The Order was led by Robert Jay Mathews, an American neo-Nazi and white supremacist. His beliefs were largely informed by The Turner Diaries, an apocalyptic novel about a future interracial war in North America. The fundamental precepts of their group were violent revolution against the United States government (called by them "ZOG", for Zionist Occupation Government) and total destruction of African Americans and Jews.
Mathews led the Order through a series of violent crimes, including bank robberies and bombings of theaters and synagogues. The Order also ran a large counterfeiting operation, and executed a series of armored car robberies, including one in Ukiah, California that netted $3.8 million.
By turning members of the Order into informers, FBI agents were able to track down Mathews in December of 1984 to a cabin in Whidbey Island, where he refused to surrender. Mathews eventually died in a fire of his own making.
Ten members of the group were convicted of the June 18, 1984 murder of Alan Berg, a liberal, Jewish Denver-area radio talk show host. The murder, or assassination, and consequent trial form the core of Steven Dietz's 1988 play God's Country.