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They translated “Al Qaeda” into English and called themselves “The Base.” They’re a network of neo-Nazis with a doomsday prepper streak. They have cells in South Africa, Canada, Australia, and of course, the Good Ol’ U.S. of A. And if you’re in the area of Spokane, Washington, as antifascist activists warned last week, you might be able to hear them “practice shooting high powered firearms.”
According to Eugene Antifa, members of The Base are flying out some time this month to Spokane to train with weapons, “share survival skills & terrorist ideas, outline plans to establish their (whites-only) ethnostate, & grow their network.” They previously conducted a meetup somewhere in California on January 11th. They’re calling this gathering a “hate camp.” It’s not known exactly when they plan to be in the area.
Some local groups were initially planning to counter-protest the event, but Eugene Antifa, the antifascist collective that broke the news of the camp, clarified in a series of tweets less than a day after breaking the story that The Base’s activities would be covert and at some undisclosed location, not rallying in public.
Law enforcement from local police to the FBI told the Spokane Spokesman-Review they’re aware of The Base coming to town.
Officer John O’Brien told the Spokesman-Review that “some members of that group may be flying into the Spokane airport. The event is not being held in the city limits or the county of Spokane. It is not known how they will get from the airport to their venue. (If they show up.)”
FBI spokesperson Katherine Zackel told the Spokesman-Review they’re aware of the group’s activities.
“We work with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners to identify any possible threats of force or violence to our communities and to protect all individuals’ rights to First Amendment protected activity,” she said.
The Base’s leader, “Norman Spear,” is a neo-Nazi with a big following online. He claims to be an Iraq and Afghan War veteran. Eugene Antifa said that he “has recently purchased land in Central Washington near Chewelah or Colville.” Other members of the group have set about purchasing compounds to live off the grid and online chats talk about establishing ‘safehouses’ for the group. Ben Makuch and Mack Lamoreux, writing for Vice, said their goal is to “unify online fascists and link that vast coalition of individuals into a network training new soldiers for a so-called forthcoming “race war.””
A neo-Nazi network with similar beliefs and goals called Atomwaffen Division has planned acts of terror in the past–and attempted to carry them out. The group has five confirmed murders to its name, several foiled terror plots including bombings and mass shootings, and is not only still active, but spawning splinter groups. A man who was arrested Friday after plotting to target synagogues and LGBTQ+ night clubs for firebombing had been in contact with one such Atomwaffen splinter group online. As Atomwaffen faces its own internal upheavals, some former members have migrated to the group.
“Their membership now consists of numerous former Atomwaffen Division members, and their approach is even more aggressive and blatantly neo-Nazi in nature. Their membership has grown and spread to more locations,” a Eugene Antifa representative told LCRW.
Even former leadership of Atomwaffen are endorsing the group.
“I am not a member, but I fully support what [The Base] is out to accomplish,” Grayson Patrick Denton, a prominent former Atomwaffen member, wrote on Twitter in September last year. The Base’s official Twitter replied, “HELL YEAH! Thank you Comrade.” Both groups’ presence on Twitter have since been removed.
The Base are ‘balk-right,’ a branch of neo-Nazism focused on ‘balkanizing’ the United States, or splitting it up into smaller territories, then claiming one or many as a whites-only ‘ethnostates.’ The term ‘Balk-right’ was coined by Billy Roper of the Arkansas-based neo-Nazi group Shieldwall Network. Roper described the ‘balk-right’ philosophy on his blog:
“…the United States of America is headed for collapse and civil war, and that ethnostates, including at least one for [white nationalists], will rise in that vacuum. Balkanization, the breakup of a multiracial state into more homogeneous nations, is coming,” he wrote.
It’s unknown whether members of The Base have carried out any attacks yet.
LCRW reviewed chat logs from The Base which span from about October to November 2018. In those logs, such attacks are called “direct action.”
Norman Spear in one log says in the “current phase,” where The Base is networking and recruiting, such acts of terror “should be attributable to a specific org or group is if it’s only intended for recruiting purposes.”
“Anything else should be non-attributable,” Spear continued. “The message should speak for itself.”
“Direct action” is a term lifted from environmental activism. In the original context it meant actions like people chaining themselves to trees and construction equipment to prevent pipelines from being built. ‘Direct action’ for The Base means attacking, be it targeting minorities for terror or infrastructure like bridges and power plants to destabilize the government.
The tactic can be traced back to The Turner Diaries, a novel written by white nationalist William Luther Pierce that helped inspire the Oklahoma City bombing by Timothy McVeigh. In The Turner Diaries, a white nationalist terror organization wages guerilla warfare and blows up buildings and infrastructure, destabilizing the U.S. government until it caves and surrenders to the white nationalists. McVeigh targeted a federal building in Oklahoma City hoping to spark a similar chain of events to those Pierce outlined in the book.
But for The Base, “direct action” isn’t just limited to waging war against the U.S. Government. It’s also about targeting minorities, particularly black and Jewish people. Here they are talking about Robert Bowers, the murderer of eleven worshippers at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh:
“[If] 10 more people snapped like Bowers, it’d cause utter chaos. 100, now things would get interesting,” one person in their chat logs posted.
“Yeah that why follow up ops are important to build & keep momentum,” Norman Spear replied.
Spear’s comments reflect neo-Nazi ideologue James Mason’s thesis in Seige, his 1980s magazine-turned-bible for white nationalist terrorists.
“Mason insists that only the full collapse of American democracy and society will bring conditions sufficient to bring order through Nazism,” the SPLC writes. Seige is required reading for Atomwaffen members.
Mason’s idea was that people should carry out attacks in small groups or alone that create a spectacle and inspire others to carry out similar such attacks. This chain of increasing attacks and destabilization, Mason said, would until they become so frequent and the public becomes so terrorized that it weakens the state and more organized guerilla warfare can topple it.
This has been playing out in real life. Online forums like 4chan and 8chan have received manifestos, declarations and in at least two cases even a link to a livestreamed video from mass murderers intent on sparking a white supremacist revolution. For example, both the Poway and El Paso murderers, who targeted Jewish people and immigrants from Latin America respectively, were inspired by the killer in Christchurch, who murdered 51 people praying at two mosques.
The Base choosing the State of Washington for their activities shouldn’t come as a surprise. The region has a long history of white supremacist activity. One plan popularized all the way back in the 1970s called the “Northwest Territorial Imperative” would have white supremacists carve out Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Utah as a whites-only ethnostate.
“Washington,” a Eugene Antifa representative told LCRW, “is once again a current hotspot for the white ethnostate dream.”
“The most urgent thing to know about the Base right now,” the Eugene Antifa representative said, “is that they are absolutely still organizing, but in a largely more underground way.”