Neo-Nazi group conducts weapons training near Death Valley

Several members of what some organizations have defined as a hate group, which may be linked to several murders across the country, reportedly traveled to the Nevada desert, near Death Valley, earlier this year.

One member, who is said to be a resident of Clark County, also had dealings in the Pahrump area. Members of a paramilitary neo-Nazi group known as Atomwaffen Division allegedly spent three days in Nevada, near Death Valley, in an unknown location, in January for weapons training, according to a report by ProPublica, “an independent, nonprofit newsroom,” information on its website states.

Atomwaffen members came out to what was dubbed the “Death Valley Hate Camp” by members, at the end of January to the Nevada desert. The group took photos and shot videos for recruitment purposes while they were there, according to the report. According to ProPublica, YouTube videos produced in the past have shown members of the group firing weapons, burning the U.S. Constitution and setting fire to the American flag.

Morgan Dillon, a detective with the Nye County Sheriff’s Office’s Scorpion Task Force, a unit that focuses on narcotics and gang crimes, said the group has no public record with the sheriff’s office to his knowledge in a written statement. “To my knowledge, there are no members here, and their only activity in Nye County was the day or two they camped out,” Dillon said.

“During that time, they had no contact with deputies, or any other county services, and no calls were generated by citizens involving them.”

There is not a lot of information on the group, he said, who said he’d reached out to contacts about the group following their visit to Nye County.

“That could be due to a lack of activity in the Southwest, the general newness of the group, or that their actions when known don’t generally meet the standards to be investigated as a criminal gang, especially at a local jurisdictional level,” Dillon said.

Plans to bring the group here started in late 2017 and were reportedly partially spearheaded by a resident of Las Vegas.

During proposals to bring the group together in Death Valley to improve the combat skills of members, shooting and hand-to-hand combat were part of the plan brought to the table by 29-year-old Las Vegas resident and an alleged leader in Atomwaffen, Michael Lloyd Hubsky, ProPublica reported. ProPublica reported that the organization contacted Hubsky by phone and through multiple text messages, initially getting his denial of involvement in the group.

But Hubsky eventually agreed to talk if his name was left out of the story, though ProPublica denied his request. ProPublica obtained its information from various sources: ex-members of Atomwaffen, law enforcement, along with obtaining copies of transmissions made through secret online chats by members, the organization reported in February.

Discord, a free online text chat service that targets video gamers looking for a place to have confidential discussions is where Atomwaffen had many secretive chats.

ProPublica obtained roughly 250,000 messages logged on the service across six months, which became the source of a large part of the organization’s information.

According to ProPublica, the Atomwaffen group has a rule not to talk about the “group’s terrorist ambitions” on social media or online chats, but Hubsky ignored that on occasion. In an online chat about White Nationalism, in a non-Atomwaffen chat, Hubsky was quoted saying “So in any war, you need to cut off your enemy’s ability to shoot, move and communicate,” ProPublica reported. “You would want to target things like substations, water filtration plants, etc.,” he wrote on the chat.

Hubsky also wrote he’d obtained a “classified” map of the U.S. power grid on the West Coast and discussed blowing up natural gas lines, ProPublica reported.The trip to Death Valley was only part of the scheme for the group’s planned presence in the Nye County area. Following the training in the area, Hubsky, known as “Komissar” in the chatroom, uploaded a memo to other Atomwaffen members there. The memo pertained to a new requirement for members that would now have to visit the firearms training facility Front Sight Firearms Training Institute in the Pahrump area.

ProPublica’s shared portion of the memo read that the facility could provide training in ‘Uzi and full auto M16 combat, as well as knife fighting, hand-to-hand combat,’ along with things like climbing and rappelling.

Michael Meacher, chief operating officer at Front Sight, said in a phone interview with the Pahrump Valley Times the training center has banned Hubsky for life from the facility. Front Sight attracts tens of thousands of visitors each year to attend its various training sessions Meacher said that Hubsky had attended a training course at the facility about four years ago.

According to what is known about Atomwaffen, the group didn’t form until 2015, information on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s website stated. The group “is organized as a series of terror cells that work toward civilizational collapse,” the Southern Poverty Law Center states on its website. There is disagreement about how many members are part of Atomwaffen. According to ProPublica, it could be about 80 members, with roughly 20 cells around the country. Other researchers have reported about half as many members involved in the group.

According to the law center, Atomwaffen was announced by Florida resident Brandon Clint Russell under a pseudonym of Odin in October 2015. In the post, Russell said there were cells in Chicago, Texas, New England, Boston, New York, Kentucky, Alabama, Ohio, Missouri, Oregon, Virginia and a few other areas, according to information on Southern Poverty Law’s website. An article in the New York Times said the group holds to racist and anti-Semitic views. The group is also known for its anti-gay sentiments.

Information on atomwaffendivision.org shows a required reading list that includes Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” and “Siege”, a compilation of monthly newsletters written in the 1980s by James Mason, a one-time member of the American Nazi party and activist. Mason was known for his support of both Charles Manson and Hitler. Mason pushed for the idea of what is known as “leaderless resistance” in his writings, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s website. This concept was popularized by Louis Beam, an iconic figure of the radical right, the law center’s website stated.

The idea behind leaderless resistance calls for the abandonment of large organizations run by white revolutionaries and to switch to using a smaller cell structure. “The basic idea was to avoid the destruction of revolutionary organizations when they were infiltrated or in other ways compromised by law enforcement officials, limiting damage to a single cell at most,” according to the law center’s website.

Mason became known for his Universal Order philosophy, which was developed in correspondence with Manson. “In developing his philosophy, Mason argues that such cells should live off the grid, like the Manson family, and execute terror campaigns, waging a racial revolution that will accelerate the collapse of all systems and institutions,” information on the law center’s website read.

Atomwaffen, German for nuclear weapons, has become known for violent acts in recent days. Several people with links to the group have been charged in five slayings, according to ProPublica. One of those cases involved the killing in California of Blaze Bernstein, a gay and Jewish college student. Samuel Woodward, a member of Atomwaffen according to ProPublica, was charged with murder in Bernstein’s death. Woodward has pleaded not guilty, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Another “group member pleaded guilty to possession of explosives after authorities uncovered a possible plot to blow up a nuclear facility in Miami,” ProPublica reported.

Contact reporter Jeffrey Meehan at jmeehan@pvtimes.com