New York, NY, May 5, 2016 … A European extremist group that conducts vigilante patrols directed at immigrants and refugees is now present and growing rapidly in the United States, according to a new report from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
The Soldiers of Odin started in Finland in 2015, spreading quickly to other European countries as part of the wave of right-wing extremist reaction to the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe. By February 2016, the Soldiers of Odin concept had reached the U.S., thanks in large part to social media.
ADL’s Center on Extremism has tracked the growth of the Soldiers of Odin in the U.S. as its numbers have expanded from just a few members and supporters to around 4,000 in the space of only a few months – an astronomical growth for an extremist group and an expansion that still continues apace.
Though the Soldiers of Odin claim to be a non-racist group, its American ranks contain many open white supremacists, as well as other right-wing extremists such as anti-government militia groups and “Three Percenters.” What unites these extremists is a shared hostility toward immigrants and especially Muslims.
“The Soldiers of Odin represent the most significant alliance between white supremacists and anti-government extremists in the United States in decades,” said Mark Pitcavage, Senior Research Fellow at ADL’s Center on Extremism. “And it is a common loathing of Muslims that is bringing them together. They argue back and forth about whether the group should be only white or accepting of different races, but they are on the same page when it comes to hating Muslims.”
The Soldiers of Odin are currently busily organizing, setting up one or more chapters in every state, primarily by using social media to recruit and organize. By the end of March they boasted of having chapters in at least 42 states. But the group has already gone beyond merely organizing, conducting its first vigilante patrol in the Denver, Colorado, area in late March, with more patrols on the way.
ADL’s Center on Extremism fights extremism, terrorism and all forms of hate in the real world and cyberspace with unmatched capabilities in research, analysis, investigation, and online monitoring. Recognized as the foremost authority on extremism, the Center provides resources, expertise and training which enables law enforcement, public officials, community leaders and internet and technology companies to identify and counter emerging threats.