Terrorgram : Post-AWD developments in Siege Culture

A screenshot from Atomwaffen’s first recruitment video (VICE).

Although the domestic terror group Atomwaffen Division (AWD) was ‘officially’ disbanded in March 2020 in an announcement by it’s chief ideologue James Mason, the ‘Siege Culture’ they cultivated persists and has only become more militant since the demise of it’s most well known adherents.

Several weeks after Mason’s announcement, former leading members of AWD announced the formation of a new organisation — the National Socialist Order (NSO) — committing themselves to an even more ideological pure version of Mason’s teachings with a stricter entrance criterion and codes of secrecy, focused initially on recruitment:

The leader said NSO is a “political and paramilitary group” focusing on “recruitment and propaganda” claiming it did not intend to carry out violence in the near term…

“We’re going to keep people from, if they do anything illegal — which we don’t encourage or discourage — we’re going to keep them from talking about it online,” ¹

Though this group can trace their leadership directly to AWD and claims to be a direct successor, the success AWD had in spreading ‘Siege Culture’ and ‘leaderless resistance’ has resulted in an explosion of like-minded Neo-Nazi groupuscules notable especially on the Russian social media platform Telegram. With a continually shifting series of public channels names, these small groups share and circulate each other’s ideas as part of a loose network self-proclaimed as ‘Terrorgram’.

The ‘Siege Culture’ of AWD has found a home on the platform alongside other strands of far-right and right-wing politics driven from other social media sites in recent months. The significant cross-posting and interplay among channels allows for increased reach of content for more extreme variants of Neo-Nazism. Siege related memes can be found shared across public channels dedicated to right-wing memes and news aggregation, driving a new audience towards the extremist fringes occupied by AWD co-ideologues.

In one example cited by the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab ², a channel ostensibly devoted to sharing “memes” uploads a series of disparate images before cross-posting another meme from a Terrorgram channel that references a woman dreaming about Brenton Tarrant, ascribing sainthood to the far-right terrorist responsible for the Christchurch massacre. In comparison to the two preceding posts, the third cross-posted meme experiences a jump in viewership, from 324 views to 1,091 views.

An example of the escalatory nature of the terrorgram community, demonstrating how a channel ostensibly devoted to sharing “jokes and memes” cross-posts a meme from another “terrorwave” extremist channel and receives an increase in views. (Source: The Atlantic Council’s DFRLab)

Once users have engaged with and followed these public channels covert end-to-end encrypted communications can easily be established through Telegram with it’s group chat feature that can allow up to 5,000 participants.

Significant new developments have also become apparent in the ideology of ‘Siege Culture’. While still encouraging all like-minded accelerationists to read Mason’s Siege, William Luther Pierce’s Turner Diaries, Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf and the assorted writings of Iron March founder Alexander Slavros (real name Alexander Mukhitdinov) two new central texts have been added indicating an important shift in organizational ideology.

The first is Robert Taber’s 1965 War Of The Flea, a book that analyses patterns in guerrilla warfare tactics across numerous conflicts which is promoted by Terrorgram channels as an effective ‘how to’ manual for Neo-Nazi extremism. Polished and easily shareable memes offering “points” taken from War Of The Flea are currently in circulation on numerous public channels.

Examples of images shared on ‘Siege Culture’ channels positioning ‘The War Of The Flea’ as a new central text (Source: Telegram)

The second is a thin manifesto anonymously written and circulated by numerous ‘Siege Culture’ accounts entitled UNITED NATIONS which radically breaks from the cell-based structure employed by AWD, instead proclaiming “No group / hierarchy / hate camps” and espousing the idea of One Man Army:

A Five Man Army, a Four Man Army, A Three Man Army, A Two Man Army, but the critical first step is to become The One Man Army.

Independent of ALL hierarchy. He answers to Himself and to the Cause, above all else. Taking orders from no-one, but at all times synthesizing His Will with the goals of the collective.

Such a compartmentalized form of coordination, where the White Supremacist Soldier takes action based on a shared vision rather than at the direction of a single leader or structure is impossible for law enforcement to infiltrate and destroy. It is, in fact, their greatest nightmare and our greatest opportunity.

Translated into multiple foreign languages, UNITED NATIONS offers a 20-point plan for evading detection by law enforcement by focusing on “anonymity”, “decentralization”, “self-reliance”, complete silence regarding illegality and developing organisational relations through direct personal connections.

An extract from UNITED NATIONS with references to it’s origin excluded to limit dissemination (Source: Telegram)

The symbol of a Pine tree is adopted to represent this idea and increased examples of telegram memes displaying a Pine tree within a Waffen-SS divisional shield in the style of AWD are notable since the end of 2020.

The use of a Pine Tree and increased references to the writings of Ted Kaczynski connect this manifesto to The Pine Tree Party / Pine Tree Movement, an eco-fascist social media groupuscule originating on Instagram that migrated to Telegram in August 2020 ³. Their original channel has since been closed for violating terms of service, a common occurrence often overcame quickly by targeted channels with a simple rename that allows them to quickly re-enter the far-right network.

At time of writing, March 2021, several public channels with followers ranging from 2.1k to 3.4k are actively circulating this ideology with dozens of posts a day.

Though small, at least one of these accounts heavily utilizes the symbology of The American Futurist, the website on which the NSO announced their formation which carries various pieces written by former AWD members and also functions as a library for Neo-Nazi literature. This may connote a deeper connection to experienced AWD members than immediately apparent.

The American Futurist logo on the left, a Terrorgram meme on the right incorporating their symbology with the SS-Totenkopf (Source: Telegram)

An increased focus on ‘lone wolf’ terrorism combined with the proven militancy of the ‘Siege culture’ demonstrated by AWD, The Base and it’s international adherents makes this vector of ‘leaderless’ radicalization a considerable threat especially as a focus on individual learning and disavowal of the previously used training camps makes the possibility of deliberate infiltration of the armed forces to secure training more likely.

The influence of the extreme Satanic ideology of the Order Of The Nine Angles (O9A) can also clearly be seen across several of these Telegram channels. Not a strict organisation itself, the O9A describes itself as a “social order” with “no such thing as membership” ⁴, encouraging adherents to organize as autonomous cells (“nexions” in their terminology) which are increasingly shifting online to Telegram.

Logo of the Order Of The Nine Angles on the left, symbol associated with the Temple Ov Blood (an O9A chapter) on the right (Source: Telegram)

Finding fertile ground among the accelerationist Neo-Nazi movement, the O9A texts espouse even more extreme actions against all modern morality and glorify rape, child sexual abuse and all acts of murder and include among their cavalcade of heroes the Japanese doomsday cult Aum Shinrikyo, Jim Jones of the People’s Temple and Al Qaeda.

The threat the O9A pose as a loose organisational nexus has been demonstrated by the case of Private Jarrett William Smith ⁵, who shared classified information regarding his unit deployment to his Telegram “nexion” with the intention of contacting Al Qaeda to arrange an ambush which he acknowledged would also kill him.

Both the O9A and the aforementioned telegram accounts place a high focus on individual autonomy signalling an increased focus on ideological above organisational loyalty, a mutation of the “Siege culture” movement that spawned some of the most dangerous domestic terror groups of the last several years that places the inspiration of ‘lone wolf’ attacks at the forefront of their future strategy.

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