| by CTEC Staff

News Stories

The Base

Research and writing on this paper was led by one of CTEC’s Graduate Research Assistants. For safety reasons, we are publishing this piece anonymously. If you are a journalist, researcher, or other professional who would like to speak to the author, contact us at CTEC@middlebury.edu

Executive Summary

Founded in July 2018 by Rinaldo Nazzaro (a.k.a., Roman Wolf or Norman Spear), The Base is a white nationalist terrorist group that promotes accelerationism and violent insurrectionary ideologies. The organization largely utilizes encrypted communications platforms to organize, share propaganda, and plan violent attacks. While located primarily in the U.S., Nazzaro is based out of Russia and continues to manage the group from afar, primarily via Telegram. The group aims to establish a white ethno-state through violent military action brought by its decentralized network of underground cells across the country that train individually for a coming ‘revolution’.

Ideology

Members of the Base predominantly adhere to a neofascist accelerationist view that society should be pushed to the brink of a collapse via a race war or revolution, in order for a pure white traditionalist ethnostate to emerge. Nazzaro has advocated for a version of the Butler Plan, or an establishment of a white homeland in the Northwest.  Nazzaro planned to establish training camps across the U.S. staffed with cadre to train regional member cells in weapons handling, military and guerilla tactics, wilderness survival, martial arts, and intelligence collection. In 2019, Nazzaro purchased 30 acres of property in Washington State to be used as a training camp but after leaks by anti-fascist activists, the land went unused. 

Propaganda

The Base is masked loosely as a “survivalism and self-defense network”, with flyers featuring slogans like “Save your race, join The Base” and a QR code linking to its Telegram channel. Group content existed on Twitter, Bitchute, Gab, Telegram, and Wire, although Twitter, Bitchute, and Gab have now deplatformed Nazzaro and his aliases. In his group-wide posts, Nazzaro often cited anti-semitic, anti-immigrant, Great Replacement narratives, quotes from James Mason’s “Siege”, and reposted Atomwaffen Division content. He continues to publish lengthy vlogs on platforms like Telegram, providing advice for those seeking to establish home-grown militias with videos on strategies for controlling territory, recruitment, establishing areas of operation, and more. The vlogs persisted on Telegram after Bitchute’s crackdown until January 23, 2022, when Nazzaro wrote on his personal Telegram channel that he took the videos down to “maintain a lower public profile”. Propaganda videos show men in skull-printed face masks performing military-style drills, setting fire to scripture and the American flag, and shooting targets displaying the Star of David. The skull mask became a key symbol of affiliation with the broader network of neo-fascist, accelerationist groups that grew out of the Iron March website and forum. The Atomwaffen Division, the Feuerkrieg Division, The Base, and affiliate groups behave like nodes in a large, unnamed, transnational nexus, and the skull mask is their calling card. 

Arrests/Plots/Attacks

At least nine members of The Base have been arrested in Georgia, Wisconsin, Maryland, and Michigan. Charges included illegal assembly of assault rifles, plots of murder on alleged members of Antifa, and vandalism of a synagogue. Three men arrested in Maryland in 2020 had plans to “Derail some trains, kill some people, and poison some water supplies.” FBI-led investigations revealed training activities on property privately owned by group members in Georgia, where about a dozen Base adherents drilled on infantry tactics like “retreating under fire” and other shooting exercises. 

Following these arrests, Nazzaro praised the “true warriors” and penned a new, unpublished manifesto in early 2021 gearing the group more toward secrecy and leaderless, compartmentalized cells. The document allegedly maintains the notion of “[accelerating] the breakdown of civil society in the West,” while including a section titled “Don’t Talk” instructing members “not discuss illegal activity online or in real life … And if you’ve done something illegal, let your actions speak for themselves.” 

The group’s trajectory may depend on how much influence Nazzaro has, living in Russia and given the challenges of social media crackdowns. His offers to directly finance regional cells has led to some speculation that Russian security agencies support Nazzaro’s activity financially, ideologically, or both, although Nazzaro has denied any sort of Russian state association. Russia has historically sought to disrupt political and social equilibria in America and Europe via support of far-right and far-left groups.  Whether or not Russia indeed offers guidance or financing to Nazzaro, the fact that he operates The Base, an American terrorist organization, from foreign soil in Russia should certainly open him and the group up to terror designations by the U.S.