Rinaldo Nazzaro: Hey Erik, can you hear me?
Erik: Yeah, I can hear you.
Rinaldo Nazzaro: Okay. Cool.
Rinaldo Nazzaro: This will be about 30 minutes.
Rinaldo Nazzaro: So, just tell us a little bit about yourself, please.
Erik : Well, uh, I mean, my, do you need my real name? Because I can give it, I don’t really care.
Rinaldo Nazzaro : No.
Erik: All right. Uh, well, uh, you know, I’m Erik. I live in Michigan. I haven’t really done too much with other groups. I mean, I’ve done a couple of, uh, meetings with, uh, what was, like, a Bushcraft group in, like, Kalamazoo or something. And then I started, uh, Aryan Resistance and then kinda got some people through that.
Rinaldo Nazzaro: Okay, cool. So, what’s your ethnicity?
Erik : Well, uh, I’m a quarter Slavic and then mostly Anglo and German.
Geraldine Moriba: * Sounds Like Hate* is a new podcast series from the Southern Poverty Law Center. I‘m Geraldine Moriba.
Jamila Paksima: And I‘m Jamila Paksima. This is part two of * Baseless* .
Rinaldo Nazzaro: How old are you?
Erik: I’m 17.
Speaker 74: I’d like to hear, in your words, exactly what you believe you could bring to the table.
Erik: Anybody that needs anything, they got a safe house to go to.
Jamila Paksima: This first season is about how some people become extremists, and how some of them disengage from a life of hatred.
Rinaldo Nazzaro: What do you think a solution is, if any?
Erik: I think the solution is to prepare now, get people to separate.
Jamila Paksima: The recording you‘re hearing is 17-year-old Erik, applying for membership to a violent, neo-nazi group, called the Base. He is being interviewed by the leader, Rinaldo Nazzaro.
Erik: And if you look at the economy and this whole fiat currency, even if it doesn’t collapse, it’s just gonna to degenerate more and more until even the military starts to revolt. Every empire falls, you know. So, that’s why I’d say just prepare for the fall.
Geraldine Moriba: We‘ll come back to Erik‘s story in a moment. First, we‘d like you to understand what you‘re listening to. These are 83 hours of secret audio recordings between more than one hundred white supremacists. These conversations took place inside the Base‘s “vetting room,” where they interview new recruits on Wire, an encrypted app. We worked with data scientists for clues to their motivations.
Rinaldo Nazzaro : We want things to accelerate, we want things to get worse in the United States. And from that point, by virtue of the chaos that ensues, that would naturally present some opportunities for us. Law and order starts breaking down, power vacuums start emerging for those who are organized and ready, to take advantage of those.
Jamila Paksima: In part one, we reveal how the Base was forming alliances with other white power groups and recruiting men with military and combat training. We also met a reporter who infiltrated the Base and exposed the violent plans of one member in the Canadian Military Reserves. We pick up our story in the vetting room. It’s the summer of 2019.
Rinaldo Nazzaro: We’ll use that as an opportunity to take advantage of any power vacuum that might emerge.
Jamila Paksima: This is the leader, the chief white supremacist.
Rinaldo Nazzaro: Who knows what could happen next?
Jamila Paksima: He uses the aliases “Norman Spear” and “Roman Wolf.”
Rinaldo Nazzaro: We’re hoping the system is going to destroy itself.
Jamila Paksima: His real name is Rinaldo Nazzaro. He operates this international neo-nazi organization from his home in Russia. What you will hear will be disturbing. These conversations in the “vetting room” contain offensive language and discussions about the violent collapse of America.
Speaker 87: If fucking shit pops off, Canada’s right there to the north. That’s an unarmed soft population, man. You raid those motherfuckers on the sleds, fast and hard, like the Vikings of old, steal their fucking women and bring ’em back over.
Jamila Paksima: That’s what one recruit thinks of our neighbors to the north. But it turns out Canadians are not immune to white supremacy either.
Ryan Thorpe: So, he tells me he’s a member of the Canadian Armed Forces.
Jamila Paksima: When Canadian Winnipeg Free Press reporter, Ryan Thorpe, infiltrated the Base in July 2019, he started directly communicating with Patrik Mathews, a 26-year-old member. When we left this part of the story, Thorpe was trying to verify Mathews was in the Canadian Armed Forces without tipping anyone off.
Ryan Thorpe: I later found out that he was a member of the Canadian Army Reserves, uhm, but he didn’t specify that at the time. He just said Canadian Armed Forces.
Jamila Paksima: And what kind of expertise was he professing he had?
Ryan Thorpe: Explosives, primarily. He, uhm, talked about how, you know, explosives work was essentially the bread and butter of the combat engineering field.
Jamila Paksima: Mathews also told Thorpe he had crossed the U.S. border to attend paramilitary trainings with other Base members and wanted to ramp up “hate camps,” or combat training, in Canada. Thorpe had all he needed. He cut off communication, closed his Wire account, and released the front-page story: “Homegrown Hate.”
Ryan Thorpe: I threw out as many breadcrumbs as I had. You have to be 100 percent certain if you’re going to accuse someone of something like this. I figured that someone who knew this person was going to read my initial report, which is exactly what happens. And by Monday we published a follow up identifying him as Master Corporal Patrik Mathews. Hours later, the RCMP raids his home in Beausejour.
Jamila Paksima: A neighbor captured the raid on his cell phone, as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police ordered Mathews to exit his back door with his hands up.
RCMP Raid Audio: (Sirens) Come through the back door with your hands in the air for the officers. (Sirens)
Jamila Paksima: His weapons were confiscated. He was taken in for questioning and released with no charges. Two days later, Mathews disappeared.
Geraldine Moriba: The following month, in September 2019, three members of a different cell, vandalized the Beth Israeli Sinai congregation in Racine, Wisconsin, including a 22 year old named Yousef Omar Barasneh. They spray painted the synagogue with anti-Semetic statements, swastikas, and the Base‘s logo.
Jenny Tasse: My name is Jenny Tasse. I’m the director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation.
Geraldine Moriba: Base members called vandalizing this Wisconsin synagogue and others, “Operation Kristallnacht,” or night of broken glass. They were using this name given to a series of vicious attacks by German nazis that took place on a single night in 1938 on Jewish businesses, hospitals, and schools.
Jenny Tasse: And it was frightening. We have people in our community who are survivors. You know, I have friends who are second or third generation, uh, survivors, right? That their grandparents or parents are. And so seeing those words put onto a synagogue it, it, really shakes you.
Geraldine Moriba: The anti-Semitism expressed here isn‘t new to America. Deadly attacks on synagogues, like the ones in Pittsburgh and Poway, made global headlines. Less reported are the assaults, harassment, and vandalism against Jewish people, which are at near historic levels in the U.S.
Jenny Tasse: And we saw hate group activity in Wisconsin go up 900 percent, um.
Geraldine Moriba: 900 percent?
Jenny Tasse: Yeah.
Geraldine Moriba: Groups like the Base are motivated by a festering fear that goes back centuries, replacement of the white race. They put a lot of effort into making sure their recruits are not only white, but the right kind of white.
Rinaldo Nazzaro: What is your ethnicity?
Speaker 71: Mostly Celtic American. American, so a mix of everything. But I call myself Celtic.
Speaker 108: I’m three-quarts Anglo, one-quart Dutch.
Speaker 109: I’m definitely a white. (Laughter) I’m in a black area, man. Uhm, Gwinnett County is fucking crazy. I hate it a lot, but I’m in, I’m in Gwinnett County a lot. And, um, I’m white. My boss is white. That’s pretty much all I hang out with.
Rinaldo Nazzaro: You don’t have any non-white, uh, blood?
Speaker 109: Nope.
Geraldine Moriba: More than one recruit claimed royal blood.
Speaker 41: One side of my family were, uh, European royalty for about 1,500 years, so.
Speaker 11 : I actually ended up doing a fucking DNA test thing, and I kind of knew it from the get-go ’cause my mother’s side of the family’s, like, super fucking German, and then my father’s side is, like, super, you know, like, super British ’cause, hell, they’re part of the fucking, I mean, distantly mind you, but they are part of the royal family, uhm, Princess Diane Spencer.
Speaker 68: I’m, like, 90 percent white with, uh, some Latin blood.
Geraldine Moriba: And some of the men who tried to join weren‘t white enough.
Speaker 68: It’s not Spanish-speaking Latin it’s, uh, a mix of, uh, Portuguese and indigenous American kind of thing.
Rinaldo Nazzaro: Uh. Yeah. I mean, that might be an issue, uhm.
Speaker 68: Yeah. I get that. Yeah.
Geraldine Moriba: These racists talk about the white race in 70 percent of the 83 hours of recordings we analyzed. Overall, the word “white” is mentioned 494 times. By contrast, the word “black” comes up 101 times, and “Jew” 75.
Crystal Fleming: It’s difficult to have an honest conversation about what we continue to see in terms of, you know, hateful discourse and practices without understanding that many of these ideas were the institutionalized norm for the vast majority of this country’s history.
Jamila Paksima: Crystal Marie Fleming is an associate professor of sociology and Africana studies at Stony Brook University.
Crystal Fleming: We can observe a confluence of hateful rhetoric. Uh, targeting many different kinds of groups, including Jewish people, but also including other European descendant groups who are considered racially inferior from the perspective of white supremacist dogma.
Jamila Paksima: In the early 1900s immigrants who came to the U.S. from Italy, Ireland, Greece, Spain, Portugal, or Eastern Europe were not considered white. Two generations later, they receive all the benefits that come from being white in America. Nazzaro‘s background is Catholic and Italian. There was a time when this defender of whiteness would not have been white enough.
Crystal Fleming: We’re talking about a system of power that was really only established over the last 400 years. But it very much has to do with the enactment of the transatlantic slave trade, as well as the expansion of European colonial domination and the expansion of capitalism as the mode of production, racial slavery, chattel slavery as we know it. And so we can’t really understand white supremacy without, you know, having a pretty complex conversation about the intertwining histories of these forms of dispossession and domination.
Jamila Paksima: Then there‘s the history of the national socialist movement, or neo-nazi ideology, which goes back decades, and with it, a series of manifestos, essentially required reading for anyone aiming to join the Base. We decided our podcast, * Sounds Like Hate* , will not include any names of the writers, titles of the books, or papers filled with the violent intentions and destructive “how to” schemes.
Kathleen Belew: Far and away, the clearest historical precedent for what we’re seeing from groups like the Base is a paramilitary white power, terrorist group active in the mid-1980s called the Order.
Geraldine Moriba: Kathleen Belew is the author of Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America . She‘s also an assistant professor of history at the University of Chicago.
Kathleen Belew: The Order was a cohort of activists who embarked on a string of violent crimes in order to funnel money to the broader white power movement and also in an attempt to provoke race war. The white power movement, which really came together in the late 1970s, uhm, and declared war on the federal government in the early 1980s, and has been active in some capacity ever since. This movement has always operated with a public facing sphere of activity and a violent paramilitary underground.
Geraldine Moriba: According to Belew, groups like the Order and the Base come and go in a way that doesn‘t align with what people might predict. These patterns don‘t follow spikes in poverty, immigration, or moments when there are major civil rights gains.
Kathleen Belew: All of American society becomes more violent in the aftermath of warfare. There is a boom impact. There’s something about the aftermath of warfare that creates this opportunity for vigilante violence and revolutionary white power violence to really amplify. So, we see it after the Civil War, after World War One, World War Two. We see it after Vietnam. That’s not the kind of warfare we are in anymore. I think we’re kind of off the map historically. And it’s a really important question because there will be an impact. And I think we’re starting to see, you know, a big ricochet effect. But I don’t know what the effect will look like.
Geraldine Moriba: The Base‘s goal, to provoke a race war, is an old racist strategy. It has a name: acceleration.
Kathleen Belew: What they mean in accelerationism is overthrow of the United States, such that, uhm, they can establish a new racial nation of only white people. Often imagined as a transnational project that will also bring in white people in other quote unquote salvageable places like Canada, Australia, New Zealand, parts of Europe. It is a fundamentally violent project.
Geraldine Moriba: The Southern Poverty Law Center estimates in 2019 there were 940 hate groups, here, in the U.S. One of the movements to emerge is the Boogaloo. These are extreme right libertarians known for wearing hawaiian shirts with paramilitary fatigues, and they are often armed. Today, neo-nazis and white nationalists use “boogaloo” as a term referring to inciting a second American civil war or collapse.
Kathleen Belew: So, if we think about the Proud Boys, Boogaloo, the alt-right, the Charlottesville demonstrators wearing khaki polo shirts, the Base wearing paramilitary uniforms, those groups all look pretty different. And they spend a lot of energy describing themselves as being pretty different. That’s very similar to how this worked in the 1980s. The archive shows us that, in fact, all of those groups were deeply interconnected, were sharing weapons, money, people, and ideology, and were oriented around the same mission.
Speaker 77: Okay. So, I have gear, you know, I have boots, 511s. I have flecktarn, pretty much everything. But, you know, I’m 18 in the state of California. Is that going to interfere with anything?
Kathleen Belew: So, one of the important things to do in the present is to do the very difficult work of linking and looking for continuities between these groups. We start to see that through the circulation of people, and money, and guns, and symbols, and ideologies.
Jamila Paksima: Teenager Erik is their kind of people. Listen carefully to Nazzaro‘s questions and Erik’s responses.
Rinaldo Nazzaro: I think it’s interesting that you were out there, kind of, very publicly and giving speeches and things like that.
Erik: Well, it was more because I got kick, uh, left school because, like, uh, you know, kept having problems.
Jamilla Paksima: Nazzaro isn‘t trying to convert him on this call. He‘s looking for confirmation Erik already believes in white supremacy.
Erik: I still keep myself out there because I’m not really too scared. I was in, uh, there was an assembly going on and I was giving a speech and then there was light coming in from the window behind me. They called me Jesus Hitler the rest of the year.
Jamila Paksima: In the same vetting conversation, 17-year-old Erik disclosed he had more than one visit from the “Feds” around the time he says he founded the Aryan Resistance cell in his Michigan community.
Erik: My brother came upstairs. He told me, he’s, like, “The Feds are here.” And I was, like, “What are you talking about, man?”
Jamila Paksima: This perhaps should have raised a big, red flag about Erik‘s OPSEC, code language for security.
Erik: I opened the door and there’s, like, 11 Feds, ATF agents, guys in suits. I mean, it was crazy. And then, uh, I sat down, talked to ’em and the ATF agents went in my room and, uh, they have all my serial numbers of my guns and shit. Uh, and they found this silencer I was trying to make in the garage.
Jamila Paksima: Erik claimed he got away with only a warning.** At the end of his vetting call, Nazzaro and the other Base members weigh the risks of admitting him.**
Speaker 74: I think he could be a great asset to the Base, you know, just from what he can offer as far as training wise, equipment goes, and just all of that. I wish he was more careful with OPSEC.
Rinaldo Nazzaro: I hear what you’re saying, like, you know, maybe being a little bit too cavalier maybe, I don’t know what the word is, maybe he’s not totally appreciate, uhm, what’s, what he might be facing.
Speaker 12: Uh, overall he’s pretty good. I mean, I think he’s, he can bring a lot to the table.
Rinaldo Nazzaro: So, let’s give him a shot. Hopefully, he will tone it down somewhat.
Geraldine Moriba: Other than their shared pride in being white, these men are pretty diverse. Some are well educated and others are dropouts. Some have wealth and some have criminal records. But for the most part the Base targets younger people in high school and college.
Speaker 14: I have a job. Uh, I have a car. I’m graduating soon. I’m a senior. I’m going to, uh, college, uh, trade school.
Geraldine Moriba: According to our data analysis, 88 percent of the ages mentioned by recruits were under 30. The Base targets them primarily on the internet. And when the youngest recruits, 18 and under, talked about internet platforms, 45 percent of the time they mentioned iFunny.
Rinaldo Nazzaro: So, how did you hear about the Base?
Geraldine Moriba: Like this one, who says he‘s 17.
Speaker 23: Crap. What’s his name on iFunny? It’s, uh.. He’s your local matsof.. I met him through the CCR. The Christian Coalition thing and, uhm, ended up asking him about it cause I’ve been hearing or I see people, like, talking about it on iFunny sometimes. And he basically told me what it was about and that’s how I got interested in it.
Geraldine Moriba: And another 17 year old who says he graduated early from high school in California.
Speaker 13: I really started to get serious about it, not that I wasn’t serious beforehand, but, you know, actually taking, uh, the action stance rather than the, uh, “just talk about it” stance, just shitpost and complain about Jews in group chats and I can’t sit here and do nothing or else I’m just a retard, I’m a coward, you know.I mean, I’m not the best fucking person in the world. I’m not, I don’t have a whole lot of skills. But I want to learn things because it’s important to actually have hands-on skills and not be some fucking keyboard warrior retard.
Rinaldo Nazzaro: Do you consider yourself to be a militant?
Speaker 13: Absolutely. Uh, one thing my friend said is, uh, “If you’re not willing to commit war crimes for the people you love, do you truly love them?”
Geraldine Moriba: Can you tell me the Trojan chant?
Patrick Prince: Fight on for ol’ SC; Our men fight on to victory; Our Alma Mater dear, looks up to you; Fight On and win for ol’ SC; Fight On to victory; Fight On. Bum, bum, bum. Yep, that’s the fight song. Yes.
Geraldine Moriba: Patrick Prince is the associate vice provost and chief threat assessment officer for the University of Southern California.
Geraldine Moriba: Yes. So, unfortunately, we’re gonna talk about a different kind of fight.
Geraldine Moriba: A full third of the ages mentioned on these calls were between 18 and 21 — college aged.
Patrick Prince: We know the number of incidents on campuses are growing.
Geraldine Moriba: Prince works on this frontline.
Patrick Prince: But, they’re still, thank god, relatively small.
Geraldine Moriba: It‘s his job to identify college students who are most at risk.
Patrick Prince: My mandate is to be able to listen to language, observe behavior, and try to distinguish which is a person who is expressing their First Amendment rights and which is a person that is on a pathway to violence, and how do we stop that forward momentum from violence.
Geraldine Moriba: And what’s the demographic of the students who are radicalized that you’ve observed?
Patrick Prince: White.
Geraldine Moriba: White.
Patrick Prince: Male.
Geraldine Moriba: Male.
Patrick Prince: Uhm, the standard, typical things we see.
Geraldine Moriba: Undergrad? Graduate?
Patrick Prince: I really think more graduate. I worry about the person who’s got five years into their graduate program. They’re not progressing. They’re not going to progress. And now they’ve invested so much. So, now that’s the one that scares me, because they’ve lost everything psychologically. And we, we start to look for those behaviors, uh, that desperation, that sense of alienation, because historically a lot of folks in my business focus only on deterrents of harm. But that’s not good enough. If we still leave somebody isolated, angry, bitter, then we’ve just deferred the violence, and I don’t want to do that. If we can identify early enough those folks that are desperate, lonely, isolated, and connect them to positive attachments, then we’ve done better than just deferred harm is we’ve actually incurred growth. I don’t know that I have the ability to de-radicalize somebody. I have a goal to stop someone from being a violent radical and that I can do. I can get in front of the violence. We can, uh, defer or redirect that potentially violent individual. Uhm, I don’t know that I have the ability to change their radicalized views. I just don’t.
Speaker 57: So, what type of training would we be talking about?
Geraldine Moriba: Even though these conversations were primarily for recruiting purposes, sometimes they discussed paramilitary training meetups too.
Speaker 57: I was a Boy Scout for a longtime…
Geraldine Moriba: This 19 year old from Alabama is speaking to Nazzaro.
Speaker 57: I am good with a gun. I’ve grown up around guns my entire life.
Rinaldo Nazzaro: So, I mean, most of it is pretty straightforward, you know, because uhm survivalism, wilderness survivalism and small unit tactics, uhm, you know, self-defense, mostly with weapons, firearms, in parti, in particular. We’re not, like, typical prepper group where we tend to just hunker down and weather the storm, you know, wait for the storm to pass. I mean, we want the storm to increase. You know, we, we want to be the storm eventually at some point, you know, after the initial collapse, uh, occurs. We want to keep that going. So, we have a very different end goal and, uh, purpose for learning those skills.
Speaker 57: I own 130 acres of land that is just perfect for any kind of collapse scenario.
Geraldine Moriba: Applicants with access to many acres of private property were especially appealing, and were almost always accepted as candidates. It‘s one of the reasons they accepted 17-year-old Erik.
Erik: Yeah, I mean, if you wanted to camp you could always pitch a tent, like, on the property.
Speaker 23: Okay. Yeah, I can always do that.
Erik: Yeah, we can probably take in like four people at the house. You know, if people want to sleep on, like, couches and stuff.
Speaker 87: So, what we’re trying to do is build, like, communities up there, and if we can both buy land we can bring two different sets of people up.
Speaker 80: Yeah, ’cause that’s what we’re trying to do is have a community of compounds. So, the more land people will buy, you know, the better. We can take over counties and shit. That’s my plan with this. And we’ll be moving there, probably this summer or next, uh, fall.
Speaker 87: I’ve been working with these kids since they were, like, fucking 15 years old.
Geraldine Moriba: The person speaking here recruits young members for the Base.
Speaker 87: He red-pilled his mom over years and now she’s a full blown national socialist.
Speaker 88: No Shit.
Speaker 87: So, she’s the one funding it all. I’m just coming up with a couple of grand to help with the down payment.
Geraldine Moriba: Erik says his mother agreed to host a major paramilitary training meetup on her property around Bad Axe, Michigan.
Erik: I was a little scared for a second, uh, not, not really, but you know…
Geraldine Moriba: Here’s Nazzaro’s armchair legal advice when 17-year-old Erik expresses a concern about the meetup.
Erik: Is paramilitary training on, you know, U.S. soil illegal and shit?
Rinaldo Nazzaro: Yeah. I mean, just with that, I’ve done a lot of research on it. Maybe, like, half the states have laws on the books against paramilitary training. What it applies to is, uh, two or more people that are getting together to train for causing civil unrest and, or property destruction.
Jamila Paksima:** Here are the facts: there are 25 states that criminalize certain paramilitary trainings.**
Rinaldo Nazzaro: So, it’s really intent has a lot to do with it…
Jamila Paksima: A July 2020 Georgetown Law reportsays the statues in these states make it illegal for individuals to teach each other how to use firearms, explosives, or other techniques capable of causing injury or death, or to assemble to train or practice with such firearms, explosives, knowing or intending to further civil disorder.
Rinaldo Nazzaro: Not training to prepare for collapse, but training to make it happen.
Jamila Paksima: Michigan is one of those 25 states. So, Nazzaro’s defense around intent was at best weak.
Erik: What date would be best in January for everybody?
Jamila Paksima: On the next Wire call, they made plans to meet up on Erik’s mother’s property.
Speaker 88: I vote eleventh. That sounds good to me.
Speaker 87: Yeah, the eleventh would be good.
Speaker 88: Between now and then I’ll stock up on some Base layers.
Speaker 87: More ammo and shit myself, so actually that got better ’cause I blew through quite a bit of 308 at the last meet, that fucking raped my wallet. I just brought up a box of 500 rounds of 308 last time.
Speaker 88: That works and I can help you guys out. Again, I’m an older guy. I’m a little more established. So, uhm, I can, uh, like I did for the Georgia thing; you give me somewhere to ship it, I’ll just go ahead and order whatever you need, man. 556, it’s a lot cheaper to get it online.
Speaker 87: If any of you guys got a fucking Base flag. That’s what we could really use.
Jamila Paksima: The meetup Nazzaro seemed most excited about would be on his own land in Republic, Washington.
Rinaldo Nazzaro: What I have in mind is it would be essentially like a weekend, an overnight, uh, camping trip, like, on my land. Okay. And then for those two days, we would be doing, like, a handful of kind of training type of events, uhm, some of which, basic stuff again, sort of like land navigation. I mean, if we can figure out a way to legally bring firearms, like some marksmanship-type stuff.
Jamila Pakisma: The one hitch: Washington state changed it’s lenient gun laws before they could meet.
Rinaldo Nazzaro: So, here’s the deal.
Jamila Paksima: Nazzaro came up with a work around.
Rinaldo Nazzaro: You have to be 21 to possess a firearm, unless it’s on your own property. So, if we bring weapons or ship weapons over in the manner I described, uhm, you can ship to yourself. We’ll at least have like four.
Jamila Paksima: Back in Michigan, Erik told the group his mother asked him to postpone their meetup until January of 2020.
Erik : Yeah. I just, uh, we had to change the date on this meetup, uh, because of some problems with my mom. She’s just really scared of fed visits because she needs to get her DEA license and shit for being a doctor. I’m gonna get her Wire. So then, cause she wants to talk to everybody that’s coming up just to get a general gist of ’em because she’s really, you know, paranoid.
Cassie Miller: Yeah, I mean, I think that there is no singular pathway to becoming radicalized and there’s no typical person who becomes a part of these movements. I mean, we can…
Jamila Paksima: Cassie Miller is a senior research analyst at the Southern Poverty Law Center and an expert in extremism. She listened to Erik’s vetting call.
Cassie Miller: Their experiences vary pretty wildly.
Jamila Paksima: Erik claims his mother is a doctor and says as long as these violent extremists are polite and clean up after themselves, she’s okay with inviting them to camp out on her property and sleep on her floors.
Cassie Miller: Those personal connections are really important for reinforcing people’s beliefs. And so, I think this is one example where you can kind of see that illustrated where, where someone is involved in this kind of, uhm, political ideology and is, you know, engaged in an extremist movement, but that their beliefs and their organizing is kind of being reinforced by, uh, one of their personal relationships. And in this case, it’s his mother, which is, I think, pretty startling, uh, but not altogether unexpected.
Jamila Paksima: The youngest recruits on these calls are not practicing their parents’ religion. Most are pagans.
Speaker 87: If I can fucking secure an animal, I don’t give a shit. I’ll kill anything.
Jamila Paksima: One of the rituals Erik asked about involves sacrificing an animal to Odin, the Norse god of war and death. Then eating it.
Speaker 88: Number one, let’s find some people that, literally, know how to skin and gut somethin’. Number two: The animal that we are eating needs to be a fucking edible animal, okay? That’s all I’m gonna throw in there.
Jamila Paksima: On one of the meetup planning calls…
Speaker 88: The sick part…
Jamila Paksima: They discussed a past pagan ritual.
Speaker 88: I went to pick up the 30 fuckin’ bacon, egg, and cheese, buttery biscuits from Bojangles. So, I’m ridin’ back with nothin’ but butter, bacon, egg, and cheese flowin’ through my nostrils. I get out. Scotch, “You gotta try this goat.” And I go, “Okay.” And I try it and I’m, like, “Oh, my god.” I’m, like, “The, the smell that I’ve been smellin’, tastes; it didn’t mix.” And what you didn’t see is I turn and spit it out, threw the other piece over my shoulder and said, “Anybody want any biscuits?”
Jamila Paksima: On the same planning call, they talked about guns, basic medical training, and staging propaganda videos.
Speaker 87: So, 10-to-15 people, that seems pretty fucking good.
Speaker 88: That’s awesome. That’s some, that’s some good video ops right there, bro.
Speaker 87: Hell, yeah. We just have to make sure that, uh, it’s a, it’s a clear step up from the previous video. I want to show constant progression with everything we release. Well, we were shooting at like…
Rinaldo Nazzaro: Ni*****s.
Speaker 88: Run, motherfucker, run.
Speaker 87: Ya, we, we were setting up targets on top of these giant fucking electrical towers. They’re like fucking 10-feet, fucking, long, wide, just solid steel man. I was planking them with 308 and just leaving little dust marks on ’em. And it’s nice ’cause you can hear your hits. Because it goes ping.
Geraldine Moriba: Is it correct to estimate these white supremacists extremists kill more people in the U.S. than any other extremist group?
Mike German: Yes. You know, obviously, 9/11 was extremely horrific in the casualty rate and far exceeded any kind of death toll from any terrorist attack before or since.
Geraldine Moriba: Mike German is a fellow with the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School and a former FBI agent. He says crimes by white supremacist are not being properly addressed and we’ve narrowly avoided attempts at mass murder.
Mike German: But in a typical year, yes, there, there’s no question in the United States that more people die at the hands of white supremacists and far-right militants than any other group, even though we don’t know the full scope of it. You have to understand that the FBI is still predominantly a white male organization. It’s 84 percent white and 80 percent male. So, when a white male sits down to think about what are the greatest threats to his world, white supremacists aren’t the number one threat. They’re not likely to invade his community and hurt his family. The FBI does not have a database of incidents of far-right violence and particularly the deadly violence that we’re talking about. So, they don’t have a way of objectively measuring the threat from, that these groups pose in the first place.
Geraldine Moriba: What’s the result of this failure to accurately count far-right extremists?
Mike German: If a white supremacist kills somebody, let’s say, of another race, uh, they can categorize that in a number of ways. They can say, okay, this person was part of a white supremacist group that has previously engaged in violence. So, we’ll count this as an act of domestic terrorism. And then it’s the number one priority, combating terrorism. Domestic terrorism is typically treated as a second priority to international terrorism within that number one priority. But they could also call it a hate crime.
Geraldine Moriba: The FBI has five federal hate crime statutes. The problem is, if the FBI designates a case as a hate crime it drops down to number five on the list of eight agency priorities.
Mike German: The number of resources and the attention that case will be given is much reduced. But even more importantly, the Justice Department’s policy is to defer the investigation and prosecution of hate crimes to state and local authorities. And finally, they might designate that as gang violence, then it’s the number six priority and it doesn’t get counted in either the civil rights violations, like hate crimes, or in the counterterrorism statistics.
Geraldine Moriba: So, as a result, we don’t know how many people white supremacists have killed this year, or last year, or the year before that?
Mike German: Exactly. Because this policy of deferring to state and local police to investigate might make sense if state and local police investigated these crimes. But we know 87 percent of police departments that aren’t necessarily tracking these crimes at all. We have five states that don’t have hate crime laws, so even if they wanted to track these crimes, they don’t have a statute that would help them differentiate this from any other violent crime…
Geraldine Moriba: German says the way white supremacists skirt the rules of the law is a persistent historical problem.
Mike German: One of the first types of public policing were slave patrols and all kinds of police action were actually enforcing white supremacy laws that were on the books. All through Jim Crow, many states and locations had sundown towns that were unofficial, uh, uh, regulations that were enforced by the police. So, the police have a history of racist policing.
Jamila Paksima: The police raid on the home of Canadian Army Reservist and member of the Base, Patrick Mathews, made headlines across the world.
Global News: There are new developments in the case of an army reservist accused of having links to a neo-nazi group.
CBC: Manitoba RCMPs say their primary goal today is to find Patrik Mathews.
City News: The Winnipeg army reservist with alleged links to a neo-nazi organization is now the subject of an RCMP missing persons investigation.
Global News: Police are asking anyone who might know where he is to call his family or the RCMP.
City News: He is believed to be driving a red, 2010 Dodge Ram 15000-SLT truck.
Jamila Paksima:** It was Mathews’s family who reported his disappearance.**
Ryan Thorpe: The RCMP seizes his firearms and then releases him without charge. And then he disappears.
Jamila Paksima: After several days of a national manhunt, Mathews’s red truck was found abandoned at the U.S.-Canada border.
Ryan Thorpe: You know, we later find out he flees the country and goes to the United States.
Jamila Paksima: Mathews entered the U.S. illegally, where he joined two Base members. Then authorities let Thorpe know he was on a hit list.
Ryan Thorpe: Eventually, the threats did start coming in, both directly to me and then I was also called to a meeting with the, the national security unit of the RCMP, which is the federal police force in Canada, and they, you know, warned me that they were aware of death threats against me and that was something I needed to be careful about.
Geraldine Moriba: On September 19, 2019, Nazzaro was vetting an international applicant, using the name Dakov. He’s a 19-year-old pagan from Ottawa, Canada.
Rinaldo Nazzaro: What is your ethnicity?
Dakov: Uh, Slavic; Moldovan.
Geraldine Moriba: On his application, he says he uses the Telegram handle Terror Machine Moldova. He also spoke about wanting to join Base members at the Georgia meetup for paramilitary training because Canadian gun laws prohibited this type of training.
Rinaldo Nazzaro: Okay, so, uh, do you, uhm, are thinking to participate in one of our training events?
Dakov: Uh, yes. I thought about going down to Georgia after my uh, I get leave, after my BCT, and maybe, uh, depends, like, when they uh, finally reassign me after I finish, uh, military intelligence and JTAC school. I will probably have leave before deployment and I could go down to, uh, Georgia.
Geraldine Moriba: This college aged recruit claimed he had been recently admitted to the Canadian Armed Forces or CAF. And about to be deployed. He was boasting about specialty military training, even though he hadn’t even begun basic training.
Rinaldo Nazzaro: Okay, when is that, approximately?
Dakov: They said anything can happen between now and then.
Rinaldo Nazzaro: Okay, so you’re going to JTAC school, that’s pretty cool.
Geraldine Moriba: JTAC stands for Joint Terminal Attack Controller. That’s a servicemember who directs the action of combat aircraft.
Dakov: Well, JTAC CBRN Airborne.
Geraldine Moriba: And CBRN is Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear operations training.
Rinaldo Nazzaro: Uh, huh. Nice. That’s pretty awesome. Yeah, JTAC is a pretty awesome job.
Dakov: And after basic training, I have to do military intelligence. And after that I’ll have to do, uhm, I have to take an artillery course for JTAC. It’s one of the pre-requisites. I think military intelligence and artillery. And then, uhm, and then I’ll be able to apply for JTAC.
Geraldine Moriba: Not only did this recruit, Dakov, claim to be in the Canadian Armed Forces, he said he was the temporary leader of a group called SKD, or Sonnenkrieg Division. He says he was also a member of Northern Order, a phantom white power organization. Both groups are affiliated with U.S. based Atomwaffen Division, a violent neo-nazi organization.
Rinaldo Nazzaro : It sounds like you got a lot going on. Why are you want to now also join the Base?
Dakov: I know, uh, here in Northern Order, it’s like a bunch of guys spread around different cities doing prop runs that type of shit. With the Base it’s more so about, uh, sharing skills with people in different parts of the world, people that have seen shit, that have experienced different shit. And I definitely think that, uhm, it would be good knowledge to bring the skills they would learn from being in the Base they could apply whilst doing Northern Order activities.
Geraldine Moriba: Nazzaro quickly realized Dakov could be key to growing international alliances.
Rinaldo Nazzaro : Okay. Yeah, that makes total sense. That is definitely one thing that we encourage. I mean, that’s kind of one of our purposes is, is networking. We’re trying to build trust. We’re trying to build camaraderie. Uhm, but, you know, we also have to constantly remain vigilant, you know what I mean.
Dakov: Yeah, especially after that fucking one guy from Winnipeg, like, infiltrated the group and he was in a main chat…
Rinaldo Nazzaro : Uh, okay. And so how do you feel about all that stuff that happened in, uh, Winnipeg? I mean, does that kind of change your resolve at all, I mean, as far as…
Dakov: Well, I’ve never been public with my affiliations or anything. When it came to Jimmy. I’ve heard that the reason he got so fucked was because he told a guy, like, I’m pretty sure he told him his first name and where he works; like, he’s a member of the CAF.
Geraldine Moriba: The Jimmy he’s talking about is Canadian reservist Patrik Mathews, the same fugitive who met with reporter Thorpe.
Dakov: And he talked about, like, he was in, like, logistics, reserve force, stuff like that. So, in a way, he basically, like, like, if he never told a guy, like, “Yeah, I’m with the CAF,” he never would have been able to find him. Just like keep your mouth shut. That’s what I go by.
Geraldine Moriba: Not only that, Dakov says he was trying to help this fugitive on the run.
Dakov: I have no idea. Like, I talked to him. The only thing we talked to are regards to, like, getting “J” out of Winnipeg.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: The Canadian Armed Forces have told us they are opening an investigation to identify Dakov and sent us the following statement.. “Our message is simple and it is clear: If you perpetuate or condone hateful conduct, you do not belong in the CAF.” On the next episode of * Sounds Like Hate* find out whether Dakov is identified and if he ever connected with mathews, his fellow Canadian white supremacist. And whether the FBI intercedes on time to prevent an armed confrontation planned by Base members at a pro-gun rally in Richmond, Virgina.
Brett Baroque: Lots of people in camouflage carry guns. I see some people from the 3 Percent Militia’s out here, some Oath Keepers, some Proud Boys.
(USA! USA! USA!)
Geraldine Moriba: These are complicated stories about people who hold onto false histories and terroristic ideologies — and draw boundaries that are skin deep.
Jamila Paksima: If you or anyone you know has experienced a hate incident or crime, please contact the appropriate local authorities or elected official. You can also document what happened at splcenter.org/reporthate.
Geraldine Moriba: This is * Sounds Like Hate* , an independent audio documentary brought to you by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Additional funding comes from the Ring Foundation.
Jamila Paksima: Produced by Until 20 Productions. I’m Jamila Paksima.
Geraldine Moriba: And I’m Geraldine Moriba. Remember to subscribe to find out when new episodes are released.
Jamila Paksima: Give us a rating and review too. It really helps. Thanks for listening.