Something tells me that the State Department's push to designate actual, literal, self-identifying neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen as a terrorist organization is going to conveniently vanish in the next few weeks.
The State Department is pushing to designate at least one violent white supremacist group as a foreign terrorist organization, an unprecedented move that national security experts say would be a big step toward fighting a growing threat on U.S. soil.
State Department officials want to have the designation finalized by next week, according to four people familiar with the effort. But the White House, where top officials have long preferred to focus on terrorism by Islamist extremists, has yet to give the green light.
Former U.S. officials and counterterrorism analysts say the top candidate for the designation is Atomwaffen, a neo-Nazi group that was founded in the United States but has expanded into the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany and Estonia.
Designating Atomwaffen or another neo-Nazi group like The Base as a terrorist outfit would send a major signal that the U.S. views far-right terrorism as a rising danger that increasingly ignores national boundaries, thanks in no small part to the internet.
But it also could place an uncomfortable spotlight on President Donald Trump’s troubled history with white nationalist activists who support his populist message. The president infamously insisted there were “very fine people” on both sides of the racial debate following violent 2017 clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia, leading to furious criticism followed by a series of White House efforts to walk the comments back.
The Trump administration has nonetheless increased its focus on far-right extremism. In February, FBI Director Christopher Wray told lawmakers that his agency has “elevated to the top-level priority racially motivated violent extremism so it’s on the same footing in terms of our national threat banding as [the Islamic State terrorist group] and homegrown violent extremism.”
The FBI arrested five alleged Atomwaffen members last month and eight alleged members of white supremacist group “the Base” in January. Six members of Atomwaffen have been convicted since 2018 on charges including planning terrorist attacks and murder.
Designating a white supremacist group such as Atomwaffen as a foreign terrorist organization will allow federal prosecutors to more easily charge suspected members with providing material support to terrorists if the suspect has trained with and/or offered advice, personnel or funding to the group. The existence of Atomwaffen was first announced in October 2015 on a now-defunct online forum called Iron March, which was founded out of Russia.
Joshua Geltzer, a counterterrorism expert who served on the National Security Council from 2015 to 2017, called the discussions about such a designation “long overdue.”
“There are 68 groups on the State Department list of foreign terrorist organizations, and not one is a violent white supremacist group,” Geltzer said. “We don’t use national security tools just to be symbolic, but I think finally adding to this list a white supremacist organization would really show that the U.S. recognizes the threat these groups pose, is willing to confront them using appropriate tools, and is now awakened to their distinctly transnational nature.”
But curiously, the White House will shelve this as unnecessary.
You see, the White House doesn't want white supremacists to be considered terrorists.
They want them to vote for Trump.