The chief philosophical influence of an American neo-Nazi extremist group that is the subject of a nationwide FBI crackdown and is believed to be on the cusp of being declared a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the State Department, is claiming in an audio message obtained by Motherboard that the group is disbanding.
In the recording, James Mason, a longtime figure within the US neo-Nazi movement and the author of what’s considered an important work in the racist canon of the far-right, claims to officially announce the demise of Atomwaffen Division, a group that has become synonymous in recent years with white nationalist terrorism and is linked to five murders.
“This is a press announcement from James Mason on the evening of March 9 of this year,” said Mason, who is known to be an advisor to the group and has made personal appearances in some of its propaganda videos. “I was approached by members of the group known as Atomwaffen Division with the request that I make the official announcement of that group's disbanding, effective at once.”
Motherboard spoke to sources familiar with Mason’s voice who believe it to be him on the recording, which is already circulating online. While the statement does not necessarily prove the group or its supporters are abandoning their activities, it does show the sustained pressure by federal authorities is having a negative effect on the militant neo-Nazi movement.
In late February, the FBI arrested five members of the group, including its former leader John Cameron Denton, 26, who goes by the online alias “Rape,” for allegedly swatting journalists and members of the Trump Administration. A month earlier the FBI announced the arrest of six members of The Base, another neo-Nazi terror group linked to Atomwaffen Division, on charges of planning assassinations and mass shootings.
Federal prosectors in Virginia where Denton is being tried recently alleged in court the former leader shared child pornography with another unnamed individual. In 1992, Mason, known for his writings advocating for a white ethnostate, pleaded guilty to two misdemeanour counts of possessing child pornography.
Mason made it clear in the latest recording that the notice of disbanding comes on the heels of FBI pressure on the group.
“Over the course of past weeks and months, the level and degree of federal infiltration and the numerous arrests stemming from that have so severely hampered the group's ability to function as a group that it would be pointless to even pretend that anything resembling organisational activity could continue,” he said.
Mason went on to declare, “anything found on the internet henceforth claiming to be or bearing the mark of Atomwaffen Division” was to be considered an impostor. Last fall, a group claiming to be Atomwaffen Division released a widely circulated propaganda video, which was swiftly denounced by Mason as a fraud.
This article originally appeared on VICE US.