Representative Elissa Slotkin last week sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken asking him to take the unprecedented step of designating 13 extremist movements as foreign terrorist organizations, arguing that this measure “will help implement more stress to reduce these violent organizations “and the ability of their leaders to operate their groups.”
But of the 13 groups listed in his letter, which his office provided to BuzzFeed News, at least four have disappeared, one is an American club founded in California that has been torn and branded, and one another changed the name used in Slotkin’s letter six years ago when he became part of an Allied nation’s national guard.
“It was a fantastic list: in 2018,” Matthew Feldman, director of the London-based Radical Right Analysis Center, told BuzzFeed News. “Everyone [the listed groups] was active. Everyone was dangerous.
Feldman praised Slotkin’s efforts and motivation on the list, saying they are a step in the right direction. But he also said it serves as an example of how the U.S. government has been slow to recognize the threat posed by far-right violent extremists at home and abroad.
Biden has signaled his intention to fight domestic violent extremists, specifically white supremacists, such as those who were part of the mafia that attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and that the FBI considers a major threat. The head of the Department of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, told lawmakers last month that violent domestic extremism “represents the most lethal and persistent terrorism-related threat to the current homeland.”
But experts say it’s also important to look for foreign extremist groups, which often communicate, coordinate, and inspire their U.S. counterparts.
If the Biden administration listed groups such as those suggested by Slotkin, a Michigan Democrat, as official foreign terrorist organizations (FTOs) or the minor designation of specially designated global terrorists (SDGT), it would help curb dangerous white supremacist organizations. , argued the member of Congress in his letter, which was before reported Reuters.
“It would also give the U.S. government more tools to engage and signal Americans to contact, support, train, and join these [white supremacist extremist] groups, ”Slotkin wrote.
But Elizabeth Neumann, the former deputy secretary of counterterrorism and threat prevention in the Department of Homeland Security during the Donald Trump administration, told BuzzFeed News that the process is long and difficult.
“The FTO process is quite high,” he said. “It simply came to our notice then. It wasn’t the only group we looked at. “
In April 2020, the United States appointed RIM and three of its SDGT leaders, the first time this classification had been used.
Asked about Slotkin’s letter, a State Department spokesman told BuzzFeed News, “As a general matter, we do not comment on Congressional correspondence or comment on appointments or deliberations related to potential appointments.” But Blinken said so MSNBC Meet the press Sunday, that designating white overseas supremacist groups as foreign terrorist organizations is “something we are looking at.”
A former CIA analyst who focused on foreign terrorist organizations in the Middle East, Slotkin wrote that he was “surprised by the threat posed by these white supremacist groups, the amount of contact they have with extremists in the United States. , the minimum intelligence and diplomatic reports we have about these groups and the relative lack of review by the United States government.
Among those Slotkin said they deserve terrorist designations is the National Action Group, a UK-based neo-Nazi organization banned in 2016 that aimed at young British people. An American anti-terrorism of 2018 report he described it as a terrorist group that promotes violence against politicians and minorities. A metropolitan police officer named Ben Hannam was condemned of members on April 1st.
Another is the neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement, which the same US of 2018 report described as an anti-Western transnational organization behind violent attacks, including against Muslims and leftist groups.
But not all the groups he has asked the government to focus on at the moment are active.
Kacper Rekawek, a Slovak-based researcher on the Non-Profit Extremism Project, said Slotkin’s list is the kind of list anyone who searches for far-right groups on Google could make.
“Representative Slotkin’s effort is commendable. The designations, underused in the European context, should help combat the threat of violence from far-right organizations, “Rekawek told BuzzFeed News.” However, this needs to be reported through a thorough analysis of local far-right scenes that include a lot of actors who often talk but don’t walk in terms of violence. ”
The neo-Nazi groups Feuerkrieg Division, Sonnenkrieg Division, Atomwaffen Division Deutschland and Northern Order, all on Slotkin’s list, have disappeared, according to Rekawek and Feldman. Members of the groups, all inspired by the American Atomwaffen division and the neo-Nazi American James Mason “Culture of the siege, ”- were linked to violence or violent conspiracies a the United Kingdom, The USA, Germany, Canada, and elsewhere.
Rise Above Movement (RAM), a white supremacist wrestling club founded in Southern California with ties to neo-Nazi groups in Ukraine and the Balkans, also more or less dissolved after three of its members were jailed for attending the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in August 2017. RAM founder Robert Rundo, a native of New York, he was charged in a separate federal case for violence in several protests throughout California. The charges were dismissed in June 2019 however restored last month.
After posting this story, Slotkin’s staff clarified that it included RAM in the list as a way to identify the group’s foreign affiliates.
Another problematic group on Slotkin’s list is the Azov Battalion of Ukraine. The paramilitary force was formed in 2014 by far-right extremists who volunteered to take up arms against Russian-backed forces when war broke out in eastern Ukraine. In January 2016 he became part of the country’s National Guard and has since been known as the Azov Regiment.
Its political wing, the National Corps, has been described as a “nationalist hate group” by the State Department. But designating the regiment as a foreign terrorist organization is likely to pose challenges, especially because of its link to the state and the fact that Ukraine is an ally of the United States.
BuzzFeed News contacted Slotkin for comments on the list. An aide said they had been informed of Azov’s condition and the dissolved groups after Reuters reported the representative’s letter. But, the wizard said, they plan to move forward with at least the groups on the list that remain active.
“We’re confident we can get some level of designation,” the assistant said.
Read Slotkin’s full letter.