Atomwaffen Division

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Atomwaffen Division
CountryUnited States (Country of origin)
Leader(s)James Nolan Mason (Advisor), multiple cell leaders[1]
Active region(s)United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Baltic States and other European countries
Political positionFar-right
Major actionsMurders of eight people, including the murder of Blaze Bernstein[4][5][6]
SizeFull members:
  • 80+ (US)
  • 30+ (Baltics)[7]
  • Several dozen (Canada/Germany/UK)[8][9]
60+ (US)[10][11]
Means of revenueArms trafficking, robbery, money laundering, clandestine chemistry[12]
Atomwaffen Division.png
Preceded by
Iron March[2][13][14]

The Atomwaffen Division (Atomwaffen meaning "nuclear weapons" in German) is a neo-Nazi terrorist network. Formed in 2015 and based in the Southern United States, it has since expanded across the United States and it has also expanded into the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, the Baltic states and other European countries. The group is part of the alt-right, although the group rejects the label[15][16][17][18][19] and is considered extreme even within that movement.[15] It is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).[20]

Members of the Atomwaffen Division have been held responsible for a number of murders, planned terrorist attacks, as well as other criminal actions.

History and ideology[edit]

In 2015, the group announced its creation on the neo-Nazi website,[2][21] that has been linked to several acts of neo-Nazi terrorism and violent militant groups such as the Nordic Resistance Movement, National Action, and the Azov Battalion.[22][13][14] In its initial posts, the group described itself as a "very fanatical, ideological band of comrades who do both activism and militant training. Hand to hand, arms training, and various other forms of training. As for activism, we spread awareness in the real world through unconventional means."[21]

Atomwaffen encourages flag desecration, the burning of the United States Constitution, and attacks on the federal government of the United States, minorities, gays, and Jews.[23] Atomwaffen Division has engaged in plans to cripple public water systems and destroy parts of the Continental U.S. power transmission grid.[23] Atomwaffen has also been accused of planning to blow up nuclear plants in order to cause nuclear meltdowns.[23] The organization's aim is to violently overthrow the federal government of the United States via terrorism and guerrilla warfare tactics. Since 2017, the organization has been linked to eight killings and several violent hate crimes, including assaults, rape and multiple cases of kidnapping and torture.[24][25][26][27][28]

The organization explicitly advocates neo-Nazism, drawing a significant amount of influence from James Mason and his publication, Siege, a mid-1980s newsletter of the National Socialist Liberation Front that paid tribute to Adolf Hitler, Joseph Tommasi, Charles Manson, and Savitri Devi.[29] It was published into a book that is required reading for all Atomwaffen Division members. Mason, a neo-Nazi and Holocaust denier who advocates murder and violence in order to create lawlessness, anarchy and destabilize the system, is the main advisor to the group.[30][22]

Atomwaffen also draws influences from Nazi esotericism and the occult, and its recommended reading material for aspiring initiates includes the works of Savitri Devi and Anton Long of the Order of Nine Angles, a notorious British neo-Nazi leader with a violent criminal history.[22][25] Some members of the group also sympathize with the Salafi and jihadist forms of Islam. Atomwaffen Division's founder, Brandon Russell, is alleged to have described Omar Mateen, who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and perpetrated the Orlando nightclub shooting, as "a hero". The group also idolizes Osama bin Laden in its propaganda and considers "the culture of martyrdom and insurgency" within al Qaeda and the Taliban as something which should be emulated.[31] Samuel Woodward also articulated a positive view of Islam, saying that he preferred ISIL to multiculturalism and liberalism and cited Julius Evola, Francis Parker Yockey and George Lincoln Rockwell as having been sympathetic towards Islam as well. He also said that Arthurs believed that Islamophobia was being used to promote White Genocide by Neocons.[1] A member of Atomwaffen Division, Stephen Billingsley, was photographed at a vigil in San Antonio, Texas, for the victims of the Orlando shooting, with a skull mask and a sign saying "God Hates Fags".[32][33][34][35]

The group's membership is mostly young, and it has also recruited new members on university campuses.[36][37] Its campus recruitment poster campaigns[16] urge students to "Join Your Local Nazis!" and say "The Nazis Are Coming!" It posted recruiting posters at the University of Chicago,[38][21] the University of Central Florida,[39] the Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia,[40] and Boston University.[41][42] Atomwaffen Division has recruited several veterans and current members of the U.S. Armed Forces who train the organization's members in the use of firearms and military tactics.[43][44] Atomwaffen members have also sought to train with the Azov Battalion in Ukraine.[45][46] In addition to Azov, Atomwaffen has ties to various affiliated neo-Nazi groups and the fascist Satanist Order of Nine Angles group.[22][47]

During an investigation, ProPublica obtained 250,000 encrypted chat logs written by members of the group.[23] ProPublica, in early 2018, estimated that Atomwaffen had 80 members,[24] while the Anti-Defamation League estimated that it had 24 to 36 active members. According to International Centre for Counter-Terrorism the group has a large number of “initiates” in addition to 60 to 80 full members.[48][49]

The group is one of several neo-Nazi and alt-right organizations which have been banned by Discord and YouTube for violations of their Terms of Service.[50] However, the group has since re-uploaded content to YouTube[51] and YouTube has allowed the content to stay online.[52]

Members who faced criminal charges[edit]

Devon Arthurs[edit]

An 18-year-old member, Devon Arthurs, of Tampa Palms, Florida, converted to Islam and described himself as a "Salafist National Socialist." In May 2017, Arthurs allegedly killed two of his roommates and fellow Atomwaffen Division members in retaliation after they ridiculed his conversion. Arthurs was arrested following a hostage situation, during which he told police that he shot 22-year-old Jeremy Himmelman and 18-year-old Andrew Oneschuk earlier that day.[35][53][54] In 2018, following competency evaluations by two court-appointed experts (a neuropsychologist and a psychologist), Arthurs was ruled incompetent to stand trial. He spent more than a year at the Florida State Hospital where he received treatment to make him competent to stand trial. Arthurs is currently facing two counts of first-degree murder in addition to kidnapping and firearms charges.[55][56] In December 2019, several experts testified that Arthurs suffers from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder among other conditions, experiences hallucinations and believes he can communicate with the dead. It was opined that Arthurs is incapable of being restored to competency and should be returned to the Florida State Hospital.[57]

Brandon Russell[edit]

In May 2017, the night of Arthurs' arrest, his third roommate, a 21-year-old, Brandon Russell was also arrested and questioned by local police and the FBI. He was released without charge and promptly disappeared. He met up with another Atomwaffen member, 20-year-old William Tschantre and began driving south. The FBI issued an arrest warrant for Russell on explosives charges and the FBI bulletin warned he might be planning a terrorist attack.[10]

Russell and Tschantre were arrested in Monroe County. The car they were driving contained assault rifles, body armor and more than 1000 rounds of ammunition which they had acquired after the shooting.[32][58] The authorities searched Russell's garage and found explosive precursors ammonium nitrate and nitromethane, homemade detonators[59][60] and an explosive compound hexamethylene triperoxide diamine. HMTD has been used to make improvised explosive devices by groups such as al-Qaeda, and ammonium nitrate and nitromethane were used by Timothy McVeigh, the perpetrator of the Oklahoma City bombing. The authorities also found thorium and americium, two radioactive substances, in Russell's bedroom. Russell, a former student of nuclear physics at the University of South Florida and a Florida Army National Guardsman, had a framed photograph of Timothy McVeigh in his bedroom.[58][61][62] The authorities also discovered guns, various Atomwaffen paraphernalia and neo-Nazi propaganda.[63] Russell claimed the explosives were used to power model rockets, but according to an FBI bomb technician the explosives were powerful enough to destroy an airliner.[10][58] The prosecutors concluded Russell “planned to use the explosives to harm civilians, nuclear facilities and synagogues.”[32]

In September 2017, Russell pleaded guilty to possessing an unregistered destructive device and illegally storing explosives in federal court; in January 2018, he was sentenced to five years in prison for those crimes.[63]

Vasillios Pistolis[edit]

In August 2017, during the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Vasillios Pistolis, a member of the United States Marine Corps who was also a member of Atomwaffen Division, was recorded chanting "White Lives Matter" and "You Will Not Replace Us" with his fellow torch-bearing protestors on the first day of the rally. On the second day of the rally, he assaulted Emily Gorcenski, a transgender woman,[64] with a modified version of the Confederate flag that incorporated the neo-Nazi Black Sun symbol in its center, and he even bragged about the beating in private chats under the alias of "VasillistheGreek": "So to sum it up what I did Friday, dropped kicked that tranny that made video crying", "Today cracked 3 skulls open with virtually no damage to myself", and "I drop kicked Emily Gorcenski". Pistolis was also a part of a gang of neo-Nazis that assaulted an interracial couple at a restaurant in a suburb of Nashville, Tennessee.[37] Pistolis had promoted the Unite the Right rally on Twitter and posted an image of a car running over a left-winger with the caption "Good Night, Left Side". He also mocked the death of Heather Heyer, calling her "a fat cunt who died of a heart attack. She wasn't even in the way of the car".[65][43]

Although Pistolis denied that he participated in the rally or committed a violent act, he was later investigated by the United States Marine Corps and court-martialed,[37] and in June 2018, he was imprisoned for disobeying orders and making false statements. He was officially separated from the United States Marine Corps in August 2018.[64]

Nicholas Giampa[edit]

On December 22, 2017, 17-year-old Nicholas Giampa allegedly shot and killed his girlfriend's parents in Reston, Virginia after they forbade her to date him because of his neo-Nazi views. Giampa is open both about his admiration for James Mason, Siege, and his membership in Atomwaffen Division. After the killings, he shot himself but survived.[66][67] Giampa is being held at a youth detention center in Fairfax, Virginia. In August 2018, it was ruled that the damage caused by the self-inflicted gunshot wound had left him incompetent to stand trial.[68]

Samuel Woodward[edit]

In January 2018, Samuel Woodward was charged in Orange County, California, with the murder of Blaze Bernstein, an openly gay Jewish college student. Woodward is an avowed neo-Nazi and a member of Atomwaffen Division who had attended events and training camps.[24] Blaze Bernstein had texted a friend that he had run into Woodward and believed they were "going to hook up", telling his friend it would be "legendary". Bernstein's body was found later buried in a shallow grave, having been stabbed at least 20 times. When questioned, Woodward told that he had pushed Bernstein away as he tried to kiss him, but denied having harmed him. However, the investigators found Bernstein's blood on Woodward's knife and sleeping bag. The police went through his chat history and discovered messages from Woodward to his neo-Nazi friends where he told he was baiting gay men and discussed a previous victim. In addition to this he posted a picture of a knife with the text “Texting is boring, but murder isn’t".[69][70]

According to chat logs subsequently published by ProPublica, one member of Atomwaffen Division wrote of the killing "I love this" and another praised Woodward as a "one man gay Jew wrecking crew". The logs suggested that there are around 20 Atomwaffen cells across the U.S., that some of the organization's members have taken part in weapons training, and they also show members praising Timothy McVeigh, the person who was responsible for the Oklahoma City bombing, Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof, and Norwegian mass-murderer and white supremacist Anders Breivik. The murder of Blaze Bernstein was the fifth killing that was tied to Atomwaffen Division.[23]

Jeffrey Clark[edit]

In November 2018, authorities in Washington arrested a 30-year-old man named Jeffrey Clark on weapons charges after the FBI received a tip from his family members that he and his brother Edward Clark, 23, might be planning a massacre. It was revealed that the brothers were connected to the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting suspect, Robert Bowers. In court, Federal prosecutors filings noted that the brothers may have known about the attack and that they openly admired McVeigh, Manson and Unabomber Ted Kaczynski and wanted to kill Jews and other minorities. According to the family members the brothers wanted to hasten up the coming race war and revolution. Online, Jeffrey Clark described Bowers as a "hero" and called the massacre a “dry run for things to come". The authorities found guns, Atomwaffen propaganda, hollow-point bullets and ballistic vests and helmets in the apartment of the Clark brothers, and according to Propublica the brothers had communicated on the Atomwaffen chatroom for initiates and members.

Prosecutors urged the court to keep Clark in detention pending trial and take his threats seriously “in light of the defendant’s access to weapons, possession of body armor, possession of high-capacity ammunition magazines, glorification of acts of violence, and proclamations that he was ‘committed to the survival of the white race by any means necessary’”. Later, the authorities managed to track down the younger brother, who was discovered dead of a gunshot wound on Theodore Roosevelt Island.[71][72][73]

Benjamin Bogard[edit]

20-year-old Benjamin Bogard was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in February 2019 after the FBI received a tip that Bogard might be planning a terrorist attack. According to an agent, Bogard talked about wanting to go cross-country to find and kill minorities, Mexicans, and women, anyone who Bogard felt was "shit". He said on one video, which he ended with a Nazi salute, "Pull out your shotgun, get to the side of the road, pump that shit open, point it at them, and pull the trigger." On Twitter, he described himself as a "future mass shooter" and said that his favorite part of a gun is "the part that kills 30 babies per trigger pull." Bogard embraced white supremacist beliefs and discussed obtaining a chemical substance to make a bomb. Bogard had also searched online for targets to bomb and planned to attack the state capitol. According to federal authorities, Bogard claims to be a member of the Atomwaffen Division. He was arrested on charges of possession of child pornography after the authorities uncovered videos of young girls being raped on his phone during the investigation. The FBI decided to arrest him because it appeared that Bogard was "mobilizing for violence."[74][75]

Conor Climo[edit]

In August 2019 the FBI arrested 23-year-old security guard Conor Climo on suspicion of possessing parts to make a bomb. According to the FBI, Climo wanted to contribute "his knowledge of constructing explosive devices toward a 'righteous' cause” and originally joined the Baltic branch of the Atomwaffen Division. Subsequently, Climo joined the main Atomwaffen Division organization in Las Vegas, Nevada where he proceeded to plan an attack. Climo wanted to form a team of snipers who would bomb a Las Vegas synagogue and then shoot the surviving Jews. He also sketched a detailed plan to attack a gay bar from the inside and outside simultaneously, using two squads. Climo considered other targets, including police leadership and the headquarters for the Anti-Defamation League. "An AR-15 style" semiautomatic rifle, a bolt action rifle and various bomb-making components, circuits and chemicals were found in Climo's bedroom, as well as schematics of Improvised explosive devices.[76][77][78] According to an FBI special bomb technician the materials were consistent with the items needed to function a timed explosive device. Like many other Atomwaffen members, Climo had been in the US Army in 2014 and 2015 as a combat engineer, and was trained in the use, construction, and demolition of explosives. The main leader of the Las Vegas cell of Atomwaffen Division had suggested blowing up natural gas pipe lines with thermite, and several jars of the substance were found in Climo's apartment during the raid.[79] He pleaded guilty and awaits sentencing.[80]

Andrew Thomasberg[edit]

On September 19, 2019, Andrew Thomasberg was arrested at his home in McLean, Virginia for selling guns illegally. FBI Special Agent Shawn Matthews, whose focus is on domestic terrorism, testified that after the Unite the Right rally Thomasberg, in which he participated with Vanguard America, he joined the Atomwaffen Division, that, in Matthews' words, is "distinct in that it advocates for violence or violent acts to start a racial war in the United States." Law enforcement found 20 guns in the house Thomasberg lives in with his mother, stepfather and sister. Six of the weapons were in Thomasberg's room, and a pistol was in his car. Most of the weapons were loaded.

In group chat text messages, Thomasberg talked about a racially motivated shooting he committed and discussed in length about his use of LSD. He also displayed "significant knowledge of gun manufacture" and obtained equipment for that purpose. He said that the Poway synagogue shooting "Coulda been so good" and called Robert Gregory Bowers and Brenton Tarrant saints. He also told a friend – who is now a cooperating witness – that he was "carrying enough gear and supplies to set the new high score and wouldn’t want to have to explain that to a cop"; Matthews testified that a "new high score" referred to the number of people killed in a mass shooting. It was also revealed that Thomasberg had trained in self-defense techniques the man who shot and killed Bao Hung Van in Fairfax County, Virginia in 2018. Judge Theresa Buchanan called the evidence "extremely concerning" and denied bail.[81][82][83]

On November 12, 2019, Thomasberg pleaded guilty to "to making a material false statement in relation to the purchase of a firearm and to possessing firearms while being an unlawful user of or addicted to controlled substances." He is expected to face a maximum of 20 years in prison once sentencing happens on February 28, 2020.[84]

Jarrett Smith[edit]

On September 23, 2019, Specialist[85] Jarrett William Smith, 24, of Fort Riley, Kansas, was charged with distributing information related to explosives and weapons of mass destruction. Smith had joined the U.S. Army on June 12, 2017, and as an infantry soldier, he was trained in combat and tactical operations. In March 2019, the FBI had received a tip that Smith was talking about building bombs. According to a federal criminal complaint Smith planned building a bomb "powerful enough to damage or destroy US military vehicles and obliterate civilian vehicles and people nearby" to "cause chaos" and had considered Antifa, cell towers and local news station as potential targets. In the chat logs accessed by the FBI Smith gave his fellow neo-Nazis very specific instructions on how to build IEDs, cellphone explosive devices ‘in the style of the Afghans', bombs out of household chemicals and devices and car bombs, which an FBI bomb technician confirmed were viable. He also talked about his desire to "kill...every last jew across the world" and go to Ukraine to fight with the Azov Battalion. He met with another man in the neo-Nazi network named Craig Lang who had already fought with the local neo-Nazi militias between 2015 and 2019. Lang, who currently lives in Ukraine, faces federal charges in the United States for the murder of Serafin Lorenzo and Deana Lorenzo during an armed robbery in Estero, Florida, selling weapons to fund his travels abroad and passport fraud.

Smith was identified as a member of the Atomwaffen Division, and he had also been in contact with the Baltic branch Feuerkrieg Division. He used the pseudonym "Anti-Kosmik" on social media, a reference to "Anti-Cosmic" Satanism.[83][86][87][88][89] Assistant US Attorney Anthony Mattivi alleged in federal court that bombing a news organization was just the first step in his plan to ultimately overthrow the federal government. He also claimed that Smith distributed explosives information and was planning on assassinating federal agents with three other people "for the glory of his Satanist religion".[90]

Aiden Bruce-Umbaugh[edit]

On November 4, Aiden Bruce-Umbaugh, 23, was riding in a car driven by Kaleb Cole, 24, when it was stopped by the police in Garza County, Texas. According to the complaint the deputies noticed a machete protruding from a compartment inside the car, and both Bruce-Umbaugh and Cole were wearing tactical attire. Inside of the vehicle authorities discovered several weapons, including a Sig Sauer 9mm pistol, an AR-15 rifle, an two AK-47 rifles, "between 1,500 and 2,000 rounds of ammunition" and marijuana. Bruce-Umbaugh said the guns and drugs belonged to him and he was arrested. Cole was allowed to leave the scene but later a warrant was issued for his arrest. A federal grand jury indicted Bruce-Umbaugh and he was charged with possession of a firearm by an unlawful user of a controlled substance. During the detention hearing the court also heard a recording of a phone call in which Bruce-Umbaugh told the deputies they were lucky they caught him off guard or he would have "shot the pigs". He was denied bail. If convicted, Bruce-Umbaugh faces up to 10 years in federal prison.

Neither Bruce-Umbaugh nor Cole is allowed to possess firearms. The FBI had sought an Extreme Risk Protection Order against Cole and seized his cache of weapons which included five assault rifles, a shotgun and pistols the previous month. According to the FBI Cole had also acquired separate parts needed to manufacture untraceable AR-15s. Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes told the media they “firmly believe, prevented a massacre”. Cole had previously been detained for questioning in December 2018 upon landing in Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. Several Atomwaffen members, including Cole and Bruce-Umbaugh had travelled to Germany and Eastern European countries, among them Ukraine where Atomwaffen has contacts with the Azov Battalion. The records were used by the FBI to justify the ERPO request.[91][92][93][94][95][96][97][98]

Richard Tobin[edit]

Richard Tobin, an 18-year-old member of the neo-Nazi groups Atomwaffen and The Base from Brooklawn, New Jersey was arrested by the FBI in connection to a series of synagogue vandalism in November 2019. He admitted to ordering his accomplices to vandalize synagogues, instructing them to break their windows and deface them. According to the criminal complaint he had once sat outside the Menlo Park Mall in Middlesex County with a machete, planning to attack black people and talked about wanting to become a suicide bomber. Tobin had also saved manuals on how to build detonators and bombs on his computer. Tobin remains in custody awaiting a mental health evaluation.[99][100]

Non-U.S. branches[edit]

United Kingdom (Sonnenkrieg Division)[edit]

The Sonnenkrieg Division ("Sonnenkrieg" German for "Sun war") is a neo-Nazi group that is the United Kingdom-based branch of the Atomwaffen Division, and it maintains its links to the Atomwaffen Division by e-mails and chat room discussions as well as by its use of similar names and its distribution of similar propaganda. It surfaced in December 2018, when it was revealed that members of the group had written on the group's Discord server that Prince Harry was a "race traitor" who should be shot for marrying Meghan Markle, who is of mixed race; that police officers should be raped and killed; and that white women who date non-whites should be hanged. At its formation in 2018 the group was thought to have had 10-15 members in the UK and Europe, and some suspected members are thought to have been involved in a previous neo-Nazi group, the System Resistance Network (one of the aliases of National Action), which was linked to various acts of racial violence and arson in the UK.[101] The BBC revealed that the leaders of the group were Andrew Dymock, 21, and Oskar Dunn-Koczorowski, 18.[8]

Police arrested three suspected members of the Sonnenkrieg Division in early December 2018 as part of an "ongoing investigation into extreme right-wing activity". MI5, the British domestic intelligence agency, took the lead in the government's monitoring of far-right terrorism.[102]

On June 18, 2019 Sonnenkrieg members Dunn-Koczorowski and Michal Szewczuk, 19, were jailed for terrorism offences. According to the prosecutor the men promoted "engaging in a "total attack" on the system", Dunn-Koczorowski having proclaimed "terror is the best political weapon for nothing drives people harder than a fear of sudden death" and were intent on action. Furthermore, the group was influenced by James Mason who "may well represent the most violent, revolutionary and potentially terroristic expression of right-wing extremism current today". Dunn-Koczorowski was sentenced to 18 months in detention for encouraging terrorism, and Szewczuk was sentenced to four years in prison for encouraging terrorism and possessing documents that are useful to a terrorist, such as bomb-making instructions.[103]

According to British anti-fascists Sonnenkrieg Division has been influenced by the Order of Nine Angles and it is more extreme and potentially more violent than National Action. Hope not Hate's annual "State of Hate" report stated that: "some members have also carried out some of these satanic fantasies and allegations of rape and imprisonment against their own members are circulating." Sonnenkrieg Division members had shared videos of one female supporter being tortured and scored with a knife by one of the group's male members.[104] The private messages which belonged to Sonnenkrieg Division and were acquired by the police included footage of the members of the group verbally abusing women and mutilating them, such as a picture of a naked girl with a swastika and runic symbols cut into her body.[105]

On February 20, 2019 Jacek Tchorzewski, 18, was stopped by the counter terrorism unit at the Luton airport. He was arrested on suspicion of terror offences, and the police uncovered “an enormous amount” of manuals on how to make weapons and explosives and Nazi propaganda. In court it was heard he had told it was “his dream” to commit a terrorist attack, and a notebook from his prison cell was presented where he had written: "Let's fill our hearts with terror and London's streets with blood." Commander Richard Smith, the head of the counter terrorism unit stated that Tchorzewski was connected to the Sonnenkrieg Division and was obsessed with nazism and violence. Judge Anuja Dhir said Tchorzewski was a "deeply entrenched neo-Nazi with an interest in Satanism and occult practices” and an “offender of particular concern" and on September 20, 2019 Tchorzewski was handed a sentence of four years for terrorism offences at the Old Bailey.[106][107]

On December 4, Andrew Dymock was arrested and charged with 15 terror offenses, including encouraging terrorism and raising fund for a terrorist group. He was first arrested in June 2018 at Gatwick Airport on his way to the United States. Dymock was questioned over alleged sexual offences against a teenage girl, in connection to the earlier knife attacks on women.[108][109]

Germany (AWD Deutschland)[edit]

On June 1, 2018, in a video in German and English titled AWD Deutschland: Die Messer werden schon gewetzet ("AWD Germany: The knives are already being sharpened"), the group announced the establishment of a cell or branch in Germany, followed by the promise of a "long fight". The group's flyers were spotted in Berlin, targeting students.[110][111][112] In June 2019, Atomwaffen propaganda was discovered in a Turkish neighborhood in Cologne on the site of a nail bomb attack, threatening further similar attacks.[113]

An unnamed American activist had emigrated to Germany for safety reasons due to threats from Atomwaffen Division. In November 2018 she received a call from the Federal Criminal Police Office to urgently come to authorities. Atomwaffen members had traveled to Germany and the police believed she was in imminent danger of being murdered by the group based on a tip from the FBI.[114]

In October 2019 people claiming to be members of the organization sent death threats to German politicians Cem Özdemir and Claudia Roth. "At the moment, we are planning how and when we will execute you; At the next public rally? Or will we get you in front of your home?" read part of the message sent to the office of the Turkish-born Member of Bundestag.[115] The death threats were condemned by Angela Merkel, and Interior Ministry spokesman Steve Alter commented the security services have "already had this group in their sights for some time".[9]

German T-Online managed to uncover the identity of one of the members of the group, who is referred to as "A" to comply with German privacy laws. A had previously instructed people on a now-defunct website how to handle chemicals and how to make the explosive HMTD. He also has a conviction for illegal possession of armor. According to the article A is also experienced in martial arts and his social media shows him practicing with guns. The group has a house for meetings somewhere in Eisenach in Thuringia.[116]

Canada (Northern Order)[edit]

The group also has a presence in Canada via an affiliated organization called Northern Order that includes members of the Canadian Armed Forces. Members of the group have also been known to attend the Atomwaffen training camps in the United States.[117][118][119] One of the pseudonymous individuals found to be part of the group was a 21-year-old "Dark Foreigner" who creates propaganda for Atomwaffen.[120] The group celebrated the anniversary of the Quebec City mosque shooting by defacing Canadian mosques with neo-Nazi slogans. Gunfire was also reported outside a defaced mosque in Ottawa.[121][122]

A neo-Nazi affiliated with Atomwaffen serving in the Royal Canadian Navy was discovered to be selling handguns, assault rifles, grenades and RPG-7s from the Balkans to French neo-Nazis in Marseille. It was confirmed the man had travelled to Zagreb, Rijeka and Pula to meet his contacts and to procure arms, and further had contacts in Osijek, Đakovo and Split.[123][124]

Master corporal Patrik Mathews, 26, a trained explosives expert, is among the Canadian Armed Forces members accused of being connected to the group and recruiting for it. He is also accused of being affiliated with The Base. In August 2019, two days after being outed by the Winnipeg Free Press as a neo-Nazi recruiter, his truck was found abandoned near the border and it was suspected he was smuggled across the border and had gone underground in the United States.[125][126] Mathews was arrested in Maryland by the FBI in January 2020. Also arrested were two other members of the group accompanying him, 33-year-old Brian Lemley, Jr, a US army veteran and 19-year-old William Bilbrough IV. According to the affidavit the men were building assault rifles and manufacturing the psychedelic drug DMT. They also possessed body armor, a machine gun and in excess of 1600 rounds of ammo. They face a maximum sentence of 10 years for firearm offenses, including transporting a machine gun and transporting a firearm and ammunition with intent to commit a felony. According to the law enforcement officials the men had planned opening fire from multiple positions on the upcoming 2020 VCDL Lobby Day rally. Bilbrough had also previously talked about fighting with the Azov Battalion.[127][128][129] Mathews had instructed others to "Derail some fucking trains, kill some people and poison some water supplies … If you want the white race to survive, you're going to have to do your fucking part." Lemley told that he could not wait and was excited "to claim my first kill", and said they could ambush and kill police officers and steal their equipment.[130]

Baltic states (Feuerkrieg Division)[edit]

In October 2018, a group which is modeled after Atomwaffen and calls itself the Feuerkrieg Division (German for "Fire War Division") was established in the Baltic states, most likely in Estonia where its leadership resides.[7][131] In mid-2019, the Feuerkrieg gained attention when it issued death threats against Belgian MEP Guy Verhofstadt and YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki.[132][133] It has previously praised the actions of Dylann Roof, Robert Bowers, Timothy McVeigh and Brenton Harrison Tarrant and encouraged violence against government authorities, Jews, LGBTQ people, leftists, and feminists.[134][135] Propaganda videos produced by the group show its members building and detonating homemade explosive devices in Estonia.[136] Feuerkrieg has also shared a video among its members that instructs how to make TATP bombs, used by ISIS in the Manchester Arena bombing.[31] On June 13, 2019, Feuerkrieg Division announced their presence in Ireland and encouraged people in United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and Germany to join the intercontinental network.[137]

According to Eesti Rahvusringhääling, an investigation revealed that newly elected Estonian MP from the governing far-right EKRE Ruuben Kaalep is connected to British neo-Nazi terrorists. Among these a founding member of the former National Action whose followers went on to form the British branch of the Atomwaffen Division, which subsequently opened a branch in Kaalep's native Estonia in the form of the Feuerkrieg Division.[138] ADL and Hope not Hate also confirmed that American and English nazis and Azov members have visited Tallinn multiple times, organizing events with Kaalep and Feuerkrieg “which began in early 2019, originally organized with Sonnenkrieg" before becoming a full-fledged branch.[139][140] Kaalep was also found to have been organizing firearms training with pistols and assault rifles to groups of youths recruited from Blue Awakening, some of whom wore skull masks associated with Atomwaffen and were shown doing nazi salutes. Kaalep had stated that they are ready for armed combat and the collapse of law and order. The Estonian Internal Security Service had earlier expressed its concern over his events.[141]

On June 2019, Chief Rabbi Shmuel Kot reported to the police that the Jewish graveyard of Tallinn had been vandalized, numerous gravestones were shattered and defaced with nazi symbols. The act was attributed to the "neo-Nazi elements" in EKRE.[142]

On September 2, 2019, the British police arrested a 16 year old Feuerkrieg member for plotting a mass shooting and arson attacks. The army cadet had professed his admiration for Adolf Hitler and James Mason. Prosecutor Michelle Nelson told he adheres to "occult nazism". He had also allegedly surveyed the synagogues in the Durham area in preparation for the attack and talked with another man about buying a gun from him. He also tried to obtain a dangerous chemical from his neo-Nazi friend. The boy wrote in his journal how he deliberately desensitized himself in preparation for the attack, writing that he needed to "shed empathy" and become like the "living dead".[143][144][145][146] The group published the addresses of the force's station buildings, custody suites and training centres in retaliation and encouraged its members and sympathizers to kill West Midlands Chief Constable Dave Thompson. It was added that all police are “race traitors” and that police stations should be "considered high value targets to any local NS [National Socialist]".[147] On November 20, 2019 he was found guilty of preparing a terrorist attack and several other terror offenses and is awaiting sentencing in custody.[148]

On 8 October 2019, Feuerkrieg Division took responsibility for the bombing of Technopolis on the Balčikonis street in Vilnius, posting footage of the bomb being constructed and stated that "Our threats are not empty". Nazi symbols were also spray painted on the building.[149][150] The next day, a 21-year-old Luke Hunter appeared in court in London charged with terror offences for allegedly having supported the Feuerkrieg Division and encouraged the mass murder of Jews, non-white people and homosexuals. He entered no plea and was remanded in custody.[151]

On 16 January 2020, a 22-year-old Latvian named Arturs Aispurs was charged with preparing an act of terrorism for building a bomb he was planning to detonate in a crowd of "muslims and foreigners" during the New Year's Eve celebration in Helsinki. During the search of his apartment the police found a large amount of propaganda in his possession linking him to the neo-nazi network. In response Feuerkrieg Division announced they are suspending their online recruitment until further notice as a precautionary measure.[152][153]

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]