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Last week, ProPublica published a long and disturbing report on Atomwaffen Division, a paramilitary neo-Nazi terror group that celebrates Adolf Hitler and Charles Manson, and whose members have been connected to five deaths since 2017. Most recently, Atomwaffen Division member Samuel Woodward was charged with killing 19-year-old Blaze Bernstein, a gay, Jewish college student, last month in California. Another member recently plead guilty to possession of explosives and was, according to authorities, part of a plot to blow up a nuclear facility outside Miami.

ProPublica, a non-partisan investigative unit, obtained confidential materials from inside Atomwaffen Division, including transcripts of over 250,000 online chats, and it reports that the group has as many as 20 cells around the U.S., including in Texas, Virginia, Nevada, and in Washington state. The leader of Washington's Atomwaffen Division chapter is Kaleb J. Cole, a 22-year-old man who lives in Blaine, a small town on the Canadian border. In 2015, Cole, then living in Bellingham, was reported to the police in Anacortes after allegedly waving a Nazi flag in front of a grocery store owned by a Jewish person. Now, ProPublica claims Cole "wields a significant degree of influence over the organization’s propaganda, recruitment and organization," and works on the group's "visual propaganda" (read: memes).

From ProPublica:

Members have discussed using explosives to cripple public water systems and destroy parts of the electrical power grid. One member even claimed to have obtained classified maps of the power grid in California. Throughout the chats, Atomwaffen members laud Timothy McVeigh, the former soldier who bombed the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995, killing 168, including numerous children. Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof and Anders Breivik, the Norwegian extremist who massacred 77 people, also come in for praise. ...

Law enforcement, both federal and state, have said little about what they make of Atomwaffen. But organizations dedicated to tracking and studying hate groups have been calling attention to what they regard as the group’s considerable threat.

“We haven’t seen anything like Atomwaffen in quite a while,” said Keegan Hankes, a researcher who tracks the group for the Southern Poverty Law Center. “They should be taken seriously because they’re so extreme.

White supremacy is hardly new to Pacific Northwest: Oregon was founded as an "all-white state" and the KKK was one of the most powerful political groups in the state in the early 20th century. Currently, the Southern Poverty Law Center, a group that tracks extremists, has identified 44 hate groups between Washington and Oregon, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, skinheads, and other white nationalist groups. Last summer, The Stranger snuck into Northwest Forum, "Seattle’s hottest closed-door white nationalist convention," which was attended by 70 to 80 white nationalists—all but four of them men.