ARCHIVAL (10-21-21):PRESIDENT JOSEPH BIDEN: Domestic terrorism from white supremacists is the most lethal terrorist threat in the homeland.

MARK POTOK (SENIOR FELLOW, CENTRE FOR ANALYSIS OF THE RADICAL RIGHT): Why is the radical right growing? Why are these ideas resurging in such a dramatic way?


PETE SIMI (ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, CHAPMAN UNIVERSITY; AUTHOR, AMERICAN SWASTIKA): Weve been unwilling to really grapple with our history. We have to understand where this problem has been in the past and whats kept us from addressing it.

ARCHIVAL:RICHARD BUTLER (ARYAN NATIONS): The white male is through in America.

DARYL JOHNSON (FORMER SENIOR ANALYST, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY): These groups have incubated unchallenged by the federal government.

MARK POTOK: Weve seen this movement grow from a fringe phenomenon, disconnected, weak. We are in a different place now.

BILL MORLIN: People have been ringing the bell. Nobodys been listening to the bell being rung.



The 1980s – 1990


ARCHIVAL:RADIO ANNOUNCER: Youre listening to Alan Berg on KOA.



ARCHIVAL:ALAN BERG: Remember when I left you, you never shut up.

BILL MORLIN (JOURNALIST, 1946-2021): Alan Berg was a very famous talk show personality. And he was really outspoken and would love to take on racists.

ARCHIVAL (CBS, 3-27-85):ALAN BERG: Youre not a Christian, youre un-American, is that your point, sir?CALLER: Thats right.

BILL MORLIN: He was driving back to his condo alone in his Volkswagen Beetle. And somebody gunned him down in his driveway.

ARCHIVAL:REPORTER: Police say Bergs body was riddled with bullets.


BILL MORLIN: It was a huge story throughout the country. Heres a Jewish talk show host who was assassinated. Who could carry out such a horrible crime?

ARCHIVAL:NEWS REPORT: Police in Denver say they have no firm leads yet regarding the murder of a radio talk show host.

NARRATION: The story behind Alan Bergs murder starts with an ideology that took root a thousand miles from Denver in a remote corner of northern Idaho, at the Aryan Nations headquarters.


NARRATION: The 20-acre compound was home to Richard Butler, who preached to his followers that white people were under threat from racial minorities, immigrants and Jews, whom he believed controlled the federal government.

ARCHIVAL (ABC, 5-29-85):RICHARD BUTLER: We are faced with extinction. We have a right to do whatever we can do to preserve ourselves.

NARRATION: Butler soon attracted the attention of F.B.I. agent Wayne Manis.

WAYNE MANIS (FORMER F.B.I. AGENT): The most significant thing that Richard Butler did is he would have a gathering of people from all these different organizations.

MARK POTOK: They might be Klansmen. They might be skinheads.

ARCHIVAL (KXLY, 5-29-85):MEN AT ARYAN NATION HEADQUARTERS: What do we need? White power!

MARK POTOK: All of these people would come together for the Aryan World Congress.

NARRATION: Robert Mathews was one of them.

ARCHIVAL (ABC, 8-11-99):ROBERT MATTHEWS: Why dont you Jews get the heck out of here!

NARRATION: Mathews gathered some of the men from the Aryan Nations and other groups and formed a secret splinter cell that broke off from the Aryan Nations. They pledged their lives to create a whites-only nation. They were called The Order, a name taken from a novel.

MARK POTOK: The Turner Diaries depicted a group of people who made war on the federal government, culminating in the blowing up of the F.B.I. headquarters and the nuclear bombing of the state of Israel.

BILL MORLIN: They thought, why should this be fiction? Why dont we take up arms and start a race war?

MARK POTOK: The Order wanted to fund the rest of the radical right to create essentially an army of white men.

NARRATION: To fund their plan, The Order attacked an armored truck on a highway in California in broad daylight, in a brazen robbery.

BILL MORLIN: They opened the back of the armored truck and helped themselves to $3.6 million. They made one mistake, however. They left behind a handgun.

WAYNE MANIS: And when they leave, we have the pistol, and that opens up a whole avenue of investigation.

BILL MORLIN: That handgun was traced to a member of The Order.

ARCHIVAL (NBC, 12-8-85):NEWS REPORT: Scores of F.B.I. agents were shipped onto this rural island in Washington state, prepared to do battle.

BILL MORLIN: The F.B.I. finally finds out that Matthews is holed up in a cabin on Whidbey Island and that hes heavily armed.

WAYNE MANIS: Bob refused, refused to surrender. We were met with gunfire. I took about seven rounds just over my head.

NARRATION: After a 36-hour standoff, a flare ignited the cabin, and Mathews burned to death. The other members of The Order were quickly arrested. During its investigation, the F.B.I. uncovered plans to poison major water supplies and threats to hang members of Congress. And they found the gun used to murder Alan Berg.

THOMAS MCDANIEL: I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that had we not stopped them, there wouldve been federal buildings that wouldve been blown up. These guys were for real.

BILL MORLIN: Prior to The Order, domestic terrorism was like, whats that? Klansmen had killed civil rights workers and so forth. But this was a new breed of animal. I mean, this was a group that was bent on war with the United States government.

NARRATION: It was a wake-up call that the white supremacist movement was a growing danger. The federal government believed The Order was not acting alone, and that their crimes were part of a larger plot orchestrated by the leaders of several far-right groups, including Richard Butler.

ARCHIVAL (KXLY):REPORTER: Were you the leader of this conspiracy?RICHARD BUTLER: No, I was not.

NARRATION: In a bold move, prosecutors brought nine of them to trial on charges of seditious conspiracy, or plotting to overthrow the government.

ARCHIVAL (11-9-87 ):NEWS REPORT: Prosecutors hope that in convicting the godfathers of organized racial hatred, theyll have finally broken the back of the white supremacist movement.

MARK POTOK: The idea was that they could wipe out this movement in one fell swoop.

ARCHIVAL:JAMES ELLISON: And Im just doing my duty.

NARRATION: The governments key witness was James Ellison, a former extremist leader. He testified that he attended secret meetings at the Aryan World Congress meetings he described to his deputy, Kerry Noble.

KERRY NOBLE (FORMER MEMBER, THE COVENANT, THE SWORD AND THE ARM OF THE LORD): Jim said most of the plans included counterfeiting money, robbing armored cars to help finance the right-wing movement.

ARCHIVAL (ABC, 4-20-85):KERRY NOBLE: You know, just all the men are on alert.

KERRY NOBLE: This was real, a real ideology, a real goal, uh, for people.

NARRATION: But Ellison also had credibility problems. He liked to call himself King James of the Ozarks, contradicted himself on the witness stand, and was trying to get a reduced sentence. His testimony was not enough.

ARCHIVAL (CBS, 4-7-88):DAN RATHER: A stunning verdict this afternoon in the trial of 13 white supremacists.

MARK POTOK: The defendants were acquitted of all charges, every single one of them. The government had simply overreached.

ARCHIVAL (ABC, 4-7-88):U.S. ATTORNEY: We thought we proved it beyond a reasonable doubt. But apparently we hadnt.

BILL MORLIN: The defense attorneys said how on Earth could this ragtag group of people possibly overthrow the U.S. government? And that was the question that the federal prosecutors could never overcome.

ARCHIVAL (KXLY, 4-7-88):REPORTER: The defendants left the courtroom triumphant and defiant.DEFENDANT: One, I want to praise Yahwehs holy and precious name. Two, I want to say to hell with the federal government.

MARK POTOK: The government had tried to destroy the radical right in America and it failed abjectly.

NARRATION: In the years after the trial, that radical ideology continued to spread, surfacing again in a shocking attack in 1995.

ARCHIVAL (4-19-95):NEWS REPORT: It is apparently the single deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil ever.



NARRATION: An Army veteran named Timothy McVeigh, who was radicalized by some of the same anti-government ideas that inspired The Order, including The Turner Diaries, blew apart the federal building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people.

ARCHIVAL (C-SPAN):PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: It was an act of cowardice and it was evil.

BILL MORLIN: It wasnt until 1995 that the message of domestic terrorism really came home in this country, unquestionably. And it was after the Oklahoma City bombing that the Justice Department woke up.

ARCHIVAL (ASSOCIATED PRESS, 4-28-95):LOUIS FREEH (F.B.I. DIRECTOR): We must intensify our focus on the threat to America from within.

THOMAS OCONNOR ( (FORMER SPECIAL AGENT, F.B.I.): The F.B.I. started going in and finding out where the violence is and getting in front of the violence, making arrests.

KERRY NOBLE: Youve got every agency in the government coming out after people. That scares you if youre in the movement. You start to see the reality of what could happen.

NARRATION: But the crackdown was short lived. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the governments focus shifted again, this time to international threats.

BRIAN MURPHY (FORMER COUNTERTERRORISM OFFICIAL/F.B.I./DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY): We really took our eyes off of a lot of other things, including, um, white supremacy and domestic terrorism. For the most part, it wasnt looked upon as important. The movement basically never ceased. But they bide their time. And then they just wait.



ARCHIVAL (11-4-08):PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA: At this defining moment, change has come to America.

BISHOP BRYANT ROBINSON, JR. (MACEDONIA CHURCH OF GOD IN CHRIST): I never dreamed that I would see a person of color as the president of our nation. I never dreamed it.

ARCHIVAL (11-4-08):PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA: To put their hands on the arc of history


ARCHIVAL (11-4-08):PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA:and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

ANDREW ROBINSON: I got up and I looked out the window, and the church was ablaze.



BRYANT ROBINSON: My phone rang. And the words I heard was, they are burning our church to the ground. And what was left was rubble, and well, who did this?

ARCHIVAL (2008):NEWS REPORT: Three men set a massive fire that destroyed the Macedonia Church of God in Christ.

ARCHIVAL (2008):NEWS REPORT: Prosecutors say it was a racially motivated crime, an expression of anger that an African American was elected president.

BRYANT ROBINSON: To have them to declare, we did it because it was Barack Obama was elected president, just reinforced for me the hold that racism and hatred has on this country.

MARK POTOK: People on the extreme right understood that the percentage of white people in America was dropping every year. So when Obama appeared on the scene, there was a massive freakout on the radical right.

DARYL JOHNSON (FORMER SENIOR ANALYST, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY): We started seeing white supremacist groups holding rallies. And in these rallies the number of participants continued to grow.

NARRATION: Daryl Johnson was part of a small team at the Department of Homeland Security that tracked domestic extremism. In early 2009, while the government was focused on the threat from overseas, he wrote a report warning that the threat at home was re-emerging.

DARYL JOHNSON: The report was a warning that you better start preparing yourselves for this shift in the threat landscape from Al Qaeda to more homegrown violent extremism.

NARRATION: The report was quickly leaked and Johnson found himself at the center of a political firestorm.

ARCHIVAL (4-15-09):NEWS REPORT: Outrage tonight over an intelligence report.

ARCHIVAL:MAN: I would like him to be fired from the Department of Homeland Security.

DARYL JOHNSON: The primary accusations were the term right wing equated to conservatives. They thought it was unfairly demonizing Republicans, that we were going to be spying on all conservatives.

ARCHIVAL (4-16-09):RUSH LIMBAUGH: This is nothing but a partisan hit job filled with lies and innuendo that portrays any conservatism as right-wing extremism.

NARRATION: The section that prompted the most outrage was a warning that extremists would try to recruit military veterans.

ARCHIVAL (C-SPAN, 4-22-09):REPRESENTATIVE JOHN CARTER (R-TX): They served their nation, and they have left the military service, and theyve been good citizens of this congressional district, and yet theyre lumped in with Timothy McVeigh.

ARCHIVAL (C-SPAN, 4-22-09):REPRESENTATIVE MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN): Is this America? Is this what were used to? We are normal God-fearing people who love this country. And now were the threat?

THOMAS OCONNOR: Politically you cant say that the military is being recruited by extremist groups. People working domestic extremism, we all knew that that report was accurate.

NARRATION: Under pressure, the Obama administration apologized to veterans, withdrew the report and restructured Johnsons unit.

DARYL JOHNSON: We got rid of the domestic terrorism focus and they reassigned those in my former unit to look at Al-Qaeda and critical infrastructure threats.

NARRATION: The Department of Homeland Security has defended its handling of the report. And both Homeland Security and the F.B.I. say they did continue to gather intelligence on domestic terrorism.

But 13 years later, the report has been called an example of how politics undercut the fight against extremism.

PETE SIMI: It quashes this window of an opportunity we have to recognize this problem because it sends the message that this is an issue that we cant really have a discussion about.

MARK POTOK: There was a great reluctance among many officials to say what was obvious, which was, the radical right was growing, and it was becoming more lethal, more dangerous, by the day.




ARCHIVAL (911 PHONE CALL):OPERATOR: Milwaukee County 911.OPERATOR: Yes, Milwaukee Sheriff.CALLER: Some guy is shooting their gun at some temple or something.[Gunshots]CALLER: There is shooting!CALLER: My god, theyre shooting!OPERATOR: Did anybody get hit? [Gunshots]OPERATOR: Hello? [Gunshots] [Dial Tone]

PARDEEP KALEKA: I get a call from my mother. And shes whispering, Im in the closet. Were safe. Try to call your dad, see if hes all right. And she kind of hangs up and says, I cant talk. I dont want to, I dont want to give away our hiding spot.

ARCHIVAL (POLICE RADIO):POLICE OFFICER: Hes a balding male with glasses. May have gone inside with a gun and there were shots fired.

PARDEEP KALEKA: Shortly after that, I get a phone call from my fathers phone, expecting to hear my fathers voice. What I hear is another priest inside, who picked up the phone and say, Hey, we need help. People are bleeding.

[Sirens] [Police Radio Chatter] [Gunshots]

BRIAN MURPHY (FORMER LIEUTENANT, OAK CREEK POLICE DEPARTMENT): I realize Im going to be the first one there. I enter the lot. This guy was shooting everybody. He comes out of the temple and I could see a gun. He raises it up, I raise mine, and we shoot from about 40 yards away. I missed and his shot hit me right in the face.


BRIAN MURPHY: And in the end, I take 15 shots. [Gunshots] My backup, Sam Lenda, came. [Shouting] Sam shot him, he went down and in less than a minute killed himself.

ARCHIVAL (8-7-12):NEWS REPORT: Police focused their investigation on this man, Wade Michael Page.

ARCHIVAL (8-6-12):NEWS REPORT: A military vet believed to be a white supremacist.

PARDEEP KALEKA (POINTING TO A WALL OF PHOTOS): These are all the pictures of everyone who lost their lives. My father had been shot five times from close range and didnt make it. Seven people altogether died. This became the deadliest hate crime committed at a place of worship by an affiliated white supremacist in nearly 50 years.



SENATOR DICK DURBIN (DEMOCRAT, ILLINOIS): We held the first hearing on this terrible, violent attack. Weve got to bring these issues before the public. They have to see them in real terms.

ARCHIVAL (C-SPAN, 9-19-12):DICK DURBIN: Since 9/11, Congress has held dozens of briefings on the threat posed by Al Qaeda and its affiliates. This is the first hearing in many years on the threat of violent domestic extremism.

DARYL JOHNSON: I was asked if I would testify before Congress about the domestic extremist threat. My message was this threat is real and it is growing.

ARCHIVAL (C-SPAN, 9-19-12):DARYL JOHNSON: Our failure to act now will assuredly embolden the enemy and bring more attacks.

DARYL JOHNSON: The disheartening thing was Dick Durbin, for the first 20 to 30 minutes, was the lone senator attending. No Republicans attended.

DICK DURBIN: I dont think people took it as seriously as they should have. Its spreading. And thats something we didnt want to hear.

JAVED ALI (FORMER SENIOR DIRECTOR FOR COUNTERTERRORISM, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL): The overwhelming majority of the counterterrorism focus then was still on the international terrorism side, in part because of the scale and scope of the threats. From there, things really started to change in terms of this uptick in lethal attacks in the United States.



ARCHIVAL (CBS, THIS MORNING, 6-18-15):NORAH ODONNELL: The nation is waking up to news of a senseless act of violence in Charleston, South Carolina.

ARCHIVAL (6-17-15):NEWS REPORT: One of the deadliest attacks against a Black church in U.S. history.

ARCHIVAL (6-18-15):DYLANN ROOF: Somebody had to do something because Black people are killing white people every day on the streets.

JAVED ALI: Even though there was this horrific attack, no one was calling it domestic terrorism.

ARCHIVAL (MSNBC, 6-22-15):NEWS REPORT: F.B.I. Director James Comey says that he does not believe that Dylann Roofs actions were terrorism, because of how it is defined under the law.

JAVED ALI: These types of incidents werent just run-of-the-mill crimes.



ARCHIVAL (FOX NEWS, 10-27-18):NEWS REPORT: It happened at the Tree of Life Synagogue.

ARCHIVAL (ABC, GOOD MORNING AMERICA, 10-29-18):NEWS REPORT: Bowers hurled words of hate against Jews as he murdered them.



ARCHIVAL (ABC NEWS, 8-4-19):DAVID MUIR: Here in El Paso tonight, a gunman showing up at a Walmart.



ARCHIVAL (ABC NEWS, 9-28-22):NEWS REPORT: A mass shooting in Buffalo, New York.

ARCHIVAL (ABC/KRON, 5-14-22):NEWS REPORT: The 18-year-old was motivated by a conspiracy theory involving a plot to eliminate the white race and replace it with people of color.

MARK POTOK: The idea that whites are under threat is probably the single most important thing driving the really dramatic expansion of the radical right.

Wade Page had a tattoo of the 14 Words: We must ensure an existence for white people and a future for white children, a slogan that was coined by the principal member of The Order, part of the hit team that murdered the Jewish talk show host Alan Berg in 1984. And this has become an incredibly central slogan, uh, for the radical right in the United States. Wade Michael Page, Dylann Roof are the products of a movement that has been growing for 40 or 50 years.

JAVED ALI: Potentially we could have gotten ahead of some of these threats, or at least called them something else, that would have given a different context to the threat and perhaps led to different decisions about what to do. But we didnt and were left with the situation were in now.

PARDEEP KALEKA: Theres not a day that goes by that I dont think about what happened that day, not a single day.

(POINTING TO BULLET HOLES): So this is the first shot.

If the shooter had been a Muslim, if the shooter had been brown, and if the communities inside were white, if they were Christian, if they were part of the mainstream of what we deem as valuable, would it have been different? And I think that 10 years later I still struggle with, is our pain enough? Theres lots of Wade Michael Pages out there, so we better start understanding the dynamic.



KELVIN PIERCE: My father was Dr. William Pierce, and he was the founder and the leader of the National Alliance, a white supremacist hate group that he hoped would one day bring about the violent overthrow of the U.S. government. He was also the author of The Turner Diaries, the novel about an eventual race war. There have been numerous violent acts attributed to the book.

ARCHIVAL:WILLIAM PIERCE (FOUNDER, NATIONAL ALLIANCE): We catch peoples attention, give them information they wouldnt have otherwise, and inspire them to do something about it.

KELVIN PIERCE: When I saw those people marching


KELVIN PIERCE: it was like I was transported back to my childhood, in an instant.




THOMAS OCONNOR (FORMER SPECIAL AGENT, F.B.I.): Hundreds of white males, mostly males, college age, showed up at Charlottesville, chanting these anti-Semitic, white power movement chants. Fire up the ovens, boys. And Jews will not replace us. That was really kind of the shot heard round the world.

ARCHIVAL (CHARLOTTESVILLE 8-11-17):DEMONSTRATORS: Jews will not replace us!

NARRATION: The rally, which brought together white nationalists, neo-Nazis and others, brought hate out in the open.

PETE SIMI (ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, CHAPMAN UNIVERSITY; AUTHOR, AMERICAN SWASTIKA): The Unite the Right rally was the largest public rally for white supremacists in more than a decade, and it turned out to be very violent.

NARRATION: Clashes between white nationalists and counter-protestors culminated when a neo-Nazi slammed his car into the crowd, injuring more than two dozen people and killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer.

PETE SIMI: The car attack that takes Heather Heyers life was a show of strength for them.

SENATOR DICK DURBIN: Many of these groups that used to hide in the shadows come out now and boldly march in the state of Virginia and other places. They feel somehow licensed and emboldened to do it. Its more public now.

ARCHIVAL (NBC, 8-13-17):DAVID DUKE (FORMER GRAND WIZARD, KU KLUX KLAN): We are determined to take our country back. Were going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump.

NARRATION: The march came seven months after Donald Trump took office, and his response became one of the defining moments of his presidency.

ARCHIVAL (CBS, 8-15-17):PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: You had a group on one side that was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent, and nobody wants to say that, but Ill say it right now.

THOMAS OCONNOR: Ive talked to people within the movement that clearly believed that the presidents statements were a statement of support.

ARCHIVAL (CBS, 8-15-17):PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: And you had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people on both sides.

NARRATION: After the marches, Kelvin Pierce decided to go public with the story of how he rejected his fathers beliefs. And in the years since, he watched as white supremacist and other extremist violence has risen to the highest levels in decades.

KELVIN PIERCE: I think my father wouldve absolutely delighted in whats happening in the country and the fact that racism really bubbled up to the surface.

NARRATION: At the same time, anti-government and other extremist groups have become more public, joining protests against pandemic lockdowns in 2020

ARCHIVAL (4-30-20):DEMONSTRATORS: Treason! Treason!

NARRATION and fighting openly with racial justice protesters.

ARCHIVAL (12-12-20):DEMONSTRATORS: F**k Antifa!

BRIAN MURPHY (FORMER COUNTERTERRORISM OFFICIAL/F.B.I./DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY): Particularly after George Floyd was killed, thats where a lot of these groups really started to coalesce, organize.

THOMAS OCONNOR: Instead of tamping that down, really gasoline was poured onto it with the rhetoric of the stop the steal.

NARRATION: On January 6th, members of extremist groups joined protests at the U.S. Capitol against what they called a stolen election.

ARCHIVAL (CBS, 1-6-21):PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We fight like hell. And if you dont fight like hell, youre not going to have a country anymore.

NARRATION: And while most people that day were not connected to any extremist organization, members of the Oath Keepers, Proud Boys and other groups were on the frontlines of the attack and have been accused of helping plan it.

BRIAN MURPHY: These things are all coalescing together into the perfect storm. Polarization on the right and the left, conspiracy theories, the idea that the election was rigged and stolen. It was really a new kind of conglomeration of things.

THOMAS OCONNOR: People built a gallows on the front lawn of the Capitol saying that they wanted to hang Mike Pence, the Republican vice president.

ARCHIVAL (CBS, 1-6-21):DEMONSTRATORS: Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence!

KELVIN PIERCE: When I saw that gallows, to me, you know, reminded me of the Day of the Rope, the chapter in the book where they really talk about grabbing everybody that had anything to do with a threat to the white race and hanging them.

MARK POTOK: Weve seen this movement grow from a fringe phenomenon that involved a few thousand people around the country, disconnected, weak, with no political pull. We are in a different place now.

THOMAS OCONNOR: Pieces of rhetoric that have been spewed to the extremes, now that information permeates much more mainstream conversations.

BILL MORLIN: It takes these events to sort of jolt the American conscience awake.


BILL MORLIN: There were a lot of people in the 80s

ARCHIVAL:ARYAN NATION: What do we need? White power!

BILL MORLIN: and in the 90s that, you know, said domestic terrorism is an important issue. People have been ringing the bell. Nobodys been listening to the bell being rung. Having lived and covered a lot of these stories as a journalist, Im certainly glad to hear that theyre now saying domestic terrorism is the real deal. And I certainly say its about time.