Trump’s Favorite Dictator Fueling New Pro-Hitler Movement
Admins on the Nazi Facebook pages and Telegram channels say they are linked to the Egyptian Army—one says he was “an officer in [President] al-Sisi’s military intelligence.”
AMMAN, Jordan—President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is the poster boy for a budding Nazi movement in Egypt linked to the country’s powerful military and security services. The president’s cult of personality has helped energize an online pro-Hitler movement that is rabidly antisemitic and champions a pure Egyptian race, while also praising the Third Reich and attacking dissidents, the LBGTQ+ community, and even other Egyptian nationalist movements.
The movement’s digital goosestepping is being led by a small handful of Nazis claiming connections to the Egyptian Armed Forces on Telegram, who are also attempting to build a community on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. At the center of the network is a branded, cloud-based storage drive being shared across a series of Telegram channels as well as Facebook pages and profiles, containing 16,922 multilingual pieces of Nazi footage, photos, text, and Holocaust denial videos, all meticulously ordered in 416 folders. Repeated calls to the Egyptian military’s media office went unanswered.
Starting in late 2020, a set of five central Telegram channels with members in the hundreds and thousands as well as administrators claiming to be a part of the Egyptian Armed Forces, developed a regionalised brand of Nazism drawing on transnational links with other Nazi movements. The Egyptian Nazis’ most recognizable output includes feverish al-Sisi worship mixed with SS-style disdain for dissidents, Islamists, and the LBGTQ+ community, as well as imagery that venerates mass shooters like New Zealand’s Brenton Tarrant.
This movement has built upon al-Sisi’s brand of repressive hyper-nationalism, which was cemented in a violent military-led coup over a Islamist government in 2013. While the coup was widely decried by human rights activists and organizations, it received limited finger-wagging from Western governments that continued to work with Egypt through defense contracts and counter-terrorism partnerships.
Al-Sisi was showered with praise by former President Donald Trump for being his “favorite dictator,” as well as for his fashion sense and shiny shoes. As Trump fawned over his footwear, al-Sisi presided over a government with a documented track record of rampant human rights abuses. Al-Sisi has received a more tepid reception from the Biden administration and he was admonished by the U.S. for his treatment of human rights campaigners and activists, but the governments have remained on relatively good terms and U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken praised Egypt for its role in brokering a ceasefire between Palestinians and Israelis earlier this year.
However he is viewed in the West, al-Sisi is an icon to the local Nazi influencers. He is a “sigma male,” or a lone wolf , to use their sadistic and masculinist vernacular. There is no evidence that al-Sisi personally endorses these Nazi fanatics.
The Daily Beast found six public Egyptian pro-Nazi Facebook pages with a collective follower base of 3,291, linked to eight much larger Telegram channels that have 10,738 members, all celebrating al-Sisi, forms of war crimes, and attacks on Islamists, dissidents, and the LGBTQ+ community. These pages and channels link to a wider ecosystem of Arabic Nazi support, including forums and dedicated pages.
The Daily Beast alerted Telegram to the Nazi channels existence, however, the channels were still operational as of Wednesday morning. A Facebook company spokesperson told the Daily Beast a company investigation was ongoing into the profiles and pages identified. As of publishing, three of the pages were taken down. YouTube similarly said it was looking into the channel linked to the Telegram and Facebook network administrators. A Twitter representative said the company removed the accounts affiliated with the Egyptian Nazis on Tuesday after being contacted by The Daily Beast.
The aesthetic of these Telegram channels and Facebook pages mimics the modern Neo-Nazi movement online, including the use of synth-pop graphics, alt-right memes, and Third Reich imagery and videos. One common meme pays homage to an al-Sisi with a set of laser eyes. That image was recently coupled with a newly minted laser-eye version of Tunisian President Kais Saied in tribute to his constitutional coup. The post comparing the two reads like an approving checklist “...temporarily suspends constitution... relieving the prime minister of his duties and suspending parliament.” The message is clear: Game recognizes game.
Perhaps the most shocking aspect of the Facebook pages, whose names include numerical codes for Heil Hilter, is the apparent ties to the country’s powerful military, many of them using avatars with the flags of the Egyptian Armed Forces. There is a historical link between the Nazis and the Egyptian security services. In the 1950s, Nazis fleeing Germany after World War II found refuge in President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s government and, specifically, within the propaganda arm of the state.
One of the page administrators claims he was “an officer in al-Sisi’s military intelligence.” He implores other Egyptian nationalists to “remove the dirt of democracy,” in a clear embrace of authoritarianism. Another account seemed to be operating two distinct yet connected accounts, one a prolific Arabic pro-Nazi propagandist, and the other claiming to be part of the Egyptian Ministry of Interior. The account holder posted over 65 photos of Nazis and Third Reich ideologues, while also praising the Gestapo as the “greatest security service in history” because its “members were empowered to kill anyone who threatens the Third Reich.” The post came paired with a picture of three Lugar P08 pistols, the preferred Gestapo gun, and was liked some 219 times. One Spanish commenter on the post wrote, “how many Jews could you kill today with one of those? I really need this urgently and a lot of ammo.”
While more and more research is delving into right-wing extremist connections to the military and security services in Europe and the United States, almost none analyzes the effect of hyper-nationalism and extremism on security services in the rest of the world. This creates a significant gap in understanding just how deep these sentiments run, and how strongly these online extremists are connected to the organs of the state. There is also clear cross-pollination between Western white supremacists and hyper-nationalists elsewhere in the world; for example German and French far-right political figureheads recently met with powerbrokers in the Hindu nationalist movement.
In many of these Telegram channels and Facebook pages soft al-Sisi worship is often contrasted with more flagrant and blatant Nazi support. One Facebook page features the Egyptian god Horus, whose falcon wings are wrapped around a Swastika with a black bar running through it (in order to evade detection, according to the user). Underneath the Horus is a link to a Telegram channel sharing an open link to a 275-gigabyte archive of Nazi propaganda material. In it, folders dubbed the Holohoax contain reams of videos, and photos, related to supposedly debunking the Holocaust including a film called Auschwitz The Comedy and Eva Braun’s private film rolls, which have been saved, uploaded, and classified. The archive began taking shape in 2006, and is a trove of lost, rare, and banned Nazi material, much in English, Arabic, and German with Arabic subtitles.
The post unveiling the drive states, “I hand you a not-so-little spark to light up your revolution against the modern world.” The theme of the death of the modern world runs throughout much of commentary in this community of Nazis. Support for Ted Kaczynski—the Unabomber—also runs as a central vein through the Egyptian Nazi community, particularly his rejection of modernity.
In fact the transnational nature of the Nazis on Facebook is clear, whether through shared imagery, synth-pop style videos, or other Nazi subcultures. One such video is of al-Sisi giving a speech, but with audio of Hitler speaking in German overlaid. The first comment under the video in Arabic fawns over the video, “love the leader’s voice.” Some of the other posts highlight the regionally racist nature of the Egyptian Nazi community, including a post that shows a chimpanzee holding an AK-47, captioned “the Ethiopian Army.”
And while the Telegram and Facebook Egyptian Nazi community intersects with other regionally specific authoritarian extremists, such as the Moroccan far right, it goes further in attempts to expand its influence on YouTube. On YouTube, administrators of a Egyptian Nazi Facebook page are linked to a knock-off fashwave—a video and musical subculture of the alt-right — video channel, which is an amalgamation of ’80s-style graphic videos and electronic music, as well as the mores of very online nihilists and war aesthetic junkies—who revel in celebrating the brutality of conflict. They’ve now localized that internet trend into Sinaiwave, a genre of fashwave that salutes the Egyptian military, and specifically where it has struggled with fighting an Islamic State affiliate. The creators have even made a Ted Kaczynski-wave music video to celebrate the “degeneracy of modernity.”
The Egyptian Nazis’ most dedicated community project, however, seems to be on Telegram and Facebook, where they continued to grow their ranks despite takedowns of other far-right groups and channels. It is likely that the Egyptian Nazis have evaded moderation and detection because of a range of other rabidly nationalist Egyptian groups, which sprang up during and after the 2013-coup. Yet, while other Egyptian nationalist pages fawn over al-Sisi, they rarely if ever, praise the likes of Ted Kaczynski or the Third Reich like the Egyptian Nazi groups.
One prominent member of the community even joked about their success in evading Facebook detection during a recent dispute over whether some Palestinian activists had been banned. The post showed a two-slide meme of a somber Heinrich Himmler, “reading all the Palestine ban crap,” before he is seen smiling, with the caption: “thinking I just dodged a bullet.”
This past January, the Facebook Oversight Board overturned a platform decision to remove a post that shared Nazi propaganda even though it had also condemned Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda chief. The Oversight Board asked that Facebook provide definitions of violations of its terms of service. In response, the company published new guidelines outlining a tiered system for defining severity of platform violations, as well as definitions of “praise,” “support” and “representation.” This included examples of praise such as “Hitler did nothing wrong.”
Despite these changes, however, this fledgling network was still able to evade detection.
One of the administrators seemed to relish in his good fortune, claiming “We are ‘behind enemy lines,’ literally.”