Terrorism & Extremism

White Supremacist Prosecutions Roundup

Emma Broches, Julia Solomon-Strauss
Monday, July 13, 2020, 8:01 AM

How have state and federal prosecutors have addressed the ever-growing threat of white supremacist violence?

Armed men standing at a January 2020 Virginia Second Amendment Rally wearing shirts associated with the Boogaloo movement (Anthony Crider/https://flic.kr/p/2ihJtRs/CC BY 2.0/https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

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The United States faces a growing terrorism problem from the far right and white supremacists.

Since 9/11, national counterterrorism strategies have focused largely on foreign terrorist groups—like the Islamic State and al-Qaeda—and federal prosecutors have used specifically tailored criminal statutes to prosecute individuals affiliated with these groups. However, over the past few years, the domestic terrorism landscape has shifted as a result of a growing threat from individuals and groups with racially motivated violent extremist ideologies—including white supremacist and anti-government views. Now, attacks on U.S. soil by adherents of these ideologies outpace terrorism by other types of perpetrators, including individuals inspired by the Islamic State. According to a recent report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, right-wing extremists perpetrated two-thirds of the attacks and plots in the U.S. in 2019 and more than 90 percent of those between Jan. 1 and May 8, 2020.

The relevant law enforcement and national security agencies have recognized this growing threat. In February 2020, at a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, for example, FBI Director Christopher Wray stated that the FBI has “elevated to the top-level priority racially motivated violent extremism so it’s on the same footing in terms of our national threat banding as [the Islamic State] and homegrown violent extremism.”

However, law enforcement groups face a different, and potentially more challenging, set of obstacles to successfully counter this threat. Like some foreign groups, far-right terrorist groups and those who associate with them operate under decentralized models and organize online so that they are harder to identify and isolate. But most importantly, there are no tailored domestic terrorism statutes to prosecute these individuals for the full extent of crimes they have committed—as opposed to the powerful material-support statutes for foreign terrorist groups. And unlike foreign terrorist groups, which can be designated by the federal government, supporting prosecutors and organizing investigations. This means that without a federal statute or a designation process, prosecutors sometimes charge on related grounds, like weapons charges or making threats. In many of those cases, local and federal law enforcement work together to investigate, bring charges and prosecute.

We wanted to look into how state and federal prosecutors have addressed the ever-growing threat of white supremacist violence.

This feature will track prosecutions of white supremacists and far-right individuals or groups. This first installment includes cases from the past six months. Unlike our international terror prosecutions roundup, which is much more disciplined by the limits of the material-support statutes, we had to create some boundaries for this project. What does that mean? First, a note on this tracker’s scope: It does not include, for example, domestic violence by white supremacists or far-right individuals. Although commenters have noted that there are links between white supremacists and domestic violence, we are limiting our search to crimes that would theoretically be covered under a domestic terrorism statute. But this doesn’t mean that we’re including only violent crimes. Some crimes that aren’t per se violent—for example, impersonating law enforcement, especially along the border—do fall into the scope of this roundup. And we are including threatening communications that target people based on their race, religion or political affiliation. Overall, if the context of the crime has a connection to white supremacy or far-right movements, and, usually, if the individual has expressed an affinity with white supremacist or the far right, we included it here. We are indebted to the work of other individuals and organizations that have gathered intelligence on far-right organizations and put together resources that let us identify and track these prosecutions—including, for example, the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hatewatch, the Prosecution Project, the Anti-Defamation League, the GW Program on Extremism, JJ MacNab and Seamus Hughes.

Several themes emerged from the cases that were brought over the past six months. First, the majority of these cases are prosecuted in federal rather than state court. And even some of the cases that come under state authority still garner federal attention and stem from FBI investigations. With the exception of a U.S. soldier arrested in June, these individuals are almost never charged with terrorism offenses. And their charges often do not reflect the full range of their criminal activities—many individuals allegedly involved in violent plots are charged with illegal possession of firearms, for example, which does not necessarily reflect the severity of their criminal behavior.

The individuals are often, but not always, affiliated with white supremacist or anti-government groups and work with a team of co-conspirators. Many of the individuals arrested over the past six months were associated with the “boogaloo” movement, Atomwaffen Division, or The Base. Some of the groups have long been the targets of federal law enforcement. For example, at least 13 people linked to Atomwaffen Division or an offshoot have been charged with crimes in federal court since the group’s formation in 2016, and two members have been charged with murder in state court. While defendants tend to skew young—with a median age of about 26, and about two-thirds of the defendants under age 30—there were a handful in their 40s and 50s as well. Finally, a significant number of the individuals arrested over the past six months are also former or current U.S. service members.

In general, this roundup is organized by type of crime. In some cases, though, it makes more sense to group together law enforcement activity against a particular group. It’s possible that a few prosecutions are missing from the roundup, especially from the state level, but no prosecution is reported twice.

Violent Crimes

Several charges have been filed as a result of violent attacks by white supremacists. Some of the most recent acts of violence have targeted the current protest movements around the country. On June 8, Harry Howards Rogers, a 36-year-old from Hanover County, was initially charged by a county district attorney in Virginia with “malicious wounding, assault and battery, and destruction of property,” after driving his car into Black Lives Matter protestors. Two weeks later, the prosecutor added hate crime charges, a hit-and-run charge, and felonious attempted malicious wounding charges. This attack echoed the fatal assault by James Fields Jr., who killed Heather Heyer by driving his car into a crowd in 2017. Rogers is affiliated with the KKK—he told police officers that he was the group’s state president—in addition to being associated with other white supremacist groups. Other than Heyer’s death, there were no serious injuries resulting from Rogers’s attack. In another violent incident at a protest, Jeffrey Long, a 49-year-old, was arrested on May 31 after firing weapons into the air at a protest against a Confederate statue in Salisbury, North Carolina. Long was initially charged with two counts of misdemeanor carrying a concealed pistol and discharging a firearm within city limits, and was later also charged with the felony of inciting a riot. An investigation by the Southern Poverty Law Center found that Long supported various neo-Confederate groups and causes.

A group of men associated with the boogaloo movement, a collection of right-wing anti-government agitators, tried to use the protests in Las Vegas connected to George Floyd’s death as an opportunity to pursue their own violent plans. Stephen Parshall, 35, Andrew Lynam, 23, and William L. Loomis, 40, were arrested on May 30 and charged in federal court with conspiracy to cause destruction during protests and possession of an unregistered destructive device, specifically, a “Molotov cocktail.” According to the allegations in the criminal complaint and indictment, for the month leading up to their arrest, the three men were conspiring to damage and destroy—by fire and explosives—buildings and property owned by the U.S. government, including a public utility installation. Ultimately, they were arrested on May 30 when they were in possession of Molotov cocktails that they were allegedly planning to throw at police in downtown Las Vegas during a protest connected to the Black Lives Matter movement. All three suspects have military backgrounds: Parshall is a former Navy sailor, Lynam is a U.S. Army reservist, and Loomis is a former airman in the U.S. Air Force. The federal charges are the result of an investigation led by the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force in Las Vegas. The Clark County d attorney also filed state charges against these defendants on the same day. The state charges include one count of conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism, one count of providing material support for use in the commission of an act of terrorism, one count of conspiracy to damage or destroy a building by means of explosives, and one count of possession of a component of an explosive or incendiary device with intent to manufacture an explosive incendiary device.

And a day earlier, two men, Steven Carrillo, 32, and Robert Alvin Justus Jr., 30, apparently used peaceful protests against police brutality in Oakland, California, as a cover for killing security officers. The two men are also allegedly participants in the boogaloo movement. Law enforcement tracked down Carrillo—who fired the gun that killed a protective security officer and injured another—and Justus—who drove the getaway car—after an eight-day search. During the arrest on June 6, Carrillo killed a sheriff’s deputy. The complaint explains the links that investigators found between the men and the boogaloo movement as they tracked and arrested Carrillo. Carillo offers another example of a far-right extremist with ties to the military; he was an Air Force sergeant who was the head of a squadron that guards military installations from terrorist attacks. Carrillo and Justus were charged under federal statutes, 18 U.S.C. §§ 1114(1), 1114(2) and 1114(3), which make murdering or attempting to murder “a person assisting an officer or employee of the United States Government in the performance of official duties” a federal crime.

Charges were also brought as a result of violent attacks by white supremacists outside the context of the ongoing protest movement and who had no direct connection to any specific extremist organization. In Texas, Montana Amburn, 27, was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after stabbing a Black man multiple times after making comments about “white power” on June 10 outside a bar. According to news reports, Amburn has not yet been charged with a hate crime, despite public outcry. The local law enforcement authorities stated that the step to define the attack as a crime “committed because of bias or prejudice” doesn’t happen until the innocence phase of the trial, not at the time of the arrest.

Plots to Attack Individuals and Cause Destruction of Property

Charges have also been filed against white supremacists, acting on their own or in groups, who were conspiring or plotting attacks against individuals or property. Most recently, on June 10, Ethan Melzer, a 22-year-old from Louisville, Kentucky, and a U.S. Army private, was arrested and charged with conspiring and attempting to murder U.S. nationals, conspiring and attempting to murder military service members, providing and attempting to provide material support to terrorists (by passing information on to someone he thought was a member of al-Qaeda), and conspiring to murder and maim in a foreign country. On July 7, Melzer pleaded not guilty to these charges in federal court in Manhattan. Melzer was allegedly planning a “jihadi attack” on his U.S. Army unit in Turkey by sending sensitive details about the unit, including its location, movements and armaments, to members of the Order of the Nine Angles (O9A), an occult-based neo-Nazi and white supremacist group. Melzer joined the U.S. Army in 2018 and joined O9A in 2019, but the criminal complaint alleges that he also continually consumed propaganda from other extremist groups, including the Islamic State, and seemed to have exchanged electronic communications with a member of al-Qaeda, passing information about his unit’s anticipated deployment. Melzer represents what some experts are calling “a new crop of terrorist actors” who are no longer part of bureaucratic, hierarchical organizations like al-Qaeda and the Islamic State but, rather, are part of “loosely networked movements with amorphous goals that exist across the ideological spectrum.” Melzer is also part of a growing group of U.S. service members who have come under scrutiny for their involvement with white supremacist activity, including some of the defendants discussed in this post.

On May 13, two men—Daniel Jou, 29, and Joseph Miner, 40—were charged with receiving and possessing multiple firearms without serial numbers in federal court in Brooklyn, apparently as part of a conspiracy to conduct attacks. Miner had espoused racist and anti-Semitic sentiments online—he gave a Nazi salute with a knife and praised the December 2019 synagogue attack in Monsey, New York. He had bought the guns from an undercover agent after posting about his desire to martyr himself in a mass shooting.

On May 1, federal agents in Colorado arrested Bradley Bunn, a 53-year-old and another military veteran, and charged him with possessing illegal destructive devices after allegedly finding four pipe bombs during a search of his residence. Agents arrested Bunn right before he was about to drive to an armed protest at the state capitol, in violation of restrictions to contain the coronavirus. Bunn allegedly told investigators that he was “willing to take out a few law enforcement officers in order to wake people up to what’s going on” and intended to use the devices to target anyone trying to forcibly enter his home. Although Bunn’s association with the boogaloo movement is not confirmed, local law enforcement identified him as a member of a militia, and several Colorado “boogalooers” made online comments after his arrest, suggesting they knew him.

On May 8, Christian Ferguson, a 20-year-old from Cleveland, Ohio and another self-described “boogaloo boi,” was arrested for planning to incite an uprising that would lead to the imposition of martial law and thus the next civil war. Ferguson was planning to ambush police officers answering a fake domestic violence call, surround them with armed militiamen, and kidnap and kill them. He was arrested in the middle of performing a “dry run” of his plan with FBI informants. Ferguson was charged with attempted kidnapping by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio.

On April 15, another two individuals were arrested in connection with plots to attack synagogues, among other buildings. Randall Burrus, 50, of Assumption, Illinois, was charged with possession of a firearm by a felon and with possession of a firearm, which was illegal because he had been previously convicted for a misdemeanor of domestic violence. According to an online tip that the FBI received in mid-March, Burrus was allegedly participating in an online chat group that was making plans for some type of attack at a school, mosque or synagogue in the U.S., Canada or New Zealand. The FBI then arrested Burrus after executing a search warrant related to hate crimes and illegal possession of firearms at his residence. Meanwhile, on the same day, John Michael Rathbun, 36, of Eastern Longmeadow, Massachusetts, was arrested and charged with two counts of attempted arson for trying to blow up a Jewish assisted-living facility. Rathbun allegedly placed a homemade incendiary device near the entrance of the living facility, which is also within a short distance from three Jewish temples, a Jewish private school and a Jewish community center. The authorities are also alleging that Rathbun was behind internet activity advertising a potential mass killing at a Jewish nursing home.

And on April 11, Aaron Swenson, a 36-year-old Arkansas resident and a self-proclaimed “Boogaloo Boy,” was arrested in Texas after he allegedly posted a live Facebook video stating that he was going to ambush and murder a police officer. During the livestream, Swenson was supposedly driving around looking for cops. The police eventually used the livestream to locate his vehicle and arrest him. Swenson was arrested “wearing a ballistic vest with a handgun holster, rifle, and pistol magazines on the chest.” Prior to this incident, Swenson had been sharing memes from boogaloo pages on Facebook and had made other threats toward law enforcement. On June 11, Swenson was charged by the Bowie County district attorney with attempt to commit a capital murder of a peace officer, attempt to commit murder, and terroristic threat against a peace officer. The indictment also includes an enhancement under the Texas Hate Crimes Act. On July 7, Swenson pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Proceedings for several individuals who had already been charged moved forward over the pfew months. On Feb. 10, Holden Matthews, 22, pleaded guilty to arson attacks against three predominantly Black Baptist churches in St. Landry Parish, Louisiana, in federal court in the Western District of Louisiana. He was charged under a federal statute, 18 U.S.C. § 247, that prohibits damaging religious property. He also pleaded guilty to one count of using fire to commit a felony. Although the attack appears clearly racially motivated since he set fire to three historic Black churches, evoking memories of civil rights-era terrorism, Matthews claimed that he set fire to the churches to raise his profile as a “black metal” musician (the Department of Justice seemed to recognize the racially motivated nature of the crime, with a lawyer from the Civil Rights Division assigned to the case). The same day, Jarrett William Smith, 24, a former private first class infantry soldier stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas, pleaded guilty in federal court to two counts of unlawfully distributing instructions for making explosive devices over social media while he was a member of the U.S. Army. Smith had been active in far-right movements for years and had been planning to travel to Ukraine to fight alongside the neo-Nazi paramilitary Azov Battalion. Smith initially came under FBI investigation in March 2019 when authorities learned he had given bomb-making lessons over Facebook. A few months later, he began chatting with an FBI confidential source about killing members of the antifa (anti-fascist) movement and targeting cell towers or a local news station. Smith was ultimately arrested in September 2019, a few days after mentioning to an FBI operative that he wanted to target Beto O’Rourke.

And on March 23, Jerry Drake Varnell, a 26-year-old from Sayre, Oklahoma, was sentenced to 25 years in prison and a lifetime of supervised release for his plot to bomb a bank in Oklahoma City. Varnell had been arrested after an undercover operation by the FBI in 2017; he was found guilty by a unanimous jury in the Western District of Oklahoma in February 2019. Varnell had repeatedly expressed anti-government sentiments, and he explicitly referred to the 1995 attack in Oklahoma City by Timothy McVeigh in a text message to an FBI informant discussing his plot.

Threatening Communications, Terroristic Threats and Expression

Several members of Atomwaffen Division, a neo-Nazi hate group, have been prosecuted recently for making threatening communications. On Feb. 26, John Cameron Denton, a 26-year-old former leader of Atomwaffen Division in Texas, was arrested for conspiracy to commit an offense against the U.S., interstate threats to injure, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 875(c), all in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371, conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud the U.S. According to the affidavit, from November 2018 to at least April 2019, Denton allegedly conspired with others to conduct “swatting” calls in Virginia. Swatting is a harassment tactic that involves deceiving 911 dispatchers into believing that someone is in imminent danger of death or bodily harm so that the dispatchers send police and emergency services to an unwitting third party. Denton allegedly participated in a conspiracy that conducted three swatting calls over this period: one targeting a Cabinet official in Northern Virginia; one directed at Old Dominion University; and one targeting Alfred Street Baptist Church, a predominantly African American church in Alexandria. Denton also apparently chose at least two other targets to swat: the New York City office of ProPublica and an investigative journalist who produced materials for ProPublica. He specifically wanted to target the journalists because he was angry that they published his true identity and discussed his role in Atomwaffen Division. One of Denton’s co-conspirators, John William Kirby Kelley, 19, a former Virginia college student, was arrested in January on the same charges as Denton. In April, Kelley pleaded guilty. Kelley and Denton also conspired with three other individuals, two of whom are foreign nationals—and apparently the most prolific swatters—and one person who remains unnamed has been charged by state authorities for his role in this offense.

On Feb. 26, four men in their twenties—Cameron Shea, Kaleb Cole, Taylor Parker-Dipeppe and Johnny Garza—were arrested in four states from charges arising out of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington for conspiring to mail threatening communications and commit cyberstalking (a violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 876 and 2261(A)). The four were also affiliated with Atomwaffen Division and had sent threats to targets in the Seattle area, focusing on Jews and people of color. The intended recipients of the threats included a journalist who had reported on Atomwaffen Division; two people associated with the Anti-Defamation League in Seattle; a journalist in Phoenix, Arizona; and a journalist in Tampa, Florida. The four defendants had communicated over an encrypted chat, but the FBI did not disclose how it gained access to the communications.

Other white supremacists unaffiliated with Atomwaffen Division also pleaded guilty to cyber crimes. Daniel McMahon, a 31-year-old man from Florida, pleaded guilty on April 30 in the Western District of Virginia to cyberstalking (18 U.S.C. § 2261(A)(2)) and bias-motivated interference with a candidate for elective office (18 U.S.C. § 245(b)(4)). He had been arrested on Sept. 18, 2019, for those crimes and two others arising out of his threats to a candidate for city council in Charlottesville, Virginia, and another victim on Facebook messenger. The candidate, a Black man, dropped out of the race because he apparently feared for his life. McMahon has a history of racism and expressing white supremacist sentiments, and as part of his guilty plea, he admitted that he made the threats because of the candidate’s race and the fact that he was running for office.

Finally, and most recently, on July 6, Samuel Caskey, 33, was arrested on graffiti charges in Norfolk, Virginia. He is accused of posting stickers with QR codes around Norfolk that, when scanned, led to a blog for neo-Nazis and white supremacists.The stickers had been seen in the city in January, removed, and reposted in June, at which point Caskey was identified and arrested.

False Impersonation

Another type of crime that white supremacists and the far right have often been prosecuted for is impersonating law enforcement officers. On March 4, James Benvie, a 45-year-old man from Minnesota, was convicted in federal court of falsely impersonating a U.S. Border Patrol agent in New Mexico. Benvie had posted videos on his Facebook page—reposted by BuzzFeed—which show him claiming he was with the U.S. Border Patrol to a group of people who were apparently seeking asylum in the U.S. BuzzFeed also reported that some of the pictures on his page show him posing with actual U.S. Border Patrol agents. Benvie is the spokesperson for the United Constitutional Patriots, a far-right vigilante militia group, and subsequently has become affiliated with one of its offshoots, the Guardian Patriots. The groups, which are heavily armed, patrol the border under the pretense of law enforcement authority.

More recently, Zachary Sanns, a former U.S. Marine, was charged with impersonating a federal officer on June 12 in Las Vegas after he claimed he was with law enforcement at a Black Lives Matter protest. Sanns was allegedly heavily armed with an AR-15 rifle, a Glock pistol with an extended magazine, and a Taser, among other weapons. The criminal complaint alleges that Sanns attempted to stand with law enforcement at the protest and that he has a tattoo associated with Nazi ideology. After the Marine Corps, Sanns had joined the Department of Defense as a contractor, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, but he had claimed to different law enforcement officials at various points during the protests that he was a federal officer, an “off-the-books contractor for a federal agency,” with Homeland Security, the State Department and the CIA.


A case involving a group of white supremacists using trafficking to support their organization also moved forward during this time. On July 7, the founder of the Aryan Strikeforce, a violent neo-Nazi group and offshoot of the British group Blood & Honour, was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison in U.S. district court in Pennsylvania for a drug and weapons trafficking scheme he and other members of his group pursued to raise money for the group. Joshua “Hatchet” Steever, a 40-year-old from Phillipsburg, was arrested in April 2017 with four other members of the Aryan Strikeforce after an extensive FBI investigation into their activities. Steever and his colleagues all pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute controlled dangerous substances (500 grams of methamphetamine). In June, two other members—Henry Lambert Baird, 52, and Justin Daniel Lough, 29—were sentenced to 14- and 12-year terms, respectively. Steever apparently received a higher sentence because he was the leader of the group.

Prosecutions of The Base

Finally, in January, a number of cases moved forward against members of The Base, which, in addition to Atomwaffen Division, has become a priority for the FBI. In January, seven individuals associated with The Base were arrested—three under state charges in Georgia and the rest under federal charges—after a months-long undercover investigation into group members’ activities. The Base is a “white racially motivated violent extremist group … which seeks to accelerate the downfall of the United States (US) government, incite a race war, and establish a white ethno-state,” according to an affidavit from the Georgia case.

First, on Jan. 16, Brian Mark Lemley Jr., 33, William Garfield Bilbrough, 19, both from Maryland, and Patrik Jordan Mathews, 27 and a Canadian national, were charged with firearms and alien-related charges. Both Lemley and Mathews have previous military training, Lemley with the U.S. Army and Mathews with the Canadian Army Reserve. During the two months they were under investigation, the three individuals allegedly made references to committing various acts of targeted violence and undertook numerous overt acts to prepare for an act of targeted violence during a gun rally in Richmond, Virginia. The charges that prosecutors chose to bring against these men are not necessarily closely related to their terror plots. Under a 12-count indictment issued by the district court in Maryland, Lemley and Bilbrough are charged with transporting an alien and conspiring to do so and transporting an alien and harboring an alien and conspiring to do so. Lemley is also charged with transporting a machine gun in interstate commerce and disposing of a firearm and ammunition to an illegal alien. Finally, Lemley and Mathews are charged with being—or aiding and abetting for Lemley—an alien in possession of a firearm and ammunition and with transporting a firearm and ammunition with intent to commit a felony. In a separate federal indictment issued in Delaware, Lemley was charged with transporting an illegal alien (Mathews) and harboring him knowing he was an illegal alien. Both Lemley and Mathews were also charged with firearms-related offenses and obstruction of justice. In February, all three men pleaded not guilty to the charges and will remain in custody while they await a trial in Greenbelt, Maryland.

On the following day, Jan. 17, another trio of men associated with The Base were arrested in Floyd County, Georgia. Since being arrested, all three pleaded not guilty to state criminal charges of conspiracy to commit murder and membership in a criminal gang and were denied bail. Luke Austin Lane, 21, Michael John Helterbrand, 25, and Jacob Kaderli, 19, were allegedly active members of the white extremist group and conspired to murder a couple they believed to have high-profile roles in antifa, among other violent plans. The FBI gathered the details of their involvement with The Base and the conspiracy through an undercover agent who it placed within the membership in Georgia. Although the FBI investigation was conducted in conjunction with the local district attorney’s office, the district attorney ultimately assumed authority over the case. Interestingly, at an initial bond hearing, the Floyd Superior Court judge asked the assistant district attorney prosecuting the case why the case was not in federal court, given the FBI’s involvement. The assistant district attorney responded by noting that “the FBI worked in conjunction with the [district attorney’s] office.” All three individuals are being held in jail without bond awaiting indictment because grand juries have not been meeting since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. In the meantime, the prosecutor has considered pursuing more charges against the defendants, including a charge for stealing and killing a ram in a “Norse Pagan ritual sacrifice.” Allegedly Lemely and Bilbrough, from the case above, participated in two training camps in Georgia with these three individuals in August 2019.

Another member of The Base, Yousef Omar Barasneh, a 22-year-old from Wisconsin, was also arrested on Jan. 17 as a result of communications with the same undercover FBI agent who was working the Georgia case. Unlike the Georgians, however, Barasneh’s case is moving forward in federal court. Barasneh was charged with conspiring to violate citizens’ rights in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 241 for vandalizing a synagogue in Racine, Wisconsin, in September 2019. According to the complaint, in September 2019, Barasneh conspired with other members of The Base to vandalize property owned by minorities, including property used by Jewish citizens. Barasneh is currently in plea negotiations with the U.S. attorney’s office. Barasneh’s actions may have been directed by another member of The Base, Richard Tobin, who was arrested in November 2019 for conspiring to injure, oppress, threaten and intimidate minority citizens, including Jewish citizens, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 241. Tobin was directing individuals like Barasneh to vandalize synagogues as part of what he called “Operation Kristallnacht,” a reference to when the Nazis destroyed synagogues in Germany in 1938. Unlike the other Base members, Tobin was released on bond in April by a U.S. magistrate judge.

Emma Broches holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School. She previously conducted research on Syria as a Fullbright Fellow in Jordan and worked with the Syrian Civil Defense. She holds a B.A. in History from Amherst College.
Julia Solomon-Strauss is a graduate of Harvard Law School. She previously worked at the Center on Law and Security at NYU School of Law. She holds an MPhil in Historical Studies from the University of Cambridge and an A.B. in Social Studies from Harvard College.

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