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Far-Right Groups Receiving Military Training in Ukraine, U.S. Should Place Groups on Terror List Says New Report

The United States should urgently place far-right extremist groups on its list of banned terrorist organisations, a new report released this past week suggests.

The report, “White Supremacy Extremism: The Transnational Rise of The Violent White Supremacist Movement”, highlights the increasing threat posed by the far-right and indicates a surge in domestic supremacist groups seeking military training and experience abroad, primarily in Ukraine.

Produced by the New York-based Soufan Center, the report suggests that the American government has been slow to respond to the changing nature of the far-right threat and that white supremacist extremism is now a multi-headed hydra whose “tentacles reach from Canada to Australia, and the United States to Ukraine”

“White supremacy extremism is a transnational challenge — its tentacles reach from Canada to Australia, and the United States to Ukraine – but it has evolved at a different pace in different parts of the world… To make serious progress, the United States should consider building upon Canada and the United Kingdom’s leadership by sanctioning transnational WSE groups as foreign terrorist organizations.”

Soufan Center Report

Designating far-right groups as terrorist organisations would enable the U.S. government to seize assets, hinder travel and enable charges to be brought against both members and those providing material support to such groups. The report particularly highlighted Canada’s successful use of such legislation to combat the international neo-Nazi network Blood & Honor.

While the west has been overtly preoccupied with Islamic State, white supremacists were connected to 50 murders across the U.S. in 2018 and an estimated 17,000 foreigners from 50 countries have gone to fight in the Ukraine conflict, many affiliated with the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion.

“In Ukraine, the Azov Battalion has recruited foreign fighters motivated by white supremacy and neo-Nazi beliefs, including many from the West, to join its ranks and receive training, indoctrination, and instruction in irregular warfare.”

Soufan Center Report

Part of the Ukrainian military, the Azov Battalion has been linked to a multitude of far-right groups in the west, notably the U.S. based neo-Nazi Atomwaffen Division. The Atomwaffen Division has been responsible for 8 murders in the U.S. since 2017.

A British branch of the Atomwaffen Division, The Sonnenkrieg Division, was responsible for the “race traitor” threats to kill Prince Harry and his wife Megan Markle alongside claims that police officers should be raped and killed and that white women who date non-whites should be hanged. In June, Sonnenkrieg members Oskar Dunn-Koczorowski, 18, and Michal Szewczuk, 19, were jailed for terrorism offences.

“Let’s fill our hearts with terror and London’s streets with blood.”

Jacek Tchorzewski

Earlier in the year, Sonnenkrieg member Jacek Tchorzewski, 18, was arrested at Luton airport and charged with terrorism offences after police discovered “an enormous amount” of documents on the manufacture of weapons and explosives. Judge Anuja Dhir said the defendant was a “deeply entrenched neo-Nazi with an interest in Satanism and occult practices” and an “offender of particular concern” as she sentences him to four years in prision last month.

Also last month, police in Kansas arrested a serving U.S. Army soldier after he allegedly shared bomb-making instructions online. The soldier, Jarrett William Smith, was interested in joining the Azov Battalion and was in correspondence with a second man in Texas who had allegedly fought for the group. Conversations included discussion on carrying out attacks against “left-wing” media outlets, activists and politicians, including Democratic Presidential nominee Beto O’Rourke.

“White supremacy extremism is a growing transnational threat and one that is too large not to tackle head-on. As the world has become more and more interconnected through social media, white supremacy extremists have found it easier and easier to recruit, fundraise, and spread violent propaganda. Moreover, white supremacist extremists are imitating Salafi- Jihadist groups like Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, and many are taking advantage of international conflicts – such as the conflict in Ukraine – to expand the global white supremacy movement. Our new report outlines how these groups currently operate across the world and provides actionable solutions for policymakers, civil society, security services, and law enforcement agencies to combat this brand of violent extremism.”

Ali Soufan

Read the report via The Soufan Center


About The Soufan Center
The Soufan Center (TSC) is a nonprofit strategy center dedicated to serving as a resource for research, analysis, strategic dialogue, and action related to global security issues and emergent threats. TSC brings unique insight to the space by producing independent, quality research and hosting proactive conversations in order to effectively equip thought leaders, policymakers​, bi- and multilateral institutions, the media, and those in the nonprofit and academic communities to engage in strategic security-related practices. Our work focuses on a broad range of complex security issues—from international and domestic terrorism, to humanitarian crisis analysis, to refugee and immigrant issues, and much more.

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