A new report on 83 hours of phone calls with 100 participants tied to the white supremacist organization The Base shows young men hoping to join the group talked about hosting paramilitary trainings, and about how to bring firearms to the events legally.
The Southern Poverty Law Center published the calls on Thursday, Oct. 22, after analyzing them for the podcast “Sounds Like Hate.” The calls were supplied to the SPLC by a confidential source and span the time period between 2018 and January 2020.
The calls are revealed over a three-part series entitled “Baseless.” The analysis of the calls used machine learning to identify patterns in the conversations.
During the calls, the group placed significant value on knowledge of guns and on having access to a training area.
On one call, an individual using the pseudonym Erik undergoes vetting by two individuals who focus heavily on stocking up ammunition for a proposed January event. Erik claimed to be 17 and proposed using his mother’s property to host the event. One person mentioned that the participants used a lot of ammunition at a prior meeting.
The proposed meeting appeared to have been postponed after Erik’s mother got nervous, and it is not clear if it ever took place.
The group believes the nation should be pushed to collapse so that a white ethno-state can rise from the ruins, according to the SPLC.
Rinaldo Nazzaro, leader of The Base, resides in Russia.
“The Base is a survivalism and self-defense network. Our objective is sharing knowledge and training to prepare for crisis situations,” Nazzaro told CNN. “The Base is not a neo-Nazi organization or a terrorist group. We do not encourage violence beyond self-defense situations.” But in the encrypted calls Nazarro said the primary criteria for joining is being “pro-white” and that there are many white nationalists and Nazis in the group.
Federal authorities also have disputed Nazarro’s benign public characterization of The Base, saying the group has discussed establishing a white ethno-state and talked about “committing acts of violence against minority communities,” including Black people.
Many have already been involved in targeted domestic terror plots. Almost 20 percent of applicants said they had combat training experience.
“They are domestic terrorists. They are plotting to create the collapse of America. That’s what they say on almost every single call,” podcast co-host Geradine Moriba told CNN.
Federal authorities arrested suspected neo-Nazis thought to belong to The Base earlier in 2020, believing they planned to carry out acts of violence at a gun rights rally in Virginia.
Nazzaro told CNN that The Base is not responsible for alleged illegal activity carried out by individuals.
“These far-right white supremacist groups have been a lethal threat in the United States for as long as there has been a United States. The only thing different from the way these groups operate is that they have the rhetorical support from the president … and a free hand given to them by law enforcement,” former FBI agent Mike German said on the podcast.
In leaked documents released last month, the Department of Homeland Security identified white supremacists as the “most lethal threat” of domestic terrorism in the nation.
Potential recruits were drawn in by physical flyers, contacted Nazzaro by emails, and were later vetted through virtual meetings and phone calls. Eventually, an in-person meeting might occur.
Moriba said the members talked about preparing for the moment when America collapses in order to “fill the vacuum.”
Frank Meeink, a former neo-Nazi, told CNN members are instructed by leadership to infiltrate law enforcement and military in order to “implement our plan.”
“We want things to accelerate, we want things to get worse in the United States. And from that point, by virtue of the chaos that ensues, that would naturally present some opportunities for us. Law and order starts breaking down, power vacuums start emerging for those who are organized and ready, to take advantage of those,” Nazzaro said on a call to one recruit.
The final episode in the three-part series will air on Oct. 29 on major podcasting platforms.