Federal Crackdown on Extremist Groups
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Federal Crackdown on Extremist Groups

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The latest wave of indictments and arrests of anti-Semitic hate group members Fort Smith, Arkansas, and Denver, Colorado, is part of one of the Federal government’s most aggressive crackdowns on criminal activity among extremists in decades, according to an expert of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith.

Three federal indictments handed up last week charged 15 members of white-supremacist hate groups with the murder of Denver talk show host Alan Berg, plotting to murder a federal judge, and engaging in conspiracy to overthrow the American government.

All those charged are affiliated with one of two hate groups, the Aryan Nations and/or the Covenant, the Sword and the Arm of the Lord (CSA), according to Irwin Suall, ADL fact-finding director.

Two of the most powerful national leaders of the extremist movements were among those charged and arrested last week, “Reverend” Richard Butler, head of Aryan Nations, and Robert Miles, a former Ku Klux Klan (KKK) member and Midwest coordinator of Aryan Nations.

Butler, 67, is the “pastor” of the vehemently anti-Semitic Church of Jesus Christ Christian in Hayden Lake, Idaho, the headquarters of Aryan Nations. Miles is a one-time Grand Dragon (State leader) of the KKK in Michigan.


A federal grand jury in Denver indicted four people under the Federal Civil Rights Act in connection with the machine-gun slaying of Berg, a Jewish radio talk show host who provoked racists during his program. Berg was gunned down outside his Denver home in June 1984.

The four indicted, all members of The Order, an Aryan Nations splinter group, were David Eden Lane, 48, Richard Joseph Scutari, 39, Bruce Carroll Pierce, 32, a leader of The Order, and Jean Margaret Craig, 53, Lane and Pierce are both affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ Christian in Hayden Lake.

Federal authorities allege that Pierce carried the sub-machinegun used to murder Berg and was accompanied by Scutari and Lane. Craig allegedly followed Berg and possibly acted as lookout during the murder. The charge carries a maximum life sentence.

Smith, Scutari and Pierce were also named in the indictments in Fort Smith. The Fort Smith federal grand jury indicted the three along with Butler, Miles, Louis Ray Beam Jr., a former Texas Klansman and Aryan Nations “ambassador,” Louis Ray Beam Jr., and six others and charged them with sedition, or conspiracy to overthrow the government, Also charged in this indictment were Robert Neil Smalley, 31; Ardie McBrearty, 59, Andrew Virgil Barnhill, 30, and Richard Wayne Snell, 56.

They are charged with counterfeiting and armed robbery as part of the conspiracy to finance their revolution. If convicted, the charge carries a maximum 20-year prison sentence and $20,000 fine.

Five others were named in a separate indictment in Fort Smith charging them with a plot to murder a federal judge and other officials. They are Snell, named in the sedition charges also, William Wade, 68, Ivan Ray Wade, 34, Lambert Miller, 36, and David Michael McGuir, 24. Seven of the 15 indicted are currently serving terms in federal prisons. The other eight are either under arrest or being sought.

The federal government has stepped up investigations and prosecution of the hate groups in the past two to three years and is pursuing the members more aggressively and successfully, Suall said.

The increased activity began with the exposure of The Order in 1984 after Robert Jay Matthews, the group’s leader and founder, died in a shootout with more than 100 law enforcement agents in Puget Sound.

Since the gun battle, 24 members of The Order were convicted or pleaded guilty to charges of racketeering, murder, bombings and armed robbery.

Two years ago, in April 1985, 300 state and federal officers raided a CSA camp in the Ozark Mountains near Mountain Home, Arkansas. Inside the camp, they discovered an arsenal of machine guns, antitank rockets, grenades, plastic explosives and an abundance of anti-Semitic and racist literature.

The members trained in minefields, and in an area used for target practice the officers found a wooden target which pictured a state trooper with a Jewish star on his chest.

Members of The Order had trained and resided at the CSA camp. In the wake of the raid, four Order members were discovered hiding in the camp and they surrendered.

The leaders of at least two other hate groups, the Arizona Patriots and Committee of the States, are awaiting trials, Suall said.


“There is no question that the latest indictments represent a serious blow to hate movements in the U.S.,” Suall said. “Depending on the outcome of the trial, it could significantly cripple the hate movements.”

Aryan Nations and CSA have been called neo-Nazi, racist, white supremacist and extremist. But according to Suall, the groups are first and foremost anti-Semitic. Jews are considered their main enemy, he said.

“They don’t actually call themselves ‘Nazis or neo-Nazis’,” Suall said. “But most admire Hitler and the Third Reich.” They employ Nazi symbols and aspire to establish a separate all-white state in the Northwestern United States.

The members of Aryan Nations and The Order call the United States government the “Zionist Occupational Government (ZOG)” and characterize Jews as the children of Satan.

The hate groups are loosely linked in their adherence to a philosophy known as the Christian Identity Movement. The violently anti-Semitic teachings of the movement claim that Jews are the offspring of Satan. Some elements preach the extermination of Jews. The Church of Jesus Christ Christian adheres to the Christian Identity philosophy.

Suall estimates the Aryan Nations have about 500 followers nationwide.

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