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Five “racially motivated violent extremists” with ties to the neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen, including its current leader, have been arrested by the FBI, the Justice Department said Wednesday.
Of those, four were charged in the U.S. District Court in Seattle for allegedly sending racist and anti-Semitic threats to journalists and activists around the country and the fifth was charged in Virginia for his alleged participation in a swatting campaign.
Wednesday’s news marks the biggest bust of the notorious group since it was founded five years ago, by a group of young, white men who met on the neo-Nazi site Iron March. Since then, the group has been linked to at least five murders in the U.S.
The defendants charged in Seattle are Cameron Brandon Shea, 24, from Redmond, Washington; Taylor Ashley Parker-Dipeppe, 20, from Spring Hill, Florida; Johnny Roman Garza, 20, of Queens Creek, Arizona; and Kaleb Cole, 24, of Montgomery, Texas.
Cole, the current leader of the racist group, was also wanted by local authorities who issued a warrant for his arrest on charges of possessing firearms in violation of an extreme risk protection order.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Eastern District of Virginia’s U.S. Attorney’s office announced the arrest of John Cameron Denton, 26, the former leader of Atomwaffen, who goes by “Rape,” for his alleged involvement in swatting a historically black church, investigative journalists, and a Cabinet official.
Atomwaffen has forged international alliances with neo-Nazi organizations in Europe and Canada and is known for its slick propaganda videos showing members training at their paramilitary “hate camps.” They ascribe to a violent ideology called “accelerationism,” which promotes violence to speed up the collapse of society.
Earlier this month, local law enforcement in western Washington received a “Situational Information Report” from the FBI, which was obtained and published by the Seattle Times. The report included examples of posters sent by Atomwaffen to residents of the Seattle metropolitan area that contained frightening imagery and language.
One showed a hooded figure in Atomwaffen’s trademark “siege mask” standing outside a residence holding a Molotov cocktail, with the words “Your actions have consequences; our patience has its limits.”
Another shows a man in a suit, with a small army of figures behind him wearing siege masks and holding AR-style rifles. “Two can play at this game,” the poster reads. “These people have names and addresses.” All posters contain a line at the bottom saying, “You have been visited by your local Nazis.”
Prosecutors in Washington said that a local TV journalist, two individuals associated with the Anti-Defamation League, and two journalists in Phoenix and Tampa were among those targeted with the posters.
Cover: Screenshot via Atomwaffen video