American soldier’s arrest in Germany underscores threat of extremists in US

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      One of the chief reasons that white-nationalist domestic terrorists have become such a potent threat to our national security is that an increasing number of them either are currently serving in U.S. armed forces or have been recruited from the ranks of experienced veterans. Would-be terrorists with these backgrounds—capable of handling various weapons and often explosives, as well as knowledgeable in combat tactics and operational security—are far more likely to successfully carry out a lethal attack.

      Today’s arrest in Germany of an American soldier accused of passing classified information regarding U.S. troops and facilities to a Satanist neo-Nazi group based in Europe underscores the growing danger of this threat. The charges will be filed later today, according to NBC News, which reported that authorities claim the soldier gave information about U.S. troops stationed overseas to the Order of Nine Angles (O9A).

      A report by the London-based organization Hope Not Hate detailed how 09A is “an incubator of terrorism,” acting as a “cult that has openly promoted extreme violence for decades.” The Southern Poverty Law Center reports that its influence has spread to the United States as well, with 09A texts serving as a kind of complementary inspiration for young American neo-Nazis, noting that it “holds an important position in the niche, international nexus of occult, esoteric, and/or satanic neo-Nazi groups.”

      As Hope Not Hate explains, 09A “deifies Hitler and the Third Reich, which are regarded as having attempted to create a ‘Satanic empire’ in order to achieve the destiny of the western world.” It originated in the 1960s around a group of ideologues attracted to the occult, some of whom later renounced its teachings.

      Infiltration by neo-Nazis and similar far-right extremists within the ranks of American military forces has long been recognized as a significant threat. As early as 2008, the FBI produced an Intelligence Assessment that warned: “The military training veterans bring to the [white supremacist] movement and their potential to pass this training on to others can increase the ability of lone offenders to carry out violence from the movement’s fringes.”

      The issue has, if anything, only increased in recent years. Lecia Brooks of the SPLC leadership team testified before Congress earlier this year about the growing dimensions of the threat. She was particularly critical of the military establishment’s tepid response:

      It is also clear that this issue has not been taken as seriously as the situation warrants at the highest levels of our government. In December, for example, it was reported that the National Defense Authorization Act was altered in the U.S. Senate to remove mention of “white nationalists” in the screening process for military enlistees. Under this change, the Department of Defense is instructed only to screen for “extremist and gang-related activity.” The omission is significant when we consider the current political and social landscape—where officials with clear sympathies for white nationalist ideology are allowed to serve in the White House, hate groups have reached historic numbers, and mass killings are taking place at the hands of white supremacists.

      A February Military Times report found that more than a third of all U.S. troops—and more than half of its nonwhite soldiers—have personally witnessed or experienced various kinds of ideological racism and white nationalism in recent months. Some of the witness reports included somewhat generic incidents involving discriminatory attitudes and racist language, but soldiers also reported seeing swastikas drawn on other soldiers’ cars, white-supremacist tattoos, pro-Ku Klux Klan stickers, and soldiers sharing Nazi-style salutes.

      “We had a fellow recruit detained and thrown out of my bootcamp platoon due to Nazi tattoos and questionable statements,” wrote one poll participant. “The majority of my co-workers were absolutely outstanding regarding race and work-relations and I credit military service for that. Nevertheless, somehow more racists are slipping through the cracks into the military.”

      Leaked chats from the defunct fascist Iron March forum last year exposed the presence of a large number of active military members participating in the hateful and often violent rhetoric within the neo-Nazi community. Other forum participants voiced an ardent desire to join the military. A Marine Corps member on active duty in the 2nd Division was exposed by Vice as an active recruiter for the neo-Nazi terror organization Atomwaffen Division, urging would-be converts to prepare for a “racial holy war.” A sailor based in California was kicked out of the service for similar activity in April.

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