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tv   Frontline  PBS  November 20, 2018 9:00pm-10:01pm PST

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>> narrator: tonight... >> you will not replace us... >> narrator: from charlottesville, topi ttsburgh. >> ...he's got an automatic weapon... >> robert bowers stormed into this synagogue and said, "i just want to kill jews." >> narrator: an ongoing investigation... >> he's indetifying jewsea as a tto "our people". e means there is "white people." >> narrator: ...of viole neo-nazis.do >> what ou think was going on in this house? >> they were making bombs. >> narrator: through interviews with insiders. >> narrator: frontline and propublica reporter, a.c. thompson uncover
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the movement's mhod. >> they are actively recruiting military members.do es that surprise you? >> narrator: and expose their hate. >> "make ameria great again." in order to make america great again, you'd have to make america white again. >> narrator: tonight,oc enting hate: new american nazis". >> frontline is made possible by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. and by the corporation for 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 is ave at macfound.org. the ford fouation, working with visionaries on the front lines of social change worldwide. at fordfoundation.org.ti adal support is provided by the abrams foundation, committed to excellenc journalism. the park foundation, dedicated to heightening public awareness of critical issues. the john and helen glessner family trust.
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supporting trustworthy journalism that informs and inspires. the wyncote foundation. and by the frontline journalism fund, with major support from jon and jo ann hagler. and additional support from laura debonis and scott nathan corporate support is provided by: >> the zip code you're born into can determine your fure. your school. your job. your dreams. your problems. (boys yelling) at the y, our goal is to create opportunities no matter who you are or where you're from. the y, for a better us. >> hold the perimeter. we're under fire. we're under fire. he's got an automatic weapon,
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he's firing out of the front of the synagogue. >> thompson: pittsburgh, pennsylvania, october 27, 2018. >> 34-10: please send dics up here! >> i've got one alive. >> thompson: robert bowers feorms into the tree of li synagogue with an ar-15 and allegedly kills 11 jewish worshippers.ec >> 7-1: sus talking about "all these jews need to die." >> we have multiple caes inside the synagogue. we have three officers who have been shot. >> members of the tree olife synagogue, conducting a peacefun service heir place of worship, were brutally murdered by a gunman targeting simply because of their faith. >> thompson: another act of "rror in america, the country again left to ask,ere does this hate come from? could it have been prevent?" >> it's just been 24 hours since robert bowers stormed into this synagogue and said, "i just want to kill jews." >> thompson: over the past few
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years, i'vbeen reporting on a resurgent white supremacist movement. i've seen its ideas migrate into the mainstream. i've seen violence in cities across the country. and now this: the deadliest known attack on the jewish community in american history. i fear there will be more to more to come. ♪ >> blood and soil! >> blood and soil! >> tay's alt-right "unite th right" rally is excted to draw over 6.000... >> thompson: a year ago, the white supremacist movement shocked the nation with a show of force in arlottesville, virginia. >> anti-white! >> you will not replace us! you will not replace us! d >> thompson: they spilleblood in the streets, militant and unafraid.
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>> panic and horror in charlottesville. a car slams into a crowd of counter-protesters... >> whea driver plowed into the crowd, killing a young woman and injuring 19. >> thompson: white supremacists killed one protester and injured dozens of others. ter charlottesville, i identified some of the groups behind the violence. igth a team of reporters, i exposed a neo-naht clubis called theabove movement, or ram.er they winvolved in melees in four different cities. following our investigation,mb eight s or associates of ram are now facing federal charges. but the most extreme ngganization i've been loo at is called the atomwaffen division.
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atomwaffen means "atomican weapons" in ge the group embraces nazi ideologa and preachatred of minorities, gays, and jews. it calls for lone wo acts of violence, much like the massacre in pittsburgh. for months, my colleagues and ia been talking to a former atomwaffen member, w asks us to call him john and disguise his voice. he says the group's ranks sweld after charlottesville. so after charlottesville, people start coming into e group... >> thompson: so if protests swdon't work, what is the ?
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>> thompson: john tells me that atomwaffen's ideology draws fron the wrgs of an obscure neo-nazi named james mason, who puished a newsletter in th 1980s called "siege." (explosion booms) >> thompson: atomwaffen has made "siege" required reading for all of its members. >> "siege" by james mason. >> thompson: to them, mason is the latest in a long line of nazi leaders, inheriting the role from american nazi party founder george lincoln rockwell, who in turn took his inspiration from adolf hitler himself.
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i learn that mason's writings are kept at the university of kansas.ul >> the bof the collection came to us in the early 2000s. >> thompson: rebecca schulte is e curator of the wilcox collection, an archive of contemporary political movements. is this the only collectn of his work? >> yes, this is his archive. we are the only ones that have them. "enclosed with this letter is a sample copy of 'siege,' the newsletter of e national socialist liberation front." >> thompson: mason's archive is highly disturbing. o his writing la an apocalyptic neo-nazi vision. 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 wish for law and order, for law and order means the continued existee of
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this rotten rip-off capitalist jew system. we wish for anarchy and chaos, whh will enable us to atta the system while her big brother pigs are trying to keep the pieces from falling apart." >> and this is a paste-up. you know, it's got... see that >> thompson: yeah. mason advocated attacks on institutions like hollywood, media, and the courts. notorious killer charles manson is one of mason's heroes, and the two had a long correspondence. >> so this is an object that charlie manson knitted in priso and gavemes mason. >> thompson: so it's some kind of ornament or... yes, i... >> thompson: some kind of artwork. >> ...kind of knitting, yeah. i dot know exactly.
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looks like they corresponded a it. >> thompson: yeat looks like over a long period of time. >> mm-hmm. >> thompson: like '81 to '90s. >> right. we've had the collection described online for many years, and we haven't seen a loof action. (chuckles) >> thompson: right. >> but in the last few years,n there have bre people coming to use the collection. so that's always an indicator that there's something happening out there, there's an interest. we don't always know what it iso >>son: so people are starting to look at his writings again-- that's very interesting. >> mm-hmm, they are. >> thompson: we're not the first people to come visit you. y >> n're not. so >> tho back in new york, our atomwaffen source, john, agreed to talk over video chat with me and my colleague ali winston. (video chat program ringing)
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>> thompson: when you say lone wolf attacks, it sounds to me like you' talking about basically terrorist acts. >> thompson:o, how many... how many initiates would you say there are? >>r were? >> thompson: or were? >> thompson: wow.
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(radio squawking) ♪ >> thompson: john tellhat if i want to investigate the group, i need to start where itf began, in tamprida. ♪ atomwaffen was founded in 2015 by brandon russell, a national guardsman inis early 20s. ♪ nt moved into this apartme complex with three other members of the group. d e of them, an 18-year-olgh 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
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himmelman and 18-year-old andrew oneschuk. >> arthurs told cops a fourth roommate, brandon russell, participates in neo-nazi chat rooms. >> the common thread that connected all four roommates was neo-nazi beliefs. ♪ >> thompson: why had arthurs apparently shot two is roommates? his father agreed to talk to me abouwhat 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. i've really messed up.ea i'vey messed up." i said, "what's, 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 turn yourself in right now.
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right now." all i was hearing, "i'm sorry. i'm sorry, dad. i'm sorry. i'm sorry." i said, "just turn yourself in." >> thompson: alan arthurs says devon began gravitating to neo-nazi ideas when he was 13 or 14 years old. so is this junior rotc? tcat is... what is... >> yeah, that's n high school. >> thompson: he was really inrested in the military. >> that's what he said. >> thompson: what do you thinkte he was really rested in? >> there were two other brothers and another member of th rotc that were obviously into t neo-nazi stuff. >> thompso so you think he was joining the rotc group 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 up dropping out of high school. eventually moved into t tampa apartment with russell and
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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 uldn't live with himself. that's all he's ever sd to me.ho >>son: tampa police refuse to talk to us about the case. but i obtain vid of devon arthurs' police interview. over and over,e tells detectives about atomwaffen. >> thompson: inse the atomwaffen apartment, police
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discovered nazi paraphernalia, guns, radictive material, andnd de explosives. on a dresser was a framed photograph of oklahoma city bomber timothy mcveigh. (explosion echoes) >> holy cow! about a third of the building has been blown away! >> thompson: on april 19, 1995, gulf war veteran tim mcveigh detonated a truck bomb in front of theklahoma city federal building. scores were killed. for you, what are the lessons that we should know about oklahoma city? >> i think it's not on 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. >> tmpson: kerry myers was a 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?
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>> thompson: i don't know, let me look. they document a wide range of explosives, including some of the same ingredients used by veigh in his oklahoma ci attack. >> they were making bombs. hois is a bomb maker's wor there's the cooler. this is the hmtd. this is actually what caused them the most concern, and rightfully so. hmtd is not very common, it has to be handmade-- it requires a process and you have to be sophisticated. >> thompson: and how powerful is that? i mean, is this something...go >> i off about 14,000 feet per second. it's probably more powerful than monium nitrate. they could make a car bomb... tif these materials were together correctly and it went juf in this classroom, it'd kill or seriously every person in this classroom. >> thompson: so, obviously thes guys arester criminals. are we focusing too much on a group that's not really a threat >> well, in this case, we have two dead, two young men dead,sh
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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 ston marathon bombers had. ♪ >> thompson: the night of arthurs' aest, brandon russell was also detained and questioned by local police and the fbi. he told a differt story. he said the explosives were his, t insisted he was only using th to power model rockets. atomwaffen was nothing more than a club. the police released russell without charging him. they even ve him a ride home so he could pick up his car. russell promptly disappeared. he met up with another atomwaffen member and beganin
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drsouth. as the men drove, the fbi issuer an at warrant for russell on explosives charges. >> we had his picture. we were told that he could possibly be going up near turkey point for some type of terrorist act. that's all we knew. >> thompson: that's all you knew? >> that was it. he turned into the burger king. i put my patrol car right behino his car lock it in. and tdidn't even think, i jus got out "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 graed his arm and started handcuffing him. do you have any weapons on you? do you have any weapons on you? y>> put your hands behindr back. e he was shaking, which made me shake becadidn't know what he had on him. explosive materials? all i could think is that he had some type of detonator on him because he was so nervous. stop fidgeting. why are you dgeting? >> what are we going to findn that car? >> guns, ammunition. st
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>> you have at lea two long bons, in excess of 1,000 rounds of ammunition, homdy armor, no suitcases, no toiletry bags. it was the absence of the other things that was a little bit concerning. >> he is too nervous, man. i heway too nervous. >> we were very, very thankfulco that we acted them away from that car, because if we had pulled them overthe outcome of that event could have beenfo way different everybody involved, based on what they had inside the car.so >> tho given all the weapons. >> the weapons were right behind them, within hand reach, as ll as the ammunition. and i believe they had loaded maganes in the center consol for the rifles. wh we found all the weapon we were convinced that we had just stopped a mass shooting. >> thompson: the monroe county sheriff's department believes they stopped some kind of violent attack, but it's stillat not clear randon russell
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may have been planning. he had the weapons and ammunition to kill dozens of people, and the fbi bulletin 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. atomwaff the fbi won't talk to me about its handling of the case. but here is what i do know: atomwaffen continue to operate, id its violence didn't end. seven months latern virginia, atomwaffen follower ni giampa allegedly killed his ex-girlfriend's parents. they had objected to his nazi views. giampa has yet to enter a plea, but the 17 year old appeared to be fascinated with atomwaffen. his social media accounts wereit full of propaganda. weeks later, in california,od sam word was arrested for allegedly killing ble bernstein, a gay jewish college student.
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after the arrest, i published a story identifyingrd woods a member of atomwaffen. woodward has pleaded not guilty, but in a cache of confidential ch logs i obtained, atomwaffen celebrated the slaying. they referred to woodward as a "one-man gay jew wrecking crew." three killings in the eight months after the arrest of brandon russell and devon arthurs.re devon arthurs'ctions of violence seemed to have come true. but arthurs had given police one more warning. >> thompson: he claimed that atomwaffen had members il inside theary.
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>> okay. >> thompson: from everythingi' learned, devon arthurs is a deeply troubled young man. he gave conflicting explanations for the killings and ultimately deemed mentally unfit to stand trial. but as i continue my investigation, his description of atomwaffen and its ambitions is checking out. atomwaffen's confidential chat logs support arthurs'he claim thatroup is recruiting soldiers. and they reveal the exe of what they describe as "hate camps," in which members with military experience provide training in firearms ander lla tactics.
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one hate camp early this year took place here... in death valley, e on thborder between nevada and california. atomwaffen filmed themselves training out in the desert. dr the group wan to death valley because of its association with charles manson. they made a pilgrima devil's hole. ♪ this small gap in the rock opens up into a massive, 500-foot-deep cavern. manson planned to found an underground city here after the apocalypse.at waffen's communication show this hate camp was convened by a member who used the online handle "komisr."
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♪ i'm able to identify komissar as michael hubsky, based in las vegas. hubsky isn't a soldier himself, at claimed to have be private military contractor.om he boasted in ffen chats about his short-barreled cz scorpion rifle. d hubscussed attacks on infrastructure and claimed to have a classified map of the west coast power grid. at hubsky's death valley hate camp, and at oer atomwaffen gatherings around the country, the group shoots propaganda videos. their members fire assault rifles, storm buildings, and clear rooms. hubs hoped to organize regular training for atomwaffen
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and encouraged members to join a nevada weapons facility called front sight. the idea was f atomwaffen members to get schooled inva adnced firearms tactics.t i contacted frght, and they were shocked to learn about the group. they agreed to meet with me out at their facility. (guns firing) >> front sight is unique. ab're a 550-acre firearms training facilitt 40 minutes outside of las vegas. we have 50 ranges and the capacity of proximately 2,000 people at one time. >> thompson: when did you first learn about michael hubsky, the atomwaffen leader whed to come train here? >> i believe initially we wereby contacteou folks, and you asked us some questions. and as a response that, we investigated with our law enforcement contacts, and thatgh was eno convince us that they needed to not be coming to front sight any further.
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>> 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... h when i reachsky, he'd been banned for liffrom front sight. he tells me he left atomwaffen and has renounced nazism. he won't gon camera for an interview. but using informatioom the chat logs, i'm able to identify other hate camp participants. one ofhem agrees to talk to me. he's a twenty something army veteran who asks me to call him jeremiah. he came back from a combat tour damaged and angry. >> (distorted): there were a lot of people that were disenchanted with the mission. i'd say about half the guys in my un. i think a lot of guys, they're lost and they want hope. r they're looking swers. >> thompson: how big would you say the white nationalist
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movement is within the forces? >> (distorted): there's a good amount of them. they keep quiet about it,ly especihen they're in. you can get in a lot of trouble. going onto facebook, i never mentioned the military. >> thompson: how did the group regard combat veterans and service members?te >> (dist: we definitely wanted to appeal to veterans. we would say they had the fighting spirit that the national socialists 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 someho guy like me,nows how to handle himself in a war.pe le looked up to the military guys. you were at least using the training that they had given you to hit back at them. >> thompso when you guys did do training, what kind of training was it? what did you, what did youha learn,kind of skills were shared? >> (distorted): going to the range, clearg rooms, medical,
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how to wage an effective surgency. a lot of the iraq and afghan war vets, they took what theyta saw thban or al qaeda in iraq doing and applied it to what'soing on here. jews were the number-one enemy. we would say the jews were the virus, and the people of color, the homosexuals, they were the symptoms ♪ >> thompson: by studyingen atomwahat logs, my colleagues and i develop a list of more than 80 atomwaffen members. seven these men have military experience. i already know about atomwaffen founder brandon russell and his time in the national guard. but there are also three active-duty soldiers or marines and three military veterans. and my sources say there could be more.
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i want to better understand the link between atomwaffen and the military. i go to see professor kathleen belew at the university of chicago. she's been researching the history of the white power movements we're looking at a current group called the atomwaffen division, and they are actively recruiting military members. does that surprise you? >> not at all. that's a strategy pioneered by the white powemovement in the period of my study, and continued throughout the post-vietnam period. one thing to understand is that throughout american history, there's always a correlation between the aftermath of warfare and this kind of vigilante and revoluonary white power violence. so if you look, for instance, at the surges in ku klux klan membership, they align more consistently with the return of veterans from comb and the aftermath of war than they do with anti-immigration, populism, economic hardship, or any of tha otheors that historians
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have typically used to explain them. nationalist fervor, populist movements, those a all worse predictors than the aftermath of war. >> thompson: postwar periodsrr tend to pond, then, with with an upsurge in white-power, white-supremacist activity? >> always, yes. >> thompson: wow. belew outlines a long history of military men who became key figures in the white power movement: george lincoln rockwell, world war ii veteran and founder of the american nazi party; richard butler, world war ii veteran and founder of the aryan nations; louis beam, vietnam veteran and grand dragon of the kkk; timothy mcveigh, gulf war veteran and oklahoma city bomber. >> it's important to remember, nstoo, that returning vete that join this movement, and active-duty troops, we're talking about a tiny, not evenca statisy significant, percentage of veterans. but within this movement, those people who did serve are playing an enormously important role in
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instruction of weapons, in creating paramilitary activist mentality and training. >> thompson: when we speak to people involved in this movemena today, the about leaderless resistance. can you explain that to ? >> sure. leaderless resistance is basically what we would understand today as cell-sty terrorism: the idea 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 leaderless resistance. 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 bombing. we know at this is part of the white power movement and an acte of leaderless sistance. but we have this memory of that as an act of one person. and as a result, i think we've never really delivered a
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decisive stop to this activism. >> thompson: that because we don't understandklahoma ty as being 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. t t's right. the military response to white power activism, like the court response to white power activism, and the police response to white powerti sm, reflects the many ways that our society has not been prepared to deal with this kind of a movement. >> thompson: in washington, a senint analyst at the departme of homeland security had tried to draw attention to some of these same concerns.00 in daryl johnson wrote an intelligence report looking at the rise of white supremacist groups and their connection to the military. >> the wars that have gone on in afghanistan and iraq, we hadhe rise of islamophobia. that's a huge factor in both the anti-government groups and the militias that rally with
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firearms outsidef mosques, but also the white supremacist groups that hate people of other nations and other skin colors. >> thompson: johnson's reportt warned te u.s. faced a growing terrorist threat from white supremacist andan -government groups, and that these groups might recruit military veterans. >> what we've seen happen in the years since that report was released is basically everything that we had edicted has come to fruition. and it's actually worse thand what we ticipated. and i'm afraid that more law enforcement officers, more innocent civilians, more minorities and faith-bas 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 to happen nowt >> thompsoay johnson's report may seem prophetic, but its publication nearly a decade ago provoked a political backlash from conservative lawmakers and veterans' groups.
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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 communities are basically left to fend for themselves. this threat is out there... thompson: after speaking to johnson i hear from two former homeland security officials whsay that the government remains under-resourced and out of position for dealing with the white supremacist threat. for months, i've been trying tog get someone inovernment, opecially at the departme defense, to talk to me. no one at the pentag-- not even a spokesperson-- will agree to an interview. but congressman keith ellison has read my repoing. he's written a letter to the defense department, demanding an accounting of their efforts to k rid the of extremists. >> well, let me tell you, i am a believer in r nation's military. i have very close relatives who serv including active duty,
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and i can tell you that it's ant instn that, even in my family, we've always revered. to thi 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, is relting to me, and i hope that, that people in the military really do tis seriously. >> thompson: right-- we've identified sev members of one neo-nazi group who are current former military. >> is that atomwaffen? >> thompson:hat's atomwaffen. what do you make of that? >> well, i think that they have decided this is a strategic opitiative for them. they want their to go into the military. there's a real legitimate feard here, think that we've got to be vigilant about it. ♪ >> thompson: the pentagon responded to ellison with a letter stating that the military aggressively screens new
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recruits. the d.o.d. also said 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 beirich of the southern poverty law center >> that's laughable. >> thompson: you think so? >> yeah, i do. that's ridiculous.mp >> tn: so you just, you think the number, that's low? >> i think it's crazy-low. i mean, look, hate groups ar telling their people to join the military, and this was something that's been cumented, both in fbi reports and in dhs reports, to gain ese skills. there's not only going to be 27 of them in a military force of, i don't know, one-and-a-half to two million people in the united states, who are, who are under arms. it's not possible. i think it'sctually... that's just an indicator, to me, of how low a priority it is to root these people out. we presented the military and committees in congress, like the armed services committees, with 130 profiles off of the national socialist movement's, like,
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equivalent of faceok, this thing called new saxon. >> thompson: nazi facebook. >> exactly, nazi facebook. and we keep sending stuff to the military, like, examples of people... >> thompson: oh, really? ld>> saying, yeah, "you sh look at this guy, he looks like he might be in violation." and, you know, most of the timer we nven hear anything back from them. i just think that the military needs have pressure put on it to put this at the top of its list. if that means shuffling around resource so be it. we don't want another mcveigh, right? u just can't have this. >> thoson: with nobody at the d.o.d. willing to talk to me, i sit down with a former military prosecutor who has handled white suemacist cases. >> okay. and i can see this is a response to 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 johne altenbered as the deputy judge advocate general-- the second-highest-ranking jag
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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 reader all the different ways that they, they approach this 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. this looks very thorough to me and looks like they're on top of it >> thompson: so it's been put to me, "look, this is a very small fracon of the u.s. military. the vast bulk of serviceembers are wonderful people. you're disparaging tle armed forces by raising this." you think that's true? >> no. no, i think it's too important. there's no question that there e organizations that would like for people to go in their military to acthe training
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that you get in the military. d how we could screen all those people out, you know, is etty difficult. but there always could be corners of a given organization ere people could hide out and not be seen. >> thompson: in its letter to congreman ellison, the d.o.d. also said it had investigated the atomwaffen members i'identified. what hey didn't sa they had done. all i know about is that only one member-- a marine, vasilios pistolis-- was court-martialed and expelled from the service. in response to our questions, a pentagon spokeswoman sent a statement saying she couldn't provide information on dividual cases but, "our standards are clear; participatioin extremist activities has never been tolerated and is punisble under the uniform code of military justice."
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she added that cmanders are "encouraged to be preventive and pro-active, and they are doing that." i've been writing stories about atomwaffen and talking to insiders forearly 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 grp.
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>> thompson: i learn the video was put out by the group's texas cell, led by john camen denton, who calls himself rape. in 2017, atomwaffen began barring its members from appearing in public demonstrations, but i find ctures from an earlier anti-immigrant protest. denton can bseen at the rally with a shotgun and a skull mask, and then afterwards posing with his fellow neo-nazis with his mask off. i get a tip that denton may be attending a black metalal festere called destroying texas. (heavy metal music playing) iter a year of tracking atomwaffen onlinave a
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chance to confronthe group in person. >> (singing growled lyrics) >> thompson: if i do find them inside the club, i'm not sure what to expect. (distorted metal music playing) the show is packed. 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, along with two other atomwaffen members i cognize from my reporting. are you rape? i'm a.c. i wanted to come out he and talk to you about atomwaffen. >> no comment. >> thompson: no comment? >> no. >> thompson: you're not going to do an interview? >> no. >> thompson: are you worried about going to prison? >> nope. >> thompson: atomwaffen members stand accused of multiple murders, and their proganda is filled with violent threats. but after all of the online posturing, rape and the others aren't physically intimidating. e
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and theyar less aggressive in person than the skinhead gangs i've followed in the past. all righ thanks. hey, jeremiah. hey, how are you doing? >> thompson: i met rape out at a metal show in t >> how'd that go? >> thompson: i was kind of surprised because they talk all this violent stuff online, but they were just kinof quietly hostile and seething. t >> tgures. if they were wanting to do something violent, they wouldn't do it publicly. these guys, they'rnot stupid. they're not like these skinhead types. ys ihompson: jeremiah shouldn't underestimate rape. he has a direct relationship withtomwaffen's intellectual leader, james mason. did yoever get to talk to mason or meet him? >> we heard him over a couple of voice chats.m i never met person, though.
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rape and mason had their own little thing. >> thompson: what kind of sense did you get of him when you were s?lking to him on those ch >> i thought he was a genius. >> thompson: in propaganda havideos, atomwaffen say t mason disappeared for 15 years until they located him. they pose for photos with mason dressed in the nazi uniform d celebrate their collaboration. i'm unable to find a phone number for mason, but i learn that he's living in the nver area. mason has no online profile-- no social media, he doesn't even appear to have an email account. he spent time in a corado prison for menacing someone with a pistol. a bankruptcy filing from a few years ago reveals a solitary fe, working at kmart and living alone.
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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...th >> i don't havfoggiest idea. >> thompson: but they come visit you, you exchange... >> on occasion, they will come thugh the territory, yes. i'm always happy to meet with them. s >> thompson: masonasive at first. i try to get him to talk about the killings and violence linked to atomwaffen. >> i'm glad i didn't know about it and i don't want to know, because if i did know, i'd be volved in it, and i don' want to be involved in it. >> thompson: you don't want tori go back ton. >> i do not urge anybody to do anything like that, but when it gets done, i won't disown them.
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i kind of welcome the chaos. >> thompson: what did you think of james fields, the guy who allegedly drove the car into the crowd in charlottesville >> i say bless his heart, recause he sure is in a jam. >> thompson: so yo sympathetic? >> oh, very sympathetic. totally sympathetic. >> thompson: to you,s 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. it's driven. it's planned. >> thompson: who's planning it? >> the jews. we know it's the jews. i mean, know that. >> thompson: mason has a lot more to say-- the kind of anti-semitic conspiry theories i've come to expect from white supremacists. but i'm struck by what he saysne . >> with trump winning that
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election by surprise, and it was a surprise, i now believe anything could be possible. decades of: aft railing against the government, mason says trump is giving him hope.p >> as trys, and he has it printed right across the front of his hat, "make america great again." in order to make america great again, you'd have to make america white again, okay? it's interesting. we're headed for interesting times. (crowd singing) >> the darkest day in the history of pittsburgh, said the mayor, and you're loing right now at the memorial forming... >> ...outside the synagogue today, mourners struggleto 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.fo he allegedly stormed the synagogue, robert bowers posted on social media writing about
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jews helping immigrant invaders who were killing his people. kathleen belew examined the posts. >> even a cursory look at his social media indicates that he is decisively part of a white power ideology. >> thompson: what did you see when you were looking through those accounts? >> his last post 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 heto needrotect "our people," that he's identifying jews as a threat to "our people." that what he mea there is "white people." and then, through the rest of the account, there's a whole bunch of other markers of white power ideology. all of that contenis deeply, deeply disturbing, but is storic. we have a history. >> thompson: you've seen it before. >> absolutely. i think this is an example of leaderless resistance in that it is a... what appears to be a lone gunman, but someone who is motivated and propelled by aie worl and by a social
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network of likeminded people who push a enable violence. this movement has been usingur these stru for decades. >> our community was devastated with this attath this senseless slaughter of 11 people. the entire community was affected. the jewish community absolutely the brunt of it, but the entire pittsburgh community was devastated. >> thompson: retir fbi agent brad orsini is the director of security for the jewish o federatipittsburgh. even while pittsburgh was grieving, he says neo-nazi propaganda was appearing around the city. >> thompson: and wha what's >> these are posters that are up at various parts of the city. layers, poster stickers.
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this week in partiwe've seen an increase. >> thompson: after what's happened in recent days, you have a fascist group coming in here? >> yes, and i got merous reports on tuesda >> thompson: orsini says even before the shooting hede had deto take additional precautions. >> 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 extreme first aid kits, live-saving kits, in the synagogues, the schools... >> absoluty. >> thompson: ...and other institutions round here? >> in every one of our major institutions, weave them. >> thompson: it's kind of sad. >> it's incredibly sad, um, to eink we're in a day where have to worry about security for people going in to pray. ♪ >> thompson: pittsburgh is still
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mourning and the questt provoked still linger: can these kinds of killings be prevented? i now know the fbi is looking at atomwaffen. agents in several states have been talking with former members. and it turns out the bureau is investigating robert bers relationship to two neo-nazis brothers with connections to atomwaffen. but what i've learned from my years in covering white supremacist groups is that they are many and that they draw from a deep reservoir of ugliness in america. just this month, the fbian unced hate crimes had spiked again, the third year running. th story is far from over. ar >> nrator: up next, don't miss the film- you will not replace us... >> narrator: that's been described as:
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>> is your sense that there's new energy joining these movements? >> it's probably the most active ro my career. >> narrator: theline, propublica investigation, that led to a wave of prosecutions. >> there's video of you launching yourself into that crowd. we think he's serving in the marines now. >> frontline is made possible by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you.u. thank and by the corporation for viblic broadcasting. major support is pd by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation, committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world. more information is ble at macfound.org. the ford foundation, working with visionaries on the front lines of social change worldwide. at fordfoundation.org. addition support is provided by the abrams foundation, committed to excellence in jonalism. the park foundation, dedicated to heightening public awarenesss of critical is the john and helen glessner family trust.ng
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supporrustworthy journalism that informs and inspires.e ncote foundation. pod by the frontline journalism fund, with major s from jon and jo ann hagler. and additional support from laura debonis and scott nathan. and by the y, "for a better us." captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org >> go to pbs.org/frontline for our latest reporting with propublica. then starting november 29th our original podcast series, "the frontline dispatchn rewith a new season. >> it's so risky. i don't want to be walking around like this. i don't want someone... >> i think it's gut-wrenching that he knew that he couldre go out tnd he could get shot... >> subscribe now on our website, or wherever you listen to podcasts.
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ntline's,f "documenting hate: new american nazis", on dvd visit shop pbs. or call 1-800-play pbs. this program is also available on amazon prime video. >> you're watching pbs. >> frontline brings you breakthrough journal crucial answers, and stories you can't ignore. frontline. serious journalism for serious times.
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>> narrator: tonight... >> you will not replace us...>> arrator: first charlottesville, then pittsburgh. >> ...he's got an automatic weapon... >> ...multiple casualties inside the synagogue... >> is your sense that there's new energy, joining these movements? >> it's probably the most active my career. >> narrator: frontline and propubca reporter, a.c. thompson investigate... >> wanted to talk to you about what you were doing n charlottesville last year? >> narrator: who was behind the violent rally? >> there's video of you launching yourself into that crowd.ee >> you could fhow angry they were, but also h happy they were to be intimidating people like this, and it was just this happy rage. >> we're down to die for this man.

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