In the early 1980s, The Order, an underground, white supremacist guerrilla organization, sought to overthrow the government, knock off banks, and counterfeit money. But The Order was also destructively fixated on press: Two members committed the 1984 assassination of Jewish talk radio host Alan Berg before the FBI dismantled the group and killed its leader, Robert Jay Mathews, in a shootout.
On Wednesday, the notorious neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division’s own obsession with media figures cost them dearly.
Stung by a 2018 ProPublica/Frontline series that helped expose the group’s leadership and link AWD members to five murders, two of Atomwaffen’s high-ranking members mounted separate campaigns to harass reporters, according to the FBI. (Full disclosure: I was one of the journalists who worked on the ProPublica/Frontline project.) Those attempts were laid out in two cases filed by federal prosecutors in Virginia and Washington State, charging alleged Texas cell leader John Cameron Denton (aka “Rape”), alleged Washington State cell leader Kaleb “Khimaere” Cole, and three other alleged Atomwaffen Division members with conspiracy, targeted harassment, and intimidation.
Cole and Denton were both arrested in Montgomery, Texas, where they lived with a group of alleged Atomwaffen members, including Denton’s brother Grayson, Sean “Wehrwolf” Fernandez, and Wade Mendisabel, who also moved south from Washington after being described as an Atomwaffen member by antifascists. A self-described former member, who requested anonymity for fear of retaliation, detailed the occupants of the Montgomery house to The Daily Beast.
Atomwaffen is also coming under pressure in Europe. This past week, Der Speigel reported the head of the group’s German offshoot had been arrested by local authorities.
What the arrests mean for the ability of Atomwaffen and its hangers-on to perpetrate violence remains to be seen. But the group’s internal communications logs, internal FBI documents, and recently published anti-fascist research offer new perspective on just how badly Atomwaffen has been struggling to get out from under the spotlight of law-enforcement scrutiny. The arrests may also have consequences for the far right beyond the one group: At least one of the arrestees held a leadership post in another clandestine neo-Nazi organization, and an unindicted man linked to the harassment campaign is a prominent Satanist who is responsible for promoting an ideology involved in several terrorism prosecutions in Britain.
The federal investigation into Atomwaffen Division ramped up in earnest last summer. Around that time, the FBI moved to make right-wing domestic extremism one of its highest investigative priorities. Prior to Wednesday’s arrests, at least six other members of AWD faced state or federal charges for a variety of crimes, including murder.
John Cameron Denton, according to an affidavit by FBI Special Agent Jonathan Myles Lund, participated in a swatting campaign led by a group of hackers known as #Graveyard that targeted a cabinet official, a historically black church in Virginia, and other public figures. According to the same affidavit, in December 2018, Denton and others allegedly organized fake phone calls to police in New York City and a city in California’s Contra Costa County, prompting SWAT teams to respond to ProPublica’s offices and the home of a reporter working for that news organization.
Meanwhile, the FBI was investigating Kaleb Cole by March 2018, shortly after ProPublica exposed his involvement in Atomwaffen, according to an internal FBI memorandum obtained by The Daily Beast. Last fall, the FBI and Seattle law enforcement successfully stripped him of an arsenal of firearms under Washington State’s “red flag” laws. According to evidence presented in court, Cole had roughly a dozen guns in his possession, and owned equipment that allowed him to mill his own firearms from internet-bought parts.
Cole was also detained by Canadian authorities for a month last summer and permanently banned from Canada for his alleged involvement with Atomwaffen. When interviewed by the FBI last summer after his deportation, he was already said to be focused on the group’s enemies in the press: Cole “blamed the media for sensationalizing information about AWD” and “felt the media’s reporting of AWD being a threat to the public was ‘internet nonsense,’ according to court records.
But it was after a “Nuclear Congress” meeting of Atomwaffen’s leadership in Las Vegas last summer—cited in the affidavit for Cole’s arrest —that members formulated their alleged plan to pursue perceived enemies in the media. Cameron “Krokodil” Shea, a 24-year-old Redmond, Washington resident who the feds say recruited both for Atomwaffen and The Base, another accelerationist (or pro-race-war) group, formed a group on the encrypted messaging app Wire called “Operation Erste Säule,” or First Pillar in German. “We will be postering journalists houses and media buildings to send a clear message that we too have leverage over them,” Shea wrote.
Also participating in the chatroom were accounts linked by federal authorities to Cole and Atomwaffen’s nucleus: Taylor “Azazel” Parker-Dipeppe, a 20-year-old man from Spring Hill, Florida, and Johnny “Roman” Garza, a 20-year-old from Phoenix. Shea, Parker-Dieppe, and Garza have all been charged along with Cole for allegedly flyering journalists’ houses in Seattle, Phoenix and Tampa with posters created by Cole, all around Jan. 25 of this year. Pleas had not yet been entered in the case, an attorney assigned to Denton declined to comment, and it was unclear if the other defendants had been assigned representation.
Parker-Dieppe may be far more than just an Atomwaffen associate; according to an article posted this past week by Antifascists from Eugene, Oregon, he is one of the co-leaders of Feuerkrieg Division, a relatively new neo-Nazi group seeking to emulate Atomwaffen.
Also in the chatroom were AWD members from Cleveland, Ohio with the handle “14ALG88”, a California user with the handle “OldScratch,” a Florida user with the handle “Lazarus,” and a South Carolina Atomwaffen member who went by “swissdiscipline.” According to internal group photographs and information provided by two former members, the South Carolinian is Joshua Caleb Sutter, a longtime neo-Nazi and Satanist who did prison time for buying a gun from an undercover federal agent.
Photographs obtained by this reporter show Sutter attended Atomwaffen Division’s February 2018 ‘Hate Camp’ training in the Nevada desert and recently visited the Dentons and other neo-Nazi comrades in Montgomery, Texas. Along with his wife, Jillian Hoy, Sutter runs the Tempel ov Blood, an offshoot of the Order of Nine Angles Satanic sect that Denton and Cole both favored. Hoy and Sutter also run Martinet Press, which publishes books like Iron Gates and Bluebird, that promote this twisted brand of Satanism. In the United Kingdom, four teenage boys have been convicted of terrorism charges involving the Order of Nine Angles ideology. Atomwaffen’s British arm, the Sonnenkrieg Division, was banned this past week by counterterrorism authorities.
Sutter and Hoy have not been charged with any crimes, and did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
This latest round of arrests leaves Atomwaffen Division with an uncertain future. Key members have reportedly enlisted in The Base, another accelerationist guerrilla organization believed to be run by a former American defense contractor now living in Russia.
Just last week, Cole and other AWD members were discussing the formation of a new organization, according to logs from the Fascist Forge website reviewed by The Daily Beast. The alleged rebranding was supposed to help them evade some of the law enforcement heat that came down so hard on Wednesday.