Leader of group agitating for U.S. civil war previously worked for Department of Homeland Security

Founder of the Base worked at the Department of Homeland security coordinating anti-terrorism programs

By Jon Skolnik
February 17, 2021 10:02PM (UTC)
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In this photo illustration, the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) logo is seen displayed on a smartphone. (Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The Department of Homeland Security confirmed on Wednesday that the neo-Nazi leader of the Base, a white nationalist and accelerationist paramilitary group recently designated a terror group by the Canadian government, worked within their ranks for several years, coordinating efforts to combat terrorism.  

According to a VICE News report released on Wednesday, Rinaldo Nazzaro, the leader of the Base, publicized three letters from the DHS and the Marine Corps thanking Nazzaro for his service. The Base, which Nazzaro has described as a "survivalism and self-defense network ... sharing knowledge and training to prepare for crisis situations," has been responsible for coordinating train derailment plans, weapons stockpiling, synagogue vandalism, and an assassination plot. 

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Nazzaro told VICE News that he posted the letters to legitimize his history in the military, which has been questioned within the far-right community. "There's been much speculation about my background," he said, "So, I posted the letters for the benefit of my side as evidence that I am who I say I am."

The DHS did not authenticate the letter Nazzaro alleged it had sent him, but it did admit that the far-right leader worked for the department for two years. "I can confirm that Rinaldo Nazzaro worked at DHS from 2004 to 2006," a DHS spokesperson told VICE News.

The department's letter, which Nazzaro posted to Telegram, an online hub for right-wing extremists, read, "Thanks for all the personal work you did to make DHS/Intelligence Analysis [...] as good as they were. You did a superb job," adding, "Your outstanding service has been greatly appreciated. All the best in the future - I will miss you." 

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The Marine Corps' letter similarly thanked Nazzaro for his "performance as an intelligence professional," which "reflect[ed] an impressive understanding of the insurgency in Afghanistan and tireless devotion to duty." 

According to VICE News, Nazzaro also worked as a private military contractor in 2014 in the Special Operations Command (SOCOM), a highly secretive element of the U.S. military tasked with fighting jihadist terror groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda.

"[I did] multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan over five years," said Nazzaro in May 2019, noting that he worked at the Victory Base Complex, a collection of military buildings just outside the Baghdad Airport. The Marine Corps' letters noted that Nazzaro was responsible for the deaths of thirteen "enemies." The Pentagon, however, denied any evidence of Nazzaro's employment. 

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In early February, the DHS issued a terror advisory, warning of domestic terrorists that felt "emboldened" by the Capitol riot. However, reports have shown that many domestic terrorist groups are largely comprised of active troops and veterans. Reports have also revealed a "resurgence" of white supremacism in the ranks of the military itself, casting doubt over whether the military has done enough to weed out right-wing radicalism.


Jon Skolnik

Jon Skolnik is a staff writer at Salon. His work has appeared in Current Affairs, The Baffler, AlterNet, and The New York Daily News.

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Department Of Homeland Security Far-right Hate Group Nazzaro Vice News White Nationalism