The Nordic Resistance Movement (Nordiska motståndsrörelsen, or NRM) is a transnational, neo-Nazi organization with official chapters operating in Sweden, Finland, and Norway. The NRM also draws support from neo-Nazis in Denmark and has some registered members in Iceland, though the group has failed to establish formal branches in those countries.
NRM-Sweden has grown more than one-third in size since 2015.
Formed by neo-Nazi nationalists in Sweden in 1997, the NRM seeks to merge all Nordic countries into a single, nationalist-socialist state, either by elections or through revolution. The group is openly racist, anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic, and pro-Hitler—and has carried out violence targeting gay people, ideological opponents and, more recently, Muslim refugees. Since the start of 2015, NRM’s branch in Sweden (NRM-Sweden) has grown more than one-third in size by advocating against Sweden’s open-door policy to Muslim asylum seekers. That chapter registered as a political party in July 2015, and and held its largest rally in September 2017—convening more than 600 demonstrators in the streets of Gothenburg.
Many of the NRM’s co-founders and early members came from the now-defunct White Aryan Resistance (Vitt Ariskt Motstand, or VAM) and its offshoot National Youth (Nationell Ungdom). The VAM, a network of Swedish neo-Nazis formed in the early 1990s, was notorious for carrying out attacks against immigrants and gay people and for funding its violence through bank robberies. The group splintered into several white-power groups in or around 1995, among them National Youth, which would go on to serve as the NRM’s youth movement.
NRM [has] carried out attacks targeting gay people, Muslims asylum seekers, and [others]... using smoking flares, pepper spray, tear gas, knives, and guns.
At its founding in 1997, the NRM was known as the Swedish Resistance Movement (Svenska motståndsrörelsen)—though the group expanded from a Swedish-centered group to one spanning the Nordic region and adopted the name NRM after establishing Finnish and Norwegian chapters in 2008 and 2011, respectively. Media outlets and government officials, however, at times refer to NRM-Sweden as the Swedish Resistance Movement; NRM-Norway as the Norwegian Resistance Movement; and NRM-Finland as the Finnish Resistance Movement. The group itself identifies as the “Nordic Resistance Movement,” and may refer to its various chapters as the “Swedish branch of the Nordic Resistance Movement,” for example.
NRM members have been responsible for the murder of at least three individuals—two in Sweden and one in Finland. Future NRM-Sweden co-founder Klas Lund was convicted in 1986 of killing anti-racist campaigner Ronny Landin who, according to authorities, had intervened to stop an assault on three immigrants by Lund and other neo-Nazis. In 1999, three men connected to National Youth, NRM-Sweden’s youth movement, shot to death trade unionist Björn Söderberg outside of his Stockholm apartment. According to reports, the shooting was revenge for a tip Söderberg had given a local newspaper regarding the identity of one of the NRM members. More recently, in December 2016, key NRM-Finland member Jesse Torniainen was handed a two-year prison sentence for aggravated assault in connection to the murder of 28-year-old Finnish man Jimi Joonas Karttonen. According to reports, Torniainen and others had violently beaten Karttonen that September after the latter openly expressed disapproval of the group during one of its rallies. Karttonen died one week later from his wounds. In November 2017, a Finnish district court banned the NRM and its affiliated chapters. An appeals court upheld the decision in September 2018, but the NRM has since sought permission to appeal its case to the Supreme Court and remains legal in Finland until all options for appeal are exhausted. A decision is expected for fall 2019.
NRM-Sweden’s co-founder was convicted of manslaughter.
NRM leaders and members have also carried out attacks targeting gay people, Muslims asylum seekers, and the group’s ideological adversaries using smoking flares, pepper spray, tear gas, knives, and guns. Some of these attacks have been carried out by top NRM-Sweden leaders, including the chapter’s current leader Simon Lindberg—who was previously convicted of threats and aiding and abetting assault—and its former spokesman Emil Hagberg, who was convicted on weapons and rioting charges related to a fight between NRM-Sweden members and anti-racist campaigners in the Stockholm suburb of Kärrtorp. That fight occurred in December 2013 when demonstrators at an anti-racism march retaliated after NRM-Sweden members attacked their rally with smoking flares. The fighting moved into the nearby woods, according to reports. Four people were injured—including two who were stabbed—and 28 others were arrested.
Since at least November 2016, NRM-Sweden members in the western city of Gothenburg have carried out three improvised explosive device (IED) attacks, according to Swedish authorities. The bombs—one of which failed to detonate—targeted a far-left café and two refugee lodging centers. The first incident occurred on November 11, 2016, when a bomb exploded at the Syndikaliskt Forum Kafe, though no one was hurt. NRM-Sweden member Viktor Melin was later arrested in relation to the bombing. Then, on January 5, 2017, NRM-Sweden members detonated homemade bombs outside of a refugee lodging center, injuring one immigration officer. Authorities later arrested three men in connection to that bombing, noting that the suspects “are or were in the past members of the Nordic Resistance Movement.” On January 25, 2017, Swedish authorities discovered an IED—which had failed to detonate—outside of another refugee housing compound. Officials said that the incident was linked to the Syndikaliskt Forum Kafe and refugee center attacks. In June 2017, Swedish prosecutors charged three men in connection to the far-left café and refugee lodging center attacks. A month later, a court in Goteborg sentenced Viktor Melin, who made all three bombs, to eight years and six months imprisonment for attempted murder and endangering others. Two other NRM members—Jimmy Jonasson and Anton Thulin—were sentenced to five years and 18 months in prison, respectively. They were acquitted of attempted murder. Initial investigations revealed that two of the men had received military training in Russia before returning to Sweden to execute the bombings. But there is little publicly available information regarding who provided training to the men.
[NRM members are] strong in the streets, they dare to fight back the scum.
The attacks perpetrated by NRM members reflect a deeper, systematic allegiance to—and propagation of—the group’s extremist, violent ideology. According to reports, members receive martial arts training and are educated on how to respond if violence arises in the streets. The group previously sold a knife inscribed with the maxim, “The struggle demands more than only words.” While the group is not believed to currently produce or sell personalized weaponry, a former NRM member told the BBC in late 2014 that he was encouraged by the group’s members to carry a weapon on the streets. Such an ethos has had a widespread effect on level of violence among the group’s members. In February 2017, the Norwegian government-owned broadcasting company NRK revealed that of the top 30 NRM-Norway leaders and supporters, 17 had been sentenced a total of 24 times in Norwegian courts in the past decade. According to NRK, six of those sentences involved severe acts of violence. And in 2016, Swedish anti-racism organization Expo found that of 159 of NRM-Sweden’s most active members, 26 percent had been sentenced or prosecuted for violence- or weapons-related charges in 2015 alone.
NRM-Sweden has carried out at least three IED attacks.
Despite its ties to violence, NRM-Sweden officially registered as a political party in July 2015. The group was inspired to enter politics after one of its key members, Pär Öberg, was elected in 2014 as a write-in candidate for the Sweden Democrats party in the Ludvika municipality’s local elections. There is little publicly-available information on NRM-Sweden’s political party, which is registered by the Swedish government as “Nordiska motståndsrörelsen”—the same name used for the larger NRM-Sweden movement. Mainstream media previously believed that NRM-Sweden would not make political gains, but rather lend most of its efforts to extra-parliamentary activities, such as violence, intimidation, and crime. However, NRM-Sweden participated in Sweden’s September 2018 general elections and received a total of 2,106 votes (or 0.03 percent). This meant that the group did not pass the 4 percent threshold to enter into parliament.
The NRM subscribes to a nationalist socialist, or neo-Nazi, ideology. To that end, the group is avowedly anti-Semitic, anti-gay, anti-immigrant, pro-white, and pro-Hitler. In its 2015 party platform “Our Path,” the NRM warns that the Nordic states—as well as the entire Western world—are controlled by the “global Zionist elite.” The NRM thus seeks to “regain power” from that elite and unite the Nordic states into a “Nordic Nation” able to “assert itself militarily, economically and culturally.”
“We are National Socialists [Nazis]. Our main aim is the protection of Sweden’s [white] people and culture. - Emil Hagberg, NRM spokesman
The NRM has openly expressed support for Nazi Germany. As the group said in its 2015 party platform “Our Path”:
“From our point of view, National Socialism [Nazism], [as] proven during the short time it held power in Germany, has been the only form of government that has significantly threatened the destructive forces [i.e. Zionism] that rule the world. From 1945 until today, these same destructive forces have continually conducted political genocide against the Nordic and ethnic peoples of Europe. They recognize National Socialism as the chief enemy of their worldview, because it delivers a strategy of survival for our race….”
NRM members are believed to have used techniques practiced by the Nazis during World War II. A former NRM-Sweden member using the pseudonym “Johan” told the BBC in late 2014 that he left the group when he realized that his fellow members were “measuring skulls…to decide who was Aryan and who wasn’t.” In January 2018, a Swedish court convicted NRM leader Simon Lindberg of “contempt for groups based on their race, skin color, national or ethnic origin by shouting ‘Sieg Heil’ while raising his right arm upwards” during a November 2016 rally. The court initially recommended one month in prison but reduced the sentence to an 800 krona ($98) fine because the NRM had a legal permit for the rally.
NRM members believe that Jews are racist as they consider themselves the “chosen people.” According to the NRM’s party platform, these Jews lead the “global Zionist elite,” which seeks “not only to promote the state of Israel, but also to contribute to long-term instability in all nations who may pose a threat to their power structure.” In addition, the NRM believes that Sweden’s media is “Jewish owned.” According to the dissident former leader of NRM-Finland, Esa Holappa, NRM members who share nonconforming views are often branded as “Jews” or “Zionists” in order to silence and delegitimize them.
The NRM’s official website, Nordfront.se, features a section dedicated to what the NRM perceives as the dangers of Judaism and Zionism. Articles in this section, titled “The Jewish Question,” include: “The EU is Taking Further Censorship Measures to Protect Jewish Power;” “Israel Undermines the American Electoral System,” and “Jewish Feminist Celebrates the Extinction of White Men.” Through the articles, the NRM seeks to propagate anti-Semitic messaging and draw supporters to its cause.
NRM has carried out IED attacks against Muslim asylum seekers.
Anti-Immigrant and Pro-White
The NRM is vehemently opposed to foreign immigration to the Nordic states. The group believes that the arrival of “foreign races” in Nordic nations has resulted in the “physical displacement and genocide” of the Nordic people, who have a “unique gene pool.” In its 2015 party platform, the NRM writes that it seeks to not only “stop mass immigration,” but to repatriate ethnically non-Nordic people. If granted power, the NRM says it will: 1) “Introduce a complete halt of all non-Nordic immigration;” 2) “Establish a government institution that will efficiently and with the aid of modern genetic profiling, racially asses [sic] all people who have acquired citizenship after 1975 and their descendants;” 3) “Promptly begin retuning the majority of racial foreigners situated within the borders of the Nordic region.”
According to Swedish authorities, NRM-Sweden members carried out two IED attacks against Muslim asylum seekers in January 2017 in the Swedish city of Gothenburg. In the first attack, on January 2017, suspected NRM-Sweden members detonated homemade bombs outside of a refugee lodging center, injuring one immigration officer. Authorities later arrested three men in connection to that bombing, noting that the suspects “are or were in the past members of the Nordic Resistance Movement.” Then, on January 25, 2017, Swedish authorities discovered an IED—which had failed to detonate—outside of another refugee housing compound. Officials believe that both incidents were linked to a third bombing at a far-left café in Gothenburg in November 2016.
“[We would] outlaw the homosexual lobby and other propaganda targeted at natural family unit [and] ban flagrant homosexuality in the public realm.” - NRM
The NRM is openly anti-gay. Its members believe that gay people are “perverts” aiming to destroy the concept of the nuclear family. According to its 2015 party platform, the groups seeks to ban gay marriage and “promote and elevate the natural family ideal between a man and a woman.” In addition, the group seeks to “outlaw the homosexual lobby and other propaganda targeted at natural family unit,” as well as “ban flagrant homosexuality in the public realm.”
The NRM often refers to the normalization of homosexuality as the “homolobby,” which it defines as “Jewish cultural Marxism…forces directly and indirectly leading to the philosophical ideas and ideals of the gay community in society.” According to a page on the group’s website, “The homolobby promotes popular enemy decadence and anti-culture, which helps to undermine and dissolve the natural structures of society. Thus, the very premise of a further existence for our people.”
NRM members have carried out attacks on gay people, with numerous such attacks by the group’s members recorded in Sweden throughout 2005. In 2012, a member of NRM-Finland attacked Helsinki city counselor Dan Koivulaakso with pepper spray at a gay-rights event in the Finnish city of Oulu, and in 2013, members of NRM-Finland used tear gas and pepper spray to attack participants in the Helsinki Gay Pride Parade.
One NRM rally in September 2017 drew 600 demonstrators.
The NRM is believed to comprise between 250 to 300 core members spread throughout Sweden, Norway, and Finland—though the group may attract many more sympathizers. In September 2017, NRM-Sweden alone drew more than 600 demonstrators in its largest rally to date. According to an August 2018 estimate by the Finnish-owned media outlet Yle, NRM-Finland is comprised of approximately 120 fully-fledged members. The Norwegian-owned NRK media company reported in February 2017 that that country’s branch contains “a dozen” core activists.
In a June 2016 interview on NRM-Finland’s radio station Riimuradio, NRM-Sweden leader Simon Lindberg revealed that NRM-Sweden is comprised of six distinct “nests,” or areas of operation, throughout Sweden. According to Lindberg, “in every nest, you then have [NRM] activist groups. So one nest could be many activist groups.” Lindberg noted that “nests” may not be utilized by NRM-Finland, implying that NRM’s chapters may not share identical organizational structures.
According to one far-right European group, the NRM offers four distinct levels of membership. In the first level of membership, members donate to the group but do not partake in organizational activities. In the second level, members are expected to donate money as well as participate in the group’s activities. In the third level of membership, members donate a larger amount of money than the previous two groups, and are required to pass a physical fitness test and receive martial arts training. In the highest level of membership, the most committed members swear an oath of allegiance to the group and its mission. These top members also carry out the responsibilities (donations and martial arts training) required of the lower member groups.
Finnish authorities have taken measures to try and ban NRM-Finland. In response, the group developed several contingency measures should the ban be successful, according to an investigation conducted by the Finnish Broadcasting Company Yle in December 2018. The group created a new nationalist political party in spring 2018, called Kansan Yhtenäisyys (roughly translated as Nation United), and sought to collect enough pledges of support to achieve official political party status. NRM-Finland leader Antti Niemi also founded the charity organization Suomalaisapu (Finnish Aid) in order to attract new members and voters. Additionally, NRM-Finland increased its recruitment efforts, proving that the group has remained resilient according to the Finnish interior ministry. The group also sought closer cooperation with the nationalist street patrol group Soldiers of Odin. Members of both groups have participated in each other’s activities. Moreover, NRM-Finland member Jesse Torniainen established an office in Estonia, and the group moved the organization’s website outside Finland.
In January 2019, NRM-Sweden published the group’s objectives for the upcoming five years on its website. These include offering regular lectures open to the public, setting up additional official local headquarters, and tripling the numbers of active members. NRM-Sweden also expressed interest in expanding into local radio and media services, achieve parliamentary representation, and establish a cooperative relationship with other like-minded organizations around the world.
The NRM notes in its party platform document “Our Path” that all the funding it receives comes from “member donations and sympathetic individuals and organizations.” The group openly solicits donations on its various affiliated websites, noting that the “organization receives no state funding,” and asking potential donors to “consider [a donation as] an investment in a brighter future.”
In or around 2003, NRM’s then-leader Klas Lund wrote in the group’s magazine Nationelt Motstånd that the organization did not seek to recruit “as many [individuals] as possible,” but rather to build “an inner core of fanatic activists who can increasingly bring the national message out to the masses.” This outlook may have changed in recent years, as the group now attempts to bring as many people as possible under its umbrella. An official NRM manual released in August 2016 states that the information within it is directed “not only to activists in the [NRM], but rather to all who can actively associate with the organization regardless of the level of engagement.”
In recent years, the NRM has capitalized on the influx of refugees from the Middle East and North Africa in an attempt to spread fear, recruit, and further its agenda. According to anti-racism organization Expo, NRM-Sweden has grown more than one third in size since the beginning of 2015 by advocating against Sweden’s open-door policy to Muslim asylum seekers. The NRM has held numerous anti-immigration rallies, and has hung signs throughout Sweden, Finland, and Norway reading “Refugees Are Not Welcome.” The NRM also produces manuals, stickers, leaflets, and flyers, which it distributes at rallies, on the streets, and in mailboxes.
NRM-Sweden leader Simon Lindberg said in mid-2016 that the group had “recruited a lot of new members” since the start of the refugee crisis. However, Lindberg attributed much of this new recruitment to the group’s sturdy base. According to Lindberg, it would be “very unfair to only give the refugee crisis credibility for our growth, because we have worked hard for many[,] many years and gained a lot of experience during our struggle. Without having a solid ground…we wouldn’t have recruited a single person, no matter how many immigrants come flooding in over our borders.”
In December 2018, NRM-Norway continued its “Winter Aid” tradition of handing out gift packages to the white-Norwegian destitute population in Oslo in order to gain further popularity and support. Packages included traditional Yuletide pork ribs, coffee, mulled wine, warm clothes, clean underwear, and cosmetics. Items were either donated by local supporters or newly purchased.
NRM members are trained in martial arts. Some have received foreign military training.
The NRM is reported to train members in martial arts, and members are taught how to respond if violence arises in the streets. The NRM openly advertises physical training sessions on its website, noting that the group “climbs mountains, arranges self-defense courses…and excursions in forest and land.”
In June 2017, Swedish prosecutors charged three NRM-Sweden members in connection to bombings targeting a far-left café and two refugee lodging centers in November 2016 and January 2017. According to prosecutors, two of the NRM-Sweden members had received military training in Russia just before returning to Sweden to carry out the attacks. There is little publicly-available information regarding who exactly provided training to these individuals.
Also Known As:
- Nordiska motståndsrörelsen (Nordic Resistance Movement, or NRM)
- Svenska motståndsrörelsen (Swedish Resistance Movement, or NRM-Sweden)
- Suomen Vastarintaliike (Finnish Resistance Movement, or NRM-Finland)
- Den norske motstandsbevegelsen (Norwegian Resistance Movement, or NRM-Norway)