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tv   Frontline  PBS  June 18, 2019 10:00pm-11:01pm PDT

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t >> narrator:ight... >> you will not replace us... >> narrator: from charlottesville, to pittsburgh. >> ...he's got automatic weapon... >> robert bowers stormed into this synague and said, "i just want to kill jews." >> narrator: a ground-breaking frtline propublica investigation. >> he's indetifying jews as a threat to "our people". what he means there is "white people." n arrator: ...of violent neo-nazis. >> what do you think was going on in this house? >> they were making bombs. >> narrator: through interviews th insiders. >> nar tor: reporter a.c. thomps uncovers the movements ecthods.
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>> they are activeruiting military members. does that surprise you? >> narrator: and exposes their hate. >> "make ameria great again." in order to make america gat again, you'd have to make america white again. >> narrator: tonight, "documenting hate: new american nazis". >> frontline is made possible bi contris to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. g.d by the corporation for public broadcast major support is provided by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation, committed to building a more just, verdan aceful world. more information at the ford foundation: working with visionaries on the frontlines of social change worldwid at additional support is provided by the abrams foundation, committed to excellence in journalism. the park foundation, ubdedicated to heighteningc awareness of critical issues. the john and helen glessne family trust.
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supporting trustworthy journalism that informs and inspires. and by the frontline journalism fund, with major support fn and jo ann hagler. >> hold the perimeter. we're under fire. we're under fire.n he's gottomatic weapon, he's firing out of the front of the synagogue. >> thompson:ittsburgh, pennsylvania, october 27, 2018. >> 34-10: please send the medics up here! >> i've got one alive. >> thompson: robert bowersnt stormsthe tree of life synagogue with an ar-15 and allegedly kills 11 jewish worshippers. >> 7-1: suspect's talking about "all these jews need to die."e >>ve multiple casualties inside the synagogue. we have three officersho have been shot. >> members of the tree of life synagogue, conducting a peaceful service in their place of worship, were brutally murderedn
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by an targeting them simply because of their ith. >> thompson: another act ofam terrorerica, the countryag n left to ask, "where does this hate come from? could it havbeen prevented?" >> it's just been 24 hours since robert bowers stormed into thi synagogue and said, "i just want to kill jews." >> thompson: over the past few years, i've been reporting on a resurgent whiteme supremacist mo. i've seen its ideas migrate into the mainstream. i've seeviolence in cities across the country. and now this: the deadliest known tack on the jewish community in american history. i fear there will be more to more to come. ♪ >> blood and soil! >> blood and soil!-r >> today's aight "unite the
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tright" rally is expecteddraw over 6.000... >> tmpson: a year ago, the white supremacist movement ttocked the nation with a show of force in charville, virginia. >> anti-white! >> you will not replace us! you will not replace us! t >>mpson: they spilled blood in the streets, militant and unafraid. >> panic and horroin charlottesville. a car slams in a crowd of >> when a drlowed into the crowd, killing a young woman and injuring 19.n: >> thompsohite supremacists killed one protester and injured dozens of others. after charlottesville, i identified somof the groups behind the violence. with a team of reporters, ipo exsed a neo-nazi fight club
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called the rise above movement, or ram. they were involved in melees in four different cities. following our investigation, eight members or associates of ram are now facing federal charges. but the most extreme i organizati've been looking at is called the atomwaffen division. atomwaffen means "atomic weapons" in german. the group embraces nazi ideology and preaches a hatred ofmi norities, gays, and jews. of calls for lone wolf act violence, much like the massacre in pittsburgh. for months, my colleagues and i have been talking to a former atomwaffen member, who asks us to call him john and diuise his voice. he says the group's ranksch swelled aftearlottesville.
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so after charlottesville, people start coming into the group... >> thompson: so if protestswo don', what is the answer? >> thompson: john tells me that atomwaffen's ideology draws from the writings of an obscure neo-nazi named james mwho published a newsletter in the 1980s called "siege."
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(explosion booms) >> thompson: atomwaffen has made or"siege" required readingll of its members. >> "siege" by james mason. >> thompson: to them, mason is the latest in a long line of nazi leaders, inhering the role from elerican nazi party founder george lincoln roc who in turn took his inspiration from adolf hitler himself. i learn that mason's writings oe kept at the university kansas. >> the bulk of the collection came to us in the early 2000s. >> thompson: rebecca schulte is the curator of the wilcox collection, an archive of contemporary polical movements. is this the only collection of his work? >> yes, this is his archive. we are the only ones that have them. "enclosed with this letter is a' sample copy ege,' the newsletter of the national
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socialist liberation front." >> thompson:ason's archive is highly disturbing. his writing lays out an apocalyptic neo-nazi visn. he says the white race in america is under siege by people of color, and undermined by jews in positions of power. "we do not wisfor law and order, for law and order means e continued existence of this rotten rip-off capitalist jew system. we wish for anarchy and chaos, which will enable us to attack the system while her big broth pigs are trying keep the pieces from falling apart." as >> and this is a-up. you know, it's got... see that? >> thompson: yeah. mason advocad attacks on institutions like hollywood, media, and the courts. notorious killer charles manson is one of mason's heroes, and the two had a longnd correspoce.
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>> so this is an object that charlie manson knitted in prison and gave to james mason. >> thompson: so it's some kindor of ornamen. >> yes, i... >> thompson: some kind of artwork. >> ...kind of knitting, yeah. i don't know exactly. looks like they corresponded a lot. thompson: yeah, it looks like over a long period of time. >> mm-hmm. >> thompson: like '8 '90s. >> right. we've had the collection described online for many years, and we haven't seen an. lot of act (chuckles) >> thompson: right. >> but in the last few years, there have been more people coming to use thcollection. so that's always an indicator that there's something happening out there, there'sn interest. we don't always know what it is. >> thompson: so people are starting to look at his writings again-- that's very interesting. >> mm-hmm, they are.
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>> thompson: we're not the first people to come visit you. >> no, you're not. >> thompson: back in new york, our atomwaffenource, john, agreed to talk over video chat with me and my colleague ali winston. (video chat program ringing) >> thompson: when you say ngne wolf attacks, it sounds to me like you're talbout basically terrorist acts.
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>> thompson: so, how.. how many initiates would you say there are?re >> or >> thompson: or were? >> thompson: wow. (radio squawking) ♪ mp >> tn: john tells me that if i want to investigate the group, i need to start where it gan, in tampa, florida. ♪ at waffen was founded in 2015 by brandon russell, a national guardsman in his ear. ♪
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he moved into this apartment complex with three oth members of the group.he one of t an 18-year-old high school dropout named devon arthurs, would bring atomwaffen to the attention of the authorities. >> friday night, tampa police arrested 18-year-old devon arthurs. he confessed to killing his roommates, 22-year-old jeremy himmelman and 18-yeaold andrew oneschuk. >> arthurs told cops a fourth roommate, brandon russell, participates in neo-nazi chat rooms. >> t common thread that connected all four roommates was neo-nazi beliefs. ♪ >> thompson: why had arthurspa apntly shot two of his roommates? his father agreed to talk to me about what happened that day. >> i was working in my office, and the cellphone went off, and it was devon. and he said, "dad, i'm sorry. y
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i've reassed up. i've really messed up." i said, "whas, what's the matter, buddy? what's going on?" "the two guys, the two that were staying or whatever, they're dead. i, i shot them. they upset me and i shot them." i tried to hold it together and then i said, "put the gun down or any weapon down, and go turni yourself it now. right now." all was hearing, "i'm sorry. i'm sorry, dad. i'm sorry. i'm sorry." i said, "just turn yoursf in." >> thompson: alan arthurs says devon began gravitating to neo-nazi ideas when he was 13 oy rs old. so is this junior rotc? what is... what is... y h, that's rotc in high school. >> thompson: he was really interested in the military. >> that's what he said. >> thompson: what do you think he was really interested in? >> there were two other brothers and anher member of that rotc that werobviously into the
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neo-nazi stuff. >> thompson: so you think he was joining the rotc gro because there were other kids that were into nazism in the group? yes. yes, definitely. >> thompson: arthurs says his relationship with his son became increasingly strained. >> by that time, we weren't talking and i didn't even, you know... thompson: devon ended u dropping out of high school. he eventually moved into the tampa apartment withussell and the other atomwaffen members. did you ever talk to devon since the incident? >> he said that he would not, when he figured out what brandon was going to do, he couldn'th live wmself. that's all he's ever said to me. >> thompson: tampa police refuse to talk tos about the case. but i obtain video of devon arthurs' police interview. over and over, he tells detectives about atomwaffen.
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>> thompson: inside the atomwaffen apartment, police discovered nazi paraphernalia, guns, radioactive material, and handmade explosives. on a dresser was a framed photograph of oklahoma city bomber timothy mcveigh. (elosion echoes) >> holy cow! about a third of the building has been blown away! >> thompson: on april 191995,lf guar veteran timothy mcveigh detonated a truck bomb in front of the oklahoma city federal building. scores were killed. for you, what are the lessons w
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thshould know today about oklahoma city?hi >> i it's not only oklahoma city, it's lessons that we've been learning about lone wolf terrorism. it doesn't take a large organization to cause mass casualty. >> thompson: kerry myers was an fbi bomb tech who investigated the oklahoma city bombing. i show myers the crime scene photos from the atomwaffen apartment. >> do we have close-ups of that? >> thompson: i don't know, let me look. they document a wide range of explosives, including some of the same ingredients used by mcveigh in his oklahoma city attack. >> they were making bombs.a this is mb maker's workshop. there's the cooler. this is the hmtd. this is actually what caused them the most concern, and rightfly so. hmtd is not very common, it has to be handmade-- it requires a process and you have to be sophisticated. >> thompson: andow powerful is that? i mean, is this something. >> it goes off about 14,000 feet per second.
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it's probably more powerful than ammonium nitrate. they could make a car bomb.. if these materials were put together correctly and it went off in this classroom, it'd kill or seriously injure every person in this classroom >> thompson: so, obviously these guys aren't master criminals. are we focusing too much on a group that's not really a threat? ha>> well, in this case, w two dead, two young men dead, shot with an assault rifle, and we recovered enough explosives here to blow up a car, blow up an airplane, blow up a bus, blow up this room. we have the same basic explosive kit here that the boston marathon bombers had. ♪ >> thompson: the night of arthurs' arrest, brandon russell was also detained andy questionedcal police and the fbi. told a different story. he said the explosives were his,
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but insisted he was only using them to power model rockets. atomwaffen was nothing more than a club. the police released russell without charging him. they even gave him a ride home so he could pick up his car. russell promptly disappeared. he met up with another atomwaffen member and began driving south. as the men drove, the fbi issued an arrest warrant for russell on explosives charges.pi >> we had hiure. we were told that he could possibly be going up near turken for some type of terrorist act. t'at's all we knew. >> thompson: thaall you knew? >> that was it. he turned into the burger king. i put my patrol car righ his car to block it in. ard i didn't even think, i just got out of the cnd said, "brandon, come here." and he looked at me and he looked startled for a second, and before i gave him reaction to do anything, i just grabbed his arm and started haffing him.
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do you have any weons on you? do you have any weapons on you?y >> putr hands behind your back.e >> hwas shaking, which made me shake because i didn't know what he hadn him. explosive materials? all i could think is that he had some type of detonator o him because he was so nervous. stop fidgeting. why are you fidgeting? >> what are we going to find in that car? >> guns, aunition. >> you have at least two long guns, in excess of 1,000 roundsn ofition, homemade body armor, no suitcases, no toiletry was the absence of the other things that was a little bit concerning. >> he is too nervous, man. he is way too nervous. >> we were very, very thankful that we contacted them away fr h that car, because if wead ompulled them over, the ou of that event could have been way different for everybody involved, based on what they had inside the car. >> thompson: given all the weapons.ea >> thens were right behind them, within hand reach, as weln as the aion. and i believe they had loaded c
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magazines in tter console for the rifles. when we found all the weapons, we were convinced that we had just stopped a mass shooting. >> thompson: the monroe county sheriff's department believes they stopped se kind of violent attack, but it's still not clear what brandon russell may have bn planning. he had the weapons and ammunition to kill dozens of people, and the fbbulletin said he might have been targeting the nearby turkey point nuclear power plant. russell eventually pleaded guilty to illegal possession of explosives. he was sentenced to five years in prison. but according to devon arthurs, russell wasn't the only threat inside atomwaffen.
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>> thompson: it's unclear what the authorities did in response to arthurs' plea to investigate atomwaffen. the fbi won't talk to me about its handng of the case. but here is what i do know: atomwaffen continue to operate, and its violence didn't semonths later in virginia, atomwaffen follower nick giampa allegedly killed his ex-girlfriend's parents. they had objected to his nazi views.
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giampa has yet to enter a plea, but the 17ear old appeared to be fascinated with atomwaffen. his social media accounts were full of its propaganda. weeks later, in california, sam woodward was arrested for allegedly killing blaze bernstein, a gay jewish college student. after the arre, i published a story identifying woodward as a member of atomwaffen. woodward has pleaded not guilty, but in a cache confidential chat logs i obtained, atomwaffen celebrated the slaying. they referred to woodward as a "one-man gay jew wrecking crew." three killings in the eight a monter the arrest of brandon russell and devon arthurs. devon arthurs' predictions of violence smed to have come true. but arthurs had given police one
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more warning. >> thompson: he claimed that atomwaffen had members inside the military. >> okay. >> thompson: from everything i've learned, devon arthurs is aeeply troubled young man he gave conflicting explanations for the killings and was ultimately deemementally unfit to stand trial. but as i continue my investigation, his description of atomwaffen and its ambitions is checking out.
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atomwaffen's confidential chat logs support arthurs' claim that the group is recruiting soldiers.ey and eveal the existence of what they describe as "hate camps," in which members with military experience provide training in firearms and guerrilla tactics. one hate camp early this year took place here... in death valley, on the border between nevada and california. atomwaffen filmed themselves training out in the desert. the group was drawn to death valley bause of its association with charles manson. they made a pilgrimage to devil's hole. ♪ this small gap in the rock opens
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up into a massive, 500-foot-deep cavern. manson planned to found an underground city here after thee apocal atomwaffen's communication show this hate camp was convened by a member who used the onne handle "komissar." ♪ i'm able to identify komissar as michael hubsky, based in s vegas. hubsky isn a soldier himself, but claimed to have been a private military contractor. he boasted in atomwaffen chats about his short-barrel scorpion rifle. hubsky discussed attacks on infrastructure and claimed to thave a classified map ofhe west coast power grid.
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at hubsky's death valley hate camp, and at other aton gatherings around the country, the oup shoots propaganda videos. their members fi assault rifles, storm buildings, and clear rooms. o hubsky hopedganize regular training for atomwaffen and encouraged members to join a nevada weapons facility called fro sight. the idea was for atomwaffen members to get schooled in advanced firearms tactics. i contacted front sight, and they were shocked to learn about the group. they agreed to meet with me out at their facility.un firing) >> front sight is unique.55 we're acre firearms training facility about 40 minutes outse of las vegas. we have 50 ranges and the capacity of approximately 2,000e people at one
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>> thompson: when did you first learn about michael hubsky, thea aten leader who wanted to come train here? >> i believe initial contacted by you folks, and you asked us some questions. ed as a response to that, investigated with our law enforcement contacts, and that was enough to convince us that they needed to not be coming to front sight any further. >> thompson: hi, michael, it's a.c. thompson from propublica and "frontline." i'm in las vegas and still interested in talking to you, so... when i reach hubsky, he'd been banned for life from f sight. he tells me he left atomwaffen erd has renounced nazism. he won't go on cama for an interview. but using information from the chat logs, i'm able todentify other hate one of them to talk to me. he's a twenty something army
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veteran who asks me to call him jeremiah.m he came back fcombat tour damaged and angry. ( storted): there were a lot of people that were disenchanted with the mission. i'd say about half the guys in my unit. i think a lot of guys, they're lost and they want 're looking for answers. >> thompson: how big would you say the white nationalist movement is within the armed forces? >> (distorted): there's a good amount of them. they keep quiet about it, especially when they're in. you can get in a lot of trouble. going onto facebook, i never mentioned the military. t mpson: how did the group regard combat veterans and service members? >> (distorted): we definitely wantedo appeal to veterans. we would say they had the fighting spirit that the s nationialists of the 1920s had, that people of the alt-right lack. take an average 19-year-old from atomwaffen, his only experience of war is video games, versus some
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guy like me, who knows how to hand himself in a war. people looked up to the military ys. you were at least using the training that they had given you to hit back at them. >> thompson: when you guys did do training, what kind of training was it? what did you, what did you learn, what kind of skills were shared? >> (distorted): going to the range, clearing rooms, medical, how to wage an effective insurgency. a lot of theraq and afghan war vets, they took what they saw the taliban or al qaeda in iraq doing and applied it to what's going on here. jews were the number-one enemy. we would say the jews were the virus, and the people or, the homosexuals, they were the symptoms. ♪ >> thompson: by studying atomwaffen chat logs, my i colleagues a develop a list of more than 80 atomwaffen members.
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seven of these men have military experience. i already know about atomwaffen founder brandon russell and his time in the national guard. but there are also thr active-duty soldiers or marines and three military veterans. and my sources say there could be more. i want to better understand the link between atomwaffen and the military. i go to see professor kathleen belew athe university of chicago. she's been researching the history of t white power movements we're looking at a current group called the atomwaffen division, and they are actively recruiting mitary members. does that surprise you? >> not at that's a sy pioneered by the white power movement in the period of my study, and continued throughout the post-vietnameriod. one thing to understand is that throughout american history,
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there's always a correlaon between the aftermath of warfare and this kind of vigilante and revolutionary white power violence.yo so ilook, for instance, at the surges in ku klux klan membership, they align more consistently with the return of veterans from combat and the aftermath of war than they do with anti-immigration, populism, economic hardship, or any of the other factors that historiansve ypically used to explain them. nationalist fervor, populist sevements, those are all w predictors than the aftermath of war. >> thompson: postwar perio tend to correspond, then, with with an upsurge in white-power, white-supremacist actity? >> always, yes. >> thompson: wow. belew outlines a long historyy of militn who became key figures in the white power movement: george lincoln rockwell, world war ii veteran n and founder of the amerizi party; richard butler, world wau ii veteran ander of the aryan nations; louis beam,et m veteran and grand dragon of the kkk;
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timothy mcveigh, gulf war veteran and lahoma city bomber. >> it's important to remember,t too, tturning veterans that join this movement, and active-duty troops, we're talking about a tiny, not even statistically significant, percentage of veterans. but within this movement, those people who did serve are playing an enormously important role in instruction of weapons, in creating paramilitary activist mentality and training. >> thompson: when we speak to people involved in this movement today, they talk about leaderless resistance. can you explain that to me? >> sure. leerless resistance is basically what we would understand today as cell-style terrorism: thedea that you can recruit a small number of committed activists, organize them, and then they will behave on their own in a cell without direct ties with movement leadership. if we think, for instance, about the oklahoma city bombing, timothy mcveigh is sort of the ideal soldier of leaderlessre
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stance. he's in an infantry unit and serves in the gulf and is involved in white power groups while he's on post. he's consistently involved in this movement, right up to the moment of the oklahoma city ismbing. we know that thiart of the white power movement and an act of leaderless resistance. but we he this memory of that as an act of one person. and as a result, i think we've never really delivered a decisive stop to this activism. >> thompson: that because we don't understand oklahoma city b ng an outgrowth of an organized movement, that it has been around for decades, that is modeling the military, that is involving military members, that the authorities have never really been able to put a stop to it. >> that's right. the military response to white power activism, like the court response to white power activism, and the police response to whitpower activism, reflects the many ways that our society has not been prepared to deal with this kind of a movement. >> thompson: in washington, a senior analyst at the department
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of homeland secuty had tried to draw attention to some of these same concerns. in 2009, daryl johnson wrote an intelligence report looking at the rise of white supremacist groups and their connection to the mility. >> the wars that have gone on in afghanistan and iraq, we had the rise of islamophobia. that's a huge factor in both the anti-governmengroups and the militias that rally with firearms outside of mosques, bue alsohite supremacist groups that hate people of other nations and other skin colors. >> thompson: johnson's report warned that the u.s. faced a growing teorist threat from white supremacist and anti-government groups, and that these groups might recruit military veterans. >> wt we've seen happen in t years since that report was released is basically everything that we had predicted me to fruition. and it's actually worse than what we had anticipated. and i'm afraid that more law enforcement officers, more innocent civilians, moreti mino and faith-based
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communities are going to be targeted and actually victimized by these violent offenders. it's like every month we have something, whether it's a, a shooting, a stabbing, even bombings starting ton now. >> thompson: today johnson's prophetic, but its publication nearly a decade ago provoked a political backlash from conservative lawmakers and veterans' groups. the report was retracted and his unit disbanded. >> our unit got shut down in '09, and then the money started drying up, and, uh... so these c basically left to fend for themselves. this threat is out there... >> thompson: after speaking to johnson i hear from two former homeland security officials at who say he government remains under-resourced and out of position for dealing with the white supremacist threat. for months, i've been trying toe t someone in the government, especially at the department of defense, to talk to me.
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no o at the pentagon-- not even a spokesperson-will agree to an interview. but congressman keith ellison has read my reporting. he's writt a letter to the department of defense, demanding an accounting of their efforts to rid the ranks of >> well,e tell you, i am a believer in our nation's i have vere relatives who serve, including active duty, and i can tell you that it's an institution that, even in mye family, we'vways revered. to think that somebody who does not support the true goals of the u.s. military, which is to protect americans, and actually wants to use that training to hurt americans, isto revoltine, and i hope that, that people in theli ry really do take this seriously. >> thompson: we've identified seven members of one neo-naziroup who are current or former military. om is that atomwaffen? >> thompson: that'waffen.
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what do you make of that?l, >> wel think that they have decided this is a strategic initiative for want their people to go into the military. there's a real legitimate fear here, and i think that we've got to be vigilant about it.♪ ♪ >> thompson: the pentagon responded to ellison wita letter stating that the military aggressively screens new recruits. the d.o.d. also sa it had received 27 reports of extremist activity over the past five years, and had disciplined 18 service members. i put those numbers to heidi irich of the southern poverty law center. >> that's laughable. >> thompson: you think so? >> yeah, i do. that's ridiculous. >> thompson: so you just, you think the number, that's ow? >> i think it's crazy-low. i mean, look, hate groups are telling their people to join the military, and this was something that's been documented, both in fbi reports and in dhs reports, to gain these skills.
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thers not only going to be 2 of them in a military force of, i don't know, one-and-a-half to two llion people in the unit states, who are, who are under arms. it's not possible. i think it's actually. that's just an indicator, to me, of how low a priority it is to root these people out. we presentedhe military and committees in congress, like the armeservices committees, wit 130 profiles off of the national socialist movent's, like, equivalent of facebook, this ceing called new saxon. >> thompson: nazi ok. >> exactly, nazi facebook. and we keep sending stuff to the military, like, examples of people... >> thompson: oh, really? y >> sayinh, "you should look at this guy, he looks like he might be in violation." and, you know, most of the time we never even hear anything back from them. i just think that the military needs to have pressure put on it to put this at the top of its list. if that means shuffling around resources, so be it. we don want another mcveigh, right? you just can't have this. >> thompson: with nobody at the d.o.d. willing to talk to me, i sit down with a former military
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prosecutor who has handled white supremacist >> okay. and i can see this is a response a congressman who's apparently asked a question... >> thompson: yeah. >> as a follow-up to some of the work you guys were doing in these articles about service members. >> thompson: major general john ertenberg served as the deputy judge advocate g-- the second-highest-ranking jag officer in the u.s. army. he later oversaw the military commissions at guantánamo bay. >> it sounds like they understand the issue, and they laid out for the rder all the different ways that they, they approachhis issue, and that they believe they've got control of this issue. >> thompson: and from that, your impression is they have a handle on it, and they're dealing with this? >> yeah, and, i mean, i'm pleased to see that they're doing all this. o this looks very thorough and looks like they're on top of it. t mpson: so it's been put to me, "look, this is a very small
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action of the u.s. military. the va bulk of service members are wonderful yoisparaging the whole armed forces by raising this." do you think that's true? >> no. no, i think it's too important. there's no question that there are organizations that would like for people to go the military to acquire the training that you get in the military. and how we could screen all those people out, you know, isfi pretty dlt. but there always could be corners of a given organization where people could hide out and not be seen. >> thompson: in its letter toso congressman el the d.o.d. also said it had investigated the atomwaffen members i'd identified. but they didn't say what they had done. all i know about is that only one member-- a marine, vasilios pistolis-- was court-martialed
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and expelled from the service. in response to our questions, a pentagon spokeswoman sent ayi statemenng she couldn't provide information on individual cases but, "our standards are clear; participation in extremistes activias never been tolerated and is punishable undethe uniform code of military justice." ee added that commanders "encouraged to be preventive and pro-active, and they are doing that." i've been writing storieabout atomwaffen and talking to insiders for nearly a year. and it seems like the group has been paying attention. from federal prison, atomwaffen founder brandon russell issues a thinly veiled threat to former members who he believes are leaking information about the group.
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>> thompson: i learn the video was put out by the group's texas cellled by john cameron denton, who calls himselrape. in 2017, atomwaffen began barring its members fr appearing in publicat demonstrions, but i findro pictures fan earlier anti-immigrant protest. denton can be seen at lly with a shotgun and a skull mask,
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and then afterwardposing with his fellow neo-nazis with his mask off. i get a tip that denton may be attending a black metal festival here called destroying texas. (heavy metal music playing) after a year of tracking atomwaffen online, i have a chance to confront the in person. >> (singing growled lyrics) >> thompson: if i do find them inside the club, i'm not sure wh to expect. (distorted metal music playing) the show is paed. most of the concert-goers look like typical metalheads, but i do spot a few obscure neo-nazi patches on some people's clothing. i find rape drinking outside, e ong with two other atomwaffen members i recognizom my reporting. are you rape? i'm a.c.
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i nted to come out here and talk to you about atomwaffen. >> no comment. >> thompson: no commt? >> no. >> thompson: you're not going to do an interview? >> no. >> thompson: are you w about going to prison? >> nope. >> thompson: atomwaffen members stand accu multiple murders, and their propaganda is filled with violent threats. but after all of the online posturing, rape and the others aren't physically intimidating. and they are far less aggressive in person than the skinhd gangs i've followed in the past. all right, thank he jeremiah. >> hey, how are you doing? >> thompson: met rape out at a metal show in texas. >> how'd that go? >> thompson: i was kind of surprised because they talk all this violenttuff online, but they were just kind of quietlye hostd seething. ng that figures. if they were wano do
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something violent, they wouldn't do it publicly. idese guys, they're not st they're not like these skinhead types. >> tmpson: jeremiah says i shouldn't underestimate rape. he has a direct relationshipn' with atomwafintellectual leader, james mason. did you ever get to talk to mason meet him? >> we heard him over a couple of voice chats. i never met him in person, thou. rape and mason had their own little thing. thompson: what kind of sense did you get of him when you were talking to him on those chats? >> i thought he was a genius. >> thompson: in propaganda, videosomwaffen say that mason disappeared for 15 years until they lated him. they pose for photos with mason dressed in the nazi uniform and celebrate their llaboration. i'm unable to find a phone number for mason, buarn that he's living in the denver area.
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mason has no online profile-- no social media, heoesn't even appear to have an email account. he spent time in a colorado prison for menacing someone with a pistol. a bankruptcy filing from a few years ago reveals a solitary, liferking at kmart and living alone. i've gotten several possible addresses for mason, and i begin to search neighborhoods for him. then, i get a call it's mason and he wants to talk to me. >> we're good. whenever you're ready. >> thompson: so how big do you think that the atomwaffen division is these days? how many members... i don't have the foggiest idea. >> thompson: but they come visit you, you exchange... >> on occasion, they will comete through thitory, yes. i'm always happy to meet with them. t mpson: mason is evasive at first. i try to get him to talk about the killings and violence
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linked to atomwaffen. g >> id i didn't know about it and i don't want to know, because if i did know, i'd be involved in it, and i don'to want involved in it. >> thompson: you don't want to go back to prison. >> i do not urge anybody to do anything like that, but en it gets done, i won't down them. i kind of welcome the chaos. >> thompson: what did you think of james fields, the guy who allegedly drove the car into the crowd charlottesville? >> i say bless his heart, because he sure is in a jam. t mpson: so you're sympathetic? >> oh, very sympathetic. totally sympathetic. >> thompson: to you, fields is a hero? >> yes. >> thompson: what did you think of tim mcveigh? >> another hero. >> the white race is in danger. and it's not by accident
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it's driven. it's planned. >> thompson: who's planning it?j >> ts. we know it's the i mean, we kno. >> thompson: mason has a lot more to say-- the kind of ti-semitic conspiracy theories i've come to expect from white supremacists. but i'm struck by what he says next. >> with trump winning that election by surprise, and it was a surprise, i now believe anything could be possible. >> thompson: after decades of railing against the government, s giving himrump hope. >> as trump says, and he has ite prright across the front of his hat, "make america great again." in order to make america great again, you'd have to make amica white again, okay? it's interesting we're headed for interesting times. (crowd singing)
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>> the darkest day in the history of pittsburgh, said the ghyor, and you're looking now at the memorial forming... >> ...outside the synagogue toda mourners struggled to process any of it. >> thompson: i'm in pittsburgh, weeks after speaking to mason and just days after the massacre at the tree of life synagogue. before he allegedly stormed the synagogue, robert bowers posted on social media writg about jews helping iigrant invaders who were killi his people. kathleen belew examined the posts. >> even a cursory look at hisnd social mediaates that he is decisively part of a white power >> tn: what did you see when you were looking through those accounts? po >> his las expressed that he was going to go in shooting and it's an anti-semitic rant. but it also repeats twice the phrase "our people," that he needs to protect "our people," that he's identifying jews as a reat to "our people." that what he means there is "white people."
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and then, through the rest of the account, there's a whole bunch of other markers of white por ideology. all of that content is deeply, deeply disturbing, but is historic. we have a history. >> thompson: you've seen it fore. >> absolutely. i think this is an example of leaderless resistance in that it is a... what appea to be a lone gunman, but someone who is motivated and propelled by a worldview, and by a social vitwork of likeminded people who push and enablence. this movement has been using these structures for decades. our community was devastated with this attack, with this senseless slaughter of 11 people. the entire community was affected. the jewish community absolutely the brunt of it, but the entire
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pittsburgh community was devastated. >> thompson: retired fbi agent brad orsini is the director of security for the jewish federation of pittsburgh. even while pittsburgh was grieving, he says neo-nazi propaganda was aearing around the city.ho >> tmpson: and what... what's going on here? >> these are posters that are up at rious parts of the city. flyers, posters, stick this week in particular we've seen an >> thompn: after what's happened in recent days, you ve a fascist group coming in here? >> yes, and i got numerous reports on tuesday. >> thompson: orsini even before the shooting he had decided to take additional precauons. >> we have put casualty bags in each one of our synagogues and schools. there's tourniquets, there are compression pads, there's wound packing material. >> thompson: and so basically you have extme first aid kits, live-saving kits, in
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the synagogues, the schools... >> absolutely. >> thompson: ...and other institutions round here? >> in every one of our major .institutions, we have th >> thompson: it's kind of sad. >> it's incredibly sad, um, toe think we a day where we have to worry about security for people going in to pray.♪ ♪ >> thompson: pittsburgh is still mourning and the questions it ovoked still linger: can these kinds of killings be prevented? i now know the fbi is looking at atomwaffen. agents in several states haveki beng with former members. and it turns out the bureau is investating robert bowers relationship to two neo-nazis brothers with connections to atomwaffen. but what i've learned from my years in covering white supracist groups is that they are many anh they draw from a deep reservoir of ugliness in america. just this month, the fbi
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announced hate crimes had spiked again, the third year running. this story is far from over. >> here comes the federal government saying that they own the land and everything on it is theirs, but my dad said hell no. >> how one family's fight against the governnt. >> ...the armed standoff in bunkerville. >> this became sort of this rallying cry, for anti-government extremists everywhere. >> sparked a movement >> ...anti-government patriot groups...n >> ...ammobundy is in federal custody now. >> and what it means. >> free the patrio! >> the bundys defied three court orders, and the rule of law. >> go to and find out what's happened since this film originally aired. and watch our first film in this series, "documenting hate: arlottesville." >> i just want to let you know there's been all kinds of crazy violence over here. pepper spray, people beating each other with stic, and
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we're trying to figure out ifce the pore going to intervene to stop that or if this is going to keep going on. >> connect to the frontline community on facebook, twitter or >> frontline is made possible by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. and by the corporationor public broadcasting. major support is provided by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation, committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world. more information at the ford foundation:g workth visionaries on the frontlines of social change worldwide. additional support is provided by the abrams foundaon, committed to excellence in journalism. the park foundation, dedicated to heightening public esawareness of critical is the john and helen glessner family trust. supporting trustworthy journalism that informs and inspires. d by the
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frontline journalism fund, with major support from jon and jo ann hagler. captioned by media access group at wgbh >> for more on this and other frontline programs, visit our weite at to order frontline' "documenting hate: new american nazis" on dvd visit shoppbs or call 1-800-playpbs. this program is so available on amazon prime video.
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