White nationalists are disavowing the murderous neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division—not because of the murder, but because the group can’t shake persistent rumors that it’s a gateway organization for a satanic cult.
Atomwaffen is an extremist group that received national attention after being implicated in five murders from May 2017 to January 2018. But even before the most recent slaying, Atomwaffen was under fire from others on the far right who claimed the group was actually a mouthpiece for the Order of Nine Angles, a satanic group that encourages members to infiltrate extremist political movements, whose members might be susceptible to conversion.
It doesn’t help that, until recently, Atomwaffen pushed the satanic group’s literature on one of its websites.
Atomwaffen claims to have been founded in 2013, although its membership surged after a deadly white nationalist demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August, ProPublica previously reported. The group now has approximately 20 cells across the U.S., according to ProPublica.
The Order of Nine Angles is British-based, but steeped in Nazism. A fringe occultist group whose literature encourages human sacrifices, the ONA champions Nazi Germany and pushes Holocaust denialism. One of the group’s longest-running leaders, Anton Long, is rumored to have been a pseudonym for the known neo-Nazi David Myatt.
The ONA requires members (called Noctulians) to spend six months either hitchhiking, working as a burglar, working as a police officer, or infiltrating an extremist political group.
“Undertake the role of extreme political activist and so champion heretical views (by, e.g. becoming involved in extreme Right-Wing activism),” the group demands in one of its introductory books. “The aim is to express fanaticism in action and be seen by all ‘right-thinking people’ as an extremist, and a dangerous one.”
That book is also recommended reading for Atomwaffen members. On a recently defunct website, Atomwaffen uploaded the book in full in the “spirituality” section of its “library.” The library also encouraged Atomwaffen members to read Iron Gates, a gruesome sci-fi novel penned by the occult group Tempel of Blood, which is openly affiliated with the ONA.
“While officially a separate organization, the Tempel acknowledges its ties to the Order, and credits the ONA for much of its terminology and mythos,” Tempel’s website reads.
Iron Gates is listed as required reading on Atomwaffen’s current website.
Atomwaffen’s satanism-heavy reading list has apparently driven away some former members who were only in the group for the Nazism. In January, a purported former Atomwaffen member quit the group dramatically, publishing a 27-page Google document claiming to document the group’s growing satanic ties.
“A plague has befallen the movement yet again,” the former Atomwaffen member wrote about satanism (not about murder). “We WILL purge the Noctulian scum from our ranks, and never again will this happen.”
Immediately after the document’s publication, other self-proclaimed Atomwaffen members attacked its author on the notorious online bulletin board 4chan, calling the group’s endorsement of Iron Gates and the ONA a “meme” and a “joke.” But the alleged Atomwaffen members also inadvertently confirmed that the document’s author had been affiliated with the group, posting screenshots of his messages from Atomwaffen’s group chat.
Atomwaffen’s de facto leader, John Cameron Denton, appears to have posted ONA symbols years before Atomwaffen was accused of associating with the satanist group. Denton, 24, goes by “Rape” online and sometimes uses the pseudonym Vincent Snyder on social media and in interviews. An Instagram account under the name Vincent Snyder has been uploading Nazi propaganda since 2016, in Atomwaffen’s distinctive black and white aesthetic. In a November 2016 post featuring neo-Nazi paraphernalia, a sticker with the ONA logo is partially visible.
In a 2015 post on the now-defunct neo-Nazi forum Iron March, a person wrote a favorable comment about the ONA, under the same username Snyder uses on Instagram. And in 2014, a pro-Nazi Google Plus account purported to be Denton’s uploaded two ONA logos.
Multiple Atomwaffen members appear to have quit over the group’s satanist ties, according to screenshots from Atomwaffen’s group chat.
“I’m probably going to leave AW,” one former member wrote, according to the leaked chat logs. “I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. AW still has full potential but the way Rape is taking AW as far as the whole satanic shit… is going to hold things back.”
The document’s publication came days after an Atomwaffen member allegedly murdered Blaze Bernstein, a gay, Jewish teenager. But Atomwaffen members who had defended the murder were soon splitting from the group over the satanism allegations.
On Gab, a social media site favored by the right, people who had long claimed to be Atomwaffen members began distancing themselves from the group.
“This shit is all news to me, what a disappointment,” one alleged former member wrote, claiming he’d never seen any satanism under Atomwaffen’s previous leadership.
Another Atomwaffen-affiliated person created a Gab account aimed at “exposing” the group’s satanic ties, and started leaking Atomwaffen chat logs, alongside Harry Potter memes. That person linked to audio of a call, purportedly between Atomwaffen members arguing about satanism.
“In your opinion, Satanism contradicts the ideals of national socialism, right?” one Atomwaffen member asked another during the debate.“Yeah,” the second man answered.
“Okay, I’m not gonna try to get mad and say you’re a fuckin idiot,” the first said. “Like, I want to know legitimately what part of it contradicts the ideals of national socialism.”
“Uh, every part. I’ve literally read both those books. Nothing in it stood out to me as—”
“Have you read the Satanic Principles?” the first Atomwaffen member interrupted. “The fucking baseline ideas of what Satanism stands for? You cannot honestly read that and tell me it reflects none of what national socialism teaches.”
Higher-profile neo-Nazis started posting about the satanism allegations, driving a larger rift between Atomwaffen and others on the extreme right.
“How do you allow [in] people who explicitly say that they are satanic doomsday cultists who infiltrate and take over right-wing groups in order to press their agenda,” Andrew Anglin, the fugitive founder of the Daily Stormer neo-Nazi publication, demanded of a self-identified Atomwaffen member.
“I knew nothing about this Satanic shit until I saw the post you just made with the links,” the now-former Atomwaffen member replied. “When Brandon [a former member currently doing prison time for hoarding explosives] was leading the group there was never any talk of this horse shit and now that I know I’m done with them.”
The dispute is still ongoing on social media, with Gab users accusing Anglin of pushing a hoax and “slandering” Atomwaffen members by accusing them of flirting with satanism.
But people who previously aligned themselves with Atomwaffen said the group’s romance with the satanic cult was real.
“We have audio recordings of members admitting to being Satanists, among other evidence,” one person who has long posted about being in Atomwaffen wrote Saturday. He listed himself as “Ex-AWD.”
Yet some members said they are sticking with the neo-Nazi group through murder and satanic scandal.
“You guys can get all moralistic if you want about satanism,” one Atomwaffen member said in the leaked audio, “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.”