves as a propaganda and recruiting tool, and Web-casts programs.
Another point that argues against complacency is the tradition of cross fertilization between various hate groups.
For example, Robert Mathews, leader of terrorist gang The Order in the early 1980s, was previously a Pacific Northwest representative for the National Alliance, according to the Anti Defamation League. In the 1990s, the Aryan Republican Army was responsible for a string of violent acts using tactics adopted from The Order.
People who have adopted the ideas promoted by these groups -- anti-Semitism, white supremacy -- will look for like-minded individuals if their own organization folds.
"Like if you're a gun enthusiast and your gun club closes, you look for another one," Roy said.
Unfortunately, he added, there isn't a shortage of such groups to choose from.
Robert Jacobs, Pacific Northwest regional director for the Anti-Defamation League, said the National Alliance still is the largest white supremacist group in the country. And while there has been in-fighting among its members, the organization seems to be regrouping, he said.
"One problem we have seen is they're becoming a lot more media savvy," Jacobs said.
At least one National Alliance chapter even participates in the "Adopt a Highway" program.
Roy said he sees basically three possibilities for the National Alliance.
It's apparently being run by committee now with a fair amount of infighting, but a new leader could emerge to reinvigorate the National Alliance.
Or, some members could start a similar group under a new name and entice as many National Alliance chapters as possible to join their fold. "That stands a pretty good chance of happening," Roy said.
The third possibility is that the organization could just collapse.