Survivalist fortress proposed in Idaho

ST. MARIES, Idaho — A group of survivalists wants to build a giant walled fortress in the woods of the Idaho Panhandle, a medieval-style city where residents would be required to own weapons and stand ready to defend the compound if society collapses.

The proposal is called the Citadel and has created a buzz among folks in this remote logging town 70 miles southeast of Spokane. The project would more than double the population of Benewah County, home to 9,000 souls.

Locals have many questions, but organizers so far are pointing only to a website billing the Citadel as “A Community of Liberty.”

“There is no leader,” Christian Kerodin, a convicted felon who is a promoter of the project, wrote in a brief email to The Associated Press. “There is a significant group of equals involved … each bringing their own professional skills and life experiences to the group.

“It is very much a `grass-roots’ endeavor,” Kerodin wrote, declining to provide any additional details.

Such communities are hardly new, especially in northern Idaho, which has drawn those looking to shun mainstream society because of its isolation, wide-open spaces and lack of racial diversity. For three decades, the Aryan Nations operated a compound about an hour north of here before the group went bankrupt and the land was sold.

Then came another community known as “Almost Heaven,” founded in 1994 by Green Beret-turned-“patriot” movement leader Bo Gritz for those wanting a refuge from urban ills and Y2K concerns. That project crumbled when large numbers of buyers failed to move to the development, located 100 miles to the south.

The number of so-called patriot groups has grown since President Barack Obama was first elected, and the renewed debate over gun control is further deepening resentment of the federal government among such factions, said Mark Potok, a spokesman for the Southern Poverty Law Center. The SPLC tracks such groups.

Nevertheless, Potok noted, plans for these sorts of communities rarely come to fruition.

“The people behind the Citadel are like 12-year-old boys talking about the tree house, or the secret underground city, they’re going to build some day,” he said.

The website shows drawings of a stone fortress with room inside for up to 7,000 families. The compound would include houses, schools, a hotel and a firearms factory and museum.

The gun factory, the website said, would manufacture semi-automatic pistols and AR-15 rifles — which would be illegal if Congress reinstates the 1994 ban on assault weapons.

Applicants must pay a $208 fee, and the website claims several hundred people already have applied to live in the Citadel.

No construction has begun. Kerodin filed papers with the Idaho Secretary of State in November for a company called Citadel Land Development. III Arms LLC, which is the name of the proposed firearms company, also has purchased 20 acres of land in Benewah County, the county auditor said.

The Citadel website said those 20 acres would serve as an administrative site from which to build the entire 2,000- to 3,000-acre compound.

Kerodin was convicted in 2004 of federal extortion charges and illegal possession of a firearm in a case in which he posed as a counterterrorism expert and attempted to coerce shopping mall owners in the Washington, D.C., area to hire him to improve security, according to court documents.

He served 30 months in federal prison.

More in Local News

Herald photos of the week

A weekly collection of The Herald’s best images by staff photographers and… Continue reading

John Miller, congressman, author activist, has died

He was known for his dedication to the marine industry, energy and human rights.

Church takes a quiet, contemplative approach to worship

Alternative services at First Congregational Church of Maltby offer “a good deal of silence.”

Funds up for council vote would aid conservation district

District stands to receive an extra $1 million each year, if the County Council gives its approval.

Snohomish County hosts its annual Focus on Farming conference

The event features a trade show as well as talks on agriculture, jam-making and more.

Supportive housing for man accused in attacking his mother

Mental state impaired man’s ability to appreciate the wrongfulness of his actions, judge rules.

Lynnwood mayor challenged by councilman in general election

Three City Council members also are facing challengers on the Nov. 7 ballot.

‘Horrific’ child-porn case: Former Arlington man sentenced

Raymond Devore, arrested in 2015, had a cache of disturbing photos and video on his cellphone.

500 tires go up in flames at a store south of Everett

There were no injuries. And it was nowhere near as bad as that months-long tire fire in 1984.

Most Read