Extremist Content Online: Facebook Pages Found Supporting Belgian Extremist Soldier Jürgen Conings

(New York, N.Y.)The Counter Extremism Project (CEP) reports weekly on the methods used by extremists to exploit the Internet and social media platforms to recruit followers and incite violence. Last week, CEP researchers identified several groups and pages on Facebook that supported Belgian extremist soldier Jürgen Conings. The three groups and two pages were on the platform despite the company’s recent takedown of a much larger group dedicated to Conings, in which it cited its policies on “Dangerous Individuals and Organizations.” Three of the five were removed after being reported by CEP.

Antisemitic and neo-Nazi content was found on YouTube, Facebook-owned Instagram and Twitter. On YouTube CEP located a private neo-Nazi accelerationist podcast that required permission to access. The podcast explicitly endorsed violence and urged listeners to be “active participants in the destruction of society” and to “instill a little terror wherever you go.” Several accounts were found on Instagram that urged violence against Jews and praised neo-Nazism. Two accounts were located on Twitter that promoted the neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement’s (NRM) podcasts.

Lastly, a white supremacist prisoner support group announced that they would accept donations in the privacy cryptocurrency Monero and a pro-ISIS website using a free “rf.gd” domain that contains numerous violent propaganda videos was located.

Facebook Pages in Support of Jürgen Conings Remain on Platform

Following Facebook’s removal of a large group page supporting Jürgen Conings, CEP researchers found three other groups and two pages supporting the Belgian extremist soldier. Conings, a firearms instructor in the Belgian armed forces with suspected ties to the far-right, had previously served multiple tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. Conings went missing on May 17 after stealing firearms from his base and after letters were discovered where he stated his intent to “join the resistance” against the Belgian government and threatened a government virologist. After CEP reported the content to Facebook, two groups and one page were removed, leaving one page and one group on the social media platform.

The two Facebook pages had small followings, with four and 18 likes, while the groups had 830 members, over 515 members, and 300 members, respectively. Groups shared memes, links to news stories, and messages of support for Conings. The group that Facebook did not remove after CEP reported it had over 600 members on June 1. On May 25, Facebook removed a group that supported Conings and had over 40,000 members due to its contravening of the platform’s policies on “Dangerous Individuals and Organizations.”

Facebook group in support of Jürgen Conings. May 27, 2021.The group was removed by Facebook after it was reported by CEP.

Neo-Nazi Accelerationist Podcast Uploaded as Private YouTube Video

A neo-Nazi podcast, created and hosted by the administrator of a notorious accelerationist Telegram channel, was uploaded to YouTube on May 23 as a private video, requiring approval to view from the uploader. Both the YouTube link and a separate mp3 file on Telegram were shared by at least 15 different neo-Nazi and white supremacist Telegram channels. The podcast explicitly endorses violence. In the most recent episode, one of the hosts urged listeners to be “active participants in the destruction of society” and to “instill a little terror wherever you go.” One of the podcasters encouraged listeners to be wary of a forced government famine to coerce people to get the COVID-19 vaccine in exchange for food. The same individual declared that the vaccine would lead to death or a change in one’s genome.

The Telegram channel was removed in January as part of the platform’s crackdown on extreme-right and white supremacist content that endorsed violence, however, the admins created at least two alternate channels, one of which is still online, using modified language and posting habits. A new version of the original channel, using the same name and profile photo as the channel deleted in January, returned to Telegram on April 26, 2021. The podcast has previously been deleted by BitChute for violating their Community Guidelines.

Antisemitic and Neo-Nazi Propaganda Located on Instagram

The week of May 23-May 29, CEP researchers located several antisemitic and neo-Nazi accounts on Instagram, including posts encouraging violence. One account, which used a neo-Nazi accelerationist slogan in its profile, posted a video on May 26 urging violence against Jews and linking to a neo-Nazi Telegram account. The video was viewed over 125 times in 24 hours. The video was removed by Instagram after it was reported, but the profile was not removed. Another account, with over 575 followers, remained online after it was reported for posting multiple antisemitic memes and a segment of the George Floyd death video. Other pages included a profile with a Nazi swastika as its user icon and an account praising a neo-Nazi slogan in the profile description. CEP also located an account that posted Atomwaffen Division propaganda in December 2020 and used an image taken from the group’s propaganda as its profile photo. The swastika account was removed by Instagram shortly after it was located, the final two accounts were removed by Instagram after CEP reported them.

Twitter Accounts Promote Nordic Resistance Movement Podcasts

CEP located two accounts promoting the neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement’s (NRM) podcasts on Twitter. A primary account for the online radio station joined the platform in March 2019 and had over 300 followers on May 27. The account tweeted out links to podcasts and blog posts. In May 2021, content included an interview with the American Rob Rundo, a former leader of the neo-Nazi Rise Above Movement, updates on NRM activities, and an antisemitic blog post. With over 170 followers, the second account was created in September 2020, advertised a music podcast on the NRM website, and included interviews with individuals and bands affiliated with the national socialist black metal (NSBM) scene. Neither account was removed by Twitter after it was reported by CEP.

Extreme Right Prisoner Support Group Asks for Monero Donations

On May 21, a white supremacist prisoner support group announced that they would accept donations in the privacy cryptocurrency Monero. The group previously only took checks and money orders. The group was founded in December 2019 and seeks to provide money, books, and letters to white supremacists in prison, including mass shooters such as Dylann RoofRobert Bowers, and Patrick Crusius, and various members of the Atomwaffen Division and The Base. The group’s website has published antisemitic writing from prison by the accused Poway synagogue shooter, John Earnest. The organization maintains a Telegram channel, Gab account, and a website that uses Cloudflare as its name server and registrar. 

New ISIS Website Located

The week of May 23-May 29, CEP researchers located a pro-ISIS website that contains numerous violent propaganda videos, editions from the official ISIS weekly newsletter al-Naba, and ISIS Amaq news updates and photosets. The site is updated daily with content. The website uses a free “rf.gd” domain.

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On October 27, 2018, domestic terrorist Robert D. Bowers carried out an anti-Semitic attack at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. He fired on congregants as they gathered for worship, killing 11 people and wounding six others.

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