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Neo-Nazi Accused of Plotting Bombings Wanted to Recruit Middle Schoolers, Chats Reveal

The FBI arrested Conor Climo late last week, but he'd been on law enforcement radar since April.

by Tess Owen
Aug 15 2019, 9:22pm

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A 23-year-old neo-Nazi accused of plotting to bomb Las Vegas LGBTQ clubs and Jewish communities aspired to recruit kids from middle schools, high schools, and colleges in the Las Vegas area, according to Discord chats surfaced Thursday.

The FBI arrested Conor Climo late last week as the U.S. reeled from a string of mass shootings in California, Ohio, and Texas that left a combined total of 34 dead. Prosecutors then charged him with possession of an unregistered firearm. The Las Vegas Joint Terrorism Task Force started investigating Climo in April 2019, after receiving information that he was allegedly communicating with individuals from The Feuerkrieg Division, a Europe-based affiliate of the violent neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen. Atomwaffen has been linked to at least five killings across three states in the U.S. and are known for their extreme paramilitary tactics and rhetoric.

A federal magistrate judge refused Climo bail last week pending the outcome of a trial, because she believes he posed a danger to the public. For example, in 2016, he patrolled his Las Vegas neighborhood with tactical gear and an AR-15 equipped with four 30-round magazines. Now, Discord chats obtained by leftist media collective Unicorn Riot shed more light on Climo and suggest that he’d been deeply enmeshed in far-right circles for at least two years.

Climo was a member of multiple Discord servers, including one belonging to the Traditionalist Workers Party, a now-defunct white nationalist organization headed by Matthew Heimbach, who helped organize the violent Charlottesville rally.

READ: The U.S. doesn’t prosecute far-right extremists as terrorists. Here’s how it could.

According to Unicorn Riot, Climo posted under the usernames “B1488” and “Sir88.” The number “88” is used by neo-Nazis to mean “Heil Hitler,” and “14” is a reference to the “14 words,” a white supremacist slogan.

In conversations from September 2017, one month after Charlottesville, Climo expressed a desire to target middle schools, high schools, and college campuses in the area with propaganda for the purposes of recruitment. It’s unclear whether he ever delivered on those plans, but organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League have tracked a sharp rise in far-right propaganda across college campuses in the U.S. since 2016, as white nationalists eye young, educated white men as viable recruits. For example, the preppy white nationalist group Identity Europa (which has rebranded to “American Identity Movement”) scattered recruitment fliers across the University of Nevada, Las Vegas’ campus in September 2017.

READ: Police keep arresting young white men for trying to copycat El Paso

Climo also discussed plans to infiltrate student organizations at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, according to the Discord chats. It’s another strategy borrowed from Identity Evropa, which plotted to infiltrate chapters of MAGA-friendly student org Turning Point USA or the Young Republicans.

Climo told investigators that he first got involved with Feuerkrieg in 2017 and that the group was drawn to him because of his military past and his experience building explosives. (The FBI found that he’d exaggerated his military skills and experience; he was discharged after 11 months for “actions related to not being able to perform specific required duties.”)

Although Climo’s goal was to “assist in a race war” on Feuerkrieg’s behalf, he said he soon became disillusioned and frustrated by the group’s “inaction.” He eventually left Feuerkrieg, federal authorities said. But he continued to discuss his violent plans online, unwittingly, with undercover FBI agents. He talked potential targets – and specific weaponry.

“The Court finds that the defendant is not just talking about what he believes and intends to do, but rather is planning, and has engaged in actions,” wrote federal magistrate Judge Nancy J. Koppe in her decision to detain Climo.

READ: Far-right extremists have been using Ukraine’s War as a training ground. They’re returning home.

Koppe said that Climo had done extensive research on the security agency that patrols the grounds of a nearby synagogue and was hoping to infiltrate the security detail, according to court documents. He also talked about lighting a device like a molotov cocktail and then and attacking synagogue worshippers as they fled the building.

When investigators searched his residence, they found a journal, in which he’d sketched the layout of a LGBTQ-friendly bar in Las Vegas that he’d eyed as a potential target. The journal also contained schematics of bomb circuits and recipes. Additionally, investigators found an AR-15 and bolt action rifle.

Cover image: Screenshot via KTNV Channel 13 Las Vegas