(12/2013: news updates at the end of the article)
Last January, a news story broke about a shadowy group that had announced plans to build an armed and walled “citadel” in northern Idaho. The description at the website iiicitadel.com says:
“The Citadel Community will house between 3,500 and 7,000 patriotic American families who agree that being prepared for the emergencies of life and being proficient with the American icon of Liberty — the Rifle — are prudent measures. There will be no Home Owner’s Association. There will be no recycling police and no local ordinance enforcers from City Hall.”
Patriot-minded people are encouraged to apply for residency (application fee preferably paid in gold and silver coins), and if accepted, one could then buy a plot of land and build a house (inside or outside of the castle walls), grow a garden, home school kids, and work at manufacturing assault weapons and ammunition, away from the supposed reach of state and federal government authorities.
The three “i’s” in the domain name stand for “three percent.” Modern Three Percenters, as they refer to themselves, maintain that during the American Revolution, 3% of the colonists fought Britain and thus won the revolution against tyranny for the rest of us. Many Three Percenters fashion themselves as the right wing saviors of a world fooled by liberal politics and the United Nations. Google three percenters and you’ll find all manner of right wing rhetoric, gun rights advocates, survivalists and more.
It seems like every year a group thinks that Idaho and Montana is the last frontier for life, liberty and lots of weapons. These kinds of stories happen so regularly in the northwest that many simply chuckle and expect little to actually happen. Some such communities do get off the ground, but that’s rare; they are mostly fodder for the news and humor cycle. And so The Daily Show and The Colbert Report both did bits mocking the plans at iiicitadel.com, including the requirement for all residents to own an AR-15 with 1000 rounds of ammo and be able to consistently hit a man-sized target at 100 yards.
But what also caused the flurry of news was that initially there was no indication of exactly who or what group was behind the Citadel. That mystery hit the news cycle hard for a few days of speculation. Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks fringe and hate groups, told the Missoulian newspaper that he doubts the Citadel group was any bigger than one or two individuals. “We’re likely talking about a man, a dog and his computer envisioning this whole imaginary city.”
But later in January, Salon.com reported that the Southern Poverty Law Center had revealed the name of the individual behind the it: Christian Kerodin. The SPLC discovered that other patriots were disavowing – on their own patriot blogs – Kerodin’s Citadel plans as at least unrealistic and at most, a scam. Real patriots wouldn’t be anonymous, these patriots said. Or criminals: Kerodin spent 30 months in federal prison for extortion, and as a felon, he can’t legally possess firearms. The SPLC also uncovered Kerodin’s name on a land purchase in Benewah County, Idaho, 130 miles west of Missoula as the crow flies.
There is always a note of seriousness in any plans for starting an armed compound, either on the web or in your neighboring valley in Idaho. Many people clearly remember the Ruby Ridge debacle, the 1992 deadly confrontation and siege northern Idaho against Randy Weaver and others by the FBI. In 2002, a group in the town of Kalispell, Montana, just west of Glacier National Park, spawned “Project 7”, a shadowy organization that listed 26 local law enforcement officials “who needed killing.” As a result, the law came down on them. But their leader David Earl Burgert disappeared; that is, until 2011, when he fired on deputies near Missoula and disappeared into the woods once again. Ted Kaczynski the Unabomber hailed from Montana, and the Militia Of Montana still has an office in the Northwest part of the state.
Now summer is almost here, and dirt is supposed to be moving at the Citadel, but no other news has been forthcoming. So I got curious and by poking around with some Internet utilities I discovered that we didn’t need to wait for the SPLC to uncover Kerodin. He left a clear bread crumb trail on the Internet to his identity and his 50-odd other “patriot” websites. That old line about how “On the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog” can be true, but not if you leave a trail of electronic crumbs leading away from your dog dish.
But mostly, I found that the armed Citadel in Idaho is really a dream. Kerodin self-published a fantasy novel on amazon.com under a pseudonym. There are two winsome women dressed fantasy-ish on the cover. But the novel’s main plot line is that of Citadel in the snowy mountains and its litany of attackers and defenders. This planned armed Citadel in Idaho is simply a fantasy born of a so-called patriot’s imagination, an imagination the author doesn’t want revealed.
I didn’t find this through the domain registration. Kerodin registered his domains privately; one needs a warrant or court order to uncover the real owner of a privately registered domain. But there’s another trick that can be used to track down the owners of websites, and it involves IP (Internet Protocol) addresses. Every device connected to the Internet must have an IP. And a IP address for a website will lead right back to the web server that the website “lives” on.
So I took the domain iiicitadel.com, found its IP address – which is 184.108.40.206 – and then did a reverse DNS search to find what other sites are at that same IP. (There are many free IP and reverse DNS services on the web).
There are limits to reverse DNS; free blogging platforms pack many sites on one server and reverse DNS won’t help with those. But with iiicitadel.com, we find that it’s one server, and kerodin.com is on that server, too. Kerodin’s other “patriot” websites are here: iiiarmscompany.com, iiigear.com, iiipercent.com, iiiarms.com, and more, domains that concern the heating and AC trade in Maryland, Kerodin’s business.
A few of these domains are immediately problematic, in that they advertise custom AR-15 rifles made and for sale by Kerodin, and this is because Kerodin is a convicted felon and can’t own firearms. (My emails to several of these domains, such as iiicitadel.com and iiiarms.com were not replied to.)
But there are two dozen domains that show an almost identical website that advertises the book “En Kharakas: Though Heavens May Fall.” The most revealing domain name is probably http://sexecutioner.com (But contrary to the domain name, It’s not NSFW).
The book was self-published on amazon.com by Sam Kerillion in 2009, and the publisher is Kerodina Press. The lone review appears to be as fake as astroturf.
On Kerodin.com, Kerodin writes that he is “Sam to my friends.” According to other patriot websites – ones that disavow any relationship to Kerodin, as I noted above – Sam Kerillion is an alias for Sam Kerodin and Christian Kerodin.
Christian Kerodin the patriot, the ex-con and the man behind the armed Citadel in idaho? He’s a erotic fantasy novelist.
The book blurb at http://sexecutioner.com reads, in part:
“The Citadel of En Kharakas…. Eight towering walls of seamless stone climb into the wet clouds and snows of this wintery place…. The labyrinth within invites the foolish to dare uninvited entry.”
Is Idaho “this wintery place?” I think so.
Will the local Home Owner’s Association and the recycling police “dare uninvited entry” to the Citadel? I doubt it; mostly because there won’t be a Citadel to enter.
And, “eight towering walls of seamless stone?” Sure sounds like a castle to me.
Like to read the first pages? And learn about two of the main characters named NyteOrchid and Shingen, described in the list of characters as “NyteOrchid, who is Our Heroine, the Mighty Crimson Sorceress. And Shingen, Husband to NyteOrchid, a Warrior unlike most.” Then go to http://issuu.com/kerodina.
Or bite the bullet and buy it. It’s only $14.88 at amazon.com. And then you can find out what really happens with NyteOrchid’s battle to save the Citadel from the evil forces in the “the wet clouds and snows of this wintery place.”
Did I buy and read it? No. But even if I did, I wouldn’t reveal a spoiler. That would be very un-patriotic.
In a basement in Maryland, (where I know it snows much less than Idaho) there very well could be an old labrador retriever laying under a desk, dressed in a camo sweater, waiting for the man at the desk to take a break from typing out his latest fantasy novel featuring a Citadel in the snowy mountains. At very least, Kerodin claims on another of his websites to be working on a sequel to “Though Heavens May Fall.” I think his novel – and any sequels – are the most we’ll see of this Citadel in Idaho.
12/2013: A Few News Updates
June, 2013 video interview at theblaze.com: Take an Inside Look at the Planned ‘Citadel’ Community for ‘Patriots’
8/13/2013 article Event planned for Citadel – Coeur d’Alene Press: “The people behind the Citadel, a compound-like community being planned in Benewah County, are holding a “PatCon” next month on property they recently purchased near St. Maries.”
And this extensive analysis last summer by Bill Morlin from the SPLC: Behind the Walls | Southern Poverty Law Center: “They call it III Citadel, and they say they’ve already lined up “hundreds” of extreme-right gun lovers to join them in the walled city they’re planning for a lonely tract in northern Idaho…. But there’s no sign that the latest fantastic plans from antigovernment extremists will ever come to much. Dave Resser, the sheriff of sparsely populated Benewah County, calls the whole thing a “scam.””