They robbed an armored car outside a sprawling Seattle shopping mall.
They bombed a synagogue in Boise, Idaho, and within weeks assassinated a Jewish talk radio host in Denver.
Then a month later, they plundered another armored car on a California highway in a spectacular daylight heist that netted more than $3.6 million.
What initially seemed to F.B.I. agents like distant, disparate crimes turned out to be the opening salvos in a war against the federal government by members of a violent extremist group called the Order, who sought to establish a whites-only homeland out West.
Their crime spree played out in 1984. Fast forward to 2021. Federal agents and prosecutors who dismantled the Order see troubling echoes of its threat to democracy in the Capitol riot and the growing extremist activity across the country.
“When you see the country as politically and philosophically divided as it is today, that makes it more likely that somebody could take advantage of these times to bring about another revolutionary concept like the Order,” said Wayne F. Manis, the main F.B.I. agent on the case. “We stopped the Order. We did not stop the ideology.”
Those who tracked the group say the legacy of the Order can be seen in the prominent role that far-right organizations like the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers played in storming the Capitol on Jan. 6. [Continue reading…]