Rinaldo Nazzro: We were looking for people who had sort of a militant revolutionary mindset ‘cause that’s sort of is the underlying mindset behind what we do. We believe the system will collapse. We want it to collapse, and when that happens and shit hits the fan, you know, all hell is going to break loose.
Geraldine Moriba: Sounds Like Hate is a podcast series from the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Rinaldo Nazzro: We want to build a cadre of trainers across the country. That’s the purpose of The Base.
Geraldine Moriba: I’m Geraldine Moriba.
Jamila Paksima: And I’m Jamila Paksima. In the first five episodes of Baseless you listened to secret recordings of over 100 white supremacists applying for membership in a violent neo-Nazi hate group called The Base.
Rinaldo Nazzro: We’re looking for guys who are willing to accept a degree of risk and understand that there is a risk.
Jamila Paksima: The founder is Rinaldo Nazzaro, aka “Norman Spear” or “Roman Wolf.” He’s an American living in Russia.
Rinaldo Nazzaro: Yeah, I’m a family man first and foremost…
Jamila Paksima: After the 2020 arrests, he made a surprising re-appearance in a 30-minute documentary on Russian state-controlled television. He walked around the city of Saint Petersburg with a journalist and played with his children in a park. He even visited a Holocaust exhibit.
Geraldine Moriba: Not surprisingly, Nazzaro denies he’s a terrorist or a Russian agent. Starting in December 2020, he released a set of videos in an attempt to re-establish himself as the leader of a new networking group for neo-Nazis.
Rinaldo Nazzro: We need to have system collapse. I mean, in my view, the solution needs to be taking and controlling territory to some degree.
Geraldine Moriba: This latest version of Nazzaro’s racist mission surfaced after The Base started to crumble following the arrests of nine members in different cells across the U.S.
CBS Baltimore: Federal prosecutors say these men are dangerous, that they were recruited online by an underground white supremacist group that vowed to kill Jewish Americans and African Americans.
Jamila Paksima: Violent extremist groups like The Base use a strategy of leaderless resistance. The idea is to organize themselves into small cells of men who operate in parallel without necessarily knowing each other’s actions. It’s based on a system of plausible deniability, and it is exactly what Nazzaro is doing now as he tries to distance himself from The Base, the neo-Nazi group he created.
Rinaldo Nazzro: I’m not going to be involved in any type of recruiting or training, or organizing training or anything like that.
Geraldine Moriba: Today, as Nazzaro roams freely in Russia and denies his involvement, some of the men who joined his group remain behind bars. Here’s the latest on the charges against them.
Judge Cedric Simpson: May I have your attention, please? The United States District Court for the District of Maryland is now in session.
Jamila Paksima: Three Base members were arrested by the FBI. Two cell members from Maryland were charged with harboring a Canadian fugitive. FBI surveillance recordings captured the Canadian and one cell member planning and fantasizing about a violent attack near Richmond, Virginia. Brian Mark Lemley Jr., 35, a former cavalry scout in the U.S. Army, aka “Can’t Go Back,” was indicted on gun-related charges. As of May 2021, he remains in federal custody while awaiting trial. No date has been set yet. In February of 2020, Patrik Mathews, 28, aka “Dave” or “Jimmy,” a former Canadian Armed Forces reservist and the fugitive was charged with transporting a firearm and ammunition across state lines with the intent to commit a felony.
City News: A former Canadian Forces reservist and alleged neo-Nazi is back in a Maryland courtroom. Patrik Mathew’s lawyers are attempting to throw out two of the four weapon charges filed against him.
Jamila Paksima: Mathews maintains his innocence and awaits a court date. In December 2020, William Garfield Bilbrough the 4th, 20, aka “Izen,” pled guilty to two counts and admitted to being a member of the Maryland Base. He was sentenced to five years in federal prison.
Geraldine Moriba: The FBI also arrested three members of a cell in Georgia for their involvement in a plot to murder an anti-fascist activist and his wife. Jacob Kaderli, 20, aka “Pestilence,” Luke Austin Lane, 22, aka the “Militant Buddhist,” or “TMB,” and Michael Helterbrand, 26, aka “Helter Skelter.” The three men from the Georgia cell have pled not guilty and are being held without bond.
CBS This Morning: Investigators say they were planning violence, including murder.
Geraldine Moriba: In February 2021, Helterbrand received two additional charges for the crime of aggravated sexual battery and for participating in the violent, white supremacist criminal street gang, the Ghostface Gangsters.
Speaker 88: “You gotta try this goat,” and I go, “Okay,” and I try it. And I’m like, “Oh, my God.”
Geraldine Moriba: Kaderli, Lane, and Helterbrand were also charged with animal cruelty for their part in a satanic ritual involving the killing of a ram. This is how one Base member describes the taste after eating the offering.
Speaker 88: The gamiest shit I’ve ever tasted in my entire life.
Geraldine Moriba: In April 2021, five additional men were charged for the same crime of animal cruelty, bringing the total number to eight.
Justen Watkins: Justin Watkins.
Judge Cedric Simpson: Mr. Gorman, did you get counsel, sir?
Alfred Gorman: No, sir, uh, I, uh…
Jamila Paksima: Another two men in a Michigan cell were arrested by the FBI. Justen Watkins, 25, also known as “A.K.,” the self-proclaimed leader of The Base who took over after the arrests, and Alfred Gorman, 35. They were arrested for terrorizing a family at their home.
Both were charged with gang membership, unlawful posting of a message, and using computers to commit a crime.
Assistant Attorney General Sunita Doddamani: My understanding is that Mr. Watkins…
Jamila Paksima: Shortly after the arrests, the assistant attorney general alerted the judge that Watkins, while still in custody, had reached out to fellow gang members of The Base.
Assistant Attorney General Sunita Doddamani: He is charged with gang membership felony. And so I’m asking the court to make a condition of bond for both of these defendants that they not have contact with other gang members.
Judge Cedric Simpson: The court will order and add as a condition of bond, um, that the defendants are not to have any other contact with other gang members and those alleged to be gang members.
Jamila Paksima: Watkins and Gorman were released on bond in February of 2021.
Two months later, Watkins was arrested and his bond revoked for trespassing and breaking into the barn where he operated The Base headquarters in Bad Axe, Michigan.
Jamila Paksima: Both Watkins and Gorman face a maximum of 26 years in prison.
Geraldine Moriba: We will continue to monitor these cases as they develop.
Jamila Paksima: Sounds Like Hate is produced by Until 20 Productions and funded by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Subscribe to find out when new episodes are released. I’m Jamila Paksima.
Geraldine Moriba: And I’m Geraldine Moriba. Remember to rate and review, it really helps. Thank you for listening.