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The Base

Insurgency Overview

The Base is a multinational far-right white supremacist militant group. It was founded in 2018 by Rinaldo Nazzaro in the United States. Since then, it has spread to several other countries, some of which have designated it as a terrorist group (1). The organization trains its members in combat and survival skills. Its goal is to create a worldwide network of cells regularly carrying out terrorist attacks in order to weaken governments and create white ethnostates in their wake (2). It is organized into small cells that train and recruit new members. Thus far, its plans have been largely unsuccessful and several members have been arrested and prosecuted for their actions. Its most notable actions have been instances of vandalism and arson, despite talk of extreme violence.

History and Foundations

Rinaldo Nazzaro grew up in New Jersey, attending Catholic schools and joining the Democratic Socialists of America in his college years. After graduating, he worked in security. He was an FBI analyst and a Pentagon contractor. In 2002, he founded Omega Solutions International, a security consulting firm (2). He claimed that he did tours as a contractor in Afghanistan and Iraq (3).

Nazzaro, who has also gone by Roman Wolf and Norman Spear online, started posting far-right content online in 2016. The next year, he moved to St. Petersburg, Russia, where he allegedly continues to run The Base. Finally, in 2018 he formally launched The Base and purchased off-the-grid land in Washington State to operate a “hate camp” (2). He alleged that he was inspired to start the group when he had plans to meet Harold Covington, a prominent American white nationalist, but he did not show up. Nazzaro said he got in touch with Covington’s people, who then found him dead in his home (3).

Two synagogues were vandalized in 2019 by members of The Base. They spray painted swastikas and the organization’s logos on the buildings in Racine, Wisconsin and Hancock, Michigan. David Tobin, the leader of the group’s “Great Lakes Cell,” admitted to prosecutors that he had organized the vandalisms, which he dubbed “Operation Kristallnacht” after the 1938 Nazi pogrom (4).

The Base hosted a training camp in October 2019 in rural Georgia where, besides regular training drills and the creation of propaganda to be posted online, they stole a ram from a nearby farm, proceeding to decapitate and drink the blood of the animal in a ritual sacrifice. Some members took LSD during the sacrifice. One of the camp’s attendees was an undercover FBI agent (3). Another was Patrik Jordan Mathews, a Canadian Army Reservist who had fled his home country in 2019 after a journalist from the Winnipeg Free Press had infiltrated the group and exposed Mathews for running a cell from the province of Manitoba (5)(6).

In December 2019, two members of The Base were arrested by the FBI after shining lights on and taking pictures of a home they thought belonged to Daniel Harper. Harper is a host of I Don’t Speak German, a podcast tracking far-right activity that has covered The Base. However, it was in fact not his house. They posted the photos on the group’s Telegram channel. Prosecutors said that one of the members involved in the incident, Justen Watkins, also had run a training camp for the organization and planned to create a fortified compound for future training exercises (7).

Meanwhile, in the south of Sweden, a mink farm was the victim of an arson attack allegedly carried out by a self-proclaimed eco-fascist cell of The Base. An iFunny account linked to a member of the group posted videos of the attack. Another video posted from the account depicts the member making an explosive recipe popularized by ISIS (8).

On January 16th, 2020, six members of the group were arrested in the US. Three of them were surveilled by the FBI as they planned to attack Lobby Day, a gun rights protest organized by the Virginia Citizens Defense League. They believed that, given that the state government had recently become controlled by Democrats, the protest would trigger the collapse of the US government, which members of The Base refer to as the “Boogaloo.” The members planned to derail trains, shut down highways, destroy other critical infrastructure, and attack federal buildings and employees (5).

One of the members arrested was Patrik Jordan Mathews. Before Canadian authorities raided his home, he had already made his way to the United States with the help of Brian Lemley and William Bilbrough, the other two men arrested. He attended the October 2019 camp in Georgia with Bilbrough and Lemley. Mathews and Lemley were sentenced to nine years in prison for their roles in the plot, while Bilbrough got five years (6). The three others were arrested in Georgia for planning to murder a couple they thought to be antifascists (9).

Shortly after the arrests, the previously anonymous Nazzaro was exposed by The Guardian as the leader of The Base, leading to concerns within the group that he was a Russian or American government asset (10). The group’s social media accounts and chat rooms were shut down, but not before a disgruntled member got their hands on the login information and posted memes making fun of Nazzaro on the accounts. The organization has since gone back underground (3).

Nazzaro did an interview in 2020 broadcasted on Russian state television, where he claimed that The Base was acting in “self-defense” while inside a holocaust museum (11). Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia all designated The Base as a terrorist group in 2021 after the gang’s profile had risen in the previous years. New Zealand did so in 2022 (12).

Objectives and Ideology

The Base’s members vary ideologically. Neo-Nazis, eco-fascists, regular white nationalists, and all kinds of far-right beliefs fall under the group’s umbrella. Some members have even been associated with the Order of Nine Angles, a group of esoteric fascist Satanists whose members have been responsible for many acts of terrorism, rape, and pedophilia (13). What unites the group is the belief that electoral politics are futile in achieving its goals, so instead it hopes to bring about a race war that it believes to be inevitable. The organization encourages its members to engage in lone-wolf attacks to do so. It believes that over a period of time, the system could not withstand consistent attacks and would eventually crumble, creating the conditions for the race war and the creation of white ethnostates (5).

The Base can be classified as an accelerationist group, as it seeks to use terrorism to actively create the conditions that it believes to be necessary in order to achieve its objectives. It does not believe that the current system will deteriorate into fascism. Instead, its members must be ready to fight government forces once they destabilize the system to establish new, separatist ethnostates (2). Nazzaro has said that he was inspired by the Northwest Territorial Imperative, a plan pioneered by Harold Covington and endorsed by several American white supremacist groups to migrate to the Pacific Northwest region of the United States and secede from the country, establishing a white ethnostate. Copies of Siege, a white supremacist newsletter that encourages acts of lone-wolf terrorism, have been found at member’s residences. Siege’s author, James Mason, is a prominent American neo-Nazi affiliated with several far-right terrorist groups, most recently the Atomwaffen Division (3).


The Base specifically targets white teenagers and young adults who are vulnerable to radicalization when recruiting, but it also recruits former military and law enforcement personnel for their expertise. Its cells are very small, with only two or three members (14). This shows that it is concerned not with the quantity, but the quality of its members. It is not interested in developing a mass movement, hence its secretive practices and small size. It has cells across North America and Europe, as well as in other predominantly white countries such as Australia and South Africa. However, its stronghold is in the United States, where it started (1). These cells are largely autonomous and despite being the group’s founder, Nazarro exercises little organizational control over their actions. He instead focuses on spreading The Base’s message while recruiting and vetting prospective members (2).

Approach to Resistance

The Base finds recruits online and through poster campaigns. Prospective members are interviewed by Nazzaro and other senior members to determine if they are fit for the group. In these screening calls, they are asked about their ethnicity, ideology, background, combat and survival experience, and what white supremacist books they have read, such as Mein Kampf. Much of the group’s communications happen online through encrypted apps to conceal the identity of its members (1). The organization also publishes online propaganda, depicting its members during training exercises and featuring white supremacist symbols such as skull masks. In these photos and videos, members are seen wearing surplus military gear and brandishing the Sieg Heil salute (14). Along with other far-right groups, The Base has been known to use iFunny, a meme website popular with teenagers, for propaganda and recruitment purposes (3).

The group meets in rural areas for training camps that consist of firearms and survival skill exercises. Although the only successful actions it has carried out so far are instances of vandalism, arson, and harassment, its members have attempted to plan large-scale attacks on infrastructure as well as racial minorities, government employees, and other perceived enemies. This was the case in the 2020 Lobby Day plot, where Patrik Jordan Mathews and Brian Lemley discussed attacking police officers and antifascist activists as well as critical infrastructure in an attempt to bring about the fall of the US government (5).

Relations and Alliances

The Base emerged from Iron March, a now-defunct online forum where several fascist groups were formed (13). One of these groups, the Atomwaffen Division, has shared several members with The Base, including Patrik Jordan Mathews. The Atomwaffen Division is a neo-Nazi terrorist organization with a similar structure, objectives, and ideology to The Base (5). Although the group predates Iron March, the Order of Nine Angles maintained a large presence on the forum (13). It not only heavily influenced The Base and the Atomwaffen Division, but the groups also have had common members. One of the individuals arrested in 2020 for plotting to murder an antifascist couple, Luke Austin Lane, was a member of the Order who led a particularly extreme cell of The Base in Georgia. Lane also attended the October 2019 camp and participated in the ritual sacrifice (3)

One of the group’s main adversaries are antifascist activists. Members have frequently spoken about targeting them for violence and, on multiple occasions, have gone through with their claims, as was the case in Watkins and Lane’s plots (3)(7). The organization has a mixed relationship with law enforcement and military personnel. While it sees them as ideal recruits, ultimately they are perceived as agents of the system and will thus need to be defeated in a time of crisis. Lemley and Mathews discussed attacking police officers and stealing their equipment before their arrest (5).

Works Cited

(1) - Mann, A. and Nguyen, K. “The Base Tapes.” ABC News, 25 March 2021,

(2) - Wallace, B. “The Prep-School Nazi.” New York Magazine, 30 March 2020,

(3) - Lamoureux, M., Makuch, B. and Kamel, Z. “How One Man Built a Neo-Nazi Insurgency in Trump's America.” Vice, 7 October 2020,

(4) - Roebuck, J. “South Jersey man accused in synagogue vandalisms, revealing dark network of neo-Nazi organizing online.” The Philadelphia Enquirer, 15 November 2019,

(5) - United States District Court for the District of Maryland, United States of America v. Brian Mark Lemley, Jr., and Patrick Jordan Mathews, 2021,

(6) - United States Attorney’s Office, District of Maryland (2021). Two Members of the Violent Extremist Group “The Base” Each Sentenced to Nine Years in Federal Prison for Firearms and Alien-Related Charges.

(7) - Linton, C. “Feds arrest alleged white supremacy group member who claimed to run "hate camp" in Michigan.” CBS News, 30 October 2020,

(8) - Lamoureux, M., Makuch, B. and Kamel, Z. “'Eco-fascist' Arm of Neo-Nazi Terror Group, The Base, Linked to Swedish Arson.” Vice, 29 January 2020,

(9) - BBC. “FBI arrests three more members of right wing extremist group 'The Base'.” 17 January 2020,

(10) - Wilson, J. “Revealed: the true identity of the leader of an American neo-Nazi terror group.” The Guardian, 24 January 2020,

(11) - Lamoureux, M. and Makuch, B. “Neo-Nazi Terror Leader on Russian TV: 'I'm a Family Man'.” Vice, 5 November 2020,

(12) - Phillips, B. “The Proud Boys and the Base are now illegal in New Zealand.” The Washington Post, 26 July 2022,

(13) - Upchurch, H. E. (2021). The Iron March Forum and the Evolution of the “Skull Mask” Neo-Fascist Network. CTCSentinel, 14(10).

(14) - De Simone, D. and Winston, A. “Neo-Nazi militant group grooms teenagers.” BBC, 21 June 2020,

Additional Resources


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