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tv   Frontline  PBS  November 21, 2018 3:00am-4:01am PST

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>> narrator: tonight... >> you will not replace us... >> narrator: from charlottesville, to pittsburgh. >> ...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 jews as a threat to "our people". what he means th pe is "weople." >> narrator: .ziof violent nes. >> what do you think was going on in this house? >> they were making bombs. >> narrator: through interviews with insiders. >> narrator: frontline and orter,lica r a.c. thompson uncover
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the movement's method. >> they are actively recruiting military members.ri does that surpse you? >> narratoth and expose eir hate. >> "make ameria great again." in order to make america greatou again, have to make america white again. >> narrator: tonight, "documenting hate: new american nazis". >> frontline is made possie by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you.u. thank and by the corporation for public broadcasting.or major suis provided by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation, committed to building a more just, verdane aneful world. more information is available at the ford foundation, working with visionaries on the front lines of social change worldwide. at additional support iided by the abrams foundation, committed to excellence in. journali the park foundation, dedicated to heightening public awareness of critical issues. the john and helen glessner family trust.
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supporting trustworthy journasm that informs and inspires. the wyncote foundation. and by the frontline journalism fund, with major support fromjo jon annn hagler. and additional support from laura debonis and scotnathan. corporate support is provided by: >> the zip code you're born into can determine your future. your school. your job. ur dreams. your problems. (boys yelling) 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 autotic weapon,
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he's firing out of the front ofa the sygue. >> thompson: pittsburgh, pennsylvania, october 27, 2018. >> 34-10: please send the medics up here! >> i've got one alive. >> thompson: robert bowers storms into the 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." >> we have multiple casualties inside the synagogue. we have three officers who have been shot. >> members of the tree of life synagogue, conducting a peaceful service in their place of worship, were brutly murdered by a gunman targeting them simply because of their faith. >> thompson: another act of terror in america, the country again le to ask, "where does this hate come from? could it have been prevented?" >> it's ju 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've been 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 hiory. i fear there will be more to more to come. ♪ >> blood and soil! >> blood and soil! >> today's alt-right "unite the right" rally is expected to draw er 6.000... >> thompson: a year ago, the white supremacist movement shocked the nation wshow of force in charlottesville, virginia. >> anti-white!>> ou will not replace us! you will not replace us! >> thompson: they spilled blood in the streets, militant and unafraid.
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>> panic and horror inlo chttesville. a car slams into a crowd ofco unter-protesters... >> when a driver ploweinto the crowd, killing a young woman and injuring 19. >> thompson: white supremacists killed one protester and injureo zens of others. vi after charlotte, i identified some of the groups behind the violence.ep with a team oforters, i exposed a o-nazi fight club ca,ed the rise above moveme 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 organization i've en looking at is called the atomwaffen division.
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atomwaffen means "atomic weapons" in german.p the grbraces nazi ideology anpreaches a hatred of minories, gays, and jews. it calls for lone wolf acts of 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 disguise his voice. he says the group's ranks swelled after charloesville. c so afterrlottesville, people start coming into the group... >> thompson: so if protests don't work, what is the answer?
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>> thompson: john tes me that atomwaffen's ideology draws from the writings of an obs neo-nazi named james mason, who published a newslett in the 1980s called "siege." (explosion booms) >> thompson: atomwaffen has made "siege" required reading for all its members. >> "siege" by james mason. >> thompson: to them, mason is st 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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nglearn that mason's writi are kept at the university of kansas. >> the bulk of the collection came to us in the early 2000s. >> thompson: rebecca schulte ist the curator of wilcox collection, an archive of contemporary politicals. moveme is this the only collection of his work? i >> yes, thhis archive. we are the only ones that have them.lo "ed with this letter is a sample copy of 'siege,' the newsletter of the national socialist liberation front." >> thompson: mason's archive isy hiisturbing. his writing lays out an apocalyptic neo-nazi vision. he says the white race in america is under siege by peopll of cor, and undermined by jews in positions of power. "we do not wish for law and order, for law and order means the continued existence of
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this rotten rip-off capitalistw stem. we wish for anarchy and chaos, which will enable uso attack the system while her big brother pigs are trying to keep thepi eces from falling apart." >> and this is a paste-up. you know, it's got... see that? >> thompson: yeah. mason advocated attacks on s.stitutions like hollywood, media, and the couri notoous killer charles manson is one of mason's heroes, and the two had a long correspondence. >> so this is an object that charlie manson knittedn prison d gave to james mason. >> thompson: so it's some kind of ornament or... >> yes, i... >> thompson: some kind of artwork. >> ...kind of knitting, yeah. i don't know exactly.
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looks like they corresponded a lot. >> thompn: yeah, it 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 yes, and we haven't seen a lot of action. (chuckles) >> thompson: right. >> but in the last few years, therhave been more 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 ow what it is. >> thompson: so people are inarting to look at his writings again-- that's verresting. >> mm-hmm, they are. >> thompson: we're not the first people to come visit you. >> no, you're not. or>> thompson: back in new 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 sa lone wolf attacks, it sounds to me like you're talking about basically terrorist acts. >> thompson: so, how many... how many initiates would you say there are? >> thompson: or were? >> thompson: wow.
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(radio squawking) ♪ >> thompson: john tells me that if i want to investigate the s group, i need rt where it began, in tampa, florida. ♪ atomwaff was founded in 2015 by brandon russell, a national guardsman in his early 20s. ♪ he moved into thispartment complex with three other members of the group. one of them, an -year-old high school dropout ned 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 apparentlyhot two of his roommates? ths father agreed to talk to me about what happeneat 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. i've really messed up. i said, "what's, what's the matter, buddy? woat's going on?" "the two guys, thehat were staying or whatever, they're dead. i, i shot them. they upset me and i shot them." i tried to hold it together andh 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 o. so is this junior rotc? what is... what is... >> yeah,hat's rotc in high school. >> thompson: he was really interested in the mitary. >> that's what he said. >> thompson: what do you think he w really interested in? >> there were two other brothers and another member of that rotc that were obviously into the neo-na stuff. >> thompson: so you think he was joining the rotc group because there were other kids that were into nazism in the group? >> yes. rss, definitely. >> thompson: artays 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. he eventually moved into the tampa apartment with russell and
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the other atomwaffen members. did you ever talk to devon sinch incident? >> he said that he would not, when he figured out what braon was going to do, he couldn't live with himself. that's all he's ever said to me. >> thompson: tampa police refuse to talk to us about the case. but i obtain video of devon arthurs' police interview. over and over, he tells detectives about atomwaffen. >> thompson: inside the atomwaffen apartment, police discoved nazi paraphernalia,
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guns, radioactive material, d handmade explosives. on a dresser was a framed photograph of oklahoma city bomber timothy mcveigh. (explosion echoes) >> holy cow! about a third of the blding has been blown away! >> thompson: on april 19, 1995, gulf war veran timothy mcveigh detonated a truck bomb in front of the oklahoma city federal building. scores were killed. for you, what are the lessons that we should know today about? oklahoma c >> i think it's not only oklahoma city, it's lessons thate've been learning about lone wolf terrorism. it doesn't take a largega zation to cause mass casualty. >> thompson: kerry mye was an fbi bomb tech who investigated the oklahoma city bombing. i show myers the crime scene photos from the atomwaffen apartment.e >> do we hose-ups of that?
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>> thompson: i don't know, let me look. they document a de range of explosives, including some ofng the same idients used by mcveigh in his oklahoma city attack. >> they were making bombs. this is a bomb mak's workshop. there's the cooler. i haisthe hmtd. this is actuallycaused 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... >> it goes off about 1feet per second. it's probably more powerful than ammonium nitrate. they could make a car bomb... were putmateria 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? >> well, in this case, we have lto dead, two young men dead,
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shot with an assifle, and we recovered enough explosivesre o blow up a car, blow up an airplane, blow up a bus, blow up this room. th we havsame basic explosive kit here that the boston marathon bombers had. ♪ >> hompson: the night of arthurs' arrest, brandon russell was also detained and questioned by loca police and the fbi. he told a different story. he said the explosives were his, but insisted he was only using them to power model rockets.ot atomwaffen whing 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
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driving south., as the men droe fbi issued an arrest warrant for russell on explosives charges. >> we had his picture. we were told that he could possibly be going up near turkey point fosome type of terrorist act. that's all we knew. >> thompson: that's all you knew? >> that was it. ng turned into the burger . i put my patrol car right behind his car to block it in. and i didn't even thk, i just got out of the car and saion "brand, come here." and he looked at me and he looked startled for a second,re and be gave him reaction to do anything, i just grabbed his arm and started handcuffing him. do you have any weapons on you? do you have any weapons on you? >> put your hands behind your back. >> he was shaking, which made me shake because i didn't know what he had on him. plosive materials? all i coulthink is that he had some type of detonator on him because he was so nervous. stop fgeting. why are you fidgeting? >> what are we going to find in that car? >> guns, ammunition.
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>> youave at least two long guns, in excess of 1,000 rounds of ammunitio homemade body armor, no suitcases, no toiletry gs. it 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 wathat we contacted them a from that car, because if we had pulled them over, the outcome of that event could have been way fferent for everybody involved, based on what they had inside the car. >> thompson: given all the weapons. >> the weaponsere right behind them, within hand reach, as well as the ammunitio and i believe they had loaded magazines in the centeconsole for the rifles. when we found all thweapons, we were convinced that we had just stopped a mass shooting. >> thompson: the monroe county sheriff's department believes they stopped some kind ofck violent atbut it's still noclear what brandon russe
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may have been planning. he had the weapons and ammuniti to kill dozens of people, and the fbi bulletin id he might have been targeting the nearby turkey point nuclear power plant. russell eventually pleaded guilty to illegal possession ofv expl. he was sentenced to five years in prison. but according to devon arthurs, russell wasn't the only threat inside atoaffen. n:
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>> thompt's unclear what the authorities did in response to arthurs' plea to investigate omwaffen. the fbi won't talk to me about its handling of the case. but here is what i do know: atomwaffen continue to operate, and its violence didn't end. seven monthsater in virginia, atomwaffen follower nick giampa allegedly killed his ex-girlfriend's parents. they had objected to his nazi views. giampa haset to enter a plea, but the 17 year oldap thed to be fascinated witomwaffen. his social media accounts were full of its propaganda. weeks later, in california, sam woodward was arresfor allegedly killing blaze bernstein, a gay jewish college student.
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after the arrest, ia publisheory identifying woodward as a member of atomwaffen. woodward has pleaded not guilty, but in a cache of confidential chat logs i obtained, atomwaffen celebrated the slaying. they referred to woodward as a-m "onean gay jew wrecking crew." three killin in the eight months after the arrest of brandon russell and devon arthurs. devon thurs' predictions of violence seemed to have come true.s but arthd given police one more warning. >> thompso he claimed that atomwaffen had members inside the military.
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>> okay. n thompson: from everything i've learned, dethurs is a deeply troubled young man. he gave conflicting explanations for the killgs and was ultimately deemed mentally unfit to stand trial. but as i continue myat investn, his description of atomwaffen and its ambitions is checkinout. atomwaffen's confidential chat logs support arthurs' clm that the group is recruiting soldiers. and they reveal the existence of what they describe as "hate camps," in which members with military experience provide training in firearms and guerrilla tactics.
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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 oup was drawn to death valley because of its association with charles manson. they made a pilgrimage to devil's hole. ♪ is 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. atomwaffen's communication show thihate camp was convened by a member who used the online handle "komissar."
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♪ i'm able to identify komissar as michael hubsky, based in las vegas. hubsky isn't a soldier himself, but claimed to have been ae privlitary contractor. he boaed in atomwaffen chats about his short-barreled cz scorpion rifle. hubsky discussed attacks on infrastructure and cimed to have a classified map of the west coast power grid. at hubsky's death valley hate camp, and at other atomwaffen gatherings around the country, the group shoots propaganda videos. their members fire assault rifles, storm buildings, and clear rooms. hubsky hoped to organi regular training for atomwaffenm
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and encouragbers to join a nevada weapons facility called front sight. the idea was for atomwaffen members to get schooled in advanced firearms tactics. i contacted front sight, and they were shocked to learn aut the group. they agreed to meet with me outt ir facility. (guns firing) >> front sight is unique. we're a 550-acre firearms trainingacility about 40 minutes outside of las vegas. we have 50 ranges and the capacity of approximately 2,000 people at one time. >> thompson: when did you first learn about michael hubsky, the atomwaffen lder who wanted to come train here? >> i believe initially we were yontacted by you folks, an asked us some questions. and as a response to that, we investigated with our law enforcement contacts, and that was enough to convince us that they need to not be coming to front sight any further. >>
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hompson: hi, michael, it's a.c. thompson from propublica and "frontline."as i'm in las vnd still interested in talking to you, so... when reach hubsky, he'd been banned for life from front sight.he tells me he left atomwaffen and has renounced nazism. he won't go on camera for interview. but using formation from the chat logs, i'm able to identify other hate camp participants. one of them agrees to talk to me. myhe's a twenty something 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 disenchanten with the mis i'd say about half the guys in my unit. i think a lot of guys, they'relo and they want hope. they're looking for answers. >> thompson: how big would you say the white nationalist
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movement is within the armed forces? ( storted): there's a good amount of them. they keep quiet about it, .especially when they're you can get in a lot of trouble. going onto facebook, i never ntioned the military. >> thompson: how did the group regard combat veterans and service members? >> (distorted): we definitely wanted to appeal to veterans. we would say they had the fighting spirit that the national sociasts of the 1920s had, that people of the alt-right n average 19-year-old from atomwaffen, his only experience of war is video games, versus some guy ke me, who knows how to handle himself in a war. people looked up to the military guys. you were at least using the training that they had given you to hit back atem >> thompson: when you guys d do training, what kind of training was it? what did you, what did you wlearn, what kind of skile shared? >> (distorted): going to the range, clearing rooms, medical
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how to wage an effective insurgency. a lot of the iraq and afghan war vets, they took what they liw the taliban or al qaeda in iraq doing and a it to what's going on here.e jews were number-one enemy. we would say the jews were the virus, and the people of color the homosexuals, they were the mptoms. ♪ >> thompson: by studying atomwaffen chat logs, my colleagues and i develop a list of more than 80 atomwaffen members. 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 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 goo see professor kathleen belew at the university of chicago. she's been reseahing the history of the white power movements we're looking at a current gro 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 power movement in thei of my study, and continued throughout the post-vietnam period. one thing to understand is that throughout americahistory, there's always a correlation between the aftermath of warfare and this kind of vigilante and revolutionary white powe violence. so if you look, for instance, at the surges in ku klux klanth membership 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 historians
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have typicly used to explain them. nationalist fervor, populist movements, those are all worse predictors than the aftermath of war. >> thompson: postwar periods thnd to correspond, then, with an upsurge in white-power, white-supremacist activity? y >> always,. >> thompson: wow. belew outlines a long history of military men o 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 andag grand of the kkk; timothy mcveigh, gulf war veteran and oklahoma city bomber. >> it's important to remember, too, that returning veterans that join th movement, and active-duty troops, we're talking about a tiny, not even statistically significan percentage of veterans. but within this movement, those people who did serve are playing i enormously important ro
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instruction of weapons, inar creatingilitary activist mentality and training.ho >>son: when we speak to people involved in this movement toy, they talk about leaderless resistance. can you explain that to me? >> sure. leaderless resistance is basically what we would understand today as cell-style terrorism: the idea that you can recruit a small number of committed activists, organizehe them, and thenwill behave on their own in a cell without direct ties with movemen leadership. if we think, for instance, abouc the oklahoy bombing, timothy mcveigh is sort of the ideal soldier of leaderless resistan. 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 inen this mov right up to the moment of the oklahoma city bombing. we know that this is part of the white power movement and an act of lderless resistance. but we have this memory of that as an act of one person. and as a result, i tnk we've never really delivered a decisive stop to this activism.:
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>> thomphat because we don't understandklahoma city as being aoutgrowth 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 pourt response to white power activism, and thce response to white power activism, reflects the many ways that our society has not been prepared to deal with this kind of a mement.>> thompson: in washington, a senior analyst at thdepartment of homeland security had tried s. draw attention to some of these same conce in 2009, daryl johnson wrote ang intece report looking at the rise of white supremacist nd groupsheir connection to the military. >> 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-government groups and the militias that rally with
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firearms outside of mosques, but also the white supremacist groups that hate people of othei s and other skin colors. >> thompson: johnson's report warned that the u.s. faced a growing terrorist threat from white supremacist and anti-government groups, and tham these grouht recruit military veterans. >> what we've seen happen in the ars since that report was released is basically everything that we had predicted has come to fruition. and it's actually worse than at we had anticipated. and i'm afraid that more law enforcement officers, more innocent civilians, more minorities and faith-based communities are going to beua targeted and ay victimized by these violent offenders. 's like every month we have something, whether it's a, a shooting, a stabbing, even bombings starting to happen now. >>hompson: today johnson's report may seem prophetic, but its publication nearly a decade ago provoked a political backlashfr 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 thist is out there... er >> thompson: apeaking to johnson i hear from two former homeland security officials who say that the government remains under-resourced and out of position for dealing with the white supremacist threat. for months, i've been trying to get soone in the government, especially at the partment of defense, to talk to me. no one at the pentagon-- not even a spokesperson-- will agree to an interview.n but congressith ellison has read my reporting. he's written a letter to thefe e department, demanding an accounting of their efforts to d the ranks of extremist >> well, let me tell you, i am a believer in our nation's military. i have very close relatives who harve, including active duty,
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and i can tell youit's an institution that, even in my family, we've always reved. to think that somebody who does not support the true goalss of themilitary, which is to protect americans, and actually wants to use that training to hurt americans, is revolting to me, and i hope that, that people inhe military really do take this seriously. >> thompson: right-- we've identified seven members of one neo-nazi group who are current or former military. >> is that atomwaffen? >> thompson: that's atomwaff . what do you make of that? >> well, i thi that they have decided this is a strategic initiative for them. they want their people to go into the military. the's a real legitimate fe here, and i think that we've goa to be vi about it. ♪ >> thompson: the pentagon responded to ellison with att 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 beirh of the southern povert e.w center. >> that's laugha >> thompson: you think so? >> yeah, i do. that's ridiculous. >> thompson: so you juu think the number, that's low? >> 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 i fbi reports and in dhs reports, to gain these 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's just an indicator, to me, of how low a priority it is to root these peoplout. we presented the military andn committeesngress, like the armed services committees, with 130 profiles off of the national socialist movement's, like,
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equivalent of facebook, this thing called new saxon. >> thompson: nazi facebook >> exactly, nazi facebook. and we keep sending stuff to the military, like, exampl people... >> thompson: oh, really? >> saying, yeah,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 anyback from them. i just think that the military onds to have pressure p it to put this at the top of its list. if that means shuffling around resources, so be it. we don't want another mcveigh, right? you just can't have this. >> thompson: with nobody at the d.o.d. willing to talk to me, in sit ith a former military prosecutor who has handled white supremacist 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 svice members. >> thompson: major general john altenberg served as the deputy judge advocate general--he 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 thatey elieve they've got control of this issue. >> thompson: and from that, your impression is tve a handle on it, and they're dealing wi this? >> yeah, and, i mean, i'm pleased to see that they'reis doing all this looks very thorough to me and looks like they're on top of it. >> thompson: so it's beeput to me, "look, this is a very small fraction of the u.s. mitary. the vast bulk of service members are nderful people. you're disparaging the whole armed forces by raising this do you think that's true? >> no. no, i thinit's too important. there's no question that theres are organizatiat would like for people to go in the milita to acquire the training
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that you get in the military. s and how we coueen all those people out, you know, is pretty difficult. but there always could be corners of aiven organization where people could hide out and not be seen. >> thompson: in its letter to congressman ellison, the.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 and expelled from the service. in response to our questions, an pentagpokeswoman sent a statement saying she couldn't provide information on individual cases but, "our standards are clear; participatioin extremist activities hasever been tolerated and is punishable under the uniform code of military justice."
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she added that commanders are "encouraged to be preventive and pro-active, and they aredo g that." i've been writing stories aboutt atomwaffen aking to insiders for nearly a year. and it seems like the group has been paying attention. om 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 cell, led by john cameron denton, who calls himself rape. in 2017, atomwaffen began barring its members from appearing in public demonstrations, t i find pictures from an earlier anti-immigrant protest. denton can be seen at the rall 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 metal festival here called ding texas. (heavy metal music playing) after a year of tracking atomwaff online, i have a
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chance to confront the group in person.ow >> (singing led lyrics) n thompson: if i do find them inside the club, i 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 dr i find rape inking outside,th along with ter atomwaffen members i recognize from my reporting. are you rape? i'm a.c. i wanted to come out here and talk to you about atomwaffen.en >> no co >> 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 propaganda is filled with violent threats. but after all of the online posturing, rape and the others aren't physically intimidating.
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and they are far less aggressive in person than the skinhead gangs i've followed in the past. all right, thanks. hey, jeremiah. >> hey, how are you doing? >> thompson: i met rape out at a metal show in texas.ha >> how'dgo? >> thompson: i was kind of surprised because they talk all this violent stuff online, but they were just kind of quietly hostile and seething. >> that figures. if they were wanting to do something violent, they wouldn't do it publicly. these guys, they're not stupid. they're not like these skinhead types. >> thompson: jeremiah says i shouldn't underestimate rape. has a direct relationship with atomwaffen's intellectual leader, james mason. did you ever get to talk to mason or meet him? >> we heard him over a couple of voice chats. i ner met him in person, though.
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rape and mason had their ownhi little. >> thompson: what kind of sense did you get of him when you were talking to him on ose chats? >> i thought he was a genius. >> thompson: in propaganda videos, atomwaen say that mason disappeared for 15 years until they located him. they pose for photos with mason dressed in the nazi uniformei and celebrate collaboration. m unable to find a phone number for mason, but i learn that he's living in the denver area. mason has no online profile-- no social media, he doesn'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 fewar yes ago reveals a solitary life, working atmart 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 goo whenever you're ready. >> thompson: so how big do youk that the atomwaffen division is these days? how many members... >> i d't have the foggiest idea. >> thompson: but they come visit you, you exchange... >> on occasion, they will come through the territor yes. i'm always happy to meet with them. >> thompso mason is evasive at first. i try to get h 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 involved in it, ani don't want to be involved in it. >> thompson: you don't want to goack to prison. >> 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, because he sure is in a jam. >> thompson: so you're sympathetic? tic.h, very sympat 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. it's driven. it's plann. >> thompson: who's planning it? >> the jews. we know it's t jews. i mean, we know that. >> thompson: mason has a lot- more to sae kind of anti-semitic conspiracy theories i've come to expect s from whiremacists. but i'm struck by what he says next. >> with trump winning that
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election by surprise, and it was a surprise, i now believe anything could be possib. >> thompson: after decades ofag railinnst the government, mason says trump is giving him hope. i as trump says, and he h 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 looking right now at the memorial forming... e>> ...outside the synago today, mourners struggled to process any of it. >> thompson: i'm in pittsburgh, weeks after speaking to masonay and justafter the massacre st the tree of life synagogue. before he allegedlmed 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 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 he needs to protect "our people," that he's identifying jews aa threat to "our people." that what he means there is "white people." and then, through the rest of the account, there's a whole m bunch of othkers of white power ideology. all of that content is deeply, deeply disturbing, but is historic. 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 a worldview, and by a so
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network of likeminded people who push and enable violence. this movement has been using these structures for decades. >> o community was devastate with this attack, with this senseless slaughter of the entirenity was affected. c the jewimunity absolutely the brunt of it, but the entirec pittsburmunity was devastated. >> thompson: retired fbi agent brad orsini is the director of security for the jewish federation of pittsburgh.le even wittsburgh was grieving, he says neo-nazi propaganda was appearing around the city. >> thompson: and what... what's going on here? p >> these areosters that are up at various parts of the city. flyers, posters, stickers.
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this week in particular we've seen an increase. >> thompson: after what's happened in recent days, you have fascist group coming in here? >> yes, and i got numerous reports otuesday. >> thompson: orsini says even before the shooting he had decided to 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... >> absolutely. >> thompson: ...and other institutions round here? i every one of our major institutions, we have them. >> thompson: it's kind of sad. >> it's incredibly sad, , to where were in a d have to worry about security for people going in to pray. ♪ >> thompson: pittsburgh is still mourning and the questions it
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provoked still linger: can these kinds of killings be prevented? i now know the fbi is looking at ts in several states have been talking with former members. and it turns out the bureau is investigating robert bowers relationship to two neo-nazis brothers with connections to atomwaffen. but what i've learned from myov years in cing white supremacist groups is that they are many and that they draw from a deep reservoir of ugliness in erica. rist this month, the fbi announced hate cs had spiked again, t third year running. this story is far from over. >> narrator: up nextn't miss the film- >> you will not replace us... >> narrator: tsct's been bed as:
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>> is your sense that there's new energy joining these movements? >> it's probably the most active in my career. >> narra 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. thank you. and by the corporation for public broadcasting. major suppt is provided by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation, committed to building a more just, verdand and peaceful w more information is available at the ford foundation, working with visionaries on the front lines of social change worldwide. at additional support is proved by the abrams foundation, committed to excellence in journalism. the park foundation, dedicated to heightening public awareness of crical issues. the john and helen glessner family trust.
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supporting trustworthy journalism that informs and spires. the wyncote foundation. d by the frontline journalism fund, with major support from jon and jo ann hler. and additional support from laura debonis and t scthan. and by the y, "for a better us." captioned by media access group at wgbh >> go to for our latest reporting with propublica. then starting november 29th our original podcast series, "the frontline dispatch" returns with a new season. >> it's risky. i don't want to be walking around like this. i don't want someone... >> i think it's gut-wrching that he knew that he could go out there and he could get shot... >> subscribe now on our website, or wherever you listen to podcasts.
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to order frontline's,en "docng hate: new american nazis", on dvd visit shop p. or call 1-800-play pbs. pris program is also available on amazoe video. >> you're watching pbs. >> frontline brings you breakthrough journalism. crucial answers, and stories you can't ignore. frontline. serious journalism for serious times.
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>> narrator: tonight... st you will not replace us... >> narrator: fir charlottesville, then ur pittsbgh. >> ...he's got an automatic weapon... >> ...multiple casualties inside the synagogue... i >>your sense that there's new energy, joining these movements? >> it's probably the most active in my career. >> narrator: frontline and propublica reporter, a.c. thompson investigate... w anted to talk to you about what you were doing in charlottesvie last year? >> narrator: who was behind the viont rally? >> there's video of you launching yourself into that crowd. >> you could feel how angry they were, but also how happy they were to be intimidating people like this, and it was just this happy rage.


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