Uncompromisingly Violent Message of Online Forum ‘Fascist Forge’ Highlights Need for Resources to ‘Prevent the Next Robert Bowers,’ ADL Expert Says
“Whatever you do, don’t talk about the Jews, at least not yet,” advised a poster with the moniker “Reltih” in a discussion on the best way to “redpill” (awaken) potential converts to the neo-Nazi cause on “Fascist Forge” (FF) — an internet platform where far-right activists share a toxic combination of racist propaganda, fascist literature and survivalist manuals.
Launched in May 2018, FF’s aim is “to continue where ‘Iron March'” — a similar platform that was shut down the previous year — “left off.” In just over six months of existence, FF has grown to 340 members, all of whom are strongly committed to Nazi ideology and iconography, and who will tolerate no dilution of that message.
“Go back to ‘Stormfront’ [a more established neo-Nazi website] you old, k__ loving f__, you’d stop caring if you had the chance to live in a picket fence suburb without any n__,” read one message posted on Wednesday in response to a forum member who’d expressed a wish to “talk to likeminded people and also learn more to improve myself.”
Easily located through an internet site name search, FF displays a good deal of its content to guests, with further layers of password-protected material for registered users. Some of this more sensitive content, explained Joanna Mendelson — senior investigative researcher at the Anti-Defamation League’s Center On Extremism in Los Angeles — includes the profiles and contact details of other FF participants.
“Sites like these serve to unify a disenfranchised white supremacist population,” Mendelson told The Algemeiner during an interview on Wednesday. “Fascist Forge’s explicit purpose is to radicalize and further indoctrinate an angry subset of people.”
Critically, that subset has included racist shooters like Dylann Roof, who murdered nine African Americans at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, in June 2015, and Robert Bowers, who gunned down 11 Jewish worshipers at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue last October. Roof was convicted in 2016 and is currently on death row, while Bowers is awaiting trial on 44 separate federal crimes charges.
Both Roof and Bowers were prolific users of social media, and sites like FF function as both a destination for neo-Nazis as a well as a gateway to other propaganda sites — such as “Siege,” a swastika-embossed political review that has been linked approvingly by several of FF’s members.
Importantly, as Mendelson pointed out, sites like FF present themselves as competitors to better-known figures on the American far-right — such as the “white identity” ideologue Richard Spencer — who refrain from identifying themselves as National Socialists, and who are lampooned for being internet warriors and not much more.
“You have a glorification on FF of some of the most extreme white supremacist groups in existence,” Mendelson said. These groups include the “Atomwaffen Division,” a violent neo-Nazi organization that first emerged in Florida, and “The Base” — an English translation of the Arabic words “Al Qaeda” — which provides a secure online platform for neo-Nazis who believe that a “race war” is imminent.
“They look to these groups as models for systemic change, in addition to their proven track record of real world violence,” Mendelson said.
One FF member using the moniker “Ghost” suggested that the platform’s reputation was spreading on the far-right. “Many of my friends and comrades told me about this site, so I decided to finally try it out. Lets see how it goes,” he wrote on Monday. “I’m from the west coast of the US and am a steadfast National Socialist…I am involved with many members of multiple groups, so getting along with people shouldn’t be hard.”
The list of topics in FF’s discussion forums largely avoid day-to-day politics, with a focus instead on favorite Nazi themes such as the occult and Adolf Hitler’s annual birthday celebration. One discussion begun this week is titled the “Woman Question,” and opens with ‘D. Aquillius,’ a founder member of FF, telling his comrades, “I have personally never met a female who could be of any use in my life besides sex and even then it is sub-par.”
He continued: “I’m of the mind that David Lane (an American white supremacist who died in 2007) is correct and at some point we will have to literally kidnap women we wish to breed with.”
FF also provides users with field manuals used by survivalists and terrorist groups alike, as well as several practical guides to constructing an AR-15 — the assault rifle used by Robert Bowers in the Pittsburgh synagogue attack. One guide to the rifle written by “Matthias,” also an FF founder member, recommended self-assembly of the AR-15 for “the compelling reason that it’s practically untraceable — what the system doesn’t know you have can’t hurt you.” Other practical topics addressed in the forums include secure communications, with one user fervently recommending Tox, an encrypted peer-to-peer messaging application, as the best platform for far-right activists to stay in touch and out of sight.
“We need to tap into the next generation and identify those who may feel disenfranchised, who may feel isolated,” said the ADL’s Mendelson, when asked about strategies to counter the appeal of FF and other white supremacists to younger people growing up during a period of political rancor. “We need to invest in educational tools and community support, in order to prevent another Robert Bowers.”