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Confronting Russia’s Role in Transnational White Supremacist Extremism justsecurity.org/68420/confront… via @just_security
A member of the neo-Nazi terror network the Base told a federal prosecutor in December that he believed the group’s leader, known then as Norman Spear, was a Russian spy.
Though Nazzaro’s relationship with the Russian government remains uncertain, these reports point to a broader trend: a mutual affection between Western white supremacists and the Russian government.
It also highlights the reality that the distinction between foreign terrorism and so-called domestic terrorism is increasingly irrelevant.
2004, David Duke characterized Russia as the “key to white survival,”

David Duke rented an apartment in Moscow from 1999-2004 then subletted it to white supremacist Preston Wiginton.
American white supremacist Richard Spencer recently identified Russia as the “sole white power in the world.” qz.com/869938/how-rus…
Jared Taylor—founder of the white supremacist American Renaissance—and Matthew Heimbach—a Unite the Right organizer and leader of the now-defunct TWP—have met in person with ultranationalist Russian political leaders in 2015 and 2017, respectively.
The Kremlin has exploited this interest. It has both turned a blind eye to far-right paramilitarism within its own borders and actively cultivated neo-Nazism in the West.
This aligns with Putin’s goal to sow discord in Western democracies and influence transcontinental relations, despite its relatively weak military and economy. Putin’s support for right-wing violence in the West constitutes an element in his broader destabilization campaign.
This clip of @cpicciolini from 2017 touches on everything from neonazi radicalization/recruitment online, Russia’s involvement, disinfo, “horseshoe” troll armies’ chaos campaigns & Russian hacking.
While the United States and its partners must confront white power extremism at home, they must also remember that hostile foreign powers have exploited homegrown racism for decades. justsecurity.org/61142/tactic-s…
As Western counterterrorism efforts against white supremacist violence continue to ramp up, extremists and aspiring terrorists may seek refuge in a more permissive environment, exacerbating the problem of Russian support.
Infiltration of anti-govt militia forums
Flooding white supremacist and right wing groups with anti-immigrant disinformation.
White Supremacists: “Russia is our friend”
Millions of marginalized ppl targeted online by propaganda that’s flooded into the US from Russia & Eastern EU since before the 2016 election...including mental health forums.
To degrade existing links between Western extremists and Russian actors, and prevent the further formation of these connections, the United States and its partners must bolster their diplomatic capacity to confront this threat on a global scale.
JustSecurity assesses the current nexus between Western right-wing extremists and Russian actors at the state and non-state level. To be clear, they do not have a complete picture of these connections.
Further work—from investigative reporting to intelligence sharing—is necessary to discern the scale of links between Western extremists and Russian actors. The counterterrorism community, however, must proactively work to understand this threat to prevent its further growth.
In 2014, the ultranationalist political organization Russian Imperial Movement (RIM) began training volunteers to fight alongside its paramilitary wing in eastern Ukraine, but the group has since expanded its operations to include global ambitions.
RIM seeks to “continue to establish contacts with right-wing, traditionalist & conservative organizations around the world” “to share the experience of political [and] information warfare and joint squad tactics training.” thinkprogress.org/russian-americ…
“White nationalism is a global ideology”- @milleridriss

Looking at “[WN] attacks as isolated...naive & dangerous “ -@cpicciolini

“Deepening ties between extremists in Europe & their white supremacist counterparts in America” @sharon_nazarian

Most prominently, RIM has worked alongside the Russian political party Rodina (also known as the Motherland-National Patriotic Union) to convene the World National-Conservative Movement (WNCM) interpretermag.com/russian-politi…
World National-Conservative Movement (WNCM) is a conference organized against the principles of “liberalism, multiculturalism and tolerance.” anton-shekhovtsov.blogspot.com/2015/09/russia…
WNCM’s organizers sought to move beyond ideological exchanges and establish “joint camps for military and athletic instruction.” Now, through its paramilitary arm Imperial Legion, RIM carries out weeklong military-style training sessions known as Partisan. washingtonpost.com/world/europe/a…
Led by a former member of the Russian armed forces, this program teaches ‘cadets’ to operate firearms and move in tactical formation. washingtonpost.com/world/europe/a…
In recent years, RIM’s terrorist training has proven deadly. Months before bombing a refugee center in Gothenburg, Sweden, the two perpetrators attended RIM’s Partisan training camp.
Russian extremists are training right wing terrorists from Eastern Europe thedailybeast.com/russian-extrem…
Members of Atomwaffen & other #NationalSocialist groups are being encouraged to go to Ukraine to train with the Azov Battalion—an “ultranationalist” paramilitary group—to prep for a race war. from @BreakingHateTV
Despite the fact that these Swedish terrorists split with NRM prior to their attack, the group has maintained its own troubling relationship with RIM. In 2015, a RIM leader traveled to Sweden to speak at a NRM-hosted event called “Nordic Days,” hate-speech.org/wp-content/upl…
Nov2018 National Strategy for Counterterrorism of the US lists NRM as a prominent transnational, self-described nationalist-socialist org with anti-Western views that poses a threat, particularly to Eu, bc of its propensity for violence & intent to destabilize societies.
The relationship between the Nordic Resistance Movement and RIM reflects the transnational nature of right-wing extremism and acts as a reminder of how cross-border relationships can enhance the threat of terrorism.
As political scientists Michael Horowitz and Philip Potter contend, cooperation and alliances between terrorist organizations increase group capacity. jstor.org/stable/pdf/245…
I’ll be finishing this a bit later
Hi it’s me. I’m back. 👋🏼
Now where am I..er was I?🤪
Do what’s the connection between RIM’s transnational activities and Putin’s desire to undermine Western democracy?
Alexander Verkhovsky, dir of Moscow-based SOVA Center for Information and Analysis, 🇷🇺 authorities knowingly tolerate RIM’s paramilitary camps. The Kremlin does not directly support RIM, but it does nothing to combat its violent activities, despite knowledge of their operations.
As fmr Dep Assist Sec of Defense @mikercarpenter characterized it as, RIM’s paramilitary arm “operates freely” in Russia.

The lack of CT pressure from domestic Russian forces allows it to form alliances with extremists across Eu +US, enhancing the overall threat of RW extremism.
Russian strategy plays into its tolerance for RIM in two different ways.

It recruits ppl to fight against Ukraine and it aligns with Putin’s goal to weaken Western democracy.
Direct Tactical and Ideological Support

The Kremlin’s support for RIM only amounts to tacit approval, but Russian intelligence officials have directly interacted with other far-right groups such as the Hungarian National Front.
Hungarian National Front (HNF)
—neo-Nazi paramilitary organization

—began to show support for the Kremlin in 2012, when its leader István Györkös launched a website that promoted a pro-Putin message.

theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/…
According to a joint report from two Hungarian research institutes, the site “has clearly and unequivocally become a tool in the hands of Russian government propaganda.”

politicalcapital.hu/wp-content/upl…
It’s more than messaging.

🇭🇺 security services testified to the HU’s parliament that HNF...

⚠️regularly took part in paramilitary training exercises with Russian military intelligence officials operating in Hungary under the guise of diplomatic cover. nytimes.com/2016/12/24/wor…
This direct support for far-right #extremism, according to Andras Racz of the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, fits into...

📌RUSSIA’S’s broader EFFORT to BOLSTER “FRINGE GROUPS in an effort to DESTABILIZE or simply DISORIENT the EUROPEAN UNION.”
What to do?

the United States and its partners must lead by example. The West will have no credibility in condemning Russia’s soft stance on right-wing extremism if it cannot demonstrate a willingness to act seriously and combat the threat itself.
In a time when Trump admin is filled with unabashed extremists, parrots extremist talking points, laud the merits of white nationalism, and cover up their meetings with far-right extremists, the West has a long way to go in building its own legitimacy to call out other States.
This necessary step includes adopting long-overdue policy measures to combat the threat of right-wing terrorism.
docs.house.gov/meetings/GO/GO…

Joshua Geltzer has suggested that the National Counterterrorism Center should be empowered to provide “analysis of the nature and direction of the white supremacist threat as a whole,”
In recent congressional testimony, terrorism experts advocated for expanded funding for community partners such as non-law enforcement resources inside schools. hsgac.senate.gov/countering-dom…
DOD should improve screening efforts to ensure white supremacists cannot infiltrate the military, as was stipulated in the House’s version of the most recent National Defense Authorization Act BEFORE an ALTERATION in the SENATE REMOVED this PROVISION. WTF huffpost.com/entry/senate-r…
Congress could also improve data-collection efforts by passing
NO HATE Act
Domestic and International Terrorism DATA Act
Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act

which would appropriate resources to help the NatSec community better understand the threat of white supremacist terrorism.
With regards to reducing lethality, scholars and policy experts agree: ease of access to firearms in the US exacerbates the threat of terrorism.
Background checks
Red flag laws

Disarm Hate Act, to stop those convicted of misdemeanor hate crimes from buying or possessing guns.
Note: white supremacist extremism is not a threat conjured up by a far-off Russian boogeyman—it’s America’s original sin. In fact, it has often been white supremacist extremists within the US who have exported their ideology and violence across the globe.

Putin exploits it.
How then, should the United States and its partners work to degrade any relationships between far-right extremists and malign state actors?
Terrorism experts suggest removing a leader can help degrade internatl alliances & may undermine transnational links. US & partners should apply this lesson in a diplomatic, not lethal, approach to the threat of transnational white supremacist violence. terrorismanalysts.com/pt/index.php/p…
A unified effort to encourage greater cooperation on extradition laws may be one way to target group leadership. Lars Agerbak was the leader of the far-right Danish organization National Front and once received paramilitary training in Russia. theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/…
Such provisions could have prevented a RIM representative from traveling to the United States to meet with Matthew Heimbach in 2017 and could undermine future collaboration between RIM and the Nordic Resistance Movement. thinkprogress.org/russian-americ…
Similar sanctions might also target intelligence officials determined to have directly trained or supported paramilitary organizations in Europe or the United States.
Tools to fight state-sponsorship measures may not persuade Russia to altogether abandon their sponsorship of these groups, but they could convince the Kremlin to avoid further escalation. Though a relatively modest objective, it could help to stymie a growing threat.
From Heimbach to Nazzaro to an unnamed white supremacist leader and New Zealand soldier who planned to travel to Russia prior to his December 2019 arrest, the relationship between white extremists and the Russian state demands further attention. stuff.co.nz/national/11829…
⚠️”Moscow has already begun to exploit this fascination by intentionally stoking neo-Nazi sentiment and permitting extremist actors to use Russia as a transnational paramilitary training ground.”
“The United States and its partners must act now to confront the globally linked white supremacist extremist movement in anticipation of an increasingly diffuse threat in the coming years.”
“Our recommendations are not limited to confronting Russia’s role in this threat and indeed could serve as a foundation for a broader diplomatic effort. ...”
“...Ukraine’s Azov Battalion has actively recruited foreign fighters from Atomwaffen.. and the Rise Above Movement.”

AWD is also a group featured on the @MSNBC series #BreakingHate with @cpicciolini
The campaign against white supremacist terrorism appears to have prevented a potentially horrific attack in Richmond

washingtonpost.com/local/public-s…
This underscores the importance of domestic counterterrorism efforts, but this fight must occur within a broader effort to dismantle the global movement.
As Western extremists feel increasingly vulnerable to law enforcement activity, they may flock to refuges where they won’t face counterterrorism pressure.
To mitigate the risk posed by such an evolution, the United States and its partners must challenge state actors that aggravate the threat of transnational white supremacist extremism.
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