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Aryan Nations founder dies at 86


(CNN) -- Richard Girnt Butler, the white supremacist who founded the racist Aryan Nations organization, has died at 86.

The announcement was made on the group's Web site and also reported in a Wednesday news release by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights group that monitors racist organizations and challenged the Aryan Nations in court.

The neo-Nazi died at his home in northern Idaho, where the group had been based before it lost its compound four years ago as a result of lawsuit filed by the law center.

Butler, also the founder of an entity called Church of Jesus Christ Christian, had long suffered from congestive heart failure and reportedly died peacefully in his sleep, the law center said.

The 20-acre "whites only" compound was the meeting place of annual Aryan Nations congresses, the center said.

"For more than three decades, Butler preached his anti-Semitic and racist ideas from his Aryan Nations compound based near Hayden Lake, Idaho," the center said in a statement.

"Members or former members of his group were convicted of numerous violent crimes across the country -- from assassination to armed robberies, bombings, counterfeits and racial assaults."

The group said Butler had been "indicted for seditious conspiracy" in 1987, but "prosecutors failed to convince an Arkansas jury that Butler and several other prominent racists had conspired to start a race war."

The Aryan Nations headquarters is now in Pennsylvania.


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