U.S. neo-Nazi leader found to be directing terrorist group from Russia

Prominent founder of U.S. based militant neo-Nazi group The Base, a major terrorist and extremist focus for the FBI, has been directing the organisation from Russia, a BBC investigation has found.

Rinaldo Nazzaro, 46, who uses the aliases "Norman Spear" and "Roman Wolf", left New York for St Petersburg less than two years ago.

Seven alleged members were charged this month with various offences, including conspiracy to commit murder. According to The Guardian, members of the group stand accused of federal hate crimes, murder plots and firearms offences.

Court documents prepared by the FBI describe The Base, which translates into English as “Al Qaeda”, and which uses online chatrooms and encrypted apps to spread propaganda, to promote hate crimes and plot acts of terrorism, as being a "racially motivated violent extremist group" that "seeks to accelerate the downfall of the United States government, incite a race war, and establish a white ethno-state".

The group - founded around July 2018 - gains followers online, communicates using encrypted messaging applications, and encourages members to engage in paramilitary training.

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Nazzaro (pictured left) kept his identity a secret for years, however, multiple images and videos of him - taken over several years in both the USA and Russia - show him to be The Base founder.

Last year he was listed as a guest at a Russian government security exhibition in Moscow, which "focused on the demonstration of the results of state policy and achievements".

A video posted online in March 2019 show Nazzaro, who reportedly owns 30 acres of land in rural northeast Washington, in Russia wearing a t-shirt bearing an image of President Vladimir Putin along with the words "Russia, absolute power".

Records show that, before moving to Russia, he ran a company registered in New York that offered access to a "network of security professionals" with expertise in intelligence, counterterrorism, counterinsurgency, and psychological operations.

A website for the firm - Omega Solutions - once stated: "Our associates have worked with various government and military agencies, including multiple wartime deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan".

Nazzaro reportedly married a Russian woman in Manhattan in 2012. She had moved to the city from her homeland around four years earlier and her CV says she spent time working in a bank.

Following the FBI arrests of alleged Base members last week, an online channel used by the group to post propaganda carried a defiant statement from "Roman Wolf", saying "we will continue our struggle for survival undeterred".

The case against three alleged members states that the group leader instructed them to use coded language - or cyphers - when communicating, a tactic which the men are said to have employed.

The trio, accused of conspiring to murder an anti-fascist couple and their children, were allegedly counselled by the leader to carry out "non-attributable actions but that will still send a message".

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