Extremist Content Online: Patriot Front Affiliated Jiu-Jitsu Team Advertises Recent Tournament Participations

(New York, N.Y.) — The Counter Extremism Project (CEP) reports weekly on the methods used by extremists and terrorist groups on the Internet to spread propaganda and incite violence. Last week, CEP discovered new content on Instagram from a neo-fascist affiliated jiu-jitsu team, which promoted its recent participation in a competition in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. CEP researchers first reported the group’s account in March, but the content remains on Instagram two and a half months later. 

CEP researchers also continued to find advertisements on extreme right Telegram channels, including accounts affiliated with Patriot Front, Active Clubs, and channels that promote antisemitism. Telegram claims that it shares ad revenue with the administrators of the channels in which ads appear.

Additionally, the New England Minutemen, a new group likely affiliated with the Nationalist Social Club (NSC),  disseminated content on Telegram and Twitter/X of the group holding an anti-immigration protest outside a National Guard armory in Lexington, Massachusetts. CEP researchers also located 20 Instagram accounts posting official ISIS videos and pro-ISIS content, including multiple accounts posting content using the app’s “stories” feature.

On ChirpWire, the media arm of al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) posted a condemnation of the Pakistani military after two individuals were killed during a protest in support of Gaza in Islamabad and called for demonstrations outside of U.S. diplomatic facilities and for individuals to join AQIS. Finally, CEP located a Twitter/X account linked to the French Active Club chapter, which featured propaganda photos. Twitter/X removed a previous account belonging to the same Active Club chapter after CEP reported it in February. 

Patriot Front Affiliated Jiu-Jitsu Team Advertises Recent Tournament Participation

On May 20, a jiu-jitsu team affiliated with the neo-fascist group Patriot Front advertised their recent participation in a mainstream competition in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Photos from the match include individuals who have previously posed with Patriot Front flags and have advertised their affiliation with regional Patriot Front chapters. While the team wears patches that use fonts and imagery associated with Patriot Front, they appear to hide their affiliation when competing in mainstream events. While Patriot Front uses Americana-style imagery, the group promotes antisemitism, anti-LGBTQ sentiment, and racism and has been linked to the Active Club movement. 

Earlier in May, the jiu-jitsu team posted photos of their participation at an Active Club fight night tournament held in Texas in early March. CEP first located the team's social media accounts in March. CEP reported an Instagram account belonging to the group on March 7, but it was still on the website two and a half months later. 

“Social media companies have an important role in preventing extremist groups or affiliated entities from trying to mainstream their ideology,” said CEP Researcher Joshua Fisher-Birch. “An Instagram account makes it easier for this Patriot Front-affiliated group to network and spread propaganda. Meta-owned Instagram should act swiftly to remove this content, as well as other white supremacist propaganda efforts on the app.”

CEP Continues to Find Advertisements on White Supremacist, Fascist, and Antisemitic Telegram Channels

CEP researchers continue to find ads in white supremacist and antisemitic Telegram channels. CEP located nine channels with advertisements between May 21 and May 23. Telegram channels, in order of subscribers, included the main Patriot Front channel, with over 18,500 subscribers; a white supremacist media channel with over 15,000 followers; a channel with over 11,500 subscribers that promotes an approximately 12-hour antisemitic propaganda video that glorifies Nazi Germany and denies the Holocaust; a media propaganda group affiliated with the Active Club movement which has over 7,300 subscribers; a channel with over 5,500 subscribers that posts Patriot Front propaganda; and the main Telegram channel for the Active Club movement in Denmark, which has over 1,200 subscribers.  

Three additional white supremacist and antisemitic channels with ads had over 4,800, 1,600, and 1,300 subscribers, respectively. 

CEP has located other Telegram channels with advertisements in May, including the main French Active Club channel, a prominent neo-Nazi channel with over 22,000 subscribers, and multiple channels that spread antisemitic propaganda. 

On March 31, Telegram began an advertising program with administrators that shares “50% of the revenue from ads displayed in their channels.”

Advertisement on a Patriot Front affiliated Telegram channel with over 5,500 subscribers

Advertisement on a Patriot Front affiliated Telegram channel with over 5,500 subscribers. Screenshot taken on May 23.

New England Neo-Nazi Offshoot Group Opens Social Media Channels

On May 18, a group calling themselves the New England Minutemen began posting on a Telegram channel and advertising an associated Twitter/X account and Proton Mail email address. Photos posted on the group’s Telegram channel showed the group protesting outside of a National Guard armory in Lexington, Massachusetts, claiming that the facility was being used to house immigrants. 

The flag used by the group is identical to a banner used by the neo-Nazi group Nationalist Social Club (NSC), and the groups share the same flash mob style tactics and similar uniforms. NSC promoted New England Minutemen channels on Telegram. NSC is currently being sued by the attorney generals of Massachusetts and New Hampshire for civil rights violations. The Massachusetts suit explicitly alleges that NSC has targeted facilities being used to house immigrants, in addition to seeking to intimidate the attendees and performers at drag events. 

The Minutemen group is allegedly a recent creation and is unaffiliated with previous groups using the same name. 

Pro-ISIS Accounts Located on Instagram

In a sample of content located on Meta-owned Instagram on May 22, CEP researchers found 20 accounts that posted ISIS or pro-ISIS propaganda. Content included clips from official ISIS videos, pro-ISIS videos, links to ISIS content on other websites, pages from the group’s al-Naba newsletter, and Amaq statements, photos, and videos. Multiple accounts posted content using the app’s “stories” feature. At least two accounts, one with almost 1,400 followers, posted execution videos in addition to other ISIS content.  

The 20 accounts had an average of 923 followers, ranging from 67 to 7,697. Eighty percent of the accounts had posted content in May. CEP reported all accounts to Instagram on May 22, and four accounts were removed by May 28.

Amaq video on Instagram. Screenshot taken on May 23.

Amaq video on Instagram. Screenshot taken on May 23.

Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent Condemns Killing of Protestors and Calls for Demonstrations Outside of U.S. Diplomatic Facilities

On May 21, the media arm of al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) released a communique on ChirpWire condemning the killing of two individuals by the Pakistani military during a protest in support of Gaza in Islamabad and calling for demonstrations in front of U.S. diplomatic facilities. The post noted that two people were killed and four were injured when they were hit by an army vehicle. The message condemned Pakistani military leaders as pawns of the U.S. and de-facto supporters of Israel. The post further called for individuals to join AQIS or otherwise support the group financially or through propaganda efforts and called for organized and coordinated protests outside of U.S. embassies and consulates throughout the world. 

French Active Club Evades Twitter/X Removal

On May 22, CEP located a Twitter/X account belonging to the main French Active Club chapter. The profile made its first post on May 17 and includes propaganda photos and a recruitment email address. The previous French Active Club Twitter/X account was removed for violating the site’s rules after CEP reported it to the platform in February. CEP reported the new account on May 22, but it was still on the website on May 28.

Post on Twitter/X announcing the return of the French Active Club to the platform

Post on Twitter/X announcing the return of the French Active Club to the platform. Screenshot taken on May 23.

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On May 8, 2019, Taliban insurgents detonated an explosive-laden vehicle and then broke into American NGO Counterpart International’s offices in Kabul. At least seven people were killed and 24 were injured.

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