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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.* In July 2020, former AWD members reorganized as National Socialist Order (NSO) in order to “build an Aryan, National Socialist world by any means necessary.”*

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.*

On July 25, 2020, a group of former AWD leaders announced the reorganization of AWD into the National Socialist Order (NSO). NSO leaders claimed they learned from the mistakes of AWD, pointing to a lack of ideological cohesion. The NSO leaders further claimed they had built the NSO with a new leadership dedicated to creating an “Aryan, National Socialist world by any means necessary.”* NSO declared itself to be a U.S.-based organization dedicated to Adolf Hitler and in “support the overthrow of all Jew-controlled governments worldwide in order to liberate the Aryan race.”* According to NSO’s official program, NSO completely rejects the current social-political world order, which the group denounced as a “left-wing framework cultivated by the Jew.”* The group further called for all members to be armed and “ready at a moment’s notice” as its priority is to “seize territorial power by any means necessary.”*

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.*

Upon NSO’s creation in July 2020, a member named Ryan Arthur introduced the new group on the American Futurist website. It is unclear what Arthur’s official role is or whether this is a pseudonym.*

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.*

NSO claims to be a U.S.-based organization.*

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

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."*, Telegram (NSO), BitChute (NSO)

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.* In July 2020, the United Kingdom banned another AWD-linked organization, Feuerkrieg Division.*

In February 2020, a series of arrests decimated AWD’s leadership and led to the group to officially disband.* A group of former AWD leaders who were not arrested reorganized in July 2020 as NSO, which claimed to be a U.S.-centered organization. It is unclear how large its membership is.*

James Mason's book Siege was 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.*

AWD targeted college students, teenagers, and other youth––in particular on college campuses––for recruitment.* In 2016, the group reportedly posted fliers, buttons, banners, and other propaganda adorned with Nazi imagery on eight college campuses.*

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.*

NSO remains dedicated to Siege and Mason. In July 2020, NSO announced itself and posted its manifesto on the pro-Siege American Futurist website. The site lists Mason and former AWD leaders among its contributors.* NSO has also created accounts on Telegram and BitChute to spread propaganda.* The group also declared its dedication to Adolf Hitler and support of the “overthrow of all Jew-controlled governments worldwide in order to liberate the Aryan race.”* As its symbol, NSO adopted a sword overlaying a red swastika on a black background.* According to NSO’s official program, NSO completely rejects the current social-political world order, which the group denounced as a “left-wing framework cultivated by the Jew.”* NSO seeks to create a “revolutionary atmosphere” in order to overthrow the current socio-economic system and “liberate” the Aryan race.*

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.

  • NSO Program, July 25, 2020: “We are strict followers of the worldview established by our Führer, Adolf Hitler.”*
  • NSO Program, July 25, 2020: “While solely based in the United States, we support the overthrow of all Jew-controlled governments worldwide in order to liberate the Aryan race.”*
  • NSO Program, July 25, 2020: “We scorn and reject the current political system, and all notions of working within the left-right framework cultivated by the Jew.”*
  • NSO Program, July 25, 2020: “We believe that the earth should be solely populated by the Aryan race. ”*
  • NSO member Ryan Arthur, July 26, 2020: The Atomwaffen Division was founded and maintained by ardent National Socialists. We all understood the kike plan to destroy the Aryan race. It burned in our hearts. We all came to the same conclusion: this can not last, and it can not continue! Otherwise, the Aryan race would be destroyed for all time. This, we knew that we needed to stop from happening. We needed to reawaken an Aryan race of strength, honor, passion, and greatness, by any means necessary.”*
  • Tweet from AWD member “Wallcroft AW,” posted with a picture of armed and masked AWD members, August 13, 2018: “We avenge you for centuries of rape, murder and theft! Behold the power of our killing machine! There’ll be nothing but dust when the vultures have left.”*
  • Audio recording of AWD imprisoned co-founder Brandon Russell in an AWD propaganda video, May 2018: “I have become a prisoner of war in this war against society…. To all the outsiders who tried to hinder our efforts, I say this to you: I created something beautiful. Beautiful things scare you people. You just don’t like it because it doesn’t like you. Night shall turn to day as flames burn brilliantly. The sword has been drawn. There is no turning back.”*
  • AWD flier found in Brandon Russell’s car, January 2018: “Don’t prepare for exams, prepare for a race war.”*
  • Unidentified AWD member in a video announcing the formation of a German chapter, June 2018: “Sieg Heil.” (A Nazi salute meaning “Hail victory.”)*
  • AWD member “Vass” in a private chat log, January 28, 2018: “First sergeants are officially all homosexual Jews who will die during the revolution.”*
  • Dark Foreigner in a blog post on Tumblr, January 18, 2018: “Let’s bring a new image of terror and dread, to the 21st century.”*
  • Unidentified former AWD member to ProPublica, 2018: “We want men who are willing to be the boots on the ground. Joining us means serious dedication not only to the Atomwaffen Division and its members, but to the goal of Total Aryan Victory.”*
  • Twitter post by AWD member Vasillios Pistolis on his participation in the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, August 12, 2017: “Today cracked three skulls open with virtually no damage to myself.”*
  • Leaked communication from an AWD chatroom, undated: “Rats and traitors get the rope first.”*
  • Unidentified AWD member in a leaked audio conversation, undated: “You guys can get all moralistic if you want about satanism but at the end of the day when the fuckin’ race war comes, morals aren’t going to do anything but get you fuckin’ killed.”*
  • Propaganda flier, undated: “A new world order will rise from the ashes of the kike system.”*
Brandon Russell
Devon Arthurs
John Cameron Denton
Kaleb J. Cole
Sean Michael Fernandez
Ryan Arthur

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.* In July 2020, former AWD members reorganized as National Socialist Order (NSO) in order to “build an Aryan, National Socialist world by any means necessary.”*

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.*

On July 25, 2020, a group of former AWD leaders announced the reorganization of AWD into the National Socialist Order (NSO). NSO leaders claimed they learned from the mistakes of AWD, pointing to a lack of ideological cohesion. The NSO leaders further claimed they had built the NSO with a new leadership dedicated to creating an “Aryan, National Socialist world by any means necessary.”* NSO declared itself to be a U.S.-based organization dedicated to Adolf Hitler and in “support the overthrow of all Jew-controlled governments worldwide in order to liberate the Aryan race.”* According to NSO’s official program, NSO completely rejects the current social-political world order, which the group denounced as a “left-wing framework cultivated by the Jew.”* The group further called for all members to be armed and “ready at a moment’s notice” as its priority is to “seize territorial power by any means necessary.”*

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.*

Upon NSO’s creation in July 2020, a member named Ryan Arthur introduced the new group on the American Futurist website. It is unclear what Arthur’s official role is or whether this is a pseudonym.*

  • Brandon Russell

  • Devon Arthurs

  • Kaleb J. Cole

  • Sean Michael Fernandez

  • Ryan Arthur

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.*

NSO claims to be a U.S.-based organization.*

Website

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

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.* In July 2020, the United Kingdom banned another AWD-linked organization, Feuerkrieg Division.*

In February 2020, a series of arrests decimated AWD’s leadership and led to the group to officially disband.* A group of former AWD leaders who were not arrested reorganized in July 2020 as NSO, which claimed to be a U.S.-centered organization. It is unclear how large its membership is.*

Recruitment and Propaganda

James Mason's book Siege was 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.*

AWD targeted college students, teenagers, and other youth––in particular on college campuses––for recruitment.* In 2016, the group reportedly posted fliers, buttons, banners, and other propaganda adorned with Nazi imagery on eight college campuses.*

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.*

NSO remains dedicated to Siege and Mason. In July 2020, NSO announced itself and posted its manifesto on the pro-Siege American Futurist website. The site lists Mason and former AWD leaders among its contributors.* NSO has also created accounts on Telegram and BitChute to spread propaganda.* The group also declared its dedication to Adolf Hitler and support of the “overthrow of all Jew-controlled governments worldwide in order to liberate the Aryan race.”* As its symbol, NSO adopted a sword overlaying a red swastika on a black background.* According to NSO’s official program, NSO completely rejects the current social-political world order, which the group denounced as a “left-wing framework cultivated by the Jew.”* NSO seeks to create a “revolutionary atmosphere” in order to overthrow the current socio-economic system and “liberate” the Aryan race.*

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

  • NSO Program, July 25, 2020: “We are strict followers of the worldview established by our Führer, Adolf Hitler.”*
  • NSO Program, July 25, 2020: “While solely based in the United States, we support the overthrow of all Jew-controlled governments worldwide in order to liberate the Aryan race.”*
  • NSO Program, July 25, 2020: “We scorn and reject the current political system, and all notions of working within the left-right framework cultivated by the Jew.”*
  • NSO Program, July 25, 2020: “We believe that the earth should be solely populated by the Aryan race. ”*
  • NSO member Ryan Arthur, July 26, 2020: The Atomwaffen Division was founded and maintained by ardent National Socialists. We all understood the kike plan to destroy the Aryan race. It burned in our hearts. We all came to the same conclusion: this can not last, and it can not continue! Otherwise, the Aryan race would be destroyed for all time. This, we knew that we needed to stop from happening. We needed to reawaken an Aryan race of strength, honor, passion, and greatness, by any means necessary.”*
  • Tweet from AWD member “Wallcroft AW,” posted with a picture of armed and masked AWD members, August 13, 2018: “We avenge you for centuries of rape, murder and theft! Behold the power of our killing machine! There’ll be nothing but dust when the vultures have left.”*
  • Audio recording of AWD imprisoned co-founder Brandon Russell in an AWD propaganda video, May 2018: “I have become a prisoner of war in this war against society…. To all the outsiders who tried to hinder our efforts, I say this to you: I created something beautiful. Beautiful things scare you people. You just don’t like it because it doesn’t like you. Night shall turn to day as flames burn brilliantly. The sword has been drawn. There is no turning back.”*
  • AWD flier found in Brandon Russell’s car, January 2018: “Don’t prepare for exams, prepare for a race war.”*
  • Unidentified AWD member in a video announcing the formation of a German chapter, June 2018: “Sieg Heil.” (A Nazi salute meaning “Hail victory.”)*
  • AWD member “Vass” in a private chat log, January 28, 2018: “First sergeants are officially all homosexual Jews who will die during the revolution.”*
  • Dark Foreigner in a blog post on Tumblr, January 18, 2018: “Let’s bring a new image of terror and dread, to the 21st century.”*
  • Unidentified former AWD member to ProPublica, 2018: “We want men who are willing to be the boots on the ground. Joining us means serious dedication not only to the Atomwaffen Division and its members, but to the goal of Total Aryan Victory.”*
  • Twitter post by AWD member Vasillios Pistolis on his participation in the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, August 12, 2017: “Today cracked three skulls open with virtually no damage to myself.”*
  • Leaked communication from an AWD chatroom, undated: “Rats and traitors get the rope first.”*
  • Unidentified AWD member in a leaked audio conversation, undated: “You guys can get all moralistic if you want about satanism but at the end of the day when the fuckin’ race war comes, morals aren’t going to do anything but get you fuckin’ killed.”*
  • Propaganda flier, undated: “A new world order will rise from the ashes of the kike system.”*