Its origin lies in the teachings of Wesley Swift, a significant figure in the early Christian Identity movement. Swift combined British Israelism, extreme antisemitism, and political militancy. He founded his own church in California in the mid 1940s where he could preach this ideology. In addition, he had a daily radio broadcast in California during the 1950s and 60s. In 1957, the name of his church was changed to the Church of Jesus Christ-Christian, which is used today by Aryan Nations churches.
From the 1970s until 2001 the headquarters of the AN was in a 20 acre (81,000 m²) compound at Hayden Lake, Idaho. There were a number of state chapters, only loosely tied to the main organization. The group ran an annual "World Congress of Aryan Nations" at Hayden Lake for both AN adherents and other right-wing groups.
Some in the AN openly debated a plan to forcibly take five northwestern states - Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming - from the United States government in order to establish an Aryan homeland.
Until 1998 the leadership of the AN remained firmly in the hands of Butler. But by that year he was over eighty and had been in poor health for some time, so at the annual "World Congress", Neuman Britton was appointed as the group's new leader. In August 2001, however, Butler appointed Harold Ray Redfeairn from Ohio, who had been agitating for control since the mid-1990s. Shortly thereafter, Redfeairn and August Kreis, III, propaganda minister of Aryan Nations, led a splinter group away from Butler and was expelled from the organization, but a few months later Redfeairn returned to an alliance with Butler. Redfeairn died in October of 2003. Butler died of heart failure in September 2004.
At the time of his death Aryan Nations had 200 members, Butler's World Congress in 2002 drew fewer than 100 people, and when he ran for mayor, he lost by about 2,100 votes to 50.
There are three main Nations factions. The first, led by August Kreis III joined with Charles John Juba to continue one faction of Aryan Nations. In 2002 Kreis moved Aryan Nations World Headquarters to a ten-acre compound in rural Potter County, Pennsylvania, which was host to the 2002 Aryan Nations World Congress. They also held an Aryan Nations World Congress in July 2000. Juba resigned in March of 2005 announcing his successor Kreis as the group's new leader with a headquarters located in Lexington, SC. In 2005 he received media attention by seeking an Aryan Nations-al Qaeda alliance, similar to the Nazi-Islamic alliance. Aryan nations is no longer pursuing this route. Charles Juba resigned as co-leader of Aryan Nations is 2005. (See Nizkor reference).
Another faction claims to have remained loyal to Butler's wishes upon his death, and its members have continued to call themselves "The Church of Jesus Christ Christian". They are led by Gerald O'Brien, and located in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Their website reads, "Yes, we are back in our home town!" They have a P.O. box in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.
Another faction relocated in Lincoln, Alabama. Jonathan Williams, Aryan Nations communications director in Atlanta, claimed that the Alabama leader was Clark "Brother Laslo" Patterson. Others have claimed the leader to be Jonathan Williams. There is some confusion regarding the Alabama splinter group of the Aryan Nations. The group has a Lincoln, Alabama P.O. Box, but no compound to speak of.
Like many other extreme racist groups, AN has produced many small, transitory subgroups. Bob Mathews formed a group called The Order, which committed a number of violent crimes, including murder. Their mission was to bring about a race war. Dennis McGiffen, who also had ties to the AN, formed a cell called The New Order, based on Mathews' group. The members were arrested before they could follow through on their violent plans.
A relatively new tenet among Christian Identity believers justifies the use of violence in order to punish violators of God's law, as interpreted by Christian Identity ministers and adherents. Christian Identity followers engaging in such behavior are referred to as Phineas Priests or members of the Phineas Priesthood, though they usually seem to act alone.
Non-aligned members of AN later convicted of serious crimes include Chevie Kehoe, who was convicted of three homicides, conspiracy and interstate transportation of stolen property, and who also spent some time at the AN compound. Buford O. Furrow, Jr., the man accused of the August 10, 1999, shooting at the Jewish Community Center in Los Angeles, California, and the murder of Filipino American postal worker Joseph Ileto, also spent some time at the AN compound working as a security guard.
On August 12, 2007 a Mexican-American was beaten by several white males who claimed they were part of the Aryan Nations. According to police, "the assault was committed by between six and 10 people, including four teenage girls."
On May 19, 2007, a sniper named Jason Hamilton opened fire on the Sheriff's Office and civilians on the streets of downtown Moscow, Idaho. Hamilton murdered his wife at home, execution style, then he took an assault rifle to central Moscow and fired multiple shots at the Sheriff's Office. Hamilton's murdered victims include spouse Crystal Hamilton, Moscow Police Officer Lee Newbill, and civilian Paul Bauer. Hamilton wounded Officer Bill Shields, civilian Paul Hussman, and Sheriff’s Deputy Brannon Jordan. At the end of his shooting spree, Jason Hamilton committed suicide in the early morning of May 20th, 2007. Police investigators searched his home on May 20th and found the corpse of his wife, Crystal Hamilton, an Aryan Nations flag, and his Aryan Nations membership card.
UNWELCOME GUESTS ; THE HATE GROUP ARYAN NATIONS PLANS TO SET UP ITS NEW HEADQUARTERS IN ULYSSES, PA., A TWO-HOUR DRIVE FROM BUFFALO, AND RESIDENTS AREN'T HAPPY ABOUT THEIR NEW NEIGHBORS
Jan 31, 2002; In the hills of Potter County, known as "God's Country," ground will be broken this spring for a church. Not just any church....
Butler Anoints Successor for Aryan Nations -- Convicted felon from Ohio will take over; headquarters remain in northern Idaho
Oct 03, 2001; COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho (AP) - Aryan Nations leader Richard Butler has named a white supremacist and convicted felon from Dayton,...