American White Supremacist Groups Exploiting International Connections

  • March 16, 2020
international white supremacy 2015

Introduction

Online platforms have enabled white supremacist groups to tap into a global community, amplifying their racist views and connecting them with like-minded individuals.

While online activities help unify far-flung adherents, real-world connections outside these virtual platforms indicate a true commitment to their cause.

Increasingly, this real-world action is taking place on an international stage. American white supremacists are traveling abroad to attend events and to meet with foreign counterparts, and international white supremacists are coming to the U.S. for the same reasons.

A white supremacist attack anywhere in the world can inspire a global base of white supremacist supporters. Examples of individuals whose attacks serve as violent inspiration to others include Anders Breivik in Norway, Brenton Tarrant in New Zealand, John Earnest in Poway, Robert Bowers in Pittsburgh and Stephan Balliet in Halle, Germany.

These white supremacists may live thousands of miles apart, but they are united by their belief that whites should have dominance over non-white people, whites should live by themselves in a whites-only society, white people have their own "culture" that is superior to other cultures, and white people are genetically superior to other people.  

The following list of white supremacist groups, all of which have international ties, includes several that embrace the most extreme expressions of white supremacist ideology—specifically accelerationism, which is rooted in the belief that the “system,” infected with what they perceive to be deviant Jewish values, must be destroyed.  In their view, direct action against the system will hasten this collapse by creating societal chaos and leading to a (much desired) “race war,” a battle against what they perceive as the cultural and racial displacement of the white race. Note: This list reflects events/travel from 2018 to present.

Atomwaffen Division

Founded: 2016

Atomwaffen Division (AWD) is a small neo-Nazi group that emerged in the United States in 2016. The group is believed to have originated online, out of a now-defunct neo-Nazi forum called Iron March, known for its extreme content and calls for violence. Atomwaffen members participate in “hate camp” hiking excursions and military-style training exercises to prepare for a race war. Members and associates have been linked to a range of violent crimes, including murder, as well as alleged plots to attack civilians, nuclear facilities and synagogues.

  • February 2020: Authorities arrested former Texas state Atomwaffen leader John Cameron Denton on charges of conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States, and interstate threats to injure, stemming from his alleged role in “swatting” calls.  This arrest is part of an ongoing international investigation.  
  • January 2020: Authorities charged John William Kirby Kelley in Vienna, Virginia, with conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States, specifically interstate threats to injure. The arrest is part of a larger, ongoing international investigation which has revealed links to AWD. 
  • November 2019: An AWD cell in Germany allegedly issued death threats against German politicians Cem Özdemir and Claudia Roth. 
  • May 2019: Kaleb James Cole, following a deportation hearing, was banned from Canada for life “as a result of his membership with an organization that may engage in terrorism.”  
  • December 2018: Aiden Bruce-Umbaugh and Kaleb James Cole traveled to Prague, Wroclaw, Kiev, Krakow and other areas of Eastern Europe posing with the AWD flag. In one photo, the pair posed on the site of the Auschwitz concentration camp.
  • Summer 2018: Atomwaffen announced the formation of a German cell, accompanied by video footage showing an AWD member unfurling an Atomwaffen flag with Wewelsburg castle, a prominent landmark in Nazi history, pictured in the background.

Feuerkrieg Division

Founded: Late 2018

Feuerkrieg Division (FKD) is a small international neo-Nazi group that advocates for race war; its views are among the most extreme in the white supremacist movement. Although FKD has European roots, the group has recently expanded outreach to include American audiences.  FKD was established in October 2018 in the Baltics, most likely Estonia. Over time, the group expanded its footprint to include Belgium, England, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Latvia, Western Germany and Russia. In 2019, FKD continued to expand their recruitment efforts in Europe and in North America, including Canada and especially the U.S.

  • February 2020: U.S. Army Specialist Jarrett William Smith pleaded guilty to unlawfully distributing instructions for making explosive devices over social media. Smith was associated with FKD, communicating with members across the globe at the time of his arrest.
  • January 2020: Conor Climo entered a plea agreement in federal court to weapons charges for possession of an unregistered firearm. Climo was closely associated with FKD, and was communicating with members from around the world at the time of his arrest.
  • October 2019: FKD took credit for a bombing attempt in Lithuania.  Members of FKD posted video footage of themselves making explosives with the message, “our threats are not empty,” in English and Lithuanian.

Hammerskins

Founded: Late 1980s

The Hammerskin Nation, the best-organized neo-Nazi/racist skinhead group in the U.S., has chapters all over the world. A number of its members have been convicted of harassing, beating or murdering minorities. Many popular racist rock bands are affiliated with the Hammerskin Nation, and the group regularly sponsors concerts and music events.

  • February 2020: Hungarian Hammerskins organized a “Day of Honor” event in Városmajor, Hungary, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Nazi and Hungarian forces killed by the Soviet army during the 1945 Siege of Budapest. The event was attended by American R.A.M. members Robert Rundo and Robert Smithson.
  • September 2019, San Bernardino, California: Australian Hammerskins attended an Ian Stuart Donaldson memorial concert in San Bernardino. Donaldson, a British white supremacist and singer, founded Blood & Honour, an international neo-Nazi/racist skinhead group, in 1987.
  • October 2019, Melbourne, Australia: The Australian cells of the Hammerskins and Blood & Honour hosted a white power concert in Melbourne.
  • October 2018, San Diego, California: Hammerskins and affiliated skinheads from Switzerland, Finland, Germany and Canada attended Hammerfest, an annual white power music event organized by the Hammerskins.

Patriot Front

Founded: August 2017

The Texas-based Patriot Front is a white supremacist group created by disaffected members of the neo-Nazi group Vanguard America. More than any other group, Patriot Front has consistently used patriotic imagery and phrases to promote its white supremacist and neo-fascist ideology.

  • November 2019, Gothenburg, Sweden: Patriot Front members distributed propaganda with the Nordic Resistance Movement outside the Liseberg amusement park in Gothenburg.
  • November 2019, Kungälv and Marstrand, Sweden: Patriot Front members joined members of the Nordic Resistance Movement for tours of the Bohus and Carlsten Fortresses in Kungälv and Marstrand, respectively.
  • November 2019, Gothenburg, Sweden: Patriot Front members traveled to Gothenburg, Sweden, to meet with members of the Nordic Resistance Movement, including Fredrik Vejdeland, a member of the group’s leadership.
  • November 2019, Rome, Italy: Patriot Front members met with members of CasaPound, an Italian neo-Fascist movement.
  • November 2019, Warsaw, Poland: Patriot Front members participated in the Independence Day March in Warsaw.

Rise Above Movement

Founded: June 2017

Rise Above Movement (R.A.M.) is a white supremacist group based in Southern California whose members believe they are fighting against a “modern world” corrupted by the “destructive cultural influences” of liberals, Jews, Muslims and non-white immigrants. R.A.M. operates like a street-fighting club. Members train for physical battle with their ideological foes and have been involved in violent clashes during political rallies and demonstrations.

  • February 2020, Sofia, Bulgaria: R.A.M. members Robert Rundo and Robert Smithson attended the Lukov march and memorial along with neo-Nazis from Germany, France, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania and Scandinavia. Organized by the far-right Bulgarian National Union, the Lukov march is a neo-Nazi procession that honors Hristo Lukov, a Nazi collaborator who propagated xenophobia and antisemitism.
  • February 2020: R.A.M. members Robert Rundo and Robert Smithson traveled to Budapest, Hungary, and Belgrade, Serbia, to participate in neo-Nazi events including Festung Budapest, a neo-Nazi concert, and a “Day of Honor,” organized by Hungarian Hammerskins to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Nazi and Hungarian forces killed  by the Soviet Army during the 1945 Siege of Budapest. During this same visit, Rundo allegedly met with members of Kormilo, a radical Serbian nationalist organization.
  • April 2018, Kiev, Ukraine: R.A.M member Robert Rundo participated in a white supremacist mixed martial arts competition at the “Reconquista Club.” In a post to the group’s Gab account, R.A.M. noted, “one of our guys has had the honor to be the first American to compete in the pan european [sic] organization Reconquista in Ukraine. This was a great experience meeting nationalist [sic] that came as far as Portugal and Switzerland to take part.”
  • April 2018, Ostriz, Germany: R.A.M members Robert Rundo, Ben Daley and Robert Smithson traveled to Europe to attend Germany’s white supremacist Schild und Schwert (Shield and Sword) Festival, held on Adolf Hitler’s birthday. 

Sonnenkrieg Division

Founded: 2018

Sonnenkrieg Division (SKD), a white supremacist organization, launched online in 2018 and has strong ties to Atomwaffen Division.  SKD is predominantly focused on political and social issues in Europe, specifically the UK and Eastern Europe, and its members take a nihilistic view of the world, which they seek to destroy.  There is significant overlap in SKD and AWD's core ideologies, as well as the groups’ use of graphics and imagery, rhetoric, cross-promotion and communication.  Like Atomwaffen, Sonnenkrieg rails against a perceived cultural and racial obliteration of the white race and glorifies the teachings of Siege author James Mason. On one social networking platform they identify themselves as “radical, fanatical, ascetical.”

  • December 2019: Authorities in the U.K. arrested Andrew Dymock and charged him with 12 counts, including encouraging people to commit terrorism, disseminating terrorist publications, terrorist fundraising and possessing material useful to terrorists.
  • June 2019: SKD members, Michal Szewczuk and Oskar Dunn-Koczorowski, were convicted of promoting terrorism and neo-Nazi propaganda online. 

The Base

Founded: Mid-2018

The Base is a small militant neo-Nazi organization that embraces Hitlerian ideology coupled with a mission to prepare for an impending race war. The group seeks to establish a nationwide network of people who believe in the use of violence to overthrow the existing social and political order. The Base claims an international operation, with cells and activity in the U.S. and worldwide, including locations in Australia, Canada and South Africa. As of March 2020, most of their on-the-ground activity has occurred in the U.S. and Canada.

  • January 2020: The true identity of the group’s founder, who used the online handles Norman Spear and Roman Wolf, was revealed to be Rinaldo Nazzaro, an American currently based in Russia.
  • January 2020: Federal authorities in Maryland arrested three men believed to be linked to The Base. According to the F.B.I, the men, who were charged with various federal crimes, had weapons and discussed attending a January 20, 2020 gun rally in Richmond.  One of the three is Canadian army reservist Patrik Mathews, a recruiter for The Base.
  • Fall 2019: According to media sources, alleged Base member Matthew Ryan “Alpers” Burchfield admitted he was “a part” of The Base and active in their chats until November 2019. According to prosecutors in Georgia, Burchfield went to Ukraine to fight for “Right Sector” in the fall of 2019.
  • August 2019: According to an affidavit filed in the state criminal case against alleged Base members Luke Austin Lane, Jacob Kaderli and Michael John Helterbrand, members discussed Base contacts located in a variety of locations “including Washington State and the United Kingdom.”