For immediate release | Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Extremist Content Online: White Supremacists Celebrate Jersey City Shooting on Telegram

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Media at CEP

Alleged Atomwaffen Division Chapter Declared In Ukraine; Neo-Nazi Group The Base Threatens Anti-Fascist Podcaster

(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. This week, white supremacists on Telegram celebrated the Jersey City shooting, in which six people were killed, including the two perpetrators. A self-proclaimed Atomwaffen Division (AWD) chapter allegedly in Ukraine released a video and pamphlet via Telegram in which they advised viewers on how to create their own AWD cell. Additionally, neo-Nazi group The Base released a picture on Telegram threatening an anti-fascist podcaster and four other journalists. Lastly, al Qaeda supporters created active channels on the platform RocketChat for communication and propaganda purposes.

White Supremacists on Telegram Celebrate Jersey City Shooting

White supremacist channels on Telegram celebrated the December 10 mass shooting at a kosher grocery store in Jersey City. A man and a woman, David N. Anderson and Francine Graham, killed three people in the store, as well as a police officer. Both assailants were killed in a shootout with police. At one point, Anderson had a connection with the Black Hebrew Israelite movement, a multi-sect movement that believes that African Americans are the true descendants of the biblical Jews. On Thursday, December 12, law enforcement officials announced that they were investigating the attack as a domestic terrorist event with a hate crime bias.

“The Jersey City shooting was extremely tragic and yet another example of domestic terrorism,” said CEP researcher Joshua Fisher-Birch. “Although white supremacists were not the perpetrators, they celebrated this attack on Telegram, which goes to show that they will co-opt any opportunity they see to continue to incite violence, hatred and fear across the globe. We must deter white supremacists and all extremist groups that commemorate a devastating event such as this one in Jersey City.”

Even though the attack was committed by two African Americans, numerous white supremacist and neo-Nazi channels on Telegram praised the attack and used the opportunity to urge further violence against Jews. A channel belonging to a neo-Nazi group inspired by the book Siege uploaded a poster advocating for the murder of Jews. White supremacist propaganda channels pushed anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and posted edited videos celebrating the attack and murder of Jews.

Self-Proclaimed Atomwaffen Division in Ukraine Releases Video and Pamphlet

On Tuesday, December 10, a video was released by a group claiming to be an Atomwaffen Division (AWD) cell in Ukraine. The video shows five men wearing camouflage uniforms and AWD patches, as well as digitally blurred patches for what appears to be the Ukrainian Azov Battalion and Right Sector. One of the individuals threatened Ukrainian politicians with violence, and stated that they “surrender our native land to the enemies and exploit our great race.” The video includes footage from other groups, including a clip originally from protests in Kiev in 2014, and footage from far-right marches in Ukraine.

The Telegram channel that posted the video also uploaded an accompanying pamphlet that advises readers on how to create their own AWD cell. The pamphlet includes an “AWD oath,” instructions on composing a uniform, a reading list, and information on joining. The original American AWD requires potential recruits to send an application form to a secure email address and specifies that “you must undergo an application process which consists of this application and a further interview process.” Comparatively, the pamphlet distributed on Telegram by the alleged Ukrainian AWD cell states that individuals only must swear the oath to AWD and build a kit, saying that “membership is not something given to you, but something proven,” adding that recruits should take individual action. In addition to the video and pamphlet, visual propaganda from the alleged Ukrainian group was posted on Telegram praising Christchurch shooter Brenton Tarrrant.

The December 10 video is shot in a style similar to an alleged AWD video, titled “Fission,” released on October 10. The October 10 video contains a screenshot referencing a text listed as required reading in the pamphlet posted on December 10. The October 10 video was condemned by the American AWD on their site on the dark web, and by James Mason, the author of the foundational book Siege and advisor to AWD. On their website, AWD stated that none of the group’s members participated in the making of the October 10 video, indicating that the American AWD has no connection to the alleged Ukrainian cell. Some Telegram channels that are inspired by the book Siege and support terrorism cast doubt on the alleged Ukrainian video, accusing the creators of seeking to divide the movement.

The video was posted on Telegram and a version was found on YouTube. The copy on YouTube was on the site for approximately two days when it was located, and had 37 views.

Neo-Nazi Group The Base Threatens Podcaster

On December 12, the neo-Nazi self-described survivalist network The Base released a photo on Telegram threatening an anti-fascist podcaster. The photo shows a masked member of The Base allegedly standing on the podcaster’s front porch. On December 2, The Base released a video on Telegram threatening five journalists and authors.

Al Qaeda Supporters Create Channels on RocketChat

Al Qaeda supporters have created channels on the RocketChat platform for communications and for disseminating propaganda. Channels include rooms for specific geographic areas, a Global Islamic Media Front (GIMF) channel, and chat rooms. Links to propaganda videos have been posted, as well as news from the terrorist group. ISIS supporters have been using RocketChat since December 2018.