Aryan Nation leader reaches out to al Qaeda

White Boy


An unholy alliance
Aryan Nation leader reaches out to al Qaeda
By Henry Schuster
Tuesday, March 29, 2005 Posted: 2:42 PM EST (1942 GMT)

Editor's Note: Henry Schuster, a senior producer in CNN's Investigative Unit, has been covering terrorism for more than a decade. Each week in "Tracking Terror," he reports on the people and organizations driving international and domestic terrorism and efforts to combat those. He is the author of the newly published book, "Hunting Eric Rudolph."


August Kreis

SEBRING, Florida (CNN) -- A couple of hours up the r

oad from where some September 11 hijackers learned to fly, the new head of Aryan Nation is praising them -- and trying to create an unh
oly alliance between his white supremacist group and al Qaeda.

"You say they're terrorists, I say they're freedom fighters. And I want to instill the same jihadic feeling in our peoples' heart, in the Aryan race, that they have for their father, who they call Allah."

With his long beard and potbelly, August Kreis looks more like a washed up member of ZZ Top than an aspiring revolutionary.

Don't let appearances fool you: his rÃԚ ÃƒÆ’”�šÃ”š©sumÃԚ ÃƒÆ’”�šÃ”š© includes stops at some of America's nastiest extremist groups -- Posse Comitatus, the Ku Klux Klan and Aryan Nation.

"I don't believe that they were the ones that attacked us," Kreis said. "And even if they did, even if you say they did, I don't care!"

Kreis wants to make common cause with al Qaeda because, he says, they share the same enemies: J*ws a
nd t
he American government.

The terms they use may be different: White supremacists call them ZOG, the Zionist Occupation Government, while al Qaeda calls them the J*ws and Crusaders.

But the
hatred is the same. And Kreis wants to exploit that.

A Nation in turmoil

The best thing that can be said about August Kreis is that he has helped preside over the decline of the once-feared Aryan Nation, a movement inspired by the racist tenets of Nazi Germany. He cannot or will not say how many followers the group now has.

What's clear is that Aryan Nation had a violent streak aligned with its anti-Semitic and racist ideology. One of its followers, Buford Furrow, received two life sentences, plus 110 years, for an August 1999 shooting spree in which he shot and wounded four children and one adult at a Jewish community center in the Los Angeles suburb of Granada Hills. Furrow then drove to nearby Chatsworth, California, where he shot and killed a Filipino-American postal carrier

Others had been accused of involvement in bank robberies, shootouts with authorities and the murders of blacks and others.

More recently, the Aryan Nation lost its Hayden Lake, Idaho, compound, after losing a civil
suit led by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Last year, founder Richard Butler died just as the group's leaders were fighting amongst themselves.

Around that time, Kreis tried to open up shop for Aryan Nation in northern Pennsylvania, but got run out by locals. Now he is in Sebring, Florida, and, although his rhetoric is full of revolution and defiance, he wanted to meet our CNN crew at a local park because he didn't want trouble from his neighbors.

You might think white supremacists like Kreis would spurn al Qaeda, since they tend to view non-Aryan Christians as, in their own term, "mud people." In fact, most of them do. But Kreis wants to change that.

"That's old-school racism, white supremacy, this is something new," he sai
d. "We
have to be realists and realize what didn't work [previously] isn't going to work in the future."

Supremacist, Islamist connections
The idea of a Nazi-Islamic alliance dates back to World War II, when Adolf Hitler played host to the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem,
that city's Muslim leader. Some Nazis, moreover, found refuge in places like Egypt and Syria after the war.

Three years ago, I met a Swiss Islamic convert named Ahmed Huber, who began his life as a devotee of Adolf Hitler and moved on to praising former Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini, who led that nation's Islamic revolution and vigorously opposed U.S. policies.

Huber wanted to forge a fresh alliance between Islamic radicals and neo-Nazis in Europe and the United States. And he cannot be simply dismissed as a crackpot: Huber served on the board of directors of a Swiss bank and holding company that President Bush accused of helping fund al Qaeda.

Mark Potok, of the Southern Poverty Law C
enter, said tha
t while some U.S. extremists applauded the September 11 attacks, there is no indication of such an alliance -- at least not yet, and not on a large scale. If it exists anywhere, he said, it is in the mind (and the Internet postings) of August Kreis.

For its part, the FBI says it hasn't se
en any links between American white supremacists and groups like al Qaeda.

"The notion of radical Islamists from abroad actually getting together with American neo-Nazis I think is an absolutely frightening one," said Potok. "It's just that so far we really have no evidence at all to suggest this is any kind of real collaboration."

So while August Kreis may be calling, there is no sign that al Qaeda is listening.

But that hasn't stopped him. As we ended our interview, we asked Kreis if he had any message for Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants.

"The message is, the cells are out here and they are already in place," Kreis said. &quo
t;They might not be
cells of Islamic people, but they are here and they are ready to fight."


Senior Editor
Aryan group drops Nazi symbols

Church formed by white supremacists abandons Nazi symbols to make message more palatable

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — An anti-Semitic church formed by white supremacists has abandoned its neo-Nazi imagery, such as swastikas, to make its message more palatable, a change that a leading Jewish group called an attempt to "sanitize hatred."

The group banned the use of Nazi uniforms, red arm bands and similar regalia because they were an instant turnoff to people who might otherwise be open to the church's teachings, including the belief that white Anglo-Saxons — not Jews — are God's chosen people in the Bible.

"We don't like the swastikas. We don't like the negativity," said Jonathan Williams, the leading pastor of the United Church of YHWH. "The majority of people see all that as pure evil."

Williams was formerly involved with Aryan Nations, which was once the best-known neo-Nazi organization in the United States. It was led by Richard Butler, who was acquitted in 1989 on charges of attempting to create a new Aryan country through assassinations, robberies, guerrilla bands and a race war.

In 2000, the group had to give up its compound in Hayden, Idaho, after Butler lost a $6.3 million judgment for an attack on a mother and son.

After Butler died in 2004, followers relocated to Talladega in east Alabama, and earlier this year renamed themselves the United Church of YHWH. The initials are a reference to Yahweh, the Hebrew word for God.

Bill Nigut, the regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, said the group was attempting to "sanitize hatred" by appearing to be more mainstream.

"We find it very disturbing. They can begin a conversation now with people they could not have before," he said. "They can get in the door."

Other organizations still use the Aryan Nations name, complete with Nazi symbolism. But the ADL describes the one in Alabama as the most direct descendent of the group headed by Butler.

The FBI said it tracks such organizations but declined to comment on the United Church of YHWH, which says it also has contacts in Germany, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

"In general terms, the FBI is aware of any type of white-supremacist group," said Paul Daymond, an agency spokesman in Birmingham. "We stay abreast of what's going on as far as those groups are concerned."

Williams' group held a meeting in September in the north Alabama town of Athens that attracted a handful of followers. Photos on its Web site show only seven men and a child.

It also maintains a Web site that rails against Judaism: "We detest the Jewish faith as it goes against all Christian tenets."

Williams says the church doesn't have a building but meets in the homes of followers. The group only has a few core members, he said, but it has "several hundred" adherents worldwide.

It does not advocate a separate nation for whites, as Butler did, but followers believe members of different races should not date or marry.
"Not dating someone doesn't mean hating them," Williams said. "The only people we hate are people who hate Christ."

The group describes Jews as "enemies of Christ," and the ADL official said it doesn't matter that the group no longer uses Nazi symbolism.

"He might say he doesn't like the Nazi stuff, but he is still anti-Semitic," Nigut said.

White Sail

Junior News Editor

Aryan Nations recruiting again in northern Idaho

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho – The Aryan Nations has returned to northern Idaho with what it is calling a "world headquarters" and a recruitment campaign.

Coeur d'Alene resident Jerald O'Brien, who has a large swastika tattoo on his scalp, is one of the leaders of the white supremacist group and said he expects membership to grow because of the election of President Barack Obama.

He told The Spokesman-Review newspaper that the president is the "greatest recruiting tool ever."

Residents of a Coeur d'Alene subdivision found recruitment fliers on their lawns Friday and O'Brien said more fliers will be distributed. He said the group has "several handfuls" of members in the city.

The fliers show a young girl asking her father "Why did t
hose dark men take mommy away?"

But many in the region reject the group.

"I saw Aryan Nations and put it in the trash," said Garvin Jones. "What's wrong with these people? Give me a break. I bet if you went back in their family history, not one is 100 percent white."

The newspaper reported that most people interviewed about the fliers declined to be identified for fear of retribution.

The Aryan Nations had a compound in northern Idaho until 2000, when the group lost a $6.3 million civil judgment in favor of two people who sued after being attacked by Aryan Nations' members.

The Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations has fought the Aryan Nations for decades and is offering its services to anyone threatened or harassed by the group.

"It's bound to be a small group of people trying once again to bring hate into the community," said Tony Stewart, a spokesman for the task force. "They don't have anywhere to operate from except a post office box."

said he regularly flies two white supremacist flags outside his home on the east side of the city.

The newspaper reported that its files show O'Brien marching in a neo-Nazi parade in Coeur d'Alene in July 2004 and joining in a skinhead rally that drew eight people outside the Spokane County courthouse in Spokane, Wash., in June 2007.

O'Brien said he and Michael Lombard have taken over the group following longtime leader Richard Butler, who died in 2004.

The fliers are signed "Aryan Nations, Church of Jesus Christ Christian." O'Brien and Lombard are listed on the group's Web site as "pastors."

At least two residents who received the fliers called the Coeur d'Alene Police Department. Sgt. Christie Wood said no investigation is planned because distribution of fliers is protected free speech.