Furrow Tied to Hate Groups

Associated Press/August 12, 1999
By Nicholas K. Geranios

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) - The man suspected of wounding five people at a Jewish community center in California has a long history with anti-Semitic hate groups operating in the Pacific Northwest.

Buford O'Neal Furrow Jr., 37, has ties to the Aryan Nations; had a relationship with the widow of the founder of The Order; and subscribes to the Christian Identity religious movement, which considers whites a superior race.

Furrow surrendered Wednesday in Las Vegas and allegedly told authorities he wanted Tuesday's shootings to be "a wake-up call to America to kill Jews.'' He is also charged with killing a postal worker the same day.

The sparsely populated northeastern corner of Washington and the panhandle of northern Idaho are hotbeds of the Christian Identity religion. Richard Butler, head of the Idaho-based Aryan Nations, said Furrow attended a few services at his church about five years ago.

A book found in a van believed abandoned by Furrow, titled "War Cycles, Peace Cycles,'' was written by Richard Kelly Hoskins, "one of the principal ideologues of Christian Identity,'' said Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala., which tracks hate groups.

"Hard-line Identity adherents believe that in order for Christ to return to Earth, the globe must be swept clean of satanic forces - meaning Jews, homosexuals and a whole laundry list of other enemies,'' Potok said.

"So it's a belligerent religion. It's a religion that demands that its followers take up the gun.''

Also believed to be an Identity member is Eric Rudolph, the man accused of the Birmingham, Ala., abortion clinic and Atlanta Olympic bombings, Potok said.

Members of Christian Identity groups also are tied to the recent arsons at three synagogues in Sacramento, Calif., the murder of a gay couple near Redding, Calif., and other violent crimes across the country.

Furrow's actions also suggest he is a believer in the Phineas Priesthood, a shadowy sect of Christian Identity named for a figure in the Old Testament who killed a mixed-faith couple.

The group is violently opposed to marriages between Jews and gentiles and the charging of interest by banks, and seeks the extermination of Jews, said Michael Reynolds of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

"What we see here with Mr. Furrow would be acting out of a calling as a Phineas priest,'' Reynolds said.

In 1996, four men identified as members of the Phineas Priesthood set off a series of bombs at a newspaper office and a Planned Parenthood clinic in the Spokane area as covers for two bank robberies. Three men were sentenced to life in prison without parole and the fourth got 55 years.

Furrow was not a member of the notorious group called The Order, a neo-Nazi group that acquired $4 million through bank robberies and armored car heists in the early 1980s, but he lived for a while with Debbie Mathews, widow of the group's founder, Robert J. Mathews.

Mathews was killed in 1984 in a shootout with federal agents on Whidbey Island, north of Seattle. His group also was involved in the 1984 murder of Alan Berg, a Jewish talk-radio host in Denver.



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