Meet the ‘Entrepreneur of Hate’ Behind the Rise Of Canadian Neo-Nazi Fight Clubs

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“The RCMP usually confirms such information only once criminal charges are laid,” Sergeant Charles Poirier told VICE News. “We wouldn’t be able to confirm that a specific individual is under investigation at this point.”

One former member of the American Atomwaffen cell told VICE News that he was familiar with the username connected to Nippak but that it wasn’t inside the nucleus of the American group. This isn’t surprising as MacDonald also fell outside of the core nucleus of Atomwaffen. While the Canadian cell has never been linked to violent crimes or murder,  it did create several pieces of propaganda for the group. The RCMP alleges that MacDonald  “participated in and facilitated the creation, production and distribution of three terrorist propaganda videos.” In the videos multiple members of the group train with weapons, stand before a large fire, and wave flags connected to the terrorist organization. MacDonald is still awaiting trial.

Now though, Nippak is helping push a much more subtle, yet still insidious, form of organized hatred. Unlike Atomwaffen, Canadian Active Club propaganda eschews overt terroristic references, like images of Bin Laden combined with Hitler quotes, in favor of neo-Nazis engaging in martial arts training, putting up stickers, and, in one case, reading Bibles in a field. A key similarity between Atomwaffen and Active Clubs is that both groups are highly secretive about their personal information and use robust vetting and operational security. Peter Smith, a researcher and journalist for the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, has studied Active Clubs since they began to pop up in Canada. 





“Most of the recruiter accounts had no profile picture and didn’t show signs of being used. A lot of them don’t seem to have a very active public online presence,” said Smith. “That’s even more true for the people we generally considered to be coordinating Active Club Canada, which is a membership of the Vinland Hammer Skins and Crew 38. 

“They’re very aware researchers, journalists, and law enforcement activists are attempting to enter these spaces,” Smith added. “ It’s a smart move for people who are looking to not have their personal lives affected by their activism.” 

One of the primary things that Smith found in his reporting is the connection between the club and The Hammerskins, a pre-existing skinhead group. Smith, VICE News, and others working in the space, like Left Coast Right Watch, have written about this connection. The Hammerskins are a decades-old skinhead group, formed in the 1980s, that has been linked to criminal activity. They were long thought to be on the downswing, but their recent collaboration with Active Clubs has led to a surge in membership. 

VICE News was told that, like several in the Canadian Active Club scene, Nippak is a member of Crew 38—a Hammerskins feeder organization. 

Despite connections to overtly violent groups with blood on their hands, Active Clubs are part of what’s been referred to as White Nationalism 3.0, which the Institute for Strategic Dialogue describes as “a decentralized, horizontal white nationalist network” that seeks to make white nationalism more palatable to the general public. The movement is a direct response to the more overtly violent groups such as Blood & Honour, Atomwaffen and even The Base that came before it. 

What’s more, the concept seems to be successful. The ISD tracked a significant uptick in Active Club organizing since August 2022. In total, it found 53 channels on Telegram associated with the organization, 36 of which were created since the summer of 2022. One of the reasons why the Active Clubs are so successful is anyone can pick up the Active Club brand and form a cell. Then, if that cell is consistent and active enough, it will be accepted and brought in by the network. Each group typically has about five to 20 members and meets several times a month. A former leader of an American Active Club told VICE News cells are insidious in their recruitment, because they don’t present at first as neo-Nazi or white supremacist groups, and radicalize their members once they’re already in the fold. 

By design, the group presents itself as a fitness club, but experts say you can’t take this at face value. Ritzmann told VICE News that it’s important members of law enforcement “don’t get fooled by the boxing videos and pictures.”

“Investigate as if this is a real threat to national security, to Jewish people, Muslim people, LGBTQ people, or anyone who is on their so-called enemy list to make sure you’re not missing out on a possibly growing threat in your country,” said Ritzmann. 

Ritzmann says that in his research he sees signs that Active Clubs are preparing for much more than just the simple fight tournaments they’ve been hosting. Robert Rundo, the group’s founder, has spoken about creating a militia-esque group that is ready to attack for a future event. Furthermore, Ritzmann has seen evidence that some cells are doing paramilitary-style and mass-casualty training which goes far and above what a fitness club would do.  

‘Entrepreneur of extremism’

In Canada, the network that Nippak helped build just took to Telegram to celebrate its anniversary. “Two years ago this month, Active Club Canada made our first automate your posting online,” they wrote. “What started as a small group of friends in Ontario has grown into a coast-to-coast network with 11 clubs and a triple-digit number of participants.”

Outside of the United States, Canada is one of the Active Clubs’ strongholds. A big reason for that is the group’s national unity, which Nippak was key to creating. According to sources with inside information on the clubs, last year Nippak was responsible for organizing a nationwide meet-up of the Active Club chapters where members of the cells from across the country traveled to Ontario to work out and network together. One of those invited to the meetup was a racist blogger who documented the trip. 

“We got separated into a few different groups for this to be more manageable, with circuits like boxing, kickboxing, calisthenics, and street situational awareness,” the blogger wrote on his website, which VICE News will not be naming. The blogger wrote that he hurt himself during an impromptu jiu-jitsu match with a fellow racist he got himself into after losing a push-up contest. The night ended with the group spending time in a hotel room discussing operational security.  

The group just recently held their second nationwide meetup, where members from every club were present. This, according to a write-up on the group’s public-facing Telegram page, is a show of strength.

“In a country as large as ours, with a population as relatively small as ours, it’s easy to feel isolated in our beliefs,” it reads. “Active Club Canada changes that, not only increasing the physical, mental, and spiritual fitness of our participants but giving courage to their beliefs.”

Nippak’s years of involvement with neo-Nazism may be starting to catch up with him. Multiple sources told VICE News that Nippak claimed he’d been the subject of a police raid over the summer, and wrote about it on a Telegram channel that he operates under an alias. (VICE News was unable to independently confirm the claim because the RMCP does not comment on investigations.) The raid, he wrote, was enough to scare him into taking his account down for several months.

“To be clear, I never quit Nationalism, I said I was retiring from digital public life,” he wrote on Telegram in October when announcing the return of his blog. “But it seems I can’t even do that. In real life, online, I’ll give everything I can for our people. With so many slackers in our race I feel obligated to do everything I can both in real life and online.”

“I had people with grievances against me trying to spin tales about me to law enforcement, all of which resulted in various police agencies believing that I am an international Nationalist superstar,” he wrote. “What followed was me becoming a target of travel bans, exclusion orders from entire countries, a flashbang and federal police raid in the middle of the night, and $26,000 in lawyer fees as of August 31, 2023. This led to me deciding to reduce my exposure, delete my online presence, and simply continue as a boots-on-the-ground Nationalist.” 

On October 27, he told his followers that his “legal troubles are not over” and that he’s “still under investigation,” but that his followers shouldn’t worry about messaging him because “a solid 50% of the most active Nationalists across the West are constantly under investigation or surveillance anyway so that really doesn’t mean much.” He made it clear that he plans on continuing his work in spreading neo-Nazism, not just across Canada, but the world. 

Ritzmann told VICE News that tirelessly dedicated people like Nippak have been key to the massive growth of the neo-Nazi scene in recent years. He dubs these figures  “entrepreneurs of extremism”: people who “change organizations and strategies” but relentlessly push their cause forward. 

“These are the movers and shakers. The generals,” said Ritzman. “The ones that organize events online and offline. The ones that put out the propaganda. There is an ongoing, alive, transnational right-wing motivated violent extremist network.

“This guy is obviously part of that.”

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/wxjban/meet-the-entrepreneur-of-hate-behind-the-rise-of-canadian-neo-nazi-fight-clubs,

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