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German for "atomic weapons," Atomwaffen Division (AWD) is a neo-Nazi organization that seeks the creation of a National Socialist government through a violent "white revolution," and believes that a race war is inevitable.* The group promotes Nazi and satanic propaganda in pursuit of "total Aryan victory."* AWD gained national prominence after some of its members attacked counter-protesters at the August 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Police also suspect individual AWD members to be the perpetrators of multiple murders throughout 2017 and 2018.* The FBI arrested multiple AWD members in February 2020 on harassment charges, leading to the group’s alleged disbanding the following month.*

AWD follows a neo-Nazi ideology promoted by James Mason, a former American Nazi Party member and a follower of cult leader Charles Manson.* During the 1980s, Mason wrote a series of pro-Manson and pro-Nazi newsletters that he called Siege and later compiled into a book of the same name.* Users on the now-defunct fascist web forum IronMarch formed AWD after discovering Siege. They based AWD's ideology on Mason's ideas of autonomous terror cells fighting a guerilla war against "the system."*

A 2018 joint ProPublica and PBS investigation identified multiple active-duty and former U.S. soldiers in AWD, including co-founder Brandon Russell, who served in the Florida National Guard.* These AWD members have reportedly organized training sessions in hand-to-hand combat and weaponry.* ProPublica identified active-duty Marine Vasillios Pistolis as an AWD cell leader responsible for physical attacks during the 2017 Charlottesville protest.* The Marines court martialed, jailed, and discharged Pistolis after the public revelation of his identity.*

Other far-right groups have condemned AWD as a cult front for the British neo-Nazi Satanist group the Order of the Nine Angles. In January 2018, a former AWD member wrote online that the group had been infiltrated by Satanists. According to leaked chat transcripts, several AWD members resigned as of March 2018 because of the growing occult fixation, while others embraced the satanic imagery.*

On February 26, 2020, federal authorities arrested former AWD leader John Cameron Denton and four other members on multiple harassment charges, including sending anti-Semitic and racist threats to journalists and participation in swatting conspiracies. Swatting is a harassment tactic that involves misleading dispatchers with information on an imminent threat in a specific location, leading authorities to respond in full force, including a SWAT team response.* In early March 2020, Politico reported the U.S. government sought to designate a white supremacist group as a foreign terrorist organization. Former U.S. government officials and counterterrorism analysts suggested AWD could be designated.* On March 9, 2020, an alleged audio recording by Mason announced AWD would immediately disband due to increasing pressure from authorities. According to the recording, anything found online in the future claiming to be from AWD is fake.*

Atomwaffen Division
Atomwaffen Division
U.S. White Supremacy Groups

Brandon Russell and Devon Arthurs co-founded AWD in 2015.* John Cameron Denton, a.k.a. "Rape," was the last reported leader of AWD, though Russell reaffirmed his position as leader in a May 2018 recording from prison.* Denton was arrested on February 26, 2020. The U.S. Justice Department identified him as a former leader of AWD.* Kaleb J. Cole was the reported leader of AWD's Washington state chapter. Sean Michael Fernandez was a leader of the Texas cell.* According to Vice News, a Canadian individual who goes by the pseudonym Dark Foreigner was AWD's official propagandist and graphic designer.*

AWD has no central base of operations. AWD reportedly operated chapters in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Washington, D.C., Wisconsin, Canada, and Germany.*

https://atomwaffendivision.org (suspended), https://siegeculture.biz/ (offline as of March 2019)

Gab (Dark Foreigner), Gab (Groz), Gab (Siege Culture), Gab (Sonnenkreig Division), Twitter (AtomwaffenDiv) (Suspended), Twitter (Dark Foreigner), Twitter (Siege Culture) (Suspended), Twitter (Wallcroft AW) (Suspended), Tumblr (Dark Foreigner), YouTube (Atomwaffen Division) (Suspended), YouTube (Dark Foreigner), YouTube (SiegeWave) (Discontinued), YouTube (Read SIEGE) (Discontinued)

AWD has posted propaganda videos on the video-sharing service BitChute.* The group previously posted propaganda videos to YouTube, which led to a February 2018 Daily Beast report on YouTube's refusal to ban AWD for violations of its terms of service. YouTube subsequently suspended AWD's account, citing "multiple or severe violations of YouTube's policy prohibiting hate speech."*

AWD reportedly had approximately 80 members in about 20 cells around the United States as of 2018. According to a former AWD member, AWD saw a membership surge after the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. A 2018 ProPublica investigation identified AWD members in at least 23 states. According to AWD chat records, its largest chapters were in Washington, Virginia, and Texas.* The group had also reportedly expanded into Canada and Germany.*

In July 2018, AWD members on the social media site Gab began displaying the name Sonnenkrieg Division, which launched its own Gab page the following month. The group is a British branch of AWD and uses similar propaganda and imagery.* Two members were imprisoned in 2019 for threatening to kill Prince Harry, whom they labeled a “race traitor” for marrying a woman of mixed race. The United Kingdom banned Sonnenkrieg Division in February 2020.*

James Mason's book Siege is required reading for AWD members.* In 2017, a group of IronMarch members created a website for Mason's writings at https://siegeculture.biz/.* The site's administrators credit AWD for the development of the so-called Siege Culture promoting Mason and his writings.* The website was offline as of March 2019.* AWD openly embraces Nazi and satanic imagery and rhetoric based on Mason's Nazi beliefs and fealty to the late cult leader Charles Manson.* AWD members have also cited Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and mass shooters Dylann Roof and Anders Breivik as inspirations.*

In June 2018, AWD reportedly began selling t-shirts through the online retailer Teespring in support of Sam Woodward, the AWD member who allegedly murdered Blaze Bernstein in California earlier that year.*

AWD propaganda videos have featured members armed with assault weapons attending military-style training sessions. Leaked chat logs of AWD members include discussions of targeting U.S. power facilities and other infrastructure.* The group itself has not yet claimed any specific attacks, but individual AWD members have been linked to multiple acts of violence.

Brandon Russell
Devon Arthurs
John Cameron Denton
Kaleb J. Cole
Sean Michael Fernandez

Introduction

German for "atomic weapons," Atomwaffen Division (AWD) is a neo-Nazi organization that seeks the creation of a National Socialist government through a violent "white revolution," and believes that a race war is inevitable.* The group promotes Nazi and satanic propaganda in pursuit of "total Aryan victory."* AWD gained national prominence after some of its members attacked counter-protesters at the August 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Police also suspect individual AWD members to be the perpetrators of multiple murders throughout 2017 and 2018.* The FBI arrested multiple AWD members in February 2020 on harassment charges, leading to the group’s alleged disbanding the following month.*

AWD follows a neo-Nazi ideology promoted by James Mason, a former American Nazi Party member and a follower of cult leader Charles Manson.* During the 1980s, Mason wrote a series of pro-Manson and pro-Nazi newsletters that he called Siege and later compiled into a book of the same name.* Users on the now-defunct fascist web forum IronMarch formed AWD after discovering Siege. They based AWD's ideology on Mason's ideas of autonomous terror cells fighting a guerilla war against "the system."*

A 2018 joint ProPublica and PBS investigation identified multiple active-duty and former U.S. soldiers in AWD, including co-founder Brandon Russell, who served in the Florida National Guard.* These AWD members have reportedly organized training sessions in hand-to-hand combat and weaponry.* ProPublica identified active-duty Marine Vasillios Pistolis as an AWD cell leader responsible for physical attacks during the 2017 Charlottesville protest.* The Marines court martialed, jailed, and discharged Pistolis after the public revelation of his identity.*

Other far-right groups have condemned AWD as a cult front for the British neo-Nazi Satanist group the Order of the Nine Angles. In January 2018, a former AWD member wrote online that the group had been infiltrated by Satanists. According to leaked chat transcripts, several AWD members resigned as of March 2018 because of the growing occult fixation, while others embraced the satanic imagery.*

On February 26, 2020, federal authorities arrested former AWD leader John Cameron Denton and four other members on multiple harassment charges, including sending anti-Semitic and racist threats to journalists and participation in swatting conspiracies. Swatting is a harassment tactic that involves misleading dispatchers with information on an imminent threat in a specific location, leading authorities to respond in full force, including a SWAT team response.* In early March 2020, Politico reported the U.S. government sought to designate a white supremacist group as a foreign terrorist organization. Former U.S. government officials and counterterrorism analysts suggested AWD could be designated.* On March 9, 2020, an alleged audio recording by Mason announced AWD would immediately disband due to increasing pressure from authorities. According to the recording, anything found online in the future claiming to be from AWD is fake.*

Leadership

Brandon Russell and Devon Arthurs co-founded AWD in 2015.* John Cameron Denton, a.k.a. "Rape," was the last reported leader of AWD, though Russell reaffirmed his position as leader in a May 2018 recording from prison.* Denton was arrested on February 26, 2020. The U.S. Justice Department identified him as a former leader of AWD.* Kaleb J. Cole was the reported leader of AWD's Washington state chapter. Sean Michael Fernandez was a leader of the Texas cell.* According to Vice News, a Canadian individual who goes by the pseudonym Dark Foreigner was AWD's official propagandist and graphic designer.*

Base of Operations

AWD has no central base of operations. AWD reportedly operated chapters in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Washington, D.C., Wisconsin, Canada, and Germany.*

Website

https://atomwaffendivision.org (suspended), https://siegeculture.biz/ (offline as of March 2019)

Membership Size and Relevance

AWD reportedly had approximately 80 members in about 20 cells around the United States as of 2018. According to a former AWD member, AWD saw a membership surge after the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. A 2018 ProPublica investigation identified AWD members in at least 23 states. According to AWD chat records, its largest chapters were in Washington, Virginia, and Texas.* The group had also reportedly expanded into Canada and Germany.*

In July 2018, AWD members on the social media site Gab began displaying the name Sonnenkrieg Division, which launched its own Gab page the following month. The group is a British branch of AWD and uses similar propaganda and imagery.* Two members were imprisoned in 2019 for threatening to kill Prince Harry, whom they labeled a “race traitor” for marrying a woman of mixed race. The United Kingdom banned Sonnenkrieg Division in February 2020.*

Recruitment and Propaganda

James Mason's book Siege is required reading for AWD members.* In 2017, a group of IronMarch members created a website for Mason's writings at https://siegeculture.biz/.* The site's administrators credit AWD for the development of the so-called Siege Culture promoting Mason and his writings.* The website was offline as of March 2019.* AWD openly embraces Nazi and satanic imagery and rhetoric based on Mason's Nazi beliefs and fealty to the late cult leader Charles Manson.* AWD members have also cited Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and mass shooters Dylann Roof and Anders Breivik as inspirations.*

In June 2018, AWD reportedly began selling t-shirts through the online retailer Teespring in support of Sam Woodward, the AWD member who allegedly murdered Blaze Bernstein in California earlier that year.*

Violent Activities

AWD propaganda videos have featured members armed with assault weapons attending military-style training sessions. Leaked chat logs of AWD members include discussions of targeting U.S. power facilities and other infrastructure.* The group itself has not yet claimed any specific attacks, but individual AWD members have been linked to multiple acts of violence.

Rhetoric