Unravelling Atomwaffen: Exposing America’s New Nazi Militants

Jake Hanrahan
22 min readJun 26, 2018


Khim doing his thing. Probably thinking about reading SIEGE.


In January I found evidence to suggest that a militant US neo-Nazi group had committed its fifth murder. That group is Atomwaffen Division. I’d been keeping track of their various activities since 2016 when I first came across them one night down an Internet rabbit hole.

By 2018 they were growing fast. Their propaganda had become more sophisticated. They’d gone from flyering universities with racist graphics, to filming themselves arms training in the forests of Washington. They were drawing in disenfranchised young men from across America with fascist memes, a new unique aesthetic, and an apocalyptic worldview.

Atomwaffen Division’s ideology is all over the place, but I think the most accurate term for it could be “militant esoteric Hitlerism”. It’s a mix of Nazism, Left Hand Path occultism, Christian Identity, and Anarcho-Nihilism.

To simplify it you could just say they’re “apocalyptic Nazis” or something like that, however I think it’s important to be very specific when describing their ideology. So, to be clear, what Atomwaffen is not, is Alt-Right. I’ve heard a few lazy US journalists refer to them as such, but that’s incorrect. Whilst the Alt-Right is it’s own Petri dish of fascists and kooks, all of which vary in their degrees of willingness to use violence, Atomwaffen most definitely cannot be categorised as such. They openly pour scorn on the Alt-Right and even on “patriot” US Nazi types like Andrew Anglin.

Atomwaffen want total annihilation of “the system”. They’ve even filmed themselves burning the American flag and the US Constitution. They don’t care about Trump or his followers. Instead they see Dylann Roof, Anders Breivik, and Charles Manson as their heroes. This is why I found Atomwaffen Division so fascinating — they’re the most extreme of the extreme.

Anyway. I tried to pitch the story about the fifth murder to a few publications but no-one replied quickly enough.

Instead I decided to start a thread about it all on Twitter, documenting my initial research in real time. That thread led to my involvement in a three part investigation with ProPublica and FrontlinePBS, widespread reportage of the group, and a US Marine being court-martialled.

The thread is long and a bit disjointed now. I keep it updated every so often, but for the most part I’m finished with the Atomwaffen investigation. Below though, I’ve copied the thread, tidied it up, and added some notes (which will be in square brackets) to make it easier to read for anyone interested.

If you’d rather see the thread on Twitter find it below.



[Here is] evidence I’ve come across that suggests the recent murder of a young Jewish man in California was committed by a neo-Nazi, possibly as a politically motivated killing. (Sat on this for a week waiting on editors but now bits of the info are already out, so fuck it).

On January 2nd a 19-year-old Jewish man went missing in southern California. He turned up dead on Jan 9th, buried in a shallow grave in Borrego Park. A former class-mate was arrested on suspicion of the murder on Jan 12th.

The deceased is Blaze Bernstein and the suspected killer — now charged with the murder — is Sam Woodward, 20. (Referred to here on out as Blaze and Sam).

Police were first considering that it may have been a hate crime as Blaze was gay. Sam told police that Blaze tried to kiss him whilst he was at Borrego Park with him (they were former class-mates hanging out). Blaze was then stabbed more than 20 times.

Sam, the suspected killer, was actually a self-proclaimed Nazi and once allegedly part of Atomwaffen Division (AWD), according to three people who knew him that I’ve spoken to. [The evidence comes later in the thread.]

AWD is a small American neo-Nazi group that follows the teachings of a Nazi named James Mason (who started his teachings on the advice of Charles Manson).

Whilst AWD are seen often as a bit of an edgelord group of Nazi LARPers, they have actually been connected to several acts of violence, including murder.

Being linked to violence is something they seem to revel in, as is shown here in one of their videos.

They say they’re non-violent yet their whole aesthetic and message is one of militancy. [This was meant to be a sarcastic joke but it didn’t land. Dumb of me really. They have never claimed to be non-violent as is evident from the get-go.] These photos for example don’t exactly depict peaceful people.

Note: AWD logo is the Atomic sign in the middle of the flag. On social media they often use the nuclear emoji to show allegiance.

To get more of an idea of what they’re about (it’s mad), check out the AWD website: https://atomwaffendivision.org/

And James Mason’s Nazi work.

[The Atomwaffen site is now down. See an archive image of their site below.]

It was alluded to in reports already that Sam was far-right on some level, but it’s only just come out that he was a white supremacist. It’s much bigger than that though. Sam was once a member of Atomwaffen Division and a self described Nazi, as mentioned above.

[It later became apparent that Sam never actually left Atomwaffen and was a fully starred up member at the time of Blaze’s murder.]

A few people (who wish to remain anonymous) who knew Sam, recently told me that he was a long time neo-Nazi. One of them showed me a message from Sam where he says, referring to himself, “being an American NS” — NS being National Socialist.

The screenshot above was sent from Sam’s Snapchat. I’ve confirmed with two different people that this was Sam’s Snapchat. Pics here show Sam sending pics of himself from the Snapchat account. Note “44” being half of “88” (“Heil Hitler”). Also below that is a pic of Sam in jail for reference.

Sam’s Snapchat profile.
Messages Sam sent from his Snapchat, including a photo of himself. Note, the gay equality image is him being ironic / taking the piss. He claimed to have hated gay people.
Sam in jail.

Whilst a member of AWD, the people who knew Sam said he went to a training camp in Arizona in the summer of 2017. The pic here is a photo Sam allegedly sent on Snapchat whilst there.

Here’s a video of one of AWD’s “Hate Camps” (not Arizona).

Here’s another image Sam sent of himself from his Snapchat. See that it’s his face, his name on the Snapchat. Reverse search doesn’t show this image anywhere else. I believe the Snapchat account to be legit.

Sam’s associates sent me links to what they say were his old Kik messenger accounts. One has a picture of James Mason (the Nazi referred to above in this thread — Atomwaffen ideological leaders) as the avatar and also the AWD nuclear sign.

This is allegedly Sam’s other Kik. The handle is “This_Time_The_World” which is the title of a book by George Lincoln Rockwell, the founder of the American Nazi Party and father figure to James Mason.

Sam’s associates told me that he left / was kicked out of AWD because he said they were just posers. I cannot confirm this.

[This proved to be a lie Sam told his friend as he wanted to trick him into believing Sam had left Atomwaffen. He hadn’t. In fact he was becoming a state cell leader.]

Sam then allegedly joined another group via IronMarch.org, the now defunct Nazi and white supremacist website which was a hub for fascists. [Ironically, it turns out the founder of Iron March wasn’t actually white.]

Sam allegedly met some guy in real life from Iron March, who I’m told convinced him to drop out of college and take a job as a metal worker. Whoever this guy is (I don’t have enough info) he is believed by Sam’s associates to have radicalised him further.

[This man is still yet to be found. He goes by the alias Kruuz.]

On Snapchat Sam sent a screenshot from Iron March which was the last message from the Iron March owner before the site was taken down (the black box is to protect the identity of my source). Sam sent this a month before the murder of Blaze.

It’s this image.

Here is a suggested reading list from an account on an app called iFunny that I’ve been told was Sams. Not my captions.

Looking at all the evidence I’ve laid out above, it suggests to me at least that Sam Woodward is likely a Nazi. Whilst it’s not proof of motive in the killing of Blaze Bernstein, I dare say it’s worth looking at considering Blaze was a gay Jewish man.


Coincidentally, Atomwaffen Division released another propaganda video yesterday, showing them arms training / shooting into the darkness (whilst shouting “Gas the Kikes, race war now!”).

[After this thread I was contacted by ProPublica about working on a full investigation with them about Atomwaffen Division. This was the start of a three part investigation by myself, Ali Winston, and AC Thompson, who were vital in the exposing of Atomwaffen from here on out.]


I’m working on an investigation into the alleged neo-Nazi murderer Sam Woodward and his membership to Atomwaffen Division for @ProPublica, with @awinston and @ACInvestigates.

Here’s our first piece:

Here’s Sam Woodward with fellow Atomwaffen members doing a Nazi salute.


Atomwaffen are now openly glamourising Nick Giampa, one of their alleged members who shot his girlfriend’s parents to death when they found out about his neo-Nazism.


Atomwaffen Exposed: Here’s the second part of our (me, @awinston, @ACInvestigates) investigation into Atomwaffen, for @ProPublica. We got hold of their private chat logs and some of their real identities. “Now we’re really rolling”.

A short video about some of the internal chats Atomwaffen had on their Discord server. We got hold of 250,000 of their messages they’d sent to each other.

Video by Lucas Waldron

Atomwaffen has as many as 20 cells (that vary in size) all across America. They’ve active cells in Texas, Virginia, Washington, Nevada, and elsewhere.

In our reporting we’ve discovered Atomwaffen members have spoken about using explosives to cripple public water systems and destroy parts of the electrical power grid in the US.

This is the current leader of Atomwaffen Division. He goes by the alias “Rape”. His real name is John Cameron Denton. He’s 24, grew up in Montgomery, #Texas, and currently lives nearby in Conroe. In the chats he preaches hate, violence, and far-right occult doctrine.

The last Atomwaffen training camp, or “Hate Camp” as they call it, was held in Death Valley. They chose this area as they see the late Charles Manson as one of their figurative leaders. Manson and “The Family” hid out in Death Valley after their killings.

Here’s the head of the Atomwaffen #LasVegas cell. He goes by the alias “Komissar”. His real name is Michael Lloyd Hubsky. He claims to have a classified map of the US power grid and discussed blowing up natural gas lines, saying “you put a home-made thermite grenade on those.”

[Hubsky has since left Atomwaffen and spoken out against them.]

Here’s the brother of the leader of Atomwaffen. Also a member. He goes by the alias “Nazgul”. His real name is Grayson Patrick Denton and he lives in Texas. In the chats he says “Hitler and Stalin did nothing wrong”. More than 26 million people were killed under the two combined.

[I’ve since found out that Grayson also faked his own death once on the iFunny app that Sam Woodward was active on].

Just in case you were under any illusion as to how extreme Atomwaffen’s views are, here’s some propaganda from their official site (shared for informative purposes only, of course).

Under the the leadership of Denton, the group has also taken a turn toward far-right occultism and left-hand path satanic Nazism. Denton, Kaleb Cole, and others have admitted to following the teachings of the Order of Nine Angles (O9A), which has caused friction within AWD.

O9A is strange satanic-fascist umbrella for anyone who follows their brutal ideology. It began in England in the 70s and is believed to have been a brain child of former neo-Nazi turned former jihadist, David Myatt (which he denies).

A paper on David Myatt and his connections to O9A

This photo is allegedly from Denton / Rape’s Instagram account. Here you can see SIEGE, the Atomwaffen ideological handbook, and to the right an O9A patch (the pic on the right for comparison). I’ve also seen a photo of Kaleb Cole with an O9A patch on his jacket.

SIEGE is so extreme in it’s nature that at one point the author, James Mason, defends the Manson Family murder of Sharon Tate’s unborn child, saying “it was, after all, a Jew”. If you want to properly understand the AWD indoctrination, it’s a horrible but vital read.

To further understand Atomwaffen’s ideological underpinning, that is the teachings of SIEGE, read this “Atomwaffen and the SIEGE parallax: how one neo-Nazi’s life’s work is fuelling a younger generation”

[I’m not a huge fan of the SPLC due to some dubious accusations of late, but their Atomwaffen work has been pretty good.]

Here’s another one of the leaders of Atomwaffen’s #Texas cell. He goes by the alias “Wehrwolf”. His real name is Sean Michael Fernandez. In the chat he hoped that Atomwaffen’s association to the Bernstein murder would incite “copycat crimes”.

Here, in a message from Sam Woodward’s Kik account, he confirms he was involved with Atomwaffen murderer Devon Arthurs [info on Devon in the link below].

Woodward then goes on to endorse ISIS, saying: “What ISIS wants > Neolib multicultural hell-world”


The first formation of ideas that spawned Atomwaffen didn’t start on Iron March as many cite, but actually on a Tinychat server dedicated to Third Position politics.

In this old screen shot you can even see Brandon Russell, the founder of Atomwaffen Division, on the far right on the top row, using the name “Odin”. Odin is also his Atomwaffen alias. He’s now in prison after getting caught with homemade explosives and radioactive isotopes in his basement.

Info on Bradon Russell’s prison situation.


It looks like System Resistance Network, the new iteration of the banned UK neo-Nazi terror group National Action, has severed ties with Atomwaffen having previously been casting themselves as their UK wing. It’s due to the satanic direction Atomwaffen went in.


Atomwaffen has had a large internal split due to the main leaders being outed as satanists who support O9A. [Some] of the original members have left and formed a new community, starting fashcast.org to continue spreading their Nazism.

[Fashcast is now defunct.]

Some good work here by Eugene Antifa exposing another Atomwaffen member. They found the identity of Matthew James Carroll of the Washington cell. Carroll has been very active online, saying “I pray I have his conviction” referring to Timothy McVeigh.

Also, Rose City Antifa exposed another Atomwaffen member who did arms training with Khim / Kaleb Cole and others in Washington State.

[The Washington State cell of Atomwaffen is sometimes referred to by them as the Flecktarn Brigades.]

(Note: I am not associated with nor necessarily even a supporter of either of these groups — I actually find most US Antifa to be self serving & ineffective — but good work is good work.)


I was on War_College speaking about our investigation into the militant US neo-Nazi “Atomwaffen Division”. I also spoke about their links to the occult. Have a listen.

Note: US Antifa groups trying to pressure us for the chat logs need to relax. We’re taking our time to make sure everything is correct and sources aren’t burned. More is coming in the Atomwaffen investigation, but be aware that acting like little brats will not work for you. [This became a problem as you can probably tell. They acted like spoiled children pretty much.]


It seems that Atomwaffen’s hardcore ideological platform “SIEGE Culture” (@siegeculture_) is really sticking with the O9A / satanic direction. Here they’ve retweeted an edit (by their graphic designer) that shows David Myatt, the alleged founder of O9A.

Saying that, maybe they’re just fucking about. They’ve also posted up several edits that praise the YouTube shooter Nasim Aghdam (with cuneiform around the top of this one no less).

They’ve been playing dress-up again too, having even gotten a real version of the scales and swastika image from the SIEGE Culture logo made. They’ve also got SIEGE armbands (this one is based on Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists logo).


Here’s another one. The Atomwaffen graphic designer recently made an edit of an image from a satanic group Rape / Denton is linked to. Liber 333 is the ideological handbook of Tempel ov Blood, a bizarre Texas based nihilist-satanic group that follows O9A.


Today, on Hitler’s birthday, what’s left of Atomwaffen Division has put their propaganda site back online after weeks of it being defunct. Their official site is back up too. They’ve ignored their top members being exposed by our investigation and have doubled down on the edgy Satanism.


Atomwaffen posted this photo of James Mason dressed as some kind of Nazi priest whilst hanging out with people much younger than him. Bare in mind in 1994 Mason was arrested and charged with two counts of sexual exploitation of a child. Fucked up.

The insinuation above, with the quote, is that Atomwaffen / James Mason are fine with the Satanism. They’re showing that Mason was down with the edgiest crowds before all this. After all, Mason was close to Sandy and Squeaky from Charles Manson’s “The Family” cult.


Here’s the third part of our (@acinvestigates, @awinston, and me) Atomwaffen Division investigation, where we reveal some of their members are in the US military — that’s militant neo-Nazis who burn the American flag on camera training in the US armed forces.

We also show how Vasillios Pistolis (alias “VasilliostheGreek”), one of Atomwaffen’s members who’s a US Marine, was bragging about “cracking skulls” at the clashes in #Charlottesville. We prove he wasn’t bluffing.

This piece is a collaboration between @ProPublica and @FrontlinePBS by the way. Fancy fancy.

Here’s Atomwaffen member and US Marine Vasillios Pistolis smashing someone over the head with a flag pole at #Charlottesville. He later bragged about the blood on the flag to other Atomwaffen members saying “not my blood”. Also pictured: Vasillios in his Marine Corps dress uniform.

We found at least three others Atomwaffen members who were currently training or had trained in the US armed forces. One was even training civilian Atomwaffen members using techniques he’d learned in the army.

Joshua Beckett (alias NatVet), who served in the US Army for four years, trained Atomwaffen members in how to use firearms. Beckett, 26, worked as a combat engineer while in the army. Combat engineers are claimed to be the army’s demolition experts. Atomwaffen want to blow things up…

Also, here’s a selection of quotes from another Atomwaffen member in the military that I picked out of the Atomwaffen chat logs we obtained that didn’t make the editor’s cut. This guy’s alias is Vass (not the same person as VasiliostheGreek). He says he’s a combat medic.

Here Vass is talking about not hiding his Nazi beliefs well enough whilst in basic training (AIT).

Vass, who claims he’s a US Army combat medic, says that he and the other Atomwaffen members are “Charles Manson’s retribution”. This isn’t shitposting either — Atomwaffen have made their love for Charles Manson clear for a long time as I’ve already stated.

Here’s what Vasillios said about Heather Heyer, the 32-year-old woman killed by a white supremacist at the #Charlottesville clashes. Again, this guy is a US Marine and member of militant neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division, who’re connected to the murders of five people.

“In Atomwaffen chats, Beckett … said he was building assault rifles and would happily construct weapons for his fellow members.”

“Give me the parts and the receiver and I’ll get it all together for you,” Beckett wrote in August 2017.

This is Tyler / Euology (his aliases), one of the few Atomwaffen members to visit Brandon Russell, their founder, in prison. Russell is serving five years after police found explosive material and radioactive isotopes in his basement.

Tyler lives in #NewJersey and runs / works at a mechanic garage. He’s one of the Atomwaffen true believers and has been to visit Russell in prison at least once, sometimes relaying messages back to other Atomwaffen affiliates.

I’ve seen internal messages and texts from Tyler that confirms all this. I’ve also checked with a former Atomwaffen member to see if the picture is him and they confirmed it. In the chat logs he was commenting on how big Brandon Russell had gotten in prison.

Due to the reporting by @awinston, @ACInvestigates, and me today about the violent Atomwaffen member who’s a US Marine, the Marine Corps has launched an official investigation into his conduct.

My US Marine source (in the article) just confirmed again to me that the 2nd Marine Logistics Group and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) have launched investigations into Vasillios based off of our reporting.

In these images you’ll see the same man. Vasillios Pistolis, US Marine and militant neo-Nazi member of Atomwaffen who fought at the #Charlottesville clashes. First in his combat fatigues. Second, street fighting as a Nazi.


Here’s Vasillios (on the right) at a rally in Tennessee last year with an Atomwaffen flag. The flag on the left is of the Traditionalist Workers Party, another new American fascist party that also promotes SIEGE.

[TWP is now defunct due to internal fighting between its members.]

That’s me done.

After more than a year tracking Atomwaffen Division and eventually exposing them with @awinston & @ACInvestigates, I’ve decided I’m done. We exposed their leadership, showed their members committed murders, and got an investigation launched by the US Marines. I’m worn out.

I’ll keep an eye on Atomwaffen still and will hopefully be involved in the @Frontlinepbs doc about them, but I think it’s good to leave it on a high. I have other projects that need time. It’s been great working with Ali and AC. Not sure how they put up with me.

Member of Congress @keithellison read our latest article on Atomwaffen and wrote to US Secretary of Defense “Mad Dog Mattis”, asking for an investigation. Pretty cool.

[This congressman is awful in my opinion, but fair play he raised this at least.]


Just found this image from when I first ever started tracking Atomwaffen Division. This was their Twitter photo in 2015 / 2016. One of these two is likely Brandon Russell, the imprisoned founder of the group.


Remember that US Marine we exposed as being a violent member of Nazi group Atomwaffen Division? Turns out @DEdwardBeck reported him to @USMC last October. They seemingly didn’t do anything. See this thread:

In their first video release since January, Atomwaffen’s imprisoned leader Brandon Russell speaks. He reaffirms his role as leader, seems fully on board with the Manson stuff, and exposes members they now consider traitors. (Sharing for reporting purposes only).

I heard this release was coming but didn’t expect to see footage from their Death Valley Hate Camp. Quite interesting as many of the members in that have since left Atomwaffen. They also use old unreleased footage from their Concrete Washington escapades.


A cell of the Atomwaffen Division has started up in #Germany. Their first video is a statement saying they’re at the start of “the last long fight”. For any Germans not aware of what a threat these lot could be, see the thread — they’re militant esoteric Nazis.

By the way, the footage of the marching in Germany is not Atomwaffen. Pointed about by @shell_blog, that was some fascist group called “The Immortals” from 2012. Atomwaffen Germany is likely very small.

The Immortals:


Hadn’t seen this before. Turns out the imprisoned founder of Atomwaffen Division even has the group’s logo tattooed on his arm.


Atomwaffen are selling a t-shirt showing support for Saw Woodward (alias Arn), one of their members charged with stabbing Blaze Bernstein to death. It’s being sold on @teespring. Grim.


After the investigation into an Atomwaffen member serving in the US Marines by @awinston, @ACInvestigates, and me, @USMC has court-martialled him. He hasn’t been dismissed though. He’s still a Marine. God bless America…

[I fucked up here. Apparently Vasillios will be kicked out of the Marines once he’s served his time in detention.]


Atomwaffen posted this bizarre image yesterday. They’re very committed to the satanic Nazism now. Note, the guy on the left has a Liber333 patch which is being sold by Tempel ov Blood, a weird Texas based cult who’re friends with Atomwaffen and are obsessed with terror.


“Vasillios Pistolis had bragged online about his affiliations and his role in the violence in Charlottesville last year. He is now likely to be forced from the Marine Corps.”

That’s the end of the thread as of 26/06/18. Any new updates will be minor as I’m pretty much done tracking Atomwaffen now. I’m working on one more article about Atomwaffen’s ideology, possibly, but not sure when that’ll be done. Covering neo-Nazis isn’t my beat anyway really. I cover war and conflict and have a few new projects coming up that need all my attention.

Anyway, if you want to look at my other work, see below.



Jake Hanrahan