Neo-Nazi Group Resurfaces, Citing Obama

The Associated Press/April 25, 2009

Coeur D'Alende, Idaho - When the Aryan Nations compound was publicly bulldozed eight years ago, many people here thought they had seen the end of a Neo-Nazi group that brought notoriety and violence to this part of the Northwest.

But the group has surfaced again, distributing fliers that say it is recruiting members to create a "world headquarters" here.

That has drawn the attention of the human rights advocates who helped destroy the old Aryan Nations.

"As best I can find out, it's two men and they operate out of a P.O. box," said Tony Stewart, a longtime advocate and board member of the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations. "There is no way that this compares to when the Aryan Nations had a compound here and drew hundreds for conferences."

A new Web site lists two Coeur d'Alene residents, Jerald O'Brien and Michael Lombard, as leaders of Aryan Nations. Both use the title of pastor, which was also used by Richard Butler, who brought the organization to Idaho from California in the 1970s.

Mr. O'Brien said a handful of Mr. Butler's supporters remained in the area after he died in 2004, but kept a low profile. It was the election of Barack Obama as the nation's first black president that prompted them to begin seeking new members.

"He's one of the greatest recruiting tools we could have asked for," Mr. O'Brien said of Mr. Obama. "He's helping to awaken the eyes of a lot of Americans."

The group distributed fliers in a Coeur d'Alene subdivision. The fliers showed a young girl asking her father, "Why did those dark men take Mommy away?"

The fliers were widely denounced in the area.

Mr. O'Brien declined to say how many people had joined the white separatist, anti-Semitic group.

In a recent report sent to American law enforcement agencies, the Homeland Security Department warned that right-wing extremists could use the bad state of the economy and the election of Mr. Obama to recruit members. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which follows such groups, reported that there were 926 active hate groups in 2008, up 50 percent from 2000.

The center, based in Montgomery, Ala., is not much concerned with this new manifestation of Aryan Nations, said a spokeswoman, Heidi Beirich.

"The recent fliers that the handful of remaining members passed out is the most we've seen A.N. members do in a long, long time," Ms. Beirich said. "We stomped the Aryan Nations pretty seriously."

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.