NEW YORK (Oct. 7)
A 22-year-old man known to have frequented the neo-Nazi, white supremacist Aryan Nations compound near Hayden Lake, Idaho, was arrested Monday and charged in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, on three counts of bombing and one count of attempted bombing.
The man, Robert Pires, is the only person charged in connection with the September 15 bombing of the home of Father Bill Wassmuth, a Roman Catholic priest, and the September 29 bombings of a luggage store and the Federal Building in Coeur d’Alene, a resort town about seven miles from the headquarters of the Aryan Nations. Another bomb on the roof of the Armed Forces Recruiting Offices was found before it went off. A Kootenai County judge in Coeur d’Alene set bail at $500,000.
Pires had been in FBI custody several days prior to his arrest after voluntarily offering to testify to the bombings in exchange for their protection. In addition, three others associated with the group have been arrested on charges of counterfeiting: Olive and Ed Hawley, a couple in their 20’s, and David Dorr, also in his 20’s, who was security chief for the Aryan Nations. The three were arrested by United States Secret Service agents. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms reportedly found weapons in Dorr’s home. Dorr’s wife Debbie is spokesperson for the Aryan Nations.
Information on the arrests and on the activities of the group was obtained by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in telephone interviews with the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith in Seattle, which monitors the Pacific Northwest for anti-Semitic and racist activities, with the prosecuting attorney’s office in Coeur d’Alene, and with sources in Coeur d’Alene who have requested anonymity because of threats made against them.
The 20-acre Aryan Nations compound is owned by the Rev. Richard Butler, a man in his 70’s who is a leader of both the Aryan Nations and its religious arm, the Church of Jesus Christ Christian, which ascribes to the Christian Identity ideology that Anglo-Saxon whites are the true “chosen people” of Israel and that “Jews are imposters who are the offspring of Satan through the line of Cain.”
Christian Identity adherents recently picketed an exhibit of Auschwitz artifacts on display at the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, Virginia, which received bomb threats as well. Federal officials are also investigating that incident.
‘SECOND PHASE’ OF THE ORDER
The latest series of bombings was described by JTA’s sources in Coeur d’Alene as a “second phase” of The Order, the violently racist, anti-Semitic group that arose from the Aryan Nations and whose “first phase” supposedly ended last winter with the sentencing in February of 10 of its members to prison terms from 40-100 years for a long series of crimes that culminated in the murder of Jewish talk-show host Alan Berg in Denver in June 1984.
During the three-and-a-half-month-long trail, federal prosecutors accused The Order of murder, robbery, counterfeiting and other crimes with the aim of killing Jews, deporting minorities and establishing an all-white nation. The stiffest sentences were given to those accused of the murder of Berg and of a fellow white supremacist for allegedly leaking information about the group. The defendants were referred to as “patriots” by one of those sentenced, who warned that “blood will flow.”
According to JTA sources in the area. The Order has vowed to make the Pacific Northwest into an all-white bastion.
Coeur d’Alene, with an approximate population of 20,000, is a resort town that has been described as “one of the finest on earth,” “a perfect town” — very physically beautiful, dependent on tourism, silver mining and lumber. JTA sources said a hotel there that was purchased and developed for a very large sum got its developer on the Aryan Nations’ “hit list” as “one of the 10 worst Jews in town.” He isn’t Jewish. Father Wassmuth reportedly also has been described as a Jew, a “rabbi in disguise.”
TOWNSPEOPLE ANGERED BY WHITE SUPREMACISTS
There are very few Jews in Coeur d’Alene, most of them married to non-Jews, and there are no Jewish community buildings or synagogues. The nearest Jewish community is Spokane, about 35 miles to the West. There are also very few Blacks in the area. The region has been an attraction to these white supremacist, violently anti-Semitic groups.
Local folk and businessmen in Coeur d’Alene are very angered by the racist threats that threaten the peace of their otherwise placid town, described as “a cancer that is eating up the area.” Their hatred of racism and attachment to the area spurred them to organize an anti-racist group, the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations, which is headed by Father Wassmuth. Wassmuth’s house was bombed with a strong pipe bomb placed inside his front door that did not damage the one room in which he was at the time, talking on the telephone.
The task force organized a five-and-a-half-hour human rights rally in July to counter a two-day Aryan Nations conference at the compound, which drew about 165 sympathizers. The rally, about 1,000 strong, was organized to “celebrate the ethnic, racial and religious diversity of the Pacific Northwest,” rally organizers said.
The task force has been described as “one of the most productive grass-roots human rights organizations in the country. It has been instrumental in enacting a harassment law making it a felony in the state of Idaho to harass a person because of race, color, or religious belief.
Although the bomb scares and other threats have frightened many of the local residents, sources say most don’t plan to leave, as the Aryan Nations want. “If we leave, we lose.”