The Base: Exporting Accelerationist Terror – Southern Poverty Law Center

Posted: August 16, 2020 at 9:56 am

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After BBC TVs Panorama showed how The Base expanded its network to Europe, Hatewatch can reveal that it also had success in expanding to a society whose settler history parallels the U.S.: Australia. Recorded vetting interviews, application documents, social media posts and The Bases own internal chats show that the network, led by Rinaldo Nazzaro (who operated online under the pseudonyms Norman Spear and Roman Wolf), had some success in exporting both itsideology and organizing model to Europe and settler cultures such as Australia.

The materials show that the group made significant inroads into parts of Australias far right, and in particular the Lads Society, a white nationalist group that once invited Brenton Tarrant, the Australian who murdered 51 Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand, on March 15, 2019, to be a member.

They also show how local Australian far-right activists acted as virtual franchisees for The Base, finding fresh recruits in the ranks of the Lads Society, a local white nationalist network, and also vetting a man who had previously run for election to Australias parliament as a member of a right-wing populist party.

In late 2017, under the alias Norman Spear, Rinaldo Nazzaro began promoting an idea with a long history among white supremacists: that the Pacific Northwest could secede from the United States to create a white ethnostate.

The proposal had previously been associated with white supremacist Harold Covingtonand his Northwest Front organization. Before him, another influential advocate was Christian Identity preacher and Aryan Nations founder Richard Girnt Butler, who until 2000 occupied a compound at Hayden Lake, Idaho. Butler was associated so closely with the idea of a white ethnostate in the Pacific Northwest that it is sometimes known as the Butler Plan.

Covington, who died in 2018, had a long historyin the organized white power movement. By the time of his death, however, his Northwest Front organization was largely inactive, and Covingtons main activity in the movement was writing propagandistic speculative fiction, some of which touched on race war and the establishment of an ethnostate in the Pacific Northwest.

In his 2007 novel The Brigade, Covington set out a scenario in which a guerrilla group, the Northwest Volunteer Army, is carrying out insurgent warfare against the administration of President Hillary Clinton, who has commenced a plan of white genocide. In the novel, the Northwest Volunteer Armys motto is Ex Gladio Libertas, Latin for Freedom comes from the sword, which The Base used as its own mottoin online recruiting materials.

In podcasts and social media posts at that time, Norman Spear praised Covington and the Butler Plan. He did so in an episode of Lone Wolf Radio, a podcast hosted by British white nationalist Chris White, in December 2017. White introduced Nazzaro as a Northwest Front activist and northwest migrant.

Also in late 2017, Spear released a series of videos spelling out a theory of revolutionary struggle with the stated aim of coercing the system and making it capitulate to political demands. Topics included lone wolf operations, leaderless resistance and guerrilla warfare. He advocated for guerrilla struggle wherein lone wolves would carry out acts of violence as a form of propaganda of the deed, and an above-ground leadership would negotiate with the system to achieve its military goals.

The argument was for acts of terrorism, which would bring about a condition of siege as the state imposed unsustainable condition of martial law, at which time it would negotiate with guerrilla leaders. Victory isn't inherently dependent on physically defeating the enemy, Spear said in the video. Guerrillas win if they dont lose, and the central aim was to carve off sovereign territory from the state.

Spear thus synthesized the Butler Plan with some of the ideas for destabilizing and defeating liberal democracy put forth by the neo-Nazi who had the most influence on the accelerationist movement, James Mason.

Nazzaro began advertising The Base in July 2018 and trying to recruit members. He was also active in the Read SIEGE group on white power-friendly alt-tech platform, Gab. The group was dedicated to promoting the work and ideas of neo-Nazi author Mason, who advocated terrorism as a means to creating a white ethnostate. In December 2018, through a Delaware LLC called Base Global, Nazzaro boughtthree 10-acre blocks of undeveloped land in remote Ferry County, Washington, but maintained his principal residence in Russia.

Spear also posted messagesfrom imprisoned members of the accelerationist neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division(AWD), one of the groups that sought to put Masons ideas into practice.

In fall 2018, early recruiting material for The Base stopped short of explicitly advocating for terrorism. Sources who spoke online and in person with Nazzaro, however, say Nazzaro told The Bases inner circle that in truth, The Base was an accelerationist project: Its real purpose was to hasten the collapse of American liberal democracy into civil war, and bring about a white ethnostate in at least part of its current national territory. In encrypted chats, members discussed the methods and efficacy of tactics such as sabotaging infrastructure and the finer points of guerrilla warfare.

In most of the recorded vetting interviews obtained by SPLC, standard questions for potential recruits included whether they considered themselves national socialists; whether or not they had read SIEGE, the compilation of Masons newsletters that became the central text of the accelerationist movement; and whether they believed a political solution could remedy the perceived genocide of white people.

The ideal recruit would answer, respectively, yes, yes and no.

The final question, on the feasibility of political solutions to so-called white genocide, marks a defining characteristic of The Base, and the accelerationist ideology to which it adhered.

The false belief that a conspiracy exists to carry out white genocide, or to effect a great replacement of white Americans through mass immigration, is widely prevalent across the racist far right, from outright neo-Nazis, to so-called identitarian groups, to influential Republican officials. Many white nationalists hold, again falsely, that this genocide or replacement has been orchestrated by Jews.

As Hatewatchs primer on accelerationismdetails, this belief has allowed white power movements to portray their own violence as a matter of racial self-defense. White power movements are necessarily violent because their various political projects, such as the creation of a white ethnostate, cannot be achieved without violence. But before accelerationism gained momentum, many groups and individuals sought to downplay or obfuscate this violence.

In 2016 and 2017, some did this successfully enough to reach the threshold of mainstream politics.

During and immediately after Donald Trumps successful run for president in 2016, many so-called alt-right groups which included white nationalists with such conspiracy-minded racist beliefs felt emboldened by the victory of a politician who they considered to share at least some of their values, and who they felt they had played a part in electing.

Some were enthused enough to promote their beliefs more openly, using tactics associated with mainstream forms of political advocacy in liberal democracies. Throughout 2016 and 2017, groups such as Identity Evropa(now called the American Identity Movement) openly participated in rallies, street protests, campus recruitment and publicity campaigns. Many had platforms on mainstream social media services.

Others decided that the political solution was a false promise. Some of them came to believe that pluralist, multiracial democracy was headed for inevitable collapse, and that they should help it on its way by joining one of the burgeoning neo-Nazi accelerationist groups.

Atomwaffen Division was the template for accelerationist neo-Nazism. Following the ideas of Mason, whom they adopted as a kind of spiritual patriarch, Atomwaffen advocated terroristic violence as a political tool. Having abandoned electoral politics and the mainstream political process as futile, optics were of little concern.

Just as accelerationism was gaining influence, Nazzaro appeared on social media in the guise of Norman Spear.

Before The Base was formed, Nazzaro raised his profile in far-right spaces online by claiming he had served in the military and had experience with intelligence work. While The Base was operating, Nazzaro reiterated its emphasis on action. He demanded that members engage in training and meet-ups, and that potential recruits detail any skills that they could bring to the group or teach other members.

This practical orientation, his embrace of ideas important to survivalist and apocalyptic prepper movements, the openness of the network to members of other organizations, and his adoption of Covingtons project of a white ethnostate in the Pacific Northwest made Nazzaros offering distinct from Atomwaffen Division and other emerging accelerationist outfits.

The Base struggled early on after leaks from its chats on an app called Riot were exposed by an antifascist group operating in the Pacific Northwest. The group gradually reestablished protocols for internal communication and vetting for new members using the encrypted messaging platform, Wire.

Its brand though drawing heavily on U.S.-specific white supremacist movements proved highly exportable to white power individuals and groups around the world.

The Base eventually recruited members in Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, Scandinavia and Australia.

Eventually, some members of the group began acting on the hate The Base fostered. Former members in New Jerseyand Wisconsin stand accused of conspiring to vandalize synagogues, the Georgia cell with plotting an assassination. Charging documents for the cell based in Delaware and Maryland allege that the men discussed firing at random into a pro-gun rally in Virginia last January.

Nazzaros claim that the group had no formal member list, and even no formal existence, allowed a tolerance for double-patching or dual membership in another white supremacist group. The Base was designed as an umbrella that could draw in people who had been radicalized in other groups, like Atomwaffen Division.

Richard Tobin, 18, one of those arrested in relation to the desecration of synagogues in Michigan and Wisconsin, was a member of both neo-Nazi accelerationist groups.

Late in the groups active history, it began recruiting in a country whose history of indigenous dispossession, white supremacy and xenophobic politics is on a parallel track with the U.S.

In late October 2019, members of The Bases vetting committee received a bundle of identically formatted PDF documents from five Australian men.

A sixth, who operated under the alias Volkskrieger within The Base and elsewhere online, appointed as Australian recruiter for the group in 2019, had acted as a virtual local franchisee in bringing these recruits forward for the group.

The group had had several Australian applicants and had accepted some as members. But until late 2019, according to audio recordings, none had been as dedicated as Volkskrieger, who according to open source materials and internal communications obtained by the SPLC, lives in the vicinity of Perth, Western Australia.

After Spear and other Base members were banned from Gab after mid-2019, Volkskrieger was one of the few left to carry the groups banner. On Gab, in May 2019, he posted Western Australia-specific advertising for the group, advising potential recruits to contact the groups main email address.

In June, he posted photographs showing that design being used in a poster run in Perths Hyde Park. At this time, as revealed in a voice chat with The Bases leadership recorded on Oct. 20, 2019, he was the only standing Australian member of the group.

A post showing promotional materials for The Base.

Apart from poster runs, Volkskrieger claimed to have used more active methods, and his existing network of white supremacists in Australia, to find recruits.

In chats on the encrypted messaging application, Wire, Volkskrieger claimed on May 28, 2019, that he was meeting some West Aussie NatSoc [National Socialist] group today, if all goes well I might be able to send some guys our way.

Volkskrieger discussed recruiting efforts in this May 2019 post.

Eventually, this dedication to the cause was rewarded. In the October voice chat, Nazzaro, other senior leaders, and Volkskrieger discussed his new role as The Bases lead Australian recruiter.

In that conversation, Nazzaro told Volkskrieger, Youve been really solid for us,"specifying that Youve postered, youve produced some content for us, youve postered on Gab.

Nazzaro expressed dissatisfaction with the progress made in Australia up until that point, saying, Weve had 7 Australians come and go, and Weve probably had a dozen apply, adding, We think there is potential there, and We need someone to lead the charge.

Later in the call, Volkskrieger mentions collaborating on a promo image for an Australian Base cell with with Matthias, a California-based admin of an accelerationist website, FascistForge.

He also said that at that time, there were new Australian members in FascistForge who might be recruited for The Base.

In the call, the men agreed to establish a separate email account for the Australian cell, and Nazzaro and others coached Volkskrieger on methods of email vetting.

Within two months, Volkskrieger presented the group with five applicants who were ready for vetting calls, along with his own commentary on the quality of the recruits and their pathways into neo-Nazi accelerationism.

The applications and vetting interviews reviewed by Hatewatch showed that the men who applied for Base membership came from other white nationalist groups, after growing dissatisfied with those groups unwillingness to embrace more extreme tactics.

In the May voice call, Volkskrieger describes his involvement in a series of groups on Australias fractious far right.

He explains that he needs to conceal his Base membership from his comrades in the Society of Western Australian Nationalists (SWAN), which does not allow dual patching.

SWAN is a regional breakaway from the Lads Society, a national network of white nationalists founded in 2017 by prominent local far right activists previously associated with the anti-Muslim United Patriots Front, including Blair Cottrell, Neil Erikson and Thomas Sewell.

They were soon joined by other local extremists including Jacob Hersant, who was previously a core memberof local neo-Nazi accelerationist group, Antipodean Resistance.

Like Atomwaffen Division, Antipodean Resistance was formed by membersof the IronMarch forum, which helped shaped the development of accelerationist ideology and aesthetics.

Between Volkskrieger and the five applicants he brought to The Base, four claimed some involvement in Lads Society or SWAN, including one who claimed to be the Queensland chapter leader. Of the remaining two, one came to group via FascistForge, and another heard about the group on the Goy Talk website, one of a number of online hubs for the alt-right.

Lads Society has conducted a range of activities both public and private aimed at building a cadre of white nationalist activists and injecting their talking points into mainstream Australian political debate.

Away from the public eye, the group has operated underground fight clubs and maintains clubhouses in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

In 2018, reporters revealedthe Lads Societys involvement in significant far-right infiltration of the youth branch of the conservative National Party.

But the group and especially Cottrell and Sewell, its figureheads have also sought the media limelight with rallies and stunts.

In 2019, the group staged an anti-Black, anti-Muslim proteston St. Kilda Beach, in the midst of a national moral panicabout the supposed activities of African gangs in the city of Melbourne.

Cottrells, Eriksons and Sewells previous organization, the United Patriots Front, was formed in 2014during anti-Muslim mosque protests in the Australian city of Bendigo.

In 2015, members of the group beheaded a dummy mocked up as a crude representation of an ISIS fighter, spilling fake blood on the ground outside Bendigos City Hall.

That stunt led to Cottrell, Erikson and another UPF member, Christopher Shortis, being convicted and fined for inciting contempt for Muslims.

After Tarrants March 2019 massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand, Sewell admitted on Facebookthat he had contacted Tarrant about joining Lads Society at its formation in 2017. Responding to other members concerns that Tarrants attack may have been a false flag operation, Sewell said that Tarrant had in fact been on the scene for a while.

Other reportsshowed that Tarrant had been a devoted online follower of United Patriots Front, and Cottrell in particular. When Cottrell and Sewell livestreamed their ecstatic reaction to the election of Donald Trump in November 2016, Tarrant reportedly wrote a series of comments on the groups Facebook wall.

Knocked it out of the park tonight Blair, he wrote. "Your retorts had me smiling, nodding, cheering and often laughing.

He added, Never believed we would have a true leader of the nationalist movement in Australia, and especially not so early in the game.

Like Tarrant, many young men would be drawn into the orbit of Sewell and Cottrell, the Lads Society and other groups that overlapped with or broke away from the group.

Andy Fleming, an antifascist researcher who recently identifieda number of members of the group, estimated that the Lads Society has around 80 core members, with scores more in the groups orbit.

In one vetting interview obtained by Hatewatch, a panel of Base members, including Nazzaro, tested a recruit Hatewatch has identified as a former political candidate for the right-wing populist Pauline Hansons One Nation Party (PHON). Hatewatch determined this using internal materials from The Base, material on the public record and other materials provided by Australian antifascist group the White Rose Society,

His efforts to join The Base suggest that the barriers between anti-immigrant right-wing populist electoral parties and accelerationist terror networks are permeable, and that progress through the stages of radicalization can happen very quickly.

In the interview, a necessary step for new recruits, Dean Smith, under the aliases Will and WLL2PWER,described himself as a Western Australian member of PHON who had been a candidate for the party in 2019.

He said that he had signed up for a five-year membership in 2019, and that he was still a member at the time of his vetting interview with American members of The Base.

The interview took place more than a month after the first member of The Base was arrested. Richard Tobin, 18, of New Jersey, made international news after he was chargedon Nov. 19, 2019, with federal hate crimes for allegedly orchestrating the vandalism of synagogues hundreds of miles away, in the midwestern states of Michigan and Wisconsin.

This did not deter Smith from seeking access to the network. When he was asked about his political background, he replied that he had been a member of One Nation for almost a year now. I signed up with them in May when I was still believing in the political system.

Being around that sort of party structure and political structure in Australia, I sort of lost faith in the whole thing. And then I decided take more direct action, and then got pushed on to the Society of West Australian Nationalists (SWAN), he said.

His loss of faith in PHON, he said, was not just due to their slow progress. He told The Base interviewers, Theyre all race mixers and it turns my gut upside down.

But he added that (SWANs) progress is too slow on things like demographic change and how the political atmosphere is turning towards our race, referencing theGreat Replacement conspiracy theory, which holds that mass immigration is a deliberate effort to wipe out the white race.

Smith also described how between joining PHON and SWAN, he had run as a candidate.

So I was a member of One Nation maybe two months, three months prior (to joining SWAN). Because I actually ran for the last Federal Election in Australia as a candidate of One Nation.

He also describes how he became more and more extreme and passionate about my views and it was harder and harder to speak out about it for fear of losing my political career.

And I thought, well, I have to sell myself to the devil to have a career in politics, or I can leave my career in politics and live an authentic life. And I think that, you know, leaving politics behind is a much better option than going for it, he said.

In his written application, submitted prior to the interview, Smith described his ideology as NatSoc (National Socialism)ubermenschnihilism, a reference to the concept of the bermensch, or superman, derived from the work of philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.

Though Nietzsches work has been drawn on by a diverse range of thinkers and political traditions, fascists from the 20th-century European interwar period on have made simplified and selective readings of Nietzsche, focusing on his antisemitism, his opposition to democracy and feminism, his anticipation of a superior human type, and his affinity for a warrior ethos to claim him as their own.

The commonalities between Smiths online, far-right persona and his comments as a candidate helped reveal his identity.

Prior to the leak of the interview, Smith had been identified as WLL2PWR by the White Rose Society, an Australian antifascist group. Their materials were provided exclusively to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The reference to the philosopher Nietzsche links Smiths username to his far-right YouTube channel and Twitter account, both of which are also run under the WLL2PWER moniker.

On the Twitter account, Smith has repeatedly expressed disgust at diversity initiatives in a local technical college.

Smiths social media accounts make frequent references to Nietzsche and Nietzschean philosophy. In Smiths candidate profilein the Albany Advertiser on May 10, 2019, he said he would like to meet Friedrich Nietzsche, Jesus Christ, Julius Caesar, and Thomas Jefferson.

In his written application to The Base, Smith says he is in his early 20s, and has skills including welding experience, and heavy machinery.

In his interview, he says he is 23.

A profilewith The West Australian on May 12, 2019, said that Smith had entered the political contest only a few weeks ago, and that while politics is a new venture for him, he believes in his partys policies.

In media interviews and in his PHON candidate profileearlier in the year, Smith said he was 22 and he worked as a laborer.

Smith made other connections between his WLL2PWR persona and PHON in 2019.

On April 14, 2019, on his WLL2PWR YouTube channel, Smith interviewedfellow PHON WA candidate Tyler Walsh, and gave direct hints in the interview that he was an active PHON member in Western Australia.

At one point he asked Walsh, What inspired you to put your hand up being such a young man like myself to go out there and basically face the world?

Looking forward to a PHON function in the Perth area, Smith said, And weve got the meeting tomorrow dont we at Vic Park, is that right?

He also described the process of joining the party and his interactions with Sheila Mundy, another PHON candidate and influential Western Australian party member.

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The Base: Exporting Accelerationist Terror - Southern Poverty Law Center

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August 16th, 2020 at 9:56 am

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