Rep. Elisa Slotkin last week sent a letter to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken asking him to take the unprecedented step of classifying 13 extremist movements as foreign terrorist organizations, arguing that such a move “would help increase pressure to curb these violent organizations” and the ability of their leaders to manage their groups. “.
But of the 13 groups included in her letter, which her office provided to BuzzFeed News, at least four have stopped operating, and one of them is an American club founded in California that has been split up and renamed, and another has changed the name used in Slotkin’s speech since. six years. When you became part of the National Guard of an allied country.
“It was an impressive list – in 2018,” Matthew Feldman, director of the London-based Radical Right Analysis Center, told BuzzFeed News. “Every one of [the listed groups] Was active. Every one was dangerous. “
Feldman praised Slotkin’s efforts and motivation behind the list, saying it was a step in the right direction. But he also said it is an example of how the US government has been slow to perceive the threat posed by far-right extremists at home and abroad.
Biden signaled his intent to fight domestic violent extremists – specifically those who outgrow whites like those who were among the mobs who attacked the U.S. Capitol on January 6, and whom the FBI considers the greatest threat. The head of the Department of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayuras, told lawmakers last month that internal violent extremism “poses the most deadly and enduring threat of terrorism to the homeland today.”
But experts say it is also important to go after foreign extremist groups, who often reach out, coordinate, and inspire their American counterparts.
If the Biden administration listed groups like the one proposed by Slotkin, a Michigan Democrat, as Official Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs), or the Lower Classification of Specially Classified Global Terrorists (SDGTs), it would help curb dangerous organizations of white supremacy, the congressman argued Her message, which she previously was Reported by Reuters.
It would also give the United States government more tools to engage Americans who contact, support, train, join and inform Americans. [white supremacist extremist] Collections, “Slotkin wrote.
But Elizabeth Newman, former Assistant Secretary of State for Counterterrorism and Threat Prevention at the Department of Homeland Security during the Donald Trump administration, told BuzzFeed News that the process is long and difficult.
“The act of terrorizing foreign terrorists is of very high standards,” she said. “I was frustrated that we could only get the Russian Imperial movement. That wasn’t the only group we looked at.”
In April 2020, the US designated RIM and three of its leaders SDGTs – the first time that such a designation has been used.
Asked about Slotkin’s letter, a State Department spokesperson told BuzzFeed News, “In general, we do not comment on congressional correspondence nor do we comment on appointments or deliberations regarding potential appointments.” But Blinken said MSNBC Meet the press On Sunday, the designation of extremist groups abroad as foreign terrorist organizations is “something we look forward to.”
Slotkin, a former CIA analyst who focused on foreign terrorist organizations in the Middle East, wrote that she is “shocked by the threat these white supremacist groups pose, the amount of contact with extremists in the United States, and the minimal intelligence and diplomatic reporting. We have about these groups,” The relative lack of review by the United States government. “
Among those who Slotkin said deserved terrorist designations was the National Action Group, a neo-Nazi organization founded in the United Kingdom that was banned in 2016. Targeting British youth. 2018 American Counter-Terrorism Report It described it as a terrorist group that promoted violence against politicians and minorities. The police officer of the capital was Bin Hannam convicted Membership on April 1.
Another is the neo-Nazi northern resistance movement, which is the same as the 2018 United States Report It has been described as a transnational, anti-Western organization behind violent attacks, including against Muslims and left-wing groups.
However, not all of the groups that have asked the government to focus on are currently active.
Kasper Rikawiec, a Slovakia-based researcher for the nonprofit Counter Extremism Project, said Slotkin’s list is the kind of list someone looking for far-right extremist groups might put on Google.
“Rep. Slotkin’s efforts are commendable. The rankings, which have not been used sufficiently in the European context, should help counter the threat of violence by far-right organizations.” “However, this should be guided by a comprehensive analysis of the local far-right scenes that include a large number of actors who talk a lot, but who do not march in terms of violence.”
Rijkwijk and Feldmann said that the neo-Nazi groups the Vökerkreig, the Sonnenkreig, the German Atomoven Division, and the Northern Order – all of which are on Slotkin’s list – no longer exist. Members of the groups – all inspired by the American Atomwaffen squad and the neo-Nazi American James MasonSiege CultureThey were linked to violence or violent intrigues in United kingdomAnd the United StateAnd the GermanyAnd the CanadaAnd elsewhere.
Rise Above Movement (RAM), a white supremacist fighting club founded in Southern California with ties to Neo-Nazi groups in Ukraine The Balkans were also partly dissolved after three of its members were imprisoned for taking part in a United Right rally in Charlottesville in August 2017. RAM founder Robert Rondo, of New York, has been charged in a separate federal case with violent acts in several protests across California. The charges were dropped in June 2019 however Was returned Last month.
After this story was published, Slotkin employees explained that they had included RAM on the list as a way of identifying the group’s foreign companies.
Another problematic group on Slotkin’s list is the Ukrainian Azov Battalion. 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, it became part of the country’s National Guard and has since been known as the Azov Regiment.
The State Department has designated its political wing, the National Corps, as a “national hate group.” But designating the regiment as a foreign terrorist organization is likely to pose challenges, especially due to its association with the state and the fact that Ukraine is an ally of the United States.
BuzzFeed News has reached out to Slotkin to comment on the list. An aide said they learned of Azov’s situation and the disbanded groups after Reuters relayed the actor’s message. However, the assistant said, they plan to at least move forward with groups on the list that remain active.
“We are confident that we can get a certain level of recruitment,” the assistant said.
Read Slotkin’s speech in full.