Two alleged white supremacists have been arrested who, authorities say, were planning a heavily armed bank robbery they discussed in code as a fake screenplay.According to the criminal complaint provided to VICE News, police arrested Micheal J. Brown of Chester County, Pennsylvania, this week and charged him with conspiracy to commit bank robbery. They also charged Luke Kenna, who was recently arrested with a ghost gun during a traffic stop, with the same. The lead investigator was a New York State Police officer assigned to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.
Brown allegedly ran a small but openly militant neo-Nazi channel on Telegram called Aryan Compartmented Elements (ACE) which shared videos of the group's purported crimes, including a short clip of a burning home which the arrested men claimed belonged to “education administrator” who allowed “CRT/LGBTQ approved books” into school libraries. Both Kenna and Brown ran small tactical companies where they offered military-style training and sold bespoke weapons like knives. Brown, Kenna, and a third unnamed man were planning an armed bank robbery in Johnston, New York, according to court documents. Authorities were able to get the information from Kenna’s phone following his arrest. The trio surveilled the bank, texted each about plans in barely coded language in a chat they called the “SS Screenwriters Guild,” and sent each other maps of their planned assault route. They planned to bring handguns and other firearms along with them. “Looks like we’re getting this paper Jew money while it lasts,” Kenna texted Brown, according to the complaint. “Just in time to invest in bigger and better things.”Their alleged plan was thwarted when Kenna was arrested in late November after being pulled over while driving in body armor and with a loaded ghost gun. In the days leading up to his arrest, Brown spent the day on Twitter replying to people, including this reporter, after I tweeted out my story about Kenna’s arrest.
When Kenna was arrested, authorities found a bag full of suspicious equipment, such as loaded magazines, a phone in a faraday bag (which blocks remote hacking), medical equipment, and a note outlining his plans. “It’s coming up in a year, and I’m flat broke with nothing but a gun and a dream,” Kenna allegedly wrote. “I’m going to fulfill my destiny one way or another. And I’m going to take bold action to do so. I’ve already set into motion a plan to start it all off. ” Several texts indicate the group's excitement to partake in violence in the event their plan went off the rails. At one point, in reference to attaining heavier weapons, Brown wrote, “If something goes sideways and we decide to turn this into an action thriller, I'd prefer to have something really nice for the audience." Brown’s actions with Telegram channel Aryan Compartmented Elements were first documented by Corvallis Against Fascism, an anti-fascist research group. At one point, Brown texted Kenna referencing the Corvallis Against Fascism article saying it might add more “oomph” top their plan. In the files available on Aryan Compartmented Elements, which was reviewed by VICE News before it was taken down, videos show a neo-Nazi stealing and burning Pride and BLM signs and flags and harassing a local resident by writing “die pedo” near his door. Many posts are videos and photos of the person behind the channel doing “reconnaissance” on “targets” in their community.
Aryan Compartmented Elements, which had just over 200 followers, also contained violent images and videos targeting police officers and minorities. The channel shared a segment from the livestreamed video of the recent white supremacist mass murder in Buffalo that shows a Black man being shot in the head. Posts on the channel also contained diatribes and voice recordings of extreme neo-Nazi rhetoric. “ACE is pursuing the fulfillment of the 14 words. We also seek to inspire and educate men of like minds in the movement,” a person says in a heavily modulated voice recording posted to the group on Nov. 15. “We hope that this inspiration will lead other men of like mind, Aryan warriors, to pursue action. Action that will destroy, decimate, and ultimately annihilate the enemies of our race." The 14 words is a well-known neo-Nazi slogan. Both Brown and Kenna were involved with Operation Werewolf, a neo-fascist group that has experts worried. “ACE represents the persistent presence and influence of Wolves of Vinland in the broader militant accelerationism landscape,” Matthew Kriner, the managing director of the Accelerationism Research Consortium, told VICE News. “The ACE Telegram channel depicts clear terroristic threats that explicitly portray law enforcement as enemies to be hunted.”The channel posts many images of homes, pride flags, and police vehicles with a target over them as if they had been photographed from a rifle scope. A recent image of a police cruiser was posted alongside the caption, “approx 300 yard shot from elevated position. Challenges are low light conditions and the tree branches between shooting position and target.”
“I see most men within the ‘movement’ speaking about Jews and other races. It is true that they are enemies of our people,” reads the caption. “Yet, from our background and experience, we believe that the system and particularly, the agents of the system are our primary enemy. As such, we believe that they should be prioritized.”The channel also shares a number of PDFs and e-books focused on urban warfare and sniper rifle attacks. In many of the videos, the person filming is skulking around in tactical gear. In 2021, Brown was charged with aggravated assault and stalking after shooting a woman in the face with a paintball gun after she saw him shooting her house and car. According to reports, Brown was wearing night-vision goggles at the time and also allegedly threw a pyrotechnic device at her feet. Brown is also connected to several neo-fascist movements online, including the neo-pagan Asatru Folk Assembly, which the Souther Poverty Law Center (SPLC) describes as a white supremacist group. Brown published an essay in a Asatru Folk Assembly newsletter in May of 2020 about the importance of strength training. In the author bio he is described as an “AFA member.” In addition to allegedly running the Telegram channel, Brown—using the pseudonym of Doc Grimson—runs a fitness company called Black Market Tactical in Pennsylvania and manufactures and sells knives.
“The account is clearly tied to Brown and demonstrates the grey area between legal business [Black Market Tactical] and violent extremist and terrorist activity common to Operation Werewolf members,” Kriner said. Through these two companies, Brown has a robust presence on social media, primarily YouTube. On the Black Market Tactical page, Brown featured videos of people training on how to fight with knives, including how to decapitate people. In one video, which features two people training on how to knife fight, one is wearing a skull mask, a well-known symbol of the online neo-Nazi community. On his website, Brown offers paramilitary courses, including one that costs $500, and promises to teach students how to operate at night in a suburban environment. “Law enforcement should be lauded for their actions in mitigating the threat posed by Brown and ACE,” Kriner said.The District Attorney's office is expected to release further details later Wednesday.Follow Mack Lamoureux on Twitter. Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.