Federal agents and local law enforcement agencies arrested four men accused of a conspiracy to threaten and intimidate journalists and activists. The Justice Department reports these "four racially motivated violent extremists" from across the country worked to "spread fear and terror with threats delivered to the doorstep of those who are critical of their activities", said U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran for the Western District of Washington.
One of the men is Kaleb Cole, suspected leader of the neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen. According to the Anti-Defamation league, Atomwaffen members are known for participating in "hate camps" where they train for a race war. Atomwaffen is German for for atomic weapons.
The four defendants arrested Wednesday are:
Cole, 24, of Montgomery, TX
Cameron Brandon Shea, 24, of Redomond, WA
Taylor Ashley Parker-Dipeppe, 20, of Spring Hill, FL
Johnny Roman Garza, 20, of Queen Creek, AZ
In November Cole was riding with Aiden Bruce-Umbaugh, traveling from Washington state to Houston, when they were pulled over for speeding in Post. Bruce-Umbaugh was arrested on weapons and drug charges and has since pleaded guilty and faces up to 10 years in prison. There was nothing to hold Cole on, so he was allowed to continue his trip to meet with another Atomwaffen member in Houston.
Earlier this month we reported on new video and audio evidence released following the arrest, showing Bruce-Umbaugh's involvement with Atomwaffen. Other court documents show Bruce-Umbaugh and Cole's ties to the group.
The evidence recently released shows Bruce-Umbaugh told investigators all of the weapons in the vehicle were his.
"They said, well why didn't they arrest him?" Bruce-Umbaugh is heard saying in a jail phone call. "I said well, it's all mine! And since he had just had his guns taken, I wasn't about to say they were his. He's been my best friend for my whole life. I'm not going to throw him under the bus."
Another recording of Bruce-Umbaugh: "I'm a political prisoner!" My God, if I didn't already have a reason to hate the f****n pig system."
Move forward to these new developments, federal prosecutors believe these four men communicated through an encrypted online chat group to identify journalists and others they wanted to intimidate. The feds claim the group focused primarily on those who are Jewish or journalists of color.
Below are posters included in the criminal complaint that federal prosecutors say the group shared. The criminal complaint states Cole created these posters in December.
The Justice Department reports Atomwaffen members delivered these posters to a Seattle TV reporter who had reported on Atomwaffen as well as two people associated with the Anti-Defamation League. The DOJ reports, in Tampa, a journalist was targeted but a poster was delivered to the wrong address. Another poster was sent to a Phoenix-area magazine reporter.
“The FBI recognizes all citizen's First Amendment-protected rights. However the subjects arrested today crossed the line from protected ideas and speech to action in order to intimidate and coerce individuals who they perceived as a threat to their ideology of hate,” said Raymond Duda, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Seattle.
The Washington Post reports the FBI appears to have taken a more aggressive approach to white supremacists, including the arrest of several members of a group called The Base. There was concern some of the people arrested planned violence at a Virginia gun rights rally.
The new court filing states the Seattle Times published an article on Atomwaffen in February 2018. It identified several of its members nationwide, including some personally identifiable information. The feds report, after being identified, several Atomwaffen members quit their jobs, moved, deleted online profiles and switched to a Swiss-based encrypted communication service. Cole was among those identified in the article.
In September 2018, the criminal complaint states Cole shared a message in the encrypted messaging platform, after a journalist had confronted an Atomwaffen member at a music festival in Texas: "The matter of these nosy reporters coming into our daily lives, where we work, where we live, where we go in our spare time. We must simply approach them with nothing but pure aggression. We cannot let them think that they can just...that that it's safe for them to just come up to us, and f*** with us. We cannot let them think they are safe in our very presence alone..."
The document later states in July 2019 the FBI interviewed Cole after he was deported from Canada to the United States. He blamed the media for sensationalizing information about Atomwaffen. "Cole felt the media's reporting of [Atomwaffen] being a threat to the public was 'internet nonsense'."
Roughly two months before being pulled over in Post, in September 2019, the Seattle Police Department served Cole with an "extreme risk protection order". Seattle and Arlington, Washington Police seized nine firearms in Cole's possession as well as other rifles that were being built. Bruce-Umbaugh references this in the above quote, stating he "just had his guns taken". The protection order was covered by media outlets around the country. Atomwaffen members discussed it, one suggesting to "hit back...embarrass the enemy on their own front", according to court records.
The Justice Department has provided a link to the federal complaint. Warning, there are graphic details in this complain. Click here - to view the document.