A member of a Neo-Nazi group attends the "Day of Honour" in Budapest, Hungary, February 10, 2018, as he commemorates the breakout attempt by Schutzstaffel (SS) troops from Soviet-surrounded Budapest during World War Two..
(photo credit: BERNADETT SZABO / REUTERS)
Chats and messages published over the weekend from violent American neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen show members cheering the alleged murder last month of a gay Jewish teenager.
On January 10, the body of 19-year-old University of Pennsylvania student Blaze Bernstein was discovered in a park in southern California with multiple stab wounds.
Police later arrested Samuel Woodward, a high school classmate of Bernstein, and charged him with murder.
Late last month, the investigation journalism nonprofit ProPublica reported that Woodward was a member of the virulently antisemitic hate group Atomwaffen Division.
Chilling messages published over the weekend by ProPublica from the group show how they celebrated the murder – and plotted further violence.
One member of the group wrote “I love this” over the violent killing, while another praised Woodward for being a “one man gay Jew wrecking crew.” Another member lauded the murder, but lamented the price Woodward would pay.
“Sam did something stupid,” wrote one member. “Not that the f*gg*t k*** didn’t deserve to die. Just simply not worth a life in prison for.”
Despite the likely loss of a member to the US penal system, one leader in the group saw a distinct upside to the media attention surrounding the murder.
“We’re only going to inspire more ‘copycat crimes’ in the name of AWD,” wrote Sean Michael Fernandez on January 30, according to ProPublica. “All we have to do is spread our image and our propaganda... The growing fear is what we set out to do and it’s working EXACTLY how I wanted it to since we took over ‘leadership.’ I couldn’t have planned this better, seriously.”
According to ProPublica, Woodward took part in one of Atomwaffen’s training sessions or “hate camps,” which took place last year in Texas. There, he and other group members took part in firearms, survival and weapons instructions.
In messages to other Atomwaffen members, Woodward railed against “mongrels and Jews” and praised Hitler’s Mein Kampf.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, which tracks hate groups in America, Atomwaffen has been active since 2016. The ADL said the group believes “that societal and governmental ‘systems’ are collapsing and that democracy and capitalism have ‘given way to Jewish oligarchies and globalist bankers resulting in the cultural and racial displacement of the white race.’” Group members have been linked to several other murders in the United States over the past year.
In Florida, four Atomwoffen- linked roommates were living together in 2017 and plotting attacks against local targets. But one of them, Devin Arthurs, converted to Islam and then murdered two of the others. He and the fourth roommate were arrested and police discovered a cache of explosives in the garage.
According to the US State Department, Brandon Russell, the fourth roommate, was a founding member of Atomwaffen.
“In Russell’s bedroom, officers found neo-Nazi and white supremacist propaganda... firearms and ammunition, and camouflage military- type gear containing the name and symbols of Atomwaffen,” the State Department said last month after Russell’s sentencing. “Law enforcement officers also located various books, military gear and flags throughout the apartment that are commonly associated with white supremacist extremist organizations.”
During questioning, Arthurs told police that the four roommates were stockpiling weapons “to kill civilians and target locations like power lines, nuclear reactors, and synagogues.”