Neo-Nazi Active Clubs Spreading Globally, Allying with Similar Extremists, and Taking to the Streets

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In early October, a group of hardened neo-Nazis called the Tennessee Active Club, some wearing face coverings and others with facial tattoos, showed up at a candidates forum in Franklin, Tenn., a major suburb of Nashville. They were there to provide “security” and “support” for Franklin mayoral candidate, anti-LGBTQ+ activist and MAGA acolyte Gabrielle Hanson, who has done business with some of the members. One of them, Sean Kauffman, is a Holocaust denier with a history of violence and a large cache of firearms. Another man in the group described himself on Telegram as “an actual literal Nazi.” The situation was terrifying for those attending the forum. Franklin’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen denounced the situation and said, “Individuals identifying as neo-Nazi’s and self-admitted supporters of Gabrielle Hanson threatened both our citizens and members of the media during and after this important civic event.” Hanson refused to apologize for inviting neo-Nazis to the forum.

Active is a good word for these hardcore racists, who have dedicated themselves to MMA fighting and other sports activities, but clearly aren’t confining themselves to the gym. In recent months, these groups have become more politically active. There have been far more public neo-Nazi actions in the US in 2023 than the two years prior, many involving the Active Clubs (ACs) or their close allies, and as the 2024 elections ramp up, ACs and their allies will likely be seen on the streets more. And just in the past few months, ACs from across the nation have also held protests in front of the Anti-Defamation League’s Denver office and protested an LGBTQ+ event in Sevier County, Tenn., alongside other hate groups. In early summer, they went on an anti-LGBTQ+ spree, protesting a drag queen story hour in Bozeman, Montana, a similar event the same day in Livingston, Montana, the Lewis County Pride Festival in Centralia, Washington, the Wind River Pride event in Lander, Wyoming, and the Oregon City Pride. Past actions have included spreading conspiratorial propaganda that Jews control the world and that white people are being targeted for violence by Black people. Other propaganda reads, “never apologize for being white.”

And that’s just here in the US. ACs are found all over Europe and as far away as Australia, many with ties to one of the most violent international racist skinhead organizations, the Hammerskins. Their members have a track record of violence and working with other extremists groups. In France, which has the most AC chapters outside of the US, a key leader attacked customers at a gay bar in Lille and a man of African descent. A leader of a UK AC was imprisoned for possessing a Nazi “murder manual.” A Swiss AC’s members had their weapons seized and are under surveillance by the authorities. In Germany, their events have been banned.

This sprawling far-right, white supremacist transnational network of Active Clubs has metastasized across most of the Western world. This new network of “sports clubs,” first conceptualized by American neo-Nazi Robert Rundo and Russian neo-Nazi Denis Kapustin, a key MMA organizer who is banned from EU countries for his track record of hate and violence. In late 2020, Rundo began to dream of a decentralized international white brotherhood, called “Active Clubs,” that he described in a December 2020 essay, calling it “White Nationalism 3.0.” The movement would be made up of small white supremacist cells working at the local level which he hoped would make them harder for law enforcement and anti-fascists to identify and shut down. The ACs would focus on decentralized local organizations dedicated to sport, martial arts training, propaganda and street actions. And they would look like what they believed: “a group of strong white men is a fascist statement in itself.” Rundo has said that they are a new kind of “leaderless resistance…like the minutemen in the early stages of the revolutionary war.”

The Active Club philosophy argues that the modern world is falling apart as a result of Jewish actions and an influx of immigrants. They believe that the white race is facing extinction and are promoters of the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory, that alleges “global elites” or Jews are engaged in efforts to wipe out white people in their historic homelands. AC adherents train because they believe that the survival of the white race may come down to their ability to resist these trends, if need be through physical violence. And they are dangerous; some members of the network have violent pasts, others have served time in prison, and others have been arrested for terrorist offenses. One AC in California, Clockwork Crew, is filled with current and former members of the military, including a lance corporal machine gunner imprisoned on insubordination charges and a former US Marine Corps staff sergeant who was booted from the service for theft of large quantities of ammunition.

What’s particularly worrying is the level of organization, recruitment, and rapid growth of such a racist and violent revolutionary network both online and off. And their ease with alliances among similar groups. Unlike many such past movements that have often experienced infighting, Active Clubs work hand-in-glove with numerous racist groups such as Proud Boys, White Lives Matter and Patriot Front in the United States, the Action Française and Identitarian groups in France, and the Hammerskins in Canada, Sweden, and Germany, creating alliances that strengthen the white supremacist movement globally.

In total, GPAHE found evidence for 149 Active Club chapters in 21 countries, many founded since the beginning of 2022. Most of them use a version of the Active Club logo, a large white Celtic cross on a black background, known for being a symbol of neo-Nazism. Click for a complete list of Active Clubs.

Data Source: GPAHE; Note: Geolocation data is for approximate locations. Where the locations of cities could be identified, this was used. Otherwise, geolocation data for the regional capital city was used depending on the information available.

Active Clubs are not an entirely new phenomenon, as sports such as MMA and boxing have long been a part of the neo-Nazi and white supremacist subculture. Nor is the idea of an impending white genocide, which has circulated for years on neo-Nazi forums before being rebranded as the “Great Replacement.” Physical activities are a common theme and widespread across racist movements. The French groups Autorum and Vent d’Est engage in sports activities and hikes, and Australian neo-Nazi Thomas Sewell and his compatriots have held boxing events over the years. Racist skinheads and neo-Nazis globally have long engaged in MMA tournaments. As academic Cynthia Miller-Idriss wrote in her 2022 book, Hate in the Homeland, “many aspects of MMA culture have been exploited by the far right,“ pointing to its “valorization of violence” and “emphasis on discipline” as particularly attractive to white supremacists. Donald Trump Jr. even held MMA events for Trump fans. But these activities have never been so well-organized and transnational.

Active Clubs Rooted in Neo-Naziism

The ACs are direct descendants of the neo-Nazi Rise Above Movement (RAM), a violent group formed in Southern California in 2017 by Robert Rundo. RAM was known for engaging in violent street confrontations and had members arrested for their actions during the Charlottesville, Va., racist riots in 2017. Rundo was arrested in 2018, along with other RAM members, and charged with conspiracy to incite political riots in relation to multiple incidents which occurred in Southern California and during the 2017 hate rallies in Charlottesville. These charges were dropped at one point and then reinstated in January 2023. Rundo, having left the US, was arrested in Bucharest, Romania, earlier this year and is now back stateside facing a charge of conspiracy to violate the Anti-Riot Act based on his activities in RAM. He has pleaded not guilty.

Starting in 2020, the ACs were threshed out on a podcast of the same name featuring Rundo and Kapustin. Both men had a long history in organizing international MMA fights and neo-Naziism, and Rundo spent many months in Eastern Europe with Kapustin and other white supremacists. With an explicit focus on building a transnational network, the podcast talked about everything from protecting one’s identity from law enforcement, safely engaging in street fights, and effectively spreading propaganda. The podcast celebrated the January 6 Capitol insurrection, and spoke of how American white supremacists could learn from the Russian far right. Quickly deplatformed from PodOmatic for widespread use of slurs and violence, it kept its home on Telegram. And Telegram is where most AC organizing happens, contributing to the movement quickly taking off in the real world.

In a short period of time, these groups have popped up all across North America and Europe, becoming one of the most sprawling white nationalist networks globally. While these groups may be decentralized in terms of their leadership and organization, there is considerable communication and coordination between them. In certain countries, there appears to be some top-down direction through national channels on Telegram which spread news about the local chapters, and work to set up new ones. This is the case for the Active Club France, Active Club Canada, Der III. Weg (Germany), Geuzenbond (Netherlands), and Aktivklubb Sverige (Sweden). In other cases, the chapters are highly decentralized.

Not all such groups are specifically called Active Clubs, but engage in the same activities and interact with those more formally named as part of the network. Some chapters appear unconnected to nationally-run networks, but they often collaborate with chapters in other areas, participate in common MMA tournaments, spread each others’ messages and propaganda on their local channels, and even fly long distances to support certain causes. On the channel of a typical American Active Club, it is common to see posts of other US chapters dropping banners, posts of Active Club members in Europe training or sparring, posts of different clubs coming together for training, protests, or meals, and even calls for support from Active Club members fighting in Ukraine, though there is a great difference of opinion among clubs about whose side to take in the war. European chapters very often write posts in English, or with English translations, to make it easier for foreign groups to share them.

Active Club Movement Growing Fast

GPAHE has documented 149 Active Clubs and similar far-right fighting groups across 21 countries. Aside from the United States, where 49 Active Clubs were identified, chapters also exist in most European countries, as well as in Australia. In some countries, such as Sweden, France, Australia, Canada, and Germany, chapters have sprouted in many major cities and regions.

Source: GPAHE

The fast growth of ACs is a relatively new phenomenon. By taking the date that each AC channel was created on Telegram, GPAHE research shows that in 2021 the number of chapters grew slowly, but there was a dramatic increase in new chapters starting in 2022 and in 2023.

Of the groups in the international AC network, there are two types of organizations. Active Clubs that refer to themselves as such and adopt all of the aesthetics of the movement, and others, which are not Active Clubs by name, but function the same way, including instances where they collaborate with one another. Those that refer to themselves as Active Clubs adopt a variation of the Celtic cross logo, engage in physical training, and participate in MMA tournaments with members of other clubs. These clubs specifically promote the causes of their founders Rundo and Kapustin, mainly the recruitment of militant white nationalists into a decentralized neo-Nazi militia. In certain countries, such as the United States, each chapter has a significant amount of autonomy, while in others, a more top-down approach is evident, such as in France and Sweden, where national AC channels were opened and then used to foster the creation of and promote the activities of all local chapters around the country. By GPAHE’s count, 103 out of the total 149 ACs, or just over two-thirds, specifically call themselves Active Clubs.

In other countries, already-existing far-right groups have adapted their activities to include a more MMA feel to them. While they may not have adopted the full Active Club brand, they still focus on sports, physical training, and combat sports, such as boxing and MMA. They participate in MMA fighting with other ACs, including more formally labeled ACs, bring attention to the issues held in common by the larger AC network, such as rejecting the deportation and prosecution of Rundo, and have their events and propaganda spread by members of the international network. They are, for all intents and purposes, ACs, though not in name. The other 46 groups, or one-third of GPAHE’s count, fall into this category.

What follows are short analyses of Active Clubs by country.

American Active Clubs

The United States has the most Active Club chapters, with 49 nationwide. Many of these groups are city-specific, and others are state-wide or represent multiple states. According to GPAHE’s data, ACs are most commonly found in California and Oregon, with four chapters each, followed by Washington, Ohio, Virginia, and Colorado with three chapters each. The presence of more ACs along the West coast may be related to the fact that Rundo’s Rise Above Movement was based in Southern California.

The Front Range Active Club, in Colorado, and the Embrace Struggle Active Club, a Pennsylvania-based chapter whose Telegram channel has become a major outlet for white supremacist and neo-Nazi propaganda, created their channels in June and December 2021, respectively, and were amongst the first in the United States. Some of the larger groups, including the NorCal and SoCal Active Clubs, were created in March and February 2022. In 2023, there was a surge in the creation of ACs across the country, with 31 new chapters created in 2023 alone.

The influence of other white nationalist organizations, such as White Lives Matter, is central to the AC scene. Andrew Salacinski, the leader of the Big Sky Active Club, based in Montana, was previously a member of the White Lives Matter movement and a card-carrying member of the explicitly neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement (NSM). Robert Knobel, the Georgia state leader for the Southern Sons Active Club (SSAC), is a former Proud Boy, and previously operated a white nationalist group called the “FL GA Border Waffen,” and also distributed propaganda materials for the neo-Nazi Goyim Defense League (GDL) and NatSoc Florida. One of the more influential ACs in the United States, the Evergreen Active Club, was founded by members of the neo-Nazi Hammerskins and its feeder organization, Crew 38 (C-38, the 38 designating “C” and “H” and meaning “crossed hammers”).

Source: GPAHE

Posts from groups such as the Sagebrush Active Club, based in Nevada, showcase their members training with a message to “Tribe up,” while others, like the SoCal Active Club, based in Southern California, will post pictures featuring Rundo’s merchandise companies, Will2Rise and Media2Rise, accompanied by Nazi phrases such as “Hail Victory!

On September 16, 2023, the “Rocky Mountain Resistance,” based in Douglas County, Colorado, held a #BantheADL protest at one of their offices. In a threatening message, their Telegram group posted that they will “remind those that censor voices who speak against their anti-white agenda” that the neo-Nazi group will “take the fight to [their] doorstep.” Their actions, as often happens within the Active Club network, were shared across other AC and neo-Nazi channels, including the Wyoming Active Club, Big Sky Active Club, Tennessee Active Club, White Lives Matter Official group and chat, and the Nationalist Network. Solidarity within the movement leads to ACs collaborating with one another to either protest or distribute propaganda. In September 2023, for example, the Las Vegas Active Club and Arizona Action distributed antisemitic propaganda together in Tucson, Arizona.

Consistent with their connections to larger, more centralized white supremacist organizations, Active Clubs also work with other hate organizations to protest, distribute propaganda, and train. On August 26, 2023, the Rocky Mountain Resistance joined the Wyoming Active Club and Patriot Front at a protest against drag shows in Douglas County, Colorado. Despite some white supremacist infighting between the Proud Boys and the more overtly neo-Nazi ACs earlier this year, the Smoky Mountain Active Club protested alongside the Proud Boys and White Lives Matter against a LGBTQ+ event in Sevier County, Tennessee, on September 2, 2023. The same month, the Heart of Dixie Active Club and White Lives Matter Alabama met up to distribute white supremacist fliers, while the NorCal Active Club shared images of its members training with the Patriot Front.

These groups also host MMA-style tournaments. Media2Rise, Rundo’s propaganda outlet, promoted an MMA tournament on August 20, 2022 in San Diego, California, which was attended by members of the SoCal Active Club, Patriot Front, Proud Boys, and White Lives Matter California. The leader of the SoCal Active Club, Robert Whedon, who is also a Proud Boy and leader of the White Lives Matter California group, was in attendance along with Ryan Sanchez, a former RAM member who now acts as a neo-Nazi online influencer under the name “Culture War Criminal.”

A collection of Active Club logos in the United States. You can find more information about their symbols in GPAHE’s extremist symbols database.

In certain cases, continued collaboration between ACs culminates in the formation of larger hate networks. The Evergreen Active Club (EAC), based in Washington state and led by Daniel Rowe, who was sentenced and served four years in prison for stabbing an interracial couple, are constantly organizing to recruit new members and protest. In 2022, EAC hosted an MMA tournament, dubbed the “Martyr’s Day Rumble” in honor of neo-Nazi terrorist Robert Matthews at the HAPO Center in Pasco, Washington. Rowe claimed that it was a successful event, with attendees coming from Tennessee, New York, and Southern California. Their ideology was originally concealed by EAC from the event space owners, who after the tournament “discussed ways to make sure no event of that nature will ever take place again.”  Soon after, in January 2023, Rowe, alongside members of the Rose City Nationalists, based in Portland, the now-defunct Puget Sound Active Club, and the white supremacist Asatru Folk Assembly formed the Northwest Nationalist Network (3N). 3N has since expanded to include the Evergreen Active Club, Rose City Nationalists, Big Sky Active Club, based in Montana, White Lives Matter Montana, the Vinland Rebels, and the Rainforest Active Club, who are based in Oregon. Over the course of 2023, 3N has protested a Pride event on June 10 in Centralia, Washington, and all-ages drag show on April 5 in Pasco, Washington, and on June 17 in Lander, Wyoming. They also put up banners in Portland in February and the leader of the Rose City Nationalists was interviewed on the neo-Nazi podcast “Achtung! Amerikaner” in March.

Canadian Active Clubs

GPAHE found 22 Active Clubs in Canada, spanning the provinces of Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, and the Maritimes. The AC scene in Canada was first revealed by the Canadian Anti-Hate Network (CAHN) to be a recruiting front for the transnational skinhead gang known as the Hammerskins, and their feeder club, Crew 38. The men responsible for organizing the first AC around Toronto, Ontario, are Troy Miles, Ryan Immel, and Ryan Marshall, who as of 2022 were members of the Vinland Hammerskins, the Canadian branch of the Hammerskin Nation. The Canadian white supremacist movement Diagolon is reported to be a recruiting ground for ACs in the country, with one of its prominent members, Alex Vriend, known for his Holocaust-denial and neo-Nazi sentiments, admitting to both joining an AC and encouraging other Diagolon adherents to join one themselves.

Active Club Canada, primarily based in Oshawa, Ontario, mostly acts as an umbrella organization to disseminate propaganda and direct newcomers to local chapters. Members of AC Canada attended Toronto’s Ukrainian Independence Day Festival on August 19, 2023, standing next to a flag with the Ukrainian Azov Battalion, a militia with longstanding links to racial extremists, insignia on it. They also shared an image on Twitter of a “National event” in September 2023, claiming participation from AC members “across Canada.” Another post shows graffiti made by AC Canada that reads “Denazification Never!,” referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claimed objective of “denazifying” Ukraine.

Members of Active Club Canada standing next to a flag depicting the original Azov Battalion from 2014. Behind the waves is a Wolfsangel and, in white, a Black Sun, explicitly Nazi symbols. (Source: Telegram)

The AC Canada Telegram group outlines the recruitment process, in which someone who wants to join the movement speaks to a “vetter” (someone who verifies an applicant’s identity) in their area. In British Columbia, Josh Bruce, who runs the white nationalist and Hammerskin-affiliated clothing brand Vinland Battlewear, which aesthetically bears a resemblance to Rundo’s Will2Rise, handles the vetting process. Others involved are unknown.

The Canadian AC scene has the only chapter for women. The “Active Club Canada – Women” serves as a sports club for far-right women and “tradwives,” and appears to be based out of Durham, Ontario, and run by a neo-Nazi mother of four. While the Telegram channel was active, the moderator would post images of women exercising, as well as photos of their children. The club is reportedly still active, though its channel is down.

Not every Canadian AC has direct ties to the Hammerskins. Active Club Nationalist-13, unlike their Hammerskin counterparts from across the country, was created by the former president of the Steel City Proud Boys, Brandon Lapointe, along with other Proud Boys members. Western Identity, a group which trains and engages in far-right propagandizing similarly to ACs, calls themselves “Western Identitarians” on Instagram and TikTok. Their name is apparently based on the international white nationalist Identitarian movement, which has become exceedingly popular in Europe and of which Canada used to have their own chapter. Identitarians promote the white supremacist “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory, which alleges that white people are being intentionally displaced in their home countries by Jews and/or “globalists.”

Other chapters, such as Active Club Maritimes, Active Club Saskatchewan, Alpine Active Club (formerly Okanagan Active Club, based in British Columbia), Bell City Nationalists (based in Brantford, Ontario), Steel City Nationalist Club (Based in Hamilton, Ontario), and Active Club Calgary share posts about sparring or training and use images and videos to recruit new members. Propaganda is spread from these groups posting images and footage of their “activism,” typically placing stickers on lamposts or hanging banners off highway bridges. Groups that engage in this activity include the Wild Rose Ultras (formerly the Wild Rose Active Club, which was born out of Active Club Calgary and Active Club Edmonton), Western Folk Assembly, Nationalist-13, and Frontenac Active Club

Similarly to the United States, Active Clubs across Canada meet up to spar, create propaganda content, and distribute hate messaging. Frontenac Active Club, based in Quebec, traveled to spar with members of Nationalist-13, based in Hamilton, Ontario, in July 2023. Most recently, the Bell City Nationalists shared a poster for the anti-LGBTQ+ “#1 Million March 4 Children,” an event that occurred nationwide on September 20, 2023, and led to arrests for displaying hateful material, and was met by counter protests in Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria, Calgary, Hamilton, and London. It is unclear if the Bell City Nationalists showed up at the event, despite advertising it.

French Active Clubs

France has more AC chapters than any other European country, with 13 chapters. Started by two French citizens, one of whom goes by the name “Paul” and who has been interviewed by Rundo, France is home to the fastest-growing AC scene in Europe. One unidentified leader said that they have “more than 100” members and are “closer to 200” members across the country. Unlike other countries, such as the United States, the organization of Active Clubs in France is a top down affair; new chapters are created through the national channel, which helps to foster the fledgling groups.

The French Active Clubs began on April 1, 2022, with a national Telegram feeder channel called “Active Club France.” The channel shared information from the ACs in the United States, as well as nationalist and neo-Nazi groups in France, and their initial chapter was formed in Normandy. The national channel was reportedly created by the local far-right groups Le Mora and Les Normaux. Since then, they have used this platform to establish chapters around the country, primarily in more rural regions. As of January 7, 2023, AC France had developed chapters near Rouen (Active Club Haute-Normandie), Grenoble (Active Club Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes), Bordeaux (Active Club Nouvelle-Aquitaine), Nantes and Saint-Malo (Active Club Bretagne, aka Active Club Nouvelle-Rhodésie), the surrounding Besançon area (Active Club Franche-Comté), Nîmes, Perpignan, and Montpellier (Active Club Occitanie), the Saône-et-Loire (Active Club Bourgogne), Orléans (Active Club Centre-Val de Loire), Paris (Active Club Île-de-France), and finally, Marseille, Carpentras, and Avignon (Active Club Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur). Aside from the primary chapters, the Active Club France channel also occasionally posts images from clubs that use names not on their official club list. It is unclear if those are stand alone chapters, or if some chapters go by more than one name, perhaps the region and the largest town in a region that already has a provincial club, but discrepancies in the number of people attending events imply that they could be separate entities.

Date Source: GPAHE; Note: Geolocation data is for approximate locations. Where the locations of cities could be identified, this was used. Otherwise, geolocation data for the regional capital city was used depending on the information available.

They also participate in other activities common to the white supremacist scene. In Mâcon (Saône-et-Loire), for example, a group claiming to be an AC left racist and nationalist graffiti in different areas of the city, and vandalized a local bookstore belonging to left-wing activists. The national channel uses as their symbol a white Celtic cross on a black background, as is typical of many ACs, with the addition of a white fleur-de-lys, and a black medieval helmet, while other chapters use the typical white celtic cross with a symbol on a shield for each region.

These groups are integrated with other far-right groups in the country, such as the Identitarian movement and participate in boxing matches with other local nationalist groups in their areas, like the Action Française. They have shared posts in support of arrested Identitarians from Identitarian social media influencer Thaïs d’Escufon’s legal organization Comité de Liaison et d’Aide Nationaliste (CLAN), which provides legal assistance to identitarian and neo-fascist groups in France, and appeared in posts with Des Tours et Des Lys and Jeunesse Angevine. They are also tied to the underground neo-Nazi scene in the country, and share posts from groups such as the graffiti-loving La Cagoule and the neo-Nazi Ouest Casual network. Certain social media posts indicate that the French ACs also regularly meet with other racist groups such as the Meduana Noctua, and organize boxing matches with the Action Française, and the neo-Nazi group Valence Patriote. They have also promoted the work of white supremacist groups in other countries, such as CasaPound Italia and La Barriera. Certain posts indicate the possibility, though not confirmed, of members of the French Active Clubs participating in the fighting in Ukraine, such as a video showing soldiers playing football in full military uniforms and a photo referencing a “volunteer in the Kharkiv region.”

“Pride France,” led by Tomasz Szkatulski, is one of the three organizations responsible for organizing the 2023 European Fight Night in Budapest. Szkatulski is a Polish-born, naturalized French citizen and neo-Nazi who helps organize MMA events. Szkatulski is an apparent associate of Rundo, has past affiliations with the racist skinhead group Blood and Honour, and the football hooligan scene in Lille, and was reportedly involved in two attacks on customers of a gay bar in Lille, and another on a man of African origin, for which he was sentenced to a year in prison. Despite the somewhat ironic name, Pride France is a combat sports brand that is explicitly white nationalist. Their main logo is a laurel wreath showing two men in red and white engaging in combat. The logo also features their name. The company’s website name is 2yt4u (too white for you), their email includes “88” for Heil Hitler, and their website includes polos with their logo and shirts with “HTLR” in all caps across the chest. They also sell merchandise featuring Totenkopfs, anti-communist insignia, and anti-antifa shirts. They have a link on their website to Rundo’s Will2Rise site.

German and Swiss Active Clubs

In Germany, GPAHE  identified 11 Active Club-like chapters, only two of which specifically use the AC term. The first is Active Club Deutschland, however, from their posts on Twitter, which begin and end on the day the account was started in April, it is not clear whether the group was ever active. This group uses as its symbol the white Celtic cross common to most Active Clubs, with the addition of various runes, and a valknut in the center.

The Nationalist Active Club 13 appeared around the middle of August 2023. Their posts indicate that they are located in the North Rhineland-Westphalia region, are ideologically linked to Nazism, and have ties to the White Lives Matter movement. No more than one person has ever been seen in any of their photos online, so it is difficult to gauge their membership numbers. The Nationalist Active Club 13 uses the initials “NAC” and the number “13” in black and white as a part of their logo.

In Germany, the neo-Nazi organization Der III. Weg (The Third Way), located in southern and eastern Germany, primarily serves as the main “Active Club”-type group in the country, even though it is involved in other activism. “The Third Way” is characterized by its willingness to engage in violence and incite others to violence, often targeting refugees as a perceived enemy. The party’s actions include participating in citizens’ meetings, distributing inflammatory materials, and organizing protests against refugee homes. It has also been involved in campaigns against COVID-19 measures and has tried to co-opt the Querdenken, or “lateral thinking,” movement, a conspiratorial group that was opposed to pandemic measures. GPAHE found evidence of at least seven Der III. Weg chapters across Germany; Leipzig/Nordsachsen, Burgenlandkreis, Harz, Westsachsen, Oberfranken, Anhalt, and Sauerland/Siegerland. Links and photos from Der III. Weg are shared in AC channels from Eastern Europe to the West Coast of the US. The group is also noted as being one of the most supportive of the far-right battalions fighting on the pro-Ukrainian side.

Members of Der III. Weg posing while training

The group “Kampf der Nibelungen” (KdN) (Battle of the Nibelungs) is a far-right extremist organization led by Alexander Deptolla, based in Ostritz, Germany, that is responsible for organizing one of the largest combat sports fights in Europe for white supremacists. It is believed that their October 2018 KdN event had around 850 fighters and spectators. The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) has stated that members of the Hammerskins have been involved in organizing the event since 2013. The event was banned by German authorities in 2019 due to its extremist connections and potential for violence, and subsequent events were restricted and challenged in court, as was the case of KdN’s September 2021 “National Fight Night.” Afterwards, the group moved the “European Fight Night” event on May 6, 2022, to an undisclosed location in Budapest, out of the reach of the German authorities. The event was believed to have hosted up to 15 combat sports fights with participants from 12 different countries, and fostered international networking and recruitment. In addition to KdN,  the European Fight Night organizers included Legio Hungaria, led by Alexander Deptolla, and Pride France, led by Tomasz Szkatulski. Aside from organizing these tournaments, KdN distributes Will2Rise and AC merchandise in Germany.

In Switzerland, the Junge Tat (Youth Action) is a small far-right group led by former Nationalistische Jugend Schweiz (Nationalist Youth Switzerland) member “Manuel C.” (“Eszil” online) based in the German-speaking areas of Switzerland, primarily near Zurich. It presents itself as an “Identitarian Movement 2.0.” Like many of the other European groups, Junge Tat regularly has its propaganda shared amongst the AC channels, and has co-produced videos with American chapters. Junge Tat is a homophobic group that has demonstrated against LGBTQ+ events. The logo of Junge Tat consists of a white Tyr rune on a green background. While they are a distinct entity, for all intents and purposes, they act as a local Active Club that gathers to exercise, go hiking, and engage in MMA fighting together. They also gather to box together. The group originated with former members of the Eisenjugend Schweiz (Iron Youth Switzerland) and Nationalistische Jugend Schweiz (Nationalist Youth Switzerland), and the leadership maintains links with neo-Nazi groups across Europe. The security forces have, on several occasions, seized weapons from members, and the Swiss intelligence service has stated that they “have the group on their radar.” In January 2021, Manuel C. and several other members were convicted of “racial discrimination,” damage to a Jewish Community facility in Zurich, and possession of weapons. At least one member is allegedly employed with the Swiss military police as of 2023.

Dutch and Belgian Active Clubs

Data Source: GPAHE; Note: Geolocation data is for approximate locations. Where the locations of cities could be identified, this was used. Otherwise, geolocation data for the regional capital city was used depending on the information available.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Netherlands, there is one group calling itself an Active Club, and four others that function as such but don’t use the AC name. Active Club Dietsland is known for graffiti and is symbolized by the Celtic Cross, common to the AC network. Another group that doesn’t use the AC name, but functions the same, is Geuzenbond, a white nationalist group located in Brabant, Gelderland, and Overijssel. The symbol of Geuzenbond consists of a lantern on the tri-color orange, white, and blue Prinsenvlag (Prince’s Flag). It is likely that the Geuzenbond has links to the white nationalist Active Club scene, as it also brings together extremists to engage in sports activities, boxing, and activism. They use their channel to spread propaganda from the American neo-Nazi group Patriot Front, and its leader Thomas Rousseau.

NBC010 and Diets Collectief are two local groups based in the Netherlands that engage in AC activities. The Diets Collectief is a small white nationalist group, founded on April 20, 2023, Hitler’s birthday, that gathers for hiking and martial arts fighting. They use a symbol reminiscent of the Chrisme, consisting of a white “X” shape with a line down the middle. NBC010 is another white nationalist fighting group founded in September 2022. Both groups have ties to the Dietsland Active Club.

A gathering of members of Wolvenrad and Active Club Dietsland.

The “Wolvenrad” (Wolf Wheel) is a far-right group that describes itself as a “a new group, focused on brotherhood, self-improvement, self-defense and the creation of a parallel society.” The symbol of Wolvenrad consists of an orange swastika or kolovrat with six bent arms on a black background and above orange laurel leaves.The group gathers almost exclusively to practice martial arts in the wilderness. From their Telegram channel, it appears they have close ties to Active Club Dietsland.

In Belgium, there is one Active Club chapter, Active Club Flanders, founded on September 17, 2023, based on their Telegram and TikTok accounts. As of October 2023, their social media has only featured two members, so the group may be quite small.

Scandinavian Active Clubs

Sweden is another country in which the Active Club scene began with a national channel that directed the development of additional chapters around the country. GPAHE identified at least six local chapters, all using the Active Club label, in the Hälsingland (Aktivklubb Hälsingland), Skåne (Aktivklubb Skåne), Västra Götaland (Aktivklubb Sjuhärad), and Småland (Aktivklubb Småland) regions, as well as in the Stockholm metropolitan area (Aktivklubb Stockholm). As with the French groups, there are no individual channels for the local groups, and all posts from the local chapters are filtered through the main channel. Thus far, they have primarily gathered for martial arts training with other members.

Data Source: GPAHE; Note: Geolocation data is for approximate locations. Where the locations of cities could be identified, this was used. Otherwise, geolocation data for the regional capital city was used depending on the information available.

Another group that acts as a sort of Active Club is Gym XIV, formed in the middle of 2022 based out of the city Deje, and led by Ludvig Delin, an activist from the now defunct Party of the Swedes (SvP). This group was recently identified as one of Sweden’s most active groups that organizes regular MMA fighting matches at the public gym in Deje, where far-right individuals from around the country travel to fight. They have participated in events organized by the Hammerskins. The group was recently charged for illegal martial arts activity by the County Administrative Board in Örebro County, which is responsible for supervising martial arts tournaments in Sweden, but the charges were later dropped for lack of evidence. In a recent report, the Swedish outlet Nya Wermlands-Tidningen (NWT) found that the group had organized a cage fight in broad daylight just behind the gym where supporters, and even children, were present. The members of Gym XIV will be forced to relocate as the state has decided to buy the plot where the gym is and demolish it. They too have links to the broader Active Club movement as evidenced by their posts on Telegram.

In Norway, only one Active Club organization could be identified. The Active Club Østfold appears to have been set up in early April 2023, and since then, they have gathered several times, mainly for archery, working out, and practicing boxing and martial arts. Geolocating their pictures shows that they have gathered not only in Oslo, but also at other locations around the country.

The Active Club chapter in Denmark is a recent addition to the network, becoming active around September 11, 2023. The group claims that it offers to members “activism, martial arts, hiking, urban exploration and much more.” The Active Club Denmark uses as a logo a Celtic cross with what appears to be a crest with a squid in the center.

Baltic Active Clubs

GPAHE identified one Active Club in Lithuania, Aktyvus Klubas Lietuva (Active Club Lithuania). Its Telegram channel was created in May 2023 and advertises the group as part of “White Front Lithuania.” AC Lithuania engages in training and physical activity similar to other Active Clubs, and its Telegram channel shares posts from other neo-Nazi and Active Club channels, including Aktivklubb Hälsingland, Active Club Canada, Active Club Estonia, Active Club Denmark, and several others based in the United States.

GPAHE identified one Active Club in Latvia, which is a country-wide chapter called Active Club Latvia. Their Telegram channel made its first post in June 2023. The Active Club may have existed for longer, as a post by the group’s admin on June 15, 2023, teased a “reveal” for their public presence. The group has a TikTok account, albeit a small one with a few followers, where they’ve posted two videos showcasing their propaganda.

There is one Active Club in Estonia, which has been around at least since July 2022. They graffiti, join protests, and march in public while wearing their Active Club merchandise. As is popular in Europe, AC Estonia advertises “Rock Against Communism” concerts, popular also with the Hammerskin nation, where white power bands put on concerts. Their propaganda stickers have been found as far away as Detroit, Michigan. The Estonian Active Club is one of the most supportive of the far-right battalions fighting on the Ukrainian side. They have posted images holding “Support AZOV” flags, messages for fundraising efforts, and some posts appear to show their members fighting in Ukraine. The Estonia AC is cited as one of the most supportive of pro-Ukranian far-right battalions on the Ukrainian Telegram channel “Ukraine Front.”

Members of Active Club Estonia pose with a “Support Azov” flag, referring to the Azov Battalion, which has ties to neo-Nazi extremists internationally.

GPAHE identified seven Active Club chapters in Finland. Active Club Finland, which acts both as its own Active Club and shares information and propaganda from local Finnish chapters, created their Telegram channel in July 2022, but only began publicly posting in August 2023. Their channel depicts them spraying white supremacist graffiti slogans, such as “XIV,” the roman numeral for 14, alluding to the white supremacist 14 words slogan coined by American neo-Nazi David Lane.

The Active Club chapters in Finland include Active Club Oulu; Active Club Uusimaa, and Active Club Tampere. Active Club Oulu’s Telegram channel was created on August 21, 2023, posting shortly thereafter. Active Club Uusimaa, based in southern Finland, doesn’t have their own public channel but uses the Active Club Finland’s Telegram to disseminate their propaganda. The first post advertising AC Uusimaa was made on September 3, 2023.

Active Helsinki, whose Telegram channel was created in October 2022, is missing the “club” moniker from its name, but engages in all the same activity. They post videos of their members training and commonly collaborate with Hammer House, a similar organization. Active Helsinki posted a video of a large meetup for Finnish Independence Day in December 2022, calling themselves the “black block” as they dressed fully in black.

Hammer House, also based in the Helsinki area, is affiliated with their larger namesake, the Hammerskin Nation. They created their Telegram channel in February 2021 and started posting about their activities in October 2022. They differentiate themselves from traditional Active Clubs by advertising “open trainings, gigs, and other more public events,” whereas most Active Clubs require an extensive vetting process before even meeting up with the group. Hammer House is not only involved in hosting and promoting live concerts, but also helps white power bands to record music. Despite these differences, Hammer House collaborates with traditional Active Clubs, including one meetup in Finland with a member of Active Club Canada to train in November 2022. The same month, they expressed support for Tomasz Szkatulski, leader of Pride France, in a fight organized by King of the Streets, a Swedish underground fight club which “welcomes extremists with open arms.”

Members of Hammer House and Active Club Canada, both closely affiliated with the racist skinhead group, Hammerskin Nation, meet up in Finland to train. (Source: Telegram)

Veren Laki participates in and organizes “fight nights,” like the ones organized by Kampf der Nibelungen, Legio Hungaria and Pride France. Their Telegram channel was created on February 16, 2020 with their Instagram account making its first post on the same day. They once had a Twitter account, but that has since been suspended. In February 2023, they teamed up with Hammer House to organize a “support evening for Ukraine,” where they invited combat veterans from Ukraine to “share their experiences.” Veren Laki, whose exact location is unknown, has also been credited with helping the “Nationalist community from the streets of Helsinki to the battlefields of Ukraine!” On June 17, 2023, Veren Laki organized the “White Boy Summer Fest,” which ended up being a fight contest and concert featuring the CasaPoundsupporting Italian band Green Arrows, along with numerous other white power bands.

Southern European Active Clubs

Ordine Attivo Terzista

In Italy, GPAHE identified one entity similar to an Active Club. The Ordine Attivo Terzista (Third Position Active Order), was launched around the end of August 2023. From their Telegram channel, it is clear that the group has ties to the White Lives Matter movement, a predecessor of the Active Clubs in the United States, and was then transformed into a full Active Club in June 2023 during a camp the group organized in the Lazio Hills. From their posts, it would appear that the group is primarily active in Northern Italy, near Verona. They use as their symbol three golden swords, surrounded by golden laurel leaves, and the initials “O,” “A,” and “T” above each sword. Their posts indicate that they gather for hiking and boxing matches.

Image from the Active Club Portugal Instagram account

In Portugal, at least one Active Club has existed, although it is not clear if it is currently still active or if they’ve made an effort to conceal their activities following the publishing of GPAHE’s country report on hate and extremist groups in Portugal, in which Active Club Portugal was listed. Their Instagram account, which they used for propagandizing, has been either deleted or suspended. They used as their symbol a red Cross of the Order of Christ, common to the Portuguese empire and adopted by far-right groups in the country, surrounded by two small Celtic crosses.

GPAHE was unable to find any organizations resembling Active Clubs in Spain.

Central European Active Clubs

In Hungary, GPAHE identified one Active Club-like organization. Légió Hungária is a paramilitary organization founded in 2018 and responsible for the organization of fascist meetups, acts of violence, and hateful conduct against Jewish and LGBTQ+ communities. They are one of three organizers, alongside Pride France and the German Kampf der Nibelungen, of “European Fight Night,” a combat sports event attended by numerous far-right extremist and neo-Nazi groups. Légió Hungária has a troubling history of criminal activity, including its leader, Béla Incze, assaulting a police officer, reportedly causing him to lose his job as an assistant to a far-right member of Hungarian Parliament. The group itself has been involved in vandalizing a Jewish community center in 2019 by plastering the building with stickers and burning a Pride flag in front of it, destroying a Black Lives Matter statue in 2021, and were likely involved in displaying a grossly homophobic banner and racist conduct at an international soccer game the same year. Légió Hungária protested Pride events in Budapest in both 2021 and 2023.

While Hungary banned the annual “Day of Honor” celebration in 2022, organized by Légió Hungária and a neo-Nazi favorite, the group still holds frequent gatherings. In August 2023, they held a fifth anniversary event and were joined by other neo-Nazi groups from Scandinavia, Finland, and Switzerland, while receiving support from groups in Germany, Czechia, Bulgaria, France, Ukraine, and Italy.

In Poland, GPAHE identified one Active Club. Active Club Poland’s Telegram group was created on July 18, 2023, but only became active on August 16, 2023. Even as a relatively new member of the Active Club network, AC Poland has a wide reach, sharing propaganda from across the country, and showcasing their members placing stickers in Italy. Members engage in sparring, graffiti, waving American Confederate flags, and spreading propaganda at local soccer matches. Some of these materials include mottos popular in AC circles, such as “good night left side,” “train hard, fight easy,” and “white boy summer.” The logo of Active Club Poland is a white shield with a crest consisting of the initials “AP.”

English, Scottish and Irish Active Clubs

A member of Active Club Poland shares an image of a sticker promoting violence against the “left side” (i.e. leftists) at a soccer game in Gliwice, Poland. (Source: Telegram)

GPAHE identified two Active Clubs in the United Kingdom, the White Stag Athletic Club, based in Yorkshire, and Active Club Scotland. The White Stag Athletic Club (WSAC) launched its Telegram account in October 2021, however the group was founded in summer 2020 and run by prison officer Ashley Podsiad-Sharp, and was active until its final post on May 18, 2022. Podsiad-Sharp was sentenced to eight years in prison on a terrorism charge in September 2023 after being found in possession of a neo-Nazi “murder manual.” The presiding judge described the WSAC as “a cauldron of self-absorbed neo-Nazism masquerading as a low grade all-male sports club” which Podsiad-Sharp used to “camouflage [his] real purpose, to incite violence against those [he] hated.”  The group’s Telegram posts advocated for the “reign of white gangs” and quoted Belgian Nazi Leon Degrelle calling for a national, social, and European revolution. The admin account associated with the channel was terminated around June 2022, a month after Podsiad-Sharp was arrested in May 2022. WSAC no longer posts updates on their Telegram channel or Twitter account. They created an account on Gab in November 2021, a platform which is home to a plurality of hate groups and bigoted content, however their page is listed as private.

Active Club Scotland is a new group that was created in August 2023. They have mostly gathered to spar, but have participated in one banner drop, in which they draped their Active Club flag over a bridge, and posted a video of members with a “Free Rundo” banner.

In Ireland, there is one Active Club. Little is known about this branch of the Active Club network aside from its first social media activity appearing in April 2023 on TikTok. Based on a statement made by the account owner in their comment section, Active Club Eire (Ireland) appears to have a private Telegram account.

Australian Active Clubs

Data Source: GPAHE; Note: Geolocation data is for approximate locations. Where the locations of cities could be identified, this was used. Otherwise, geolocation data for the regional capital city was used depending on the information available.

In Australia, GPAHE identified five Active Club-like groups, all of which are run by, or connected to, Thomas Sewell’s European Australian Movement (EAM). The EAM’s Telegram group was created in January 2021 and acts as an umbrella organization for each of its chapters in South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, and Southern Australia. The group has worked with the Australian Proud Boys Borderlands chapter and networked with the European neo-Nazi group, Nordic Resistance Movement. Sewell, EAM’s leader, has a history of violence, including his attempt to recruit the perpetrator of the 2019 Christchurch shootings into his former organization, the Lads Society. In March 2021, Sewell was filmed beating a guard at a television network, and subsequently sentenced to an 18 month community corrections order along with 150 hours of community service in January 2023. In August 2023, Sewell pleaded guilty to a charge of violent disorder after he and a group of 15 masked men attacked three hikers and two passengers in a car in 2021.

Activ88, based in Illawarra, is an AC with connections to the EAM and National Socialist Network (NSN). Their Telegram channel was created in May 2022, and frequently posts about its members distributing propaganda and sparring with each other. Activ88 reportedly produces propaganda that threatens local mosques and Muslim communities. Its members are notorious for committing acts of violence, with Benjamin Thomas being charged in January 2023 with 18 counts of breaching an apprehended violence order, along with five counts of using a carriage service to harass or menace. Another member, Geoff Abel, was sentenced the same month to two years in prison for assaulting a pregnant woman.

This is a non-exhaustive list of Active Clubs, as new chapters are created regularly.

803 532 Global Project Against Hate and Extremism
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