John Cameron Denton


 The FBI has arrested the former leader of the neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen for his alleged participation in a swatting campaign targeting politicians, a historically black church, and journalists.John Cameron Denton, 26, who also goes by the name “Rape,” was arrested Wednesday morning in his hometown of Montgomery, Texas. Federal prosecutors alleged that he participated in the harassment tactic known as “swatting,” which entails tricking emergency dispatchers into believing that someone is in mortal danger and requires immediate help from police.If convicted, Denton faces a maximum of five years in federal prison.According to a press release from the Justice Department, Denton assisted swatting efforts against three targets within the jurisdiction of the Eastern District of Virginia: Alfred Street Baptist Church, a historically black congregation, on Nov. 8, 2018; Old Dominion University, on Nov. 29, 2018; and finally, a Cabinet official who lives in Northern Virginia, on Jan. 27, 2019.Denton also swatted an investigative journalist who worked for ProPublica, as well as the New York City office of ProPublica, in retaliation for an exposé about Atomwaffen that revealed Denton’s true identity.

Atomwaffen was founded in 2015 by a group of young white men who connected on the neo-Nazi internet forum Iron March. They’ve been linked to at least five murders in the U.S. and are known for their highly stylized propaganda videos showing members training at “hate camps” wearing their trademark “siege masks.” The group also espouses the accelerationist theory that advocates violence to speed up the collapse of society.

Denton unwittingly met with an undercover law enforcement officer and discussed his role in the swatting campaign — and admitted that he’d used a voice changer when he placed the swatting calls, according to the DOJ. He also said that getting “raided” for swatting could be beneficial to Atomwaffen’s image because “it would be viewed as a top-tier crime.”

One of Denton’s co-conspirators, 19-year-old John William Kirby Kelley, Vienna, Virginia, was also arrested last month by federal authorities for his alleged involvement in a multinational swatting and doxxing campaign in the U.S., Canada, and England. Kelley had ties to Atomwaffen, but the depth of his engagement with the group isn’t clear.

Last month, another alleged member of Atomwaffen, Aiden Bruce-Umbaugh, 23, pleaded guilty to gun and drug charges in Texas. There’s currently a warrant out for the arrest of Kaleb Cole, who’s believed to be the current leader of Atomwaffen. Issued by King’s County, Washington, the warrant accuses him of possessing firearms despite being under an extreme risk protection order.

BACKGROUND: Prosectors – White Supremacist Nicknamed ‘Rape’ Was Involved in Conspiracy to Swat Cabinet Official


A white supremacist and former leader of the group Atomwaffen Divsion is being charged with participating in a prolific swatting conspiracy. Texan John Cameron Denton, 26, was arrested Wednesday for conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States, interstate threats to injure, according to The Department of Justice.

This was a group effort, authorities said. Participants allegedly included a pair of co-conspirators who lived outside of the United States, and a U.S. citizen (“Individual 1”) who is charged in state court but is cooperating with investigators, authorities said in a criminal complaint.

Targets included a cabinet official living in Northern Virginia; Old Dominion University; and Alfred Street Baptist Church, prosecutors said. Calls affected 134 law enforcement agencies, and were primarily made in November and December of 2018, investigators said.

Denton is singled out as the driving force behind the swatting of ProPublica and one of its journalists. He went by the monikers “Rape,” “Death,” and “Tormentor.” You might already know of him, actually. The outlet published an article in 2018 about white supremacist group Atomwaffen Division after a member of this organization was charged in an alleged homophobic, antisemitic murder.

Well, as part of this report, ProPublica outed Denton as the group’s honcho:

John Cameron Denton, based on interviews and the material obtained by ProPublica, comes across as something of a cult leader. Lately he has been pushing for Atomwaffen members to pool money and purchase land in rural areas so they can “get the fuck off the grid,” and begin implementing their revolutionary agenda. The former member said Denton envisions using this network of Atomwaffen compounds to launch attacks against targets in the U.S.

“No comment,” Denton said when confronted at a concert in a FRONTLINE report.

According to authorities, the ProPublica office in New York City was swatted  about a month later by a caller identified himself as Atomwaffen Division member “James Mason.”

“The caller said he had multiple pipe bombs, an AR-15, one hostage, and a dead body,” said the criminal complaint. “The caller said he would begin shooting at police once they arrived.”

The New York Police Department sent about a dozen cops, but they determined it didn’t turn out to be a credible threat.

According to authorities, Denton pushed for an unnamed journalist to be separately swatted. One of the foreign co-conspirators called it in while Denton and Individual 1 listened, investigators said. This caller pretended to be the journalist, and “stated that he shot his wife with an M16” and was going to shoot any officers who approached his residence. Law enforcement responded to the home, and had the journalist and his wife put in separate police cruisers during the investigation. Investigators later released them back into their home.

Investigators said Denton spoke to an undercover FBI agent at his home. The defendant allegedly admitted the crimes, and tactics.

DENTON also specifically mentioned the swatting of ProPublica to the undercover agent. DENTON stated that he swatted ProPublica and the entire building had to be evacuated. He also told the undercover agent that he participated in the swatting of the Victim’s home.

The defendant allegedly said if he was “raided” for this, then it would be good for his group because this swatting “would be seen as a top-tier crime.”

Online records don’t name an attorney for Denton as of Wednesday afternoon.

USA DOJ ANNOUNCEMENT: Former Atomwaffen Division Leader Arrested for Swatting Conspiracy

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Virginia

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A former leader of the white supremacist group Atomwaffen Division was arrested today on charges related to his alleged role in a conspiracy that conducted multiple swatting events that occurred here in the Eastern District of Virginia.

John Cameron Denton, 26, of Montgomery, Texas, is allegedly a former leader of the Atomwaffen Division in Texas. Denton was arrested this morning in Montgomery and will make his initial appearance at 2 p.m. CST before U.S. Magistrate Judge Nancy K. Johnson at the federal courthouse in Houston.

According to court documents, from November 2018 to at least April 2019, Denton and several co-conspirators, including John William Kirby Kelley, allegedly conspired together to conduct “swatting” calls. Swatting is a harassment tactic that involves deceiving dispatchers into believing that a person or persons are in imminent danger of death or bodily harm and causing the dispatchers to send police and emergency services to an unwitting third party’s address.

According to court documents, Denton allegedly participated in a conspiracy that conducted three swatting calls that occurred here in the Eastern District of Virginia: a Cabinet official living in Northern Virginia on Jan. 27, 2019; Old Dominion University on Nov. 29, 2018; and Alfred Street Baptist Church on Nov. 3, 2018.

Additionally, Denton allegedly chose at least two other targets to “swat”: the New York City office of ProPublica, a non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism; and an investigative journalist that produced materials for ProPublica. Denton allegedly chose the two targets because he was furious with ProPublica and the investigative journalist for publishing his true identity and discussing his role in Atomwaffen Division.

During the investigation, Denton unknowingly met with an undercover law enforcement officer and allegedly told the undercover officer about his role in the swatting conspiracy. Denton allegedly stated that he used a voice changer when he made swatting calls, and allegedly admitted that he swatted the offices of ProPublica and the investigative journalist. He also allegedly stated that it would be good if he was “raided” for the swatting because it would be viewed as a top tier crime, and he felt that his arrest could benefit Atomwaffen Division.

Denton is charged with conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States, interstate threats to injure. If convicted, he and faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Timothy M. Dunham, Special Agent in Charge, Criminal Division, FBI Washington Field Office, made the announcement. Assistant U.S. Attorney Carina A. Cuellar is prosecuting the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:20-mj-84.

more BACKGROUND: DOCUMENTING HATE – Inside Atomwaffen As It Celebrates a Member for Allegedly Killing a Gay Jewish College Student

ProPublica obtained the chat logs of Atomwaffen, a notorious white supremacist group. When Samuel Woodward was charged with killing 19-year-old Blaze Bernstein last month in California, other Atomwaffen members cheered the death, concerned only that the group’s cover might have been blown.


Update, Aug. 3, 2018: Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas on Thursday announced that Samuel Woodward would now face a hate crime charge as part of his prosecution for the murder of Blaze Bernstein. ProPublica revealed earlier this year that Woodward was a member of a neo-Nazi group called Atomwaffen Division. According to the Orange County Register, Rackauckas said, “We will prove that Woodward killed Blaze because Blaze was gay.” Rackauckas said investigators had uncovered material on Woodward’s phone and computer that was “graphic and chilling” and “spewing hate toward almost every protected group.” With the hate charge, Woodward, if convicted, could face life in prison without the chance at parole.

Late last month, ProPublica reported that the California man accused of killing a gay and Jewish University of Pennsylvania student was an avowed neo-Nazi and a member of Atomwaffen Division, one of the country’s most notorious extremist groups.

The news about the murder suspect, Samuel Woodward, spread quickly throughout the U.S., and abroad. Woodward was accused of fatally stabbing 19-year-old Blaze Bernstein and burying his body in an Orange County park.

The report, it turns out, was also taken up in the secretive online chats conducted by members of Atomwaffen Division, a white supremacist group that celebrates both Hitler and Charles Manson.

“I love this,” one member wrote of the killing, according to copies of the online chats obtained by ProPublica. Another called Woodward a “one man gay Jew wrecking crew.”

More soon joined in.

“What I really want to know is who leaked that shit about Sam to the media,” a third member wrote.

At least one member wanted to punish the person who had revealed Woodward’s affiliation with Atomwaffen.

“Rats and traitors get the rope first.”

Encrypted chat logs obtained by ProPublica — some 250,000 messages spanning more than six months — offer a rare window into Atomwaffen Division that goes well beyond what has surfaced elsewhere about a group whose members have been implicated in a string of violent crimes. Like many white supremacist organizations, Atomwaffen Division uses Discord, an online chat service designed for video gamers, to engage in its confidential online discussions.

In a matter of months, people associated with the group, including Woodward, have been charged in five murders; another group member pleaded guilty to possession of explosives after authorities uncovered a possible plot to blow up a nuclear facility near Miami.

The group’s propaganda makes clear that Atomwaffen — the word means “nuclear weapons” in German — embraces Third Reich ideology and preaches hatred of minorities, gays and Jews. Atomwaffen produces YouTube videos showing members firing weapons and has filmed members burning the U.S. Constitution and setting fire to the American flag. But the organization, by and large, cloaks its operations in secrecy and bars members from speaking to the media.

The chat logs and other material obtained by ProPublica provide unusually extensive information about the group’s leaders, wider makeup, and potential targets, indicating:

The group may have as many as 20 cells around the country, small groups of indeterminate size in Texas, Virginia, Washington, Nevada and elsewhere. Members armed with assault rifles and other guns have taken part in weapons training in various locations over the last two years, including last month in the Nevada desert near Death Valley.

Members have discussed using explosives to cripple public water systems and destroy parts of the electrical power grid. One member even claimed to have obtained classified maps of the power grid in California. Throughout the chats, Atomwaffen members laud Timothy McVeigh, the former soldier who bombed the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995, killing 168, including numerous children. Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof and Anders Breivik, the Norwegian extremist who massacred 77 people, also come in for praise.

Woodward posted several messages in the days after Bernstein’s murder, but before he was arrested and charged. In one thread, he told his fellow Atomwaffen members that he was thinking about the “passing of life” and was “truly grateful for our time together.”

Woodward, 20, has pleaded not guilty in the Bernstein case. Prosecutors have said they are exploring whether the murder constituted a hate crime and detectives are now investigating what role, if any, Atomwaffen might have played in the homicide. Woodward and Bernstein had known each other in high school in California, and appear to have reconnected somehow shortly before the killing.

Law enforcement, both federal and state, have said little about what they make of Atomwaffen. But organizations dedicated to tracking and studying hate groups have been calling attention to what they regard as the group’s considerable threat.

“We haven’t seen anything like Atomwaffen in quite a while,” said Keegan Hankes, a researcher who tracks the group for the Southern Poverty Law Center. “They should be taken seriously because they’re so extreme.”

Jeffrey Kaplan, a historian, has studied racial extremists for decades and edited the Encyclopedia of White Power. In an interview, he suggested that Atomwaffen is dangerous, but that talk in their propaganda and private conversations of aims such as toppling the U.S. government amounted to what he called a kind of “magical thinking.” Kaplan said such groups often contain a handful of diehards who are willing to commit crimes and many more wannabes who are unwilling to do much more than read fascist literature.

“It’s very hard to go from talking about violence to looking a guy in the eyes and killing him,” said Kaplan, a professor of national security studies at King Fahd Defense College in Saudi Arabia.

Where We’ve Identified Atomwaffen Division Members

Through interviews and internal records, ProPublica was able to identify Atomwaffen members in at least 23 states.

Lucas Waldron and Rob Weychert/ProPublica

“Politics are useless. Revolution is necessary.”

ProPublica has identified five key Atomwaffen members through information provided by law enforcement investigators, internal Atomwaffen records, outside experts and a former group member.

Those records and interviews make clear that John Cameron Denton is the leader of Atomwaffen. Denton, 24, grew up in Montgomery, Texas, a small town about 30 miles north of Houston. Public records show Denton currently lives in the nearby town of Conroe, a few miles to the south of Montgomery.

ProPublica has obtained several photos of Denton. In one, Denton, who is short and wiry, has a bulky combat shotgun slung over his shoulder. He seems to favor camouflage pants and black T-shirts emblazoned with the logos of National Socialist Black Metal bands, a fringe subgenre of heavy metal music that mixes Satanic and Nazi themes.

“Politics are useless. Revolution is necessary,” Denton said in a chat post expressing the Atomwaffen worldview.

Records and interviews show Denton goes by the name Rape in the online conversations, and he appears to be involved in nearly every aspect of the organization. He shapes Atomwaffen’s ideology, chooses designs for its distinctive black-and-white posters and online propaganda, and selects the books that new recruits must study as part of their initiation, said a former Atomwaffen member interviewed by ProPublica. Denton’s younger brother, Grayson Patrick Denton, 19, is also a member, according to the chat logs and interviews; within the group, he goes by Leon, an homage to a Belgian fascist who fought with the SS.

John Cameron Denton

Alias: Rape

John Cameron Denton is the leader of Atomwaffen Division. The 24-year-old grew up in Montgomery, Texas, and lives outside Houston.

The leader’s identity was first revealed last month in a report by the Anti-Defamation League. Afterward, Denton was seething. “They think they can stop RAPE!? THEY THINK THEY CAN STOP ME!?!,” Denton wrote in one chat message.

Neither Denton brother responded to messages seeking comment.

Just how many people belong to Atomwaffen is unknown. The ex-member told ProPublica that the group has enlisted about 80 members across the country, many of whom joined after the deadly events in Charlottesville last summer.

An internal Atomwaffen document obtained by ProPublica shows members scattered across 23 states and Canada. The group’s largest chapters are based in Virginia, Texas and Washington, according to a message posted in the chats by an Atomwaffen recruiter last summer.

“Each chapter operates independently,” wrote the recruiter. “We want men who are willing to be the boots on the ground. Joining us means serious dedication not only to the Atomwaffen Division and its members, but to the goal of Total Aryan Victory.”

A review of the chat logs shows messages posted by people using more than 100 different user names. Access to the discussions is tightly controlled, and it is unclear if some members post under multiple usernames.

Denton has helped build the organization around the ideas expressed in an obscure, hyper-violent book: “Siege.” The 563-page book collects and organizes the monthly newsletters produced during the 1980s by an old-line neo-Nazi activist named James Mason. It is required reading for all Atomwaffen members and serves as the backbone for the organization’s ideology, worldview and training program.

When Mason began publishing his newsletter in 1980, he was bitter and deeply dismayed. He had devoted his life to the fascist cause, joining the American Nazi Party in the mid-1960s, at the age of 14. But the movement had completely failed.

For Mason, the way forward was obvious: He no longer wanted to convince the masses of the rightness of Nazism. They would never get it. Now was the time for true believers to go underground and launch a clandestine guerrilla war aimed at bringing down “The System.”

“Siege” is essentially a long string of essays celebrating murder and chaos in the name of white supremacy. In Mason’s view, Dan White, the local politician who assassinated San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and gay civil rights leader Harvey Milk, was a hero.

Mason proposed the creation of a White Liberation Front composed of small armed squads that would “hide in wilderness areas,” moving frequently from location to location while striking out in a string of “hit-and-run engagements.” Mason based this proposed organization on the short-lived National Socialist Liberation Front, a small splinter group of the American Nazi Party that formed in 1969 and espoused the strategic use of political terrorism.

Grayson Patrick Denton

Aliases: Nazgul, Leon

Grayson Patrick Denton is the 19-year-old brother of Atomwaffen leader John Cameron Denton. He is a member of the Texas cell.

The chat logs show that Denton and other Atomwaffen figures are in contact with Mason, who is 65 and is said to be living in Denver, Colorado; in one online conversation, Samuel Woodward wrote about meeting with Mason face to face along with other Atomwaffen members. In chats, members frequently post pictures of Mason and revere him as a brilliant, under-appreciated thinker.

ProPublica was unable to contact Mason.

Jeffrey Kaplan, the academic at King Fahd Defense College in Riyadh, interviewed Mason in the 1990s and spoke to ProPublica about Mason’s outlook and the groups he inspires, such as Atomwaffen.

He describes Mason as “a true believer.”

“Now he’s got a following, which he didn’t have for the last 30 years,” Kaplan said. “He’s got some kids who’ve rediscovered him. He must be in heaven.”

As Kaplan sees it, groups such as Atomwaffen — would-be Nazi guerrillas devoted to white revolution in the U.S. — are “akin to cults,” and are propelled by a quasi-religious faith that they will ultimately prevail. He continued, “What else would sustain you when everyone hates you?”

John Cameron Denton, based on interviews and the material obtained by ProPublica, comes across as something of a cult leader. Lately he has been pushing for Atomwaffen members to pool money and purchase land in rural areas so they can “get the fuck off the grid,” and begin implementing their revolutionary agenda. The former member said Denton envisions using this network of Atomwaffen compounds to launch attacks against targets in the U.S.

The leader is already girding for a confrontation with law enforcement. “I do expect that one day I’ll get raided,” wrote Denton in one chat message. “I’m not gonna have a shoot out or anything stupid like that, but I just dont rule out possibilities because I know the govt doesnt play by the rules.”

“You would want to target things like substations, water filtration plants, etc.”

Late last month, Atomwaffen held a three-day training session — or “Hate Camp” in the group’s parlance — deep in the Nevada desert. The event was organized by an Atomwaffen leader, Michael Lloyd Hubsky, who calls himself Komissar, according to the chat logs.

Michael Lloyd Hubsky

Alias: Komissar

Hubsky, 29, lives in Las Vegas and leads Atomwaffen’s Nevada cell. In online chats he discussed blowing up the U.S. power grid and natural gas lines.

A 29-year-old resident of Las Vegas, Hubsky holds both a concealed weapons permit and a security guard license, and is a big fan of high-powered military-style firearms. In one post he discussed a favorite weapon: a Czech-made rifle called a CZ Scorpion that, Hubsky said, he’d converted to fully automatic and equipped with a flash suppressor.

In another message, Hubsky wrote that he was planning on getting an “FFL” — federal firearms license — so he could “manufacture” guns.

“I can literally become our armory in the event we need it,” Hubsky bragged.

The former member said Atomwaffen has a rule: Don’t talk about the group’s terrorist ambitions in online chats or on social media. Those sorts of conversations are only supposed to happen in person. But Hubsky, at times, has been less than discreet outside the group’s confidential chats.

“So in any war, you need to cut off your enemy’s ability to shoot, move and communicate,” Hubsky wrote in a September 2017 message posted in a discussion on white nationalism that occurred in a non-Atomwaffen chat room. “You would want to target things like: Substations, water filtration plants, etc.” ProPublica has obtained Hubsky’s statements from that online conversation.

Hubsky wrote that he had “a map of the US power grid.”

“West-coast only,” he added in the message. “Classified map. Had someone with special permissions get it.”

John Cameron Denton, left, in an undated photograph with other white supremacists

Hubsky also discussed blowing up natural gas lines.

“You put a home-made thermite grenade on those,” he wrote. While other types of infrastructure — like water lines – figured in Hubsky’s discussions, hitting the power grid was, in his view, the most devastating and effective attack possible. Destroying electricity infrastructure, Hubsky wrote, “would by default take out the internet because it relies on power to operate.”

In a telephone conversation and subsequent series of text messages with ProPublica, Hubsky at first denied being a member of Atomwaffen. But he later offered to discuss the group at length if his name was not made public, an arrangement ProPublica declined. Hubsky acknowledged that he owns a CZ Scorpion assault rifle — even sharing a picture of the weapon — but said it was not fully automatic. He concluded the exchange by saying he had retained a lawyer.

Hubsky’s organization of the three-day Hate Camp in Nevada began with a proposal to the group late last year. He offered to arrange it so the group could hone its combat skills. There would be shooting and hand-to-hand sparring at a secret location on the edge of Death Valley.

Atomwaffen had already held a Hate Camp in the Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois during the fall of 2017. At least 10 members from different states attended, with some driving in from as far away as Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma and New Jersey. In the Pacific Northwest, cell members had converged on an abandoned cement factory, known as “Devil’s Tower” near the small town of Concrete, Washington, where they had screamed “gas the kikes, race war now!” while firing off round after round from any array of weapons, including an AR-15 assault rifle with a high capacity drum magazine.

The training sessions were documented in Atomwaffen propaganda videos.

Kaleb J. Cole

Alias: Khimaere

Atomwaffen’s Washington chapter leader is Kaleb J. Cole. Cole, who owns an AK-47 assault rifle with a large-capacity magazine, helped organize arms training sessions in Washington and Nevada. He also works on the group’s visual propaganda.

Members had also organized smaller training sessions, such as the one last year in Texas that had drawn Blaze Bernstein’s alleged murderer, Samuel Woodward. The Texas training attended by Woodward took place in the countryside outside San Antonio and involved 10 members of the Texas cell who took part in firearms, survival and weapons instruction.

Hubsky scheduled his training camp during the last weekend in January. Atomwaffen’s Washington chapter leader Kaleb J. Cole, who uses the alias Khimaere, agreed to help organize the desert training session in Nevada, which the group started calling the Death Valley Hate Camp.

“Bring your uniform, rifle/sidearm, and whatever camping gear you need,” he wrote. Cole, who is 22 and lives close to the Canadian border in the town of Blaine, is a National Socialist Black Metal enthusiast who holds a concealed firearms permit and owns an AK-47. In 2015, while Cole was living in Bellingham, police responded to a report that he had “Nazi memorabilia” in his residence, according to Lt. Danette Beckley of the Bellingham Police Department; he was also reported to police in the island town of Anacortes for allegedly harassing a Jewish grocery store owner by a waving a Nazi flag in front of the business, according to two law enforcement sources.

The former Atomwaffen member told ProPublica that Cole wields a significant degree of influence over the organization’s propaganda, recruitment and organization. ProPublica could not reach Cole for comment.

When the group got out to the desert, Hubsky made sure they shot photos and videos to be used in Atomwaffen recruiting clips. In one picture obtained by ProPublica, an Atomwaffen member is standing at the base of a sand dune showing off a military-grade weapon — an MCX Virtus rifle made by Sig Sauer — while holding a flag bearing the Atomwaffen insignia, a black shield bearing the symbol for radioactivity. Another member, clutching an assault rifle, is also in the photo.

Hubsky returned from Death Valley enthused and eager to do more training. He uploaded a memo to the Atomwaffen chat. Members would now be required to join Front Sight, a “private combat training facility” outside of Las Vegas in the small desert town of Pahrump. Front Sight, the memo said, could provide classes in “Uzi and full auto M16 combat, as well as knife fighting, hand to hand combat,” and instruction in climbing and rappelling.

“I don’t know anything about this group,” Bill Cookston, Front Sight’s director of operations, said this week. “If anyone were to be doing something against the law or in a radical manner, we would look into that.”

Shortly afterward, Michael Meacher, Front Sight’s CEO, said the training center had sent Hubsky a letter refunding his membership fees and informing the Las Vegas resident that he was banned from the facility for life.

“Not that the faggot kike didn’t deserve to die.”

Before Samuel Woodward was jailed on charges of murdering Blaze Bernstein, he frequently participated in the Atomwaffen chats. First he used the handle Saboteur. Later he posted under the name Arn.

Often, Woodward sounded like a typical 20-year-old. He enthused about video games (BioShock, Skyrim) and TV shows (he liked the early seasons of “Trailer Park Boys,” a Canadian comedy series). He complained about not having a girlfriend.

But Woodward also railed at “mongrels and jews” and gays.

He praised Mein Kampf and seemed to regard “Siege” as something akin to divine revelation; from his perspective, violence and society-shaking mayhem were the only options for a true Nazi.

That orientation attracted him to outlaw groups like the National Socialist Underground, a German organization that carried out a massive terror spree between 2001 and 2011, robbing 14 banks, planting bombs and murdering 10 people, most of them immigrants. “The NSU was pretty cool,” Woodward wrote.

In one conversation, Woodward discussed the Bosnian Civil War of the 1990s, during which Serbian soldiers and paramilitary fighters raped thousands of Bosnian Muslim women as part of an infamous campaign of ethnic cleansing. “The only acceptable case of miscegenation is what the serbs did to captured bosniak women,” he wrote in November 2017.

Woodward liked the idea of using rape to terrorize women of color, whom he saw as his foes. “Force them to carry around the spawn of their master and enemy,” he wrote.

ProPublica sought comment on the chats from Woodward’s lawyer, Edward Munoz, but did not get a response.

On Jan. 26, ProPublica published a story revealing Woodward’s belief in Nazism and exposing his involvement with Atomwaffen.

While the article attracted the attention of Atomwaffen members, who promptly posted it to their online chats, no one in the group expressed any sympathy for Bernstein, the young man Woodward allegedly murdered. They made jokes about his slaying and used slurs to describe him. If there was worry, it was about Woodward possibly having to do time behind bars for the murder.

“Sam did something stupid,” wrote one member. “Not that the faggot kike didn’t deserve to die. Just simply not worth a life in prison for.”

Sean Michael Fernandez, an Atomwaffen leader in Texas, even saw an upside for the group. Fernandez, who used the alias Wehrwolf, believed that Atomwaffen actually stood to benefit from the increased notoriety stemming from Woodward’s affiliation with the neo-Nazi group and the Bernstein murder.

“We’re only going to inspire more ‘copycat crimes’ in the name of AWD. All we have to do is spread our image and our propaganda,” Fernandez wrote on Jan. 30.

Sean Michael Fernandez

Alias: Wehrwolf

Sean Michael Fernandez is a leader of the Texas cell.

He continued: “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.”

For his part, Denton, the national Atomwaffen leader, felt betrayed. ProPublica had interviewed a former member for the story; still, Denton believed that someone currently within the ranks was sharing information with the media. “Looks like AWD needs another purging,” he wrote.

Members began speculating about who was talking to outsiders. Was it a current member? Was it someone they’d kicked out recently?

Members also directed their rage toward the media. As they saw it, Woodward was the one being victimized. Now that his involvement with Atomwaffen had spilled out into the public sphere, Orange County prosecutors might hit him with hate crimes charges — charges that could potentially add years to a prison sentence.

“We really owe those jews at ProPublica,” wrote one member.

Woodward posted many hundreds of messages to the Atomwaffen chats. But on Jan. 5, he typed out a few lines that are quite distinct from all the rest. In them, the raging young man suddenly became highly sentimental. Two days earlier, according to prosecutors, he had buried Bernstein’s lifeless body in a park in Lake Forest, California.

Now Woodward explained that he was reflecting on mortality.

“hey everyone,” he wrote. “i just wanted to let you all know i love you so much.”

and more BACKGROUND: DOCUMENTING HATE – California Murder Suspect Said to Have Trained With Extremist Hate Group

The 20-year-old man charged in Orange County with killing a gay Jewish college student earlier this month is said to have belonged to Atomwaffen Division, a neo-Nazi group.

Samuel Woodward, a suspect in the murder of 19-year-old Blaze Bernstein, appears in court at the Orange County Central Justice Center on Jan. 17, 2018, in Santa Ana, California.

The California man accused of killing a 19-year-old University of Pennsylvania student earlier this month is an avowed neo-Nazi and a member of one of the most notorious extremist groups in the country, according to three people with knowledge of the man’s recent activities.

The man, Samuel Woodward, has been charged in Orange County, California, with murdering Blaze Bernstein, who went missing in early January while visiting his family over winter break. Prosecutors allege that Woodward stabbed Bernstein more than 20 times before burying his body in an Orange County park where it was eventually discovered. The two men had attended high school together.

Woodward, 20, is set to be arraigned on Feb. 2 and has not yet entered a plea. Orange County prosecutors say they are examining the possibility that the killing was a hate crime — Bernstein was Jewish and openly gay — and some recent news reports have suggested that the alleged killer might hold far-right or even white supremacist political beliefs.

Now, three people with detailed knowledge of Woodward’s recent past have been able to shed more light on the young man’s extremist activities. They said Woodward was a member of the Atomwaffen Division, an armed Fascist group with the ultimate aim of overthrowing the U.S. government through the use of terrorism and guerrilla warfare.

The organization, which celebrates Hitler and Charles Manson, has been tied to four other murders and an elaborate bomb plot over the past eight months. Experts who study right-wing extremist movements believe Atomwaffen’s commitment to violence has made it one of the more dangerous groups to emerge from the new wave of white supremacists.

Two of the three people who described Woodward’s affiliations are friends of his; the other is a former member of Atomwaffen Division.

ProPublica’s revelations about Woodward’s background add a new element to a murder case that has attracted considerable local and national news coverage. But they also raise fresh concerns about groups like Atomwaffen Division, shadowy outfits of uncertain size that appear capable of genuine harm.

Woodward joined the organization in early 2016 and later traveled to Texas to attend Atomwaffen meetings and a three-day training camp, which involved instruction in firearms, hand-to-hand combat, camping and survival skills, the former member said. ProPublica has obtained photographs of Woodward at an outdoor Atomwaffen meeting in the scrubby Texas countryside. One of the photos depicts Woodward and other members making straight-armed Nazi salutes while wearing skull masks. In other pictures, Woodward is unmasked and easily identifiable.

The young man is proficient with both handguns and assault rifles, according to one person who participated in the Texas training and watched him shoot. That person also said that Woodward helped organize a number of Atomwaffen members in California.

Social media posts and chat logs shared by Woodward’s friends show that he openly described himself as a “National Socialist” or Nazi. He “was as anti-Semitic as you can get,” according to one acquaintance.

ProPublica contacted Orange County prosecutors regarding Woodward’s alleged neo-Nazi activities. Michelle Van Der Linden, a spokesperson for the District Attorney’s Office, said she couldn’t comment directly on the case, but said the investigation is ongoing, with detectives exploring all possible leads.

Woodward told police Bernstein had tried to kiss him while they were in the park, according to a sealed affidavit obtained by the Orange County Register.

Woodward’s defense lawyer, Edward Munoz, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

On Wednesday, Bernstein’s parents spoke to reporters about the loss of their son, but said they were not interested in talking about any information they had on the investigation of his death.

The Los Angeles Times quoted his mother, Jeanne Pepper Bernstein, as saying she had worried during her son’s life that he might be a target — because he was small, and Jewish, and gay.

“I was concerned sending him out into the big world,” she said. “But at some point you have to let go and they leave the nest and fly. I couldn’t protect him from everything.”

Atomwaffen started in 2015 and is estimated to have about 80 members scattered around the country in small cells; the former member said the group’s ranks have grown since the lethal and chaotic “Unite the Right” rally last summer in Charlottesville, Virginia.

While many of the new white extremist groups have consciously avoided using Nazi imagery, Atomwaffen has done the opposite. The name can mean “Atomic Weapons” in German, and the organization embraces Third Reich iconography, including swastikas, the Totenkopf, or death’s head insignia, and SS lightning bolts. The group frequently produces YouTube videos featuring masked Atomwaffen members hiking through the backcountry and firing weapons. They’ve also filmed themselves burning the U.S. Constitution and setting fire to the American flag at an Atomwaffen “Doomsday Hatecamp.”

Atomwaffen’s biggest inspiration seems to be James Mason, a long-time fascist who belonged to the American Nazi Party and later, during the 1970s, joined a more militant offshoot. During the 1980s, Mason published a newsletter called SIEGE, in which he eschewed political activism in favor of creating a new fascist regime through murder, small “lone wolf” terror attacks, and all-out war against the government. Mason also struck up a friendship with the late Charles Manson, who has become another hero for Atomwaffen.

The organization first gained a measure of national attention in May of last year, when 18-year-old Devon Arthurs, one of Atomwaffen’s founding members, was charged in state court in Tampa, Florida, with murdering two of his roommates, Andrew Oneschuk, 18, and Jeremy Himmelman, 22. Both victims were Atomwaffen loyalists.

The murders allegedly occurred after Arthurs traded Nazism for radical Islam. When police took Arthurs into custody, according to news accounts based on police reports, he claimed he had shot his former comrades because they had taunted him about his Muslim faith and plotted violent attacks to further their fascist agenda. Arthurs told investigators he killed Onsechuk and Himmelman “because they want to build a Fourth Reich.”

While Arthurs initially confessed to the killings, he has pleaded not guilty and the case is ongoing. In early January, a judge ordered a psychiatrist to determine whether Arthurs is mentally competent to stand trial.

When law enforcement searched the apartment in Tampa, Florida, where Arthurs and the others lived, they found firearms, a framed photograph of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, rifles, ammunition, and a cooler full of a highly volatile explosive called HMTD. Investigators also discovered radioactive material in the home.

The bomb-making material belonged to a fourth roommate, Atomwaffen leader Brandon Russell, a Florida National Guardsman. Arthurs told authorities that Russell had been planning to blow up a nuclear power plant near Miami. Earlier this month Russell pleaded guilty in federal district court in Tampa to illegal possession of explosives and was sentenced to five years in federal prison.

Atomwaffen surfaced again in connection with a double homicide in Reston, Virginia, in December 2017. A 17-year-old neo-Nazi allegedly shot to death his girlfriend’s parents, Buckley Kuhn-Fricker and Scott Fricker, who had urged their daughter to break up with him. The accused, who shot himself as well but survived and remains hospitalized, was charged as a juvenile in state court in Virginia with two counts of homicide.

The 17-year-old was a big fan of Atomwaffen and James Mason, according to reporting by the Huffington Post, which examined his social media trail.

The former Atomwaffen member in contact with ProPublica said that the teen was more than a fan: He was in direct communication with the group.

“Their rhetoric is some of the most extreme we have seen,” said Joanna Mendelson, a senior researcher at the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism. The group, she said, views itself as the radical vanguard of the white supremacist movement, the frontline soldiers of an imminent race war.