Dangerous Organizations and Bad Actors: Nordic Resistance Movement
| by CTEC
Nordic Resistance Movement (NRM) is a neofascist and accelerationist organization with a strong propensity for violence. The largest and most dangerous of these organizations in the Nordic region, NRM’s transnational physical presence and international online reach present ample opportunities for global recruitment, radicalization, and incitement to violence. The organization, formerly known as the Swedish Resistance Movement, was founded in 1997. Twenty-five years after its establishment, NRM currently boasts approximately 200 physically active members and is most popular in Sweden, Denmark, and Norway, though it also has significant supporter and membership bases in Iceland and in Finland, where the organization was banned in 2020 for its strong adherence to violence. The organization is led by Simon Lindberg, located in Sweden, with subordinate leaders responsible for NRM divisions located in other countries. NRM members from across the Nordic region have been arrested and charged for their perpetration and plotted perpetration of violence. The organization’s pro-violence stance and international reach contribute to its global status as an especially dangerous organization.
NRM is a neofascist organization with a propensity towards accelerationist tactics. While upholding traditional facets of neofascism, including the goal of establishing a white Nordic ethnostate, NRM’s history also points to widespread support for other openly accelerationist organizations and simultaneous endorsements from explicitly accelerationist organizations and networks like the Iron March forum.
One of NRM’s most prominent characteristics is its embrace of violent antisemitism, resulting in violence against the Jewish population. The organization’s adherence to a number of antisemitic conspiracy theories, including the “Zionist Occupied Government” (ZOG) conspiracy theory and the “white genocide” conspiracy theory, serve as mobilizing agents for members to perpetrate acts of mass violence. On its various media platforms, NRM claims that Nordic society is under attack from a malicious Jewish influence and is degenerating in accordance with a secret Jewish agenda. In response to this perceived Jewish takeover of Nordic governance and society, NRM has proclaimed its commitment to reinstate Nordic power “by all available means.” The organization’s goal is to overthrow democracy across the Nordic region and Scandinavia at large in favor of establishing a Third Reich-inspired Nazi dictatorship. Tactically, NRM places emphasis on discrediting Nordic and Scandinavian governments by making itself seem comparatively more capable of successful leadership. For instance, NRM writes on its website that member actions like providing food for “comrades ignored by the state” and patrolling dangerous streets where police safety is allegedly threatened will undermine civic faith in the state and shift that faith to the NRM. The organization also heavily promotes the physical distribution of propaganda in an effort to amplify this messaging. Simultaneously, and contradictorily, NRM also encourages its members to attend protests and engage in mass violence as a means of ultimately disrupting perceived Jewish influence.
Some NRM supporters demonstrate an adherence to the worldview of accelerationism, acknowledging a likely imminent societal collapse but expressing their desire to wait for the collapse to occur before formally supporting or joining NRM. These supporters believe that modern society is inherently flawed and is thus destined for destruction. However, they don’t appear to publicly support militant accelerationism, which advocates for the use of extreme violence as a means of hastening societal destruction. Notably, NRM does not publicly support the accelerationist stance of its supporters. On its website, the organization deems these supporters’ desire to wait for societal collapse a “defense mechanism to legitimise their own passivity,” explaining instead that “there will never come a day when we take power without doing anything,” and thus, supporters must act as soon as possible to ensure a future white ethnostate. But despite advocating for immediate action, NRM makes no public endorsement of accelerationism; to NRM, “immediate action” entails full support of the organization. However, NRM publicly supports a number of openly militant accelerationist organizations, including Atomwaffen Division (AWD) and Russian Imperial Movement (RIM). Additionally, NRM was designated a “supported group” of the Iron March skullmask network, demonstrating the strength of its connection to the broader neofascist accelerationist network.
NRM differs from other neofascist accelerationist groups in that it strongly encourages female membership alongside male membership. Although the demographics of the organization point to a much larger male membership (the most recent demographic calculations of the organization estimate an 83% male and 17% female split across 196 members), female recruits are in high demand, with the organization writing on its website that women are essential to broadening its ideological reach. Within NRM, women often hold positions of recruitment, propaganda dissemination, and public activism, while simultaneously emphasizing the importance of child-rearing and home-bearing. The women typically engage in public activities using a milder and less overtly extremist approach than their male counterparts, seeking to appeal to “borderline” recruits who respond more positively to subtle ideological language than to harsh or extremist rhetoric.
NRM’s organizational structure is significantly more rigid and well-defined than other groups which possess similar ideological foundations. At the top of the hierarchy is Simon Lindberg, whose history of violence includes previous convictions of vandalism, aiding and abetting an assault, and making extreme threats. Lindberg is also supported by three subordinates who aid him in leading the organization: Fredrik Vejdeland, NRM’s chief ideologue who has been convicted under the European Court of Human Rights for hate speech-related crimes; Pär Öberg, the organization’s political division head; and Robert Eklund, whose precise role remains obscure. Together, Lindberg and his subordinates form NRM-Sweden’s “realm council.”
Realm councils, located in each country where NRM has an active branch, are responsible for handling matters of NRM administration, propaganda dissemination, and operations in their respective branches. Each realm council has its own leader, paralleling the structure of NRM-Sweden; however, all realm councils take direction from Lindberg. NRM-Norway, for instance, is led by Tommy Olsen, according to NRM’s official website; NRM-Denmark is led in part by Jacob Vullum Anderson; and NRM-Finland was run by Antti Niemi prior to its country-wide ban (it is unclear whether he still leads an undercover organization under a different name). Iceland, conversely, does not appear to have an identified leader, likely due to the comparatively smaller NRM presence within the country. Despite NRM’s history of activism across Iceland, the official NRM website does not identify Iceland as a country with a confirmed NRM presence.
Also positioned as Lindberg’s subordinate is the “Council of the North,” a transnational council consisting of two representatives from each realm council. Under the realm councils, each NRM branch is further divided into “Nests” (regional divisions spanning the country), with each Nest led by a “Nest Chief.” Sweden has eight Nests located in-country, while it is believed that Norway has six, Denmark at least two, and Finland eight (despite NRM’s country-wide proscription in 2020). These Nests are further divided into local groups, each of which is led by a commander.
Nearing the bottom of the organizational hierarchy are the members and affiliates of NRM, who themselves form a separate hierarchy. At the top are members with the status of “full membership”; this status is reserved for individuals willing to publicly associate with NRM and engage in activism in support of the organization. To obtain full membership, candidates must prove complete dedication to NRM and its cause by publicly embracing the organization’s stances in a show of complete ideological devotion. Candidates must also train physically, usually in martial arts, in preparation for street fighting and a perceived imminent war to defend the white race. Also in preparation for future violence, candidates must engage in mental preparation (usually done through martial arts and related training) to become part of a “spiritual elite” that will presumably achieve success in warfare. Additionally, candidates are ordered to follow a number of paramilitary-style rules detailing acceptable behavior, rules of conduct, addressment of superiors, clothing and general appearance, and ideological discipline. Candidates who do not meet this criteria may instead become “affiliate members”—these members are below full members in the membership hierarchy, but are involved with NRM on a voluntary basis. At the bottom of the hierarchy are “supporting members,” who remain anonymous and only contribute to the organization monetarily.
NRM is closely affiliated with Russian Imperial Movement (RIM), which was designated a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) entity by the U.S. State Department in April of 2020. The two organizations have historically collaborated with one another during arranged meetings, joint affiliations in online networks, provided training, and inter-organizational terrorist activity. NRM also translates some of its programs into Russian, likely in an attempt to appeal to a Russian audience. In turn, Russian social media also references NRM. The two organizations have a history of frequent meetings; in one meeting, illustrating the centrality of antisemitic conspiracy theories in their worldviews, RIM leader Stanislav Vorobyev expressed his fear of a perceived “full-scale war against the traditional values of Western civilization,” blaming the Jewish population for its perpetuation. In the same meeting, Vorobyev expressed his desire to bridge the gap between the two organizations, explaining that the groups share a common enemy in “Jewish oligarchs in Ukraine.” Vorobyev also spoke at NRM’s “Nordic Days” event. NRM and RIM were also involved in the same networks; most notably, RIM invited NRM to its “World National-Conservative Movement,” a global network designed to increase awareness of its opposition to policies promoting globalization and mass migration, which it attributed to an anti-white, malicious Jewish cabal.
The impact of the affiliation between NRM and RIM is illustrated most strongly between the years 2016 and 2017. In 2016, RIM donated an undisclosed sum of money to NRM in an effort to monetarily support its growth. Also in 2016, it was revealed in August that RIM had provided two members of NRM with paramilitary training at its Partisan facilities in St. Petersburg, Russia. Just months later, between November of 2016 and January of 2017, the same trained NRM members (accompanied by a third NRM member) carried out bombings at a migrant center and at a café bookstore in Gothenburg, Sweden. During the prosecution, it was revealed that two of the perpetrators’ knowledge of explosive device construction was obtained during their paramilitary training with RIM. Notably, it was RIM’s engagement in the paramilitary training of NRM members that ultimately resulted in its formal designation as a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department. However, despite NRM’s involvement in the incident, it was not designated alongside RIM. This may be attributed to the fact that RIM’s designation was enforced on the basis of Executive Order 13224 (as amended by Executive Order 13886), which specifically calls for the designation of groups and leaders who are “providing training for acts of terrorism that threaten the national security and foreign policy of the United States.” NRM’s absence of hosting paramilitary training, along with the classification of its members as only attendees of RIM’s training sessions, likely enabled NRM to avoid a designation. This is indicative of the difficulties faced by the State Department in designating groups with violent agendas.
In addition to RIM, NRM is also closely affiliated with Patriot Front, an American white supremacist organization headquartered in Texas. NRM has frequently collaborated in-person with Patriot Front members to meet, tour various locations, and distribute propaganda in Sweden, with the relationship between the two organizations reaching an all-time high in November 2019. During this time, Patriot Front members traveled to Sweden to meet with NRM members and leadership. While in Sweden, Patriot Front members also met with NRM members in Kungälv to tour the Bohus Fortress and in Marstrand to tour the Carlsten Fortress. Additionally, NRM and Patriot Front members joined forces in Gothenburg, Sweden to disseminate propaganda around the Liseberg amusement park—one of the most popular attractions across Scandinavia for locals and tourists alike.
NRM has reportedly fostered several other international connections with extreme right groups in Europe, including Russia’s National Unity, Germany’s NPD and Die Dritte Weg, Italy’s CasaPound and Forza Nuova, Hungary’s Legio Hungaria, and Greece’s Golden Dawn. The organization’s multitude of connections is indicative of its transnational reach and strong reputation in the international arena.
NRM’s propaganda indicates a strong desire to appeal to a broad audience, with comparatively toned-down calls for violence and a largely increased representation of women. On its official website, the organization claims to prioritize activism that results in positive representation for itself and for fascism more broadly, explaining that humanitarian actions like food distribution to underserved citizens and acts of physical protection like street patrolling will contribute to more widespread support. NRM aims to use the broad publicity gained from these perceived acts of heroism to recruit a small number of “quality” activists, noting that “the main intention of this activism is not to persuade large sections of the population to join us,” but instead to cultivate dedicated and loyal members. This recruitment strategy is in line with the accelerationist argument that “a few can change the whole”—that a small number of powerful and unwavering adherents can radically alter the trajectory of the future. Notably, this messaging is consistent with the propaganda disseminated by other accelerationist organizations.
NRM boasts a number of mediums through which it spreads its propaganda, including its official website, merchandise shop, media platforms, TV channels, and radio channels. Both male and female members contribute to this propaganda, writing opinion pieces on a variety of topics, posting content, and contributing to radio segments in an effort to appeal to the target audience’s various interests. Members of the organization also disseminate physical propaganda, including flags, backlit signs, placards, leaflets, and stickers, in public locations. Smaller physical propaganda, like leaflets, are sometimes placed into mailboxes at residential locations. The dissemination of physical propaganda is known within NRM as “primary activism”; following this activism, special reports called “action reports” are released on its official website detailing the relative success of the propaganda dissemination. In some instances, individual Nests are praised for a particularly successful operation. Additionally, NRM members themselves occasionally act as propaganda for the organization, attending public protests, demonstrations, speeches, and rallies to provoke outrage and force media discussion on an international scale.
The overall messaging associated with NRM’s propaganda shifts in accordance with the medium of delivery. Its online platforms, for instance, appear to be the most restrained, with softer and more inclusive rhetoric utilized to appeal to the largest general audience. This online propaganda serves to position NRM leader Simon Lindberg as a competent political leader, legitimize NRM’s ideological leanings through a less provocative lens, and situate the organization as an alternative to perceived governmental and societal persecution. Conversely, NRM’s physical propaganda manifests in a more inflammatory manner, containing militant messaging, threats of violence against out-groups, and racist and homophobic rhetoric. NRM’s public presence at physical locations during protests and speeches are similarly charged with divisive language, threats of violence, and calls to action.
NRM boasts a long history of violent attacks, with several crimes attributed to members of the organization. The crimes committed in support of NRM’s broader goals include bombings, hijackings, stabbings, vandalisms, and an assortment of hate crimes. In a testament to the organization’s violent nature, a Finnish broadcasting company known as Yle reported that approximately two-thirds of NRM’s Finnish membership have been sentenced for their participation in violent crimes. Also in Finland, and representative of the antisemitism rampant in NRM ranks, NRM members are responsible for more than 20 instances of vandalism of the Israeli embassy in Helsinki, with swastikas, pro-Hitler illustrations, and stickers adorned with the NRM logo found on the embassy building. Across Scandinavia and neighboring countries, NRM members engage in violent acts akin to that of their comrades in Finland. Noteworthy attacks and subsequent arrests perpetrated by NRM members are detailed chronologically below:
In December of 2013, an estimated 40 members of NRM attacked anti-racism demonstrators in Stockholm, Sweden. During the demonstration, which was meant to protest the rise of neo-Nazism and racist sentiments across Sweden, the NRM members threw stones, bottles, and firecrackers at demonstrators, resulting in the hospitalization of two demonstrators and two police officers. A police investigation revealed that the attack was pre-planned, with NRM members coordinating their attack, preparing their weapons in advance, and even completing a run-through of their desired attack scenario. Following the attack, 28 arrests of NRM members were made, ultimately resulting in 23 sentences for violent offenders.
Between November of 2016 and January of 2017, two NRM members trained by the Russian Imperial Movement and a third NRM member, respectively aged 20, 23, and 50 carried out a series of bombings across Gothenberg, Sweden. The first bombing occurred on November 11 at a migrant center, resulting in no fatalities or injuries. This was followed by a bombing at a left-wing café on January 5, 2017, leaving one staff member with extensive leg injuries. A third bombing was attempted at a different migrant center on January 25, 2017 but the bomb failed to detonate. On July 7, 2017, the three perpetrators were respectively charged with eight and a half years, five years, and one and a half years in prison.
In 2018, a Swedish NRM member was arrested for plotting the murder of two journalists from Mittmedia, a Swedish media organization. A search of the NRM member’s computer revealed files created to store information about the journalists, including documents and pictures of their homes. Inside the NRM member’s home, investigators discovered a homemade shotgun, ammunition, silencers, a contraption made to allow a weapon to be fired from inside a bag, and an illegally-obtained transmission breaker, indicating a desire to target critical infrastructure—a longstanding tactic of neofascist accelerationism. The Swedish Security Service reported that this is one of several instances during which NRM members had been found to have created or modified homemade weapons.
In 2019, a 32-year-old Norwegian member of NRM was arrested and charged with attempted murder after hijacking an ambulance in Oslo and hitting pedestrians with the vehicle. An accomplice, a young woman also allegedly affiliated with NRM, was arrested and charged with possession of weapons. After Oslo police and emergency services responded to a report of a car accident, the male NRM member pointed a shotgun at the responders and subsequently hijacked the ambulance alongside his female partner, with three emergency services employees still inside. The hijackers then attempted to run over the police before driving onto sidewalks at erratic speeds with the intent of hitting pedestrians. No injuries were reported. When they were arrested, police found that the male NRM member was in possession of a semi-automatic weapon (an Uzi), a shotgun, and a large quantity of drugs. The female accomplice was in possession of a weapon and appeared intoxicated.
Also in 2019, Jacob Vullum Andersen, the leader of NRM’s chapter in Denmark, was charged with gross vandalism and a hate crime offense alongside a second accomplice related to the vandalization and defacement of 84 Jewish tombstones in Randers, Denmark. The vandalism was pre-planned, occurring exactly 81 years after the violent anti-Jewish rampage known as “Kristallnacht” was carried out by the Nazi regime, which resulted in at least 91 Jewish deaths. Andersen, working under the direction of NRM leader Lindberg, reportedly played a key role in targeting Jewish-owned and outwardly Jewish locations for violence to be carried out on the anniversary of Kristallnacht. On the anniversary of Kristallnacht, Andersen called on NRM members to vandalize a Jewish cemetery called Ostre Kirkegard in Randers. 84 tombstones were overturned and covered with green paint during the vandalism.
Since its establishment in 1997, NRM has emerged as a key player in the transnational neofascist accelerationist scene. Its international reach has enabled it to maintain a strong support network in the neofascist space, and its messaging campaigns function as a mechanism for the radicalization and incitement to violence of its supporters and membership. In the accelerationist space, NRM is glorified as an exemplary entity; its close affiliations with other openly accelerationist organizations indicate its potential for transnational inter-organizational collaboration. These affiliations serve not only as a mechanism to help ensure NRM’s long-term survival, but also positions NRM as a model organization for other extremist groups to emulate. Finally, NRM’s frequent use of extremist violence across the Nordic region solidifies its status as a formidable and dangerous organization.