A Fourth Reich is rising across Europe — with ties to Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin
by Nafeez Ahmed
Part 4 of Return of the Reich: Mapping the Global Resurgence of Far Right Power — an INSURGE intelligence investigative series commissioned by Tell MAMA
In the last few years, far-right parties in Europe with entrenched Nazi heritage, sympathies and affiliations have effectively infiltrated the EU system to destroy it.
Winning seats in the European elections, while joining and forming political coalitions in the European Parliament, they have ramped up efforts to coordinate their activities with a view to exploit EU resources and funding. Though not always successful, these efforts have, nevertheless, boosted their credibility and appeal, both at home and on the international stage, contributing to significant electoral achievements in domestic elections.
Less known, however, is how deep these networks of coordination go, and the myriad of contradictory extremist and geopolitical interests behind them.
The networks of far-right coordination stretch across the Atlantic, from the United States, to the UK, to Europe, and to Russia. But of most concern is that embedded within these networks are core, competing neo-Nazi and white nationalist forces, eager to use international connections to tactically rebrand themselves and strategically expand their influence.
Ironically, two mainstream political forces experiencing the push and pull of these trans-Atlantic networks are the Republican Party in the US, and Eurasian expansionists in the Russian Kremlin. Many of the far-right groups that now have potential access and influence over Republicans have also been courted by President Putin and groups close to the Kremlin, as part of a Russian strategy to weaken the European Union and undermine NATO.
Such opposing mutual ties provides further compelling evidence of the manipulative methods of the far-right — and highlights the duplicity of its new strategy of denouncing racism and fascism while secretly advancing both.
Nazis coming to America
As already noted, this investigation has revealed that a deputy leader of the Conservative-led European Parliamentary coalition, Morten Messerschmidt — an MEP of the Danish Peoples Party (DPP) — is connected with the Gates of Vienna blog, an anti-Muslim website which inspired Norwegian neo-Nazi terrorist Anders Behring Breivik.
Messerschmidt is also involved in a wider network of far-right extremists, who have incubated the neo-fascist ideology dubbed the “Vienna school of thought” by Breivik himself.
Messerschmidt’s affiliations open up a can of worms throwing light on the international array of political leaders, parties, groups and networks plugged into this network.
In October 2009, the International Free Press Society (IFPS) and Center for Security Policy (CPS) organised a two-day conference which Morten Messerschmidt attended as a keynote speaker. The event took place in the Congressional Auditorium in Washington DC.
Both organisations have been described as anti-Muslim hate groups by the US nonprofit civil rights law firm, the Southern Poverty Law Centre.[i] More significant, though, is the nexus of far-right groups associated with them, and the extent to which this nexus has effectively penetrated the Republican Party.
The 2009 IFPS-CSP conference was a hotbed of US far-right bigotry. Its speakers included key figures in the self-styled ‘counter-jihad’ movement within the far-right spectrum, including several luminaries frequently cited in Anders Breivik’s manifesto, such as Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch and Pamella Geller of Atlas Shrugs (both banned by Home Secretary Theresa May in 2013), as well as Frank Gaffney, a former Reagan defence official who heads up the CSP, and is described by the Center for American Progress as an anti-Muslim “misinformation expert.”[ii]
Spencer, Geller and Gaffney are cited copiously in Breivik’s manifesto.
Gaffney has risen to notoriety after revelations that a fraudulent opinion poll he commissioned through the CSP, claiming that most American Muslims are extremists, was cited by Donald Trump. Gaffney’s input was used by Trump to justify his call to ban all Muslim immigration to the US.
Since then, the scope of Gaffney’s ideological influence has been further unveiled, as both Trump and his now-aborted Republican rival Ted Cruz appointed key figures from Gaffney’s CSP[iii] to their respective national security teams. Gaffney himself was appointed as Cruz’s top national security advisor, but has two colleagues on Trump’s advisory team — namely Walid Phares, a long-time CSP contributor, and former senior Pentagon official Joseph Schmitz, a CSP senior fellow.
The 2009 conference co-organised by Gaffney was only one of many he has convened, bringing together far-right groups and individuals from across the spectrum.
Gaffney’s other co-sponsor for the event was the Florida Security Council, which earlier that year had hosted, also with Gaffney and the IFPS, a forum with Dutch Freedom Party (PVV) MP Geert Wilders, who has called for the population of ethnic Moroccans in the Netherlands to be reduced.[iv]
He has also advocated banning Muslim immigration to Europe, prohibiting and demolishing mosques, forbidding Muslim ritual practices like halal animal slaughter and circumcision (which would also affect Jews), and the mass deportation of Muslims.[v]
Nazis at the Gates of Washington
Through the IFPS and CSP, Gaffney provided Geert Wilders considerable access to right-wing Republicans. After the 2009 IFPS conference, Gaffney also arranged a National Press Club event for Wilders, and helped him receive welcome as the guest of honour at a Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) reception.
Year after year, Gaffney — the key ideologue behind the anti-Muslim animus driving the two leading Republican presidential candidates — hosted Wilders in political meetings in Washington. In April 2015, Wilders told Republican congressional representatives at a press conference in Capitol Hill, which Gaffney helped organise:
“I am warning America. Don’t think that what’s happening today in Europe will not happen in America tomorrow, because it will… Islamic immigration has proven to be a Trojan horse. The jihadists are among us.”
Wilders is among several far-right luminaries that align themselves with Israel, in a show of opposition to anti-Semitism. However, he has had no qualms in associating with neo-Nazi groups and parties, including partnering with them in the US and European Parliament.
In June 2014, Wilders joined a new coalition in the European Parliament, the Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF) Group, alongside Marine Le Pen’s French National Front, and the Freedom Party of Austria (FPO).
Anton Reinthaller, the FPO’s first party leader in 1956, was a former Nazi SS officer who had served as a Nazi Minister of Agriculture. At this time, the majority of the party’s members were former Nazis.
By the year 2000, when the FPO first joined in a government coalition with the majority People’s Party, US Congress unanimously passed House Resolution 429 condemning the FPO’s entry into Austria’s government, and highlighting the party’s neo-Nazi affiliations.
Transcripts from the Congressional Record of a hearing on the April 3 that year discussing the resolution provide extensive evidence of the FPO’s Nazi sympathies.[vi]
A white paper commissioned by the late Congressman Tom Lantos, ‘Joerg Haider and the Freedom Party of Austria’, and entered into the Congressional Record, noted that in July 1991, the late party leader Jorge Haider had justified genocidal Nazi labour policies — “including military buildup, slave labour and concentration camps” — as elements of the Third Reich’s “orderly employment policy”, thanks to which “unemployment was eliminated.”[vii]
Haider’s parents were both early members of the Nazi Party in Austria in 1929. His father went on to join the German army, and after the Second World War, they became minor Nazi officials.
In December 1995, the Congressional documents show, German TV broadcast video footage of FPO leader Haider attending a reunion of Nazi SS veterans. The amateur video showed the late party leader “addressing and mingling with former SS officers.” At the event, Haider praised the former Nazi elite soldiers as “decent people who have character and who have stuck to their beliefs through the strongest headwinds and who remained true to their convictions until this day.”
In July 1998, according to the Congressional white paper, during an Austrian parliamentary debate, Franz Larfer, an FPO MP, used the word “Umvolkung”, a specific Nazi term used “to define the forced change of the ethnic composition of a population by immigration or compulsory transfer.”
Larfer’s use of the term caused an uproar in parliament, and the MP subsequently apologised. But FPO leader, Haider, defended the term as accurately capturing the impact of liberal government policy leading to “foreign infiltration.”
As Democrat representative Tom Lantos told his fellow Congressional representatives at the hearing, both Haider “and the party itself have sought to minimise the Holocaust and the crimes of the Nazi era, and they have been remarkably public in their praise of Nazi Germany.”
In the post-Haider era, the FPO has gone to pains to rehabilitate its image as an anti-Nazi, pro-Jewish party. Its new leader, Heinz Christian Strache — an old friend of Haider — has even visited Israel at the invitation of the Likud Party, despite the fact that the Israeli Foreign Ministry[viii] still views the FPO “as a racist faction with neo-Nazi elements within it.”
In 2008, a minor scandal erupted when a photo of Strache surfaced showing him “with leading Austrian neo-Nazis and Holocaust deniers.” The photo was, reports[ix] Newsweek, taken around 1990, “when Strache was reportedly active in the Viking Youth, an illegal neo-Nazi group.”
When the Vienna-based magazine Profil reported on Strache’s ongoing neo-Nazi connections, he sued the publication for libel. But the Austrian court ruled against him, saying that the magazine had produced an “adequate factual basis to demonstrate a certain nearness to National Socialist [Nazi] ideas.”
According to the Jewish magazine Forward, a third[x] of the FPO’s parliamentarians “are associated with controversial right-wing fraternities, some of which hold connections to neo-Nazi or German nationalist groups.”
Every year, the FPO’s pro-Nazi fraternities, Burschenschaften, host an exclusive Academics Ball, attended largely by neo-Nazis and far right extremists.
Dr. Heribert Schiedel of the Documentation Archive of the Austrian Resistance (DÖW), a research institute specialising in right-wing extremism, explains that the Burschenscaften functioned[xi] as cover organisations in the 1930s for the National Socialist Party. Now, he says, they continue to harbour neo-Nazis, yet have extensive influence on the FPO. According to Schiedel, “fraternities provide the link between the party-based, right-wing populism of the FPÖ on the one hand, and (often organised) neo-Nazi groups on the other.”
After Haider’s departure from the party in 2005, explains Schiedel, Strache relied heavily on the neo-Nazi fraternities to re-build the FPO:
“Without [their] help, the FPÖ probably would not have survived.”
Yet in 2012, when the annual ball coincided with International Holocaust Remembrance Day, attendees included representatives of other European far-right parties, including Philip Claeys of Belgium’s Vlaams Belang, Kent Ekeroth of Swedish Democrats, and Marine Le Pen of the French National Front. Tellingly, Le Pen vehemently denied that the gathering had any neo-Nazi connections, and condemned protestors.
The event was denounced by the Jewish Community of Vienna, which has condemned the gathering every year. Yet all of those parties, including the FPO itself, go out of their way to emphasise their pro-Jewish stance, opposition to anti-Semitism, and hatred of Nazism.
“The strategy is clearly that of normalising itself, of becoming socially acceptable. We presume that anti-Semitism remains a fundamental part of the party’s ideology.”
Both Geert Wilders’s PVV and Marine Le Pen’s NF are now formally partnered with the neo-Nazi FPO in the European Parliament through the ENF.
Press freedom for the far-right, please
The IFPS, which was the main co-sponsor of the October 2009 conference alongside Frank Gaffney’s CSP, is directly tied to European far-right political parties, including the Danish People’s Party (DPP) and Vlaams Belang (VB) in Belgium.
IFPS is the US branch of the Danish Free Press Society founded and chaired by Lars Hedegaard. In 2009, Hedegaard had told a private meeting that:
“Girls in Muslim families are raped by their uncles, their cousins or their father… They are not human beings. They have a function as a womb — they bear the offspring of the warriors and create new warriors. Other than that… well, they can be used for sexual purposes, but they have no value.”
The revelation led to numerous Danish politicians who were affiliated to his society to resign in opposition. However, his statements were defended by DPP politicians and members. This is unsurprising, given that Hedegaard himself is a longstanding DPP member and activist.
IFPS’ vice president is Belgian journalist Paul Belien, who is married to Alexandra Colen — a longtime MP for Vlaams Belang from 1995 to 2013, when she stepped out of the party.
Colen’s father, Alex Colen, was a Nazi collaborator during the Second World War, who served in the Flemish Legion — a German Waffen-SS division which recruited from volunteers of a Flemish background. When Colen was first elected to the Belgian parliament, she did so as an MP for VB’s predecessor party, Vlaams Blok. In 1936, Vlaams Block was the nom de guerre of the Vlaams Nationaal Verbond (VNV), a party of Flemish ultra-nationalists who collaborated with the Nazis, and actively participated in the deportation of Jews.
When the Vlaams Block party coalesced formally in 1978, it had recruited substantially from the ranks of VNV veterans, including Nazi collaborators who held leadership positions in the party. From early on, one of the party’s core demands, which continues today under its successor, is amnesty for Nazi collaborators.
In June 1992, Filip Dewinter, who is now the leader of the party’s successor, Vlaams Belang, published a 70-point programme calling for the forcible deportation of all ‘immigrants’ up to the third generation back to their countries of ethnic origin — in practice, this would imply the repatriation of the majority of ethnic Belgians, including millions of Belgian citizens. Dewinter’s programme included opposition to efforts to integrate “non-European foreigners” into “Flanders and eventually all of Western Europe” as a dangerous plot to create “multi-racial utopias.”
Belgian philosopher Etienne Vermeersch, professor emeritus at the University of Ghent, argues that Dewinter’s history proves he is racist “in the Nazi sense of the word.”
Vermeersch points out[xiii] that Dewinter founded the NJSV (Nationalist Young Student Association) in 1980, whose flag bore the traditional Nazi colors — black, white and red. Dewinter’s NJSV published a magazine called Signal, which in several issues included an emblem of a sword with a ribbon, stating, “My honour is loyalty”, the original slogan of the Nazi SS.
The very first issue of Signal, reports Vermeersch, describes “the courage, the loyalty and the idealism” of the “heroes” of the 5th SS Panzer Division Wiking, an elite division of the Nazi Waffen SS, which recruited from foreign volunteers across Europe, including Belgium. The glowing article included the division’s logo, a shield with a swastika.
In 2004, an investigative series by Dutch-language Belgian magazine, Humo, confirmed that former Nazi SS veterans were meeting regularly and in secret at the Antwerp office of the VB party. At the meetings, party activists and former SS members would openly praise Adolf Hitler and deny the Holocaust. One of the pro-Nazi Holocaust deniers at these meetings was Alex Colen, father of MP, Alexandra Colen.
That year in April 2004, a Belgian court ruled that the party was in violation of the 1981 anti-racism law, and banned its continued existence.
The subsequent launch of the rebranded ‘Vlaams Belang’ party was a transparent effort to circumvent the ruling, and has included adopting a strong pro-Jewish public stance, along with a focus on Muslim immigration. However, Dewinter conceded his strategy in a newspaper op-ed that year in De Standaard:
“The changes in the name of the party, the modernisation of the statutes and the structure of the party, the remodelling of the style and use of language… and the updating of a twenty-five year old declaration of principle have nothing to do with content but everything to do with tactic.”
Dewinter has also stated that Danish women who wear the Muslim headscarf are effectively signing a ‘contract’ agreeing to their deportation.
The IFPS’ close ties to the neo-Nazi VB became obvious when the association organised[xiv] a ‘counterjihad’ summit in Brussels with direct assistance from the VB party. According to IFPS co-chief Paul Belien, who ran the group under Lars Herdergaard, although “the VB did not organise the conference, it provided an important part of the logistics and the security of those attending.”
Filip Dewinter himself appeared as a speaker at the 2007 conference, along with IFPS board members, Robert Spencer, Bat Ye’or, Sam Solomon, and Pam Geller. Both Spencer and Geller have been heavily cited in Anders Breivik’s terrorism manifesto.
The 2009 American speaking tour of Dutch MP Geert Wilders was also heavily sponsored by the neo-Nazi affiliated IFPS. The following year, IFPS co-chief Paul Belien became Wilders’ personal assistant. Wilders has frequently shared speaking platforms with the boss of Belien’s wife, VB leader Filip Dewinter. Belien was also appointed head of the Middle East Forum’s (MEF) ‘IslamWatch’ initiative by MEF head, Daniel Pipes.
“Give us weapons. We are the animals of the herd, they are the predators. The herd-animals have let the predators in their biotope themselves. Our political, spiritual and intellectual ‘shepherds’ have made us believe that this was to be an ‘enrichment’ for our society… When if the state can or will no longer protect its subjects and their children, it is the duty of the citizens to do that themselves. ‘Necessity knows no law’. The shepherds have lost their authority. Watch video images of the predators that lurk in Brussels Central and realise that nobody will defend us if we do not do it ourselves. Who counts on the ‘politie(k)’ [police/politics] for protection is as good as dead.”
Counter-jihadists and neo-Nazis, sitting in a tree
Belian’s and Hedegaard’s IFPS, in other words, functioned as little more than a neo-Nazi propaganda outpost for the fascist ideologies of European far-right parties like the DPP and VB. Yet it translates these racist political programmes into a refined anti-Muslim campaign.
The IFPS shares a wide-range of personnel with US-based ‘counter-jihad’ groups. The IFPS’ advisory board members include a mix of neoconservatives like Frank Gaffney, Rachel Ehrenfeld, and Brigitte Gabriel; anti-Muslim evangelicals like Robert Spencer, Daniel Pipes, and Bat Ye’or; politicians like former Republican Congressman Allen West and Geert Wilders; media pundits like Canadian broadcaster Ezra Levant and FOX News commentator Andrew Bostom; and even British conservative philosopher, Roger Scruton.
Another surprising member of this trans-Atlantic neo-Nazi nexus is the UK Independence Party (Ukip), led by MEP Nigel Farage, which invited Geert Wilders into British Parliament. Wilders was hosted in the House of Lords by Ukip’s Lord Malcolm Pearson, who was also a speaker at Gaffney’s 2009 conference.
Other panellists and speakers included IFPS board member Rachel Ehrenfeld, founding director of the American Center for Democracy, whose directors include neoconservative veterans, former Pentagon Defence Science Board chairman Richard Perle and ex-CIA director R. James Woolsey; IFPS director and conservative columnist Diana West, whose views on black people “gave new meaning to the word racism” according[xvi] to The Union, and who even FrontPage magazine described[xvii] as “McCarthy’s heiress” for selling “yellow journalism conspiracies” about the secret Soviet occupation of America; David Yerushalmi, an Arizona attorney who according[xviii] to the Anti-Defamation League has “a record of anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-black bigotry”; and IFPS board member Sam Solomon, who was outed[xix] by The Telegraph as being part of a Christian fundamentalist network “fighting spiritual battle in Parliament.”
In that capacity, Solomon once gave a talk for an anti-gay lobby group, the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship, stating that:
“The closer you get to Islam, the more hateful a personality you develop… You may think I know my [Muslim] neighbours and they are the most loving hospitable people. [But] so they were in Nigeria until the day of jihad came and they slaughtered their neighbours.”
In 2006, Solomon published a pamphlet called A Proposed Charter of Muslim Understanding, which was commissioned by Gerard Batten, an MEP for Ukip, who sits on the party’s national executive committee, and has acted as the party’s immigration spokesman.
Batten also wrote a foreword for the ‘charter’, which he expected British Muslims to sign, to prove they were not jihadists. The pamphlet was launched with Ukip’s support in the European Parliament and House of Lords, and a press release about it was published on Ukip’s website[xx].
Britain’s anti-Semite honeypot
The Ukip connection is important because the British party, which won 14 per cent of votes in the 2015 General Election, is yet another with a curious history of sympathising with domestic and foreign neo-Nazi groups.
Nigel Farage, for instance, has successfully rebranded himself as being pro-Israel and opposed to anti-Semitism and racism. But in 1997, Ukip’s standard membership clause prohibiting racists from joining the party “mysteriously disappeared” according to Francis Wheen[xxi], writing in The Guardian.
Under the leadership of Farage and his then co-leader Michael Holmes, Ukip set out to court far-right groups in the name of opposing the EU. “In his UKIP election leaflet this year, Holmes paid tribute to “citizens’ patriotic protest groups” such as “Save Our Sterling” — which was run by the British National Party (BNP).
The most disturbing revelation from Wheen’s report was the discovery of “a blurred photo, taken in the summer of 1997”, showing Nigel Farage chatting to Mark Deavin, a BNP head of research, and Tony Lecomber, the campaign manager for the BNP’s leader Nick Griffin. Lecomber had previously been convicted and jailed for possessing explosives and physically assaulting a Jewish schoolteacher.
Deavin had, however, been expelled months earlier from Ukip after the party had discovered his affiliation to the BNP. Deavin is the author of The Grand Plan: The Origins of Non-White Immigration, which claims that “the mass immigration of non-Europeans into every White country on earth” has been engineered by “a homogeneous transatlantic political and financial elite… These concerns were Jewish in origin… the promotion of World Government can also be seen to be in line with traditional Jewish messianic thinking.”[xxii]
Farage nevertheless admitted to meeting him later that year, including having lunch with him at a restaurant. But he denied any recollection of having met the convicted neo-Nazi thug, Lecomber. A month after Farage’s lunch with the BNP’s Deavin, reported Wheen, “by an odd coincidence, Deavin wrote an article in the far-right journal Spearhead which discussed the possibility of closer relations between the BNP and Ukip.”
A decade later, Ukip’s anti-racist membership clause was back in place. The clause now states that membership is barred to “anyone who is or previously has been” a member of far-right groups.
Yet Farage himself has repeatedly violated this clause. In 2008, various newspaper headlines[xxiii] announced that Farage had boldly rejected overtures from the BNP to form an electoral pact. Farage claimed that Buster Mottram, a former number one British tennis player and Ukip member, had proposed the pact at a national executive committee meeting on behalf of the BNP, which was then unanimously rejected by Ukip. Farage also said that Mottram refused to leave the meeting, leading to the police being called to forcibly eject him.
But according to Dr. Eric Edmond, who was on the UKIP executive committee at the time, the incident was more likely a publicity stunt. Mottram was not a BNP member, but had been a member of the neo-Nazi National Front in the 1970s.
“This was known to Mr Farage whom I believe described it as a ‘youthful indiscretion’ and approved Mr Mottram’s UKIP membership,” said Edmond.
The current chairman of Ukip in Thanet South is Martyn Heale, who was also Farage’s campaign manager in the last election. Heale was head of the London branch of the National Front around 1978. Heale has insisted that he “regrets” having been a member, but he also denied the NF was ever a far-right group, describing it as little more than a harmless bit of fun.
“There’s been an attempt by many people to associate the National Front with the far right. But that’s not fair, that’s not true. It was a bit of a social club,” he told the London Review of Books. “Initially the National Front was just a group of retired people and soldiers.”
After his NF stint, Heale went on to have what he calls “a brief dalliance” with the now-defunct New Britain party, described as “avowedly racist” by The Observer.[xxiv]
Nigel Farage’s neo-Nazi brigades in Europe
Like Wilders’ PVV, UKIP’s tolerance of neo-Nazism is further apparent from the party’s leadership role in a wider network of far-right parties in Europe, many of which openly espouse white supremacism.
In 2013, UKIP refused[xxv] to sign a petition that would halt the EU funding application of the Alliance of European National Movements, at that time, a coalition of far-right MEPs from the BNP, Hungary’s Jobbik party, Bulgaria’s National Democratic party, and France’s National Front. Ukip believed blocking the neo-Nazi funding bid would be “undemocratic and dangerous.”
Ukip is currently the dominant force in the Europe for Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD) group in the European Parliament. Before the last European elections, Ukip’s partners in the group (then called Europe of Freedom and Democracy [EFD]) included the Danish People’s Party (DPP) and the True Finns (PS) party (now known simply as the Finns party), both of which have neo-Nazi affiliations, and promote a thinly-veiled white supremacist ideology.
Farage co-chaired the group alongside ex-Berlusconi minister Francesco Speroni, an MEP with the neo-fascist Northern League (NL) party in Italy.
After the 2011 Norway terrorist attacks, where 77 students were massacred, a Northern League MEP and member of the Ukip-led European parliamentary group, Mario Borghezio, said in a radio interview that although Anders Behring Breivik was “unbalanced”, he nevertheless had some “excellent” ideas, and that:
“Christians ought not to be sacrificed. We have to defend them.”[xxvi]
Farage’s partner in the EFD, Speroni, followed up in defence of these comments in a further radio interview, saying that:
“Breivik’s ideas are in defence of western civilisation… If [Breivik’s] ideas are that we are going towards Eurabia and those sorts of things, that western Christian civilisation needs to be defended, yes, I’m in agreement.”[xxvii]
“Long live the Whites of Europe, long live our identity, our ethnicity, our race… our blue sky, like the eyes of our women. Blue, in a people who want to stay white.”
Ukip continued to remain in the EFD and work closely with the NL over the next few years.
After the 2014 elections, the DPP and PS moved to join the Tory-led ECR, while the NL shifted to the Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF) Group, dominated by Marine Le Pen’s National Front and Wilders’ PVV.
Meanwhile, the Ukip-led EFDD filled its ranks with MEPs from other European far-right parties, namely the Italian Five Star Movement (MS5), the Sweden Democrats (SD), the Czech Party of Free Citizens (SSO), a former French Front National member, and Poland’s Congress of the New Right (KNP).
MS5’s leader, ex-comedian Beppe Grillo, has been described as “the new Mussolini” by historian Nicholas Farrell, who authored a biography on the infamous Italian fascist. Grillo is also a proud purveyor[xxix] of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, who has approvingly quoted Mein Kampf.
The Congress of the ‘New Right’ is equally frightening. A pro-Nazi party, it was led until 2015 by a pro-Nazi Holocaust-denying MEP, Janusz Korwin-Mikke, who has claimed that Hitler would be acquitted in court because he did not know the Nazis were exterminating Jews.
He has also used terms like “negroes” and “niggers”, wants women to be denied voting rights because they are “dumber than men”, has called gay people “a gang of louts imported from abroad”, and stated that disabled people should not be seen on television. He was eventually thrown out of the party — not due to his anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi remarks, but because it turned out he had fathered children outside marriage.
The Czech SSO is another seemingly innocuous Eurosceptic Ukip partner harbouring extreme racism.
In 2012, Farage was slated to visit Prague courtesy of Asck DOST (Citizens Initiative: Trust, Objectivity, Freedom, Tradition), a civil society group whose supporters and affiliates include leading Czech neo-Nazis, which has closely collaborated with the SSO party. In 2011, Asck DOST released a statement supporting eight neo-Nazi activists who faced prosecution due to promoting Nazism and arranging a pro-Nazi rally.
No wonder that a 2010 report of the Czech Federation of Jewish Communities described Asck DOST as a “relatively dangerous phenomenon, not only for Czech Jews, but also for the whole democratic environment…”
The chair of Asck DOST is Ladislav Bátora, who in 2006 was a candidate for the now-defunct neo-Nazi National Party for elections to the Czech Chamber of Deputies, for Vysočina region.
Among the National Party’s publications was a racist pamphlet titled, ‘The Final Solution to the Gypsy Question.’ Bátora went on to join the SSO party — currently Ukip’s European partner — where he became a member of its national executive committee, before leaving to join another party in 2010.
But Ukip’s new European alliance with the Swedish Democrats is perhaps the most telling.
As Stockholm-based journalist Mattias Bengtsson points out, the party was “founded in the mid-1980s by a mix of neo-Nazi, neo-fascist, racist and ultra-nationalistic groups”, including a former member of the Nazi Waffen-SS, Gustaf Ekström. Another of its early senior members, Anders Klarström, who once chaired the party, had previously been a member of the Nordich Reich Party, a Swedish neo-Nazi group.
According to Sweden’s Expo Foundation[xxx], the Swedish Democrats had developed connections with other neo-Nazi movements early on, including the National Democratic Party (NDP) of Germany and the American National Association for the Advancement of White People founded by white supremacist David Duke.
In interviews, the party’s leader, Jimmie Åkesson, routinely pretends that the party never had Nazi roots. But as Daniel Poohl, head of the Expo Foundation, observes:
“The racism of the Sweden Democrats is not something pertaining to the past. It is part of the party’s whole idea.”
While wining and dining with US neoconservatives connected to the extreme right of the Republican Party, Ukip has simultaneously nurtured a warm relationship with Russia.
In 2013, Nigel Farage met with Russia’s ambassador to London, Alexander Yakovenko.
Farage is also such a regular fixture on the Russian-state funded television network, Russia Today (RT), he is even featured in RT promotional literature. His frequent appearances invariably involve lavishing unmitigated praise on Putin’s foreign policy.
But this represents just a sample of the increasing affinity between Europe’s neo-Nazi political parties and Russia. A study by New York’s Institute of Modern Russia (IMR) examined[xxxii] the voting patterns of the neo-Nazi blocs in European Parliament, and found them to be consistently supportive of Russian geopolitical interests.
Farage’s group, the EFDD, voted in support of Russian interests in 67% of cases. The ENF led by Le Pen and Wilders was even worse, voting in support of Russian interests in 93% of cases.
This alignment traces back to concrete burgeoning strategic relationships. The FPO, for instance, acted as election monitors in Crimea after Russia annexed it in 2014.
In June 2013, and again in April 2014, Marine Le Pen visited Moscow and met with the Chairman of the State Duma, Sergey Naryshkin — a close Putin aide who is also connected with pro-Nazi fascist theoretician Alexander Dugin.
During the first meeting, she met with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. It later transpired that the FN had received a 9 million Euros loan from the First Czech Russian Bank, which is closely connected with the Kremlin.
In August 2014, Belgium’s neo-Nazi VB party — closely tied to the IFPS, where Frank Gaffney is on the board — attended a major Russian conference in Yalta on the Ukraine crisis and global challenges. The party was joined by other extreme neo-Nazi groups like the BNP and Hungary’s Jobbik.
The FPO, which is part of the ENF coalition, attended an international conference at the Kremlin state palace in September 2014 to discuss how to combat the “homosexual lobby.”
It is no surprise then that Dutch politician Geert Wilders and other senior PVV MEPs have a track record[xxxiv] of supporting Russia’s geopolitical interests in the European Parliament, in speeches, and on social media.
Marcel de Graff, for instance, a PVV MEP who co-chairs the ENF with Le Pen, has supported Russia’s intervention in Syria; absolved Russia of any responsibility at all for the Ukraine crisis; and supported Europe’s continued dependence on Russian gas.
Russia’s interests in supporting the European far-right are not difficult to discern. Putin sees the break-up of the European Union as the central plank of a strategy to weaken the post-Cold War security alliance, NATO, led by the United States. By weakening or even fragmenting the EU, Russia would be empowered to consolidate the dependence of European countries on its gas, as well as fundamentally undermine NATO, potentially even leading to the destruction of the security alliance.
The role of neo-fascist and Nazi sympathiser Alexander Dugin in influencing Putin’s geostrategic vision also demonstrates its potentially imperial ramifications. Within this vision, the consolidation of the far-right across Europe represents the frontline of a proxy ideological war to resurrect an unprecedented panoply of neo-Nazi movements as a mechanism to turn Europe on itself.
The breakdown of the postwar European Union threatens to end the international architecture that has sustained over half a century of peace within a continent whose historical experience is intermittent warfare.
For Dugin, and potentially by extension Putin, this would provide the opportunity for a renewal of the Russian empire propped up via a network of pro-Russian proto-Nazi client regimes, rolling back US hegemony. For these neo-Nazi parties, the attraction of Russia’s patronage lies in the latter’s role as rival superpower within an increasingly multipolar international system, in which US power is gradually waning.
Ultimately, however, the trans-Atlantic network of neo-Nazi parties across Europe represents far more than merely a potential proxy for Russian shenanigans.
This investigation has demonstrated that this neo-Nazi network, despite many irreconcilable disagreements and divisions, is tightly interwoven across multiple nations, groups and organisations, shares a core fundamental vision of white supremacism, and remains both deeply anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic.
The strategy of aligning themselves with Israel constitutes less a meaningful ideological departure from fascist roots, than a tactical rehabilitation for political purposes to open up the possibility of neo-Nazi ideology re-entering the mainstream corridors of power in liberal democracies.
This investigation demonstrates that the end-goal of this process is the gradual return of the Reich by stealth, in not one, but multiple European democracies, where interconnected neo-Nazi political parties are either already in government, on the cusp of gaining entry to government, or sufficiently popular as to have a strong chance of reaching the cusp of government in coming years.
By 2019, this investigation shows — if the exponential trend in their rising popularity continues — neo-Nazi political parties could gain control of more than a third of seats in the European Parliament, while also winning dramatic political victories at home with the potential to launch them into government either as the ruling parties, or as coalition partners.
Perhaps the most alarming element of this picture is the success that this trans-Atlantic neo-Nazi network has had in penetrating the right-wing of the Republican Party.
Frank Gaffney was national security advisor to failed presidential candidate Ted Cruz, but retains two CSP acolytes on Donald Trump’s national security team. Simultaneously, another IFPS board member, former CIA analyst Clare Lopez, was also on Cruz’s national security team.
With his neocon heritage, Gaffney is so anti-Russia, that he was even too hawkish for the Reagan administration, which jettisoned him for vehemently opposing all arms control talks with the then-Soviet Union. And his think-tank, the CSP, has close financial connections to the US defence industry[xxxv], including a special long-term relationship with giant contractor Boeing.
Yet Gaffney is now surrounded with pro-Russian far-right extremists from Europe, who are sympathisers with neo-Nazi Anders Breivik’s ‘Vienna’ school of fascism.
PVV leader Geert Wilders, for instance, is an integral part of the pro-Russian neo-Nazi lobby in the European parliament. Yet Wilders is also Frank Gaffney’s pet European ideologue, through whom the Dutch racist has cemented his ideological influence in right-wing Republican circles. He sits on the IFPS board along with Gaffney and his CSP staffer Lopez.
Gaffney has also courted and hosted, through both the IFPS and CSP, numerous other neo-Nazi political parties which are rapidly rising to power across Europe.
Yet the neo-Nazi ideology promoted by the IFPS and its members is precisely the ideology of choice that Vladmir Putin seeks to empower in Europe. Putin’s goals in doing so are to accelerate the fragmentation of the continent, the destruction of NATO, and the retreat of the US from Eurasia, paving the way for the resurgence of Russian global power — on the back of the return of the Reich, across the ashes of the EU.
No wonder, then, that Donald Trump, Gaffney, Wilders and Putin appear to have much in common.
“I hope @realDonaldTrump will be the next US President. Good for America, good for Europe. We need brave leaders,” tweeted Wilders, congratulating Trump on his demand to ban Muslims from entering the US.
Gaffney, too, has loudly professed his support for Trump’s policies despite formally joining his competitor’s camp. In August, he urged voters[xxxvi] to “Embrace Trump’s Immigration Platform,” and praised him for “driving the political establishment crazy” by advancing “a position on immigration reform at odds with the open borders agenda favored by both parties’ leadership and special interests.”
“I will get along — I think — with Putin… and we will have a much more stable world. I would talk to him.”
But the mutual admiration is unsurprising, given that Trump, like Putin, appears to see a break-up of the European Union as a good thing.
Russia Today, Sputnik and even the Russian embassy have consistently promoted[xxxviii] the ‘Brexit’ campaign. Likewise, in an interview[xxxix] with Piers Morgan, Donald Trump said “I think maybe it’s time” for Britain to leave the European Union because of migration “craziness” — an event widely recognised[xl] to likely precipitate an EU break-up.
“And if it breaks up NATO, it breaks up NATO.”
“Europe may soon be in for another of the horrific cataclysms that have plagued it for nearly all of recorded history… We must, however, resist the temptation to try to prop up the European Union as the solution to such prospects and invest, instead, in efforts to work with national governments there… [W]e cannot expect that what emerges from the wreckage of profligate spending and subordination of sovereignty that is Europe will provide the reliable partners and robust militaries that we are told will permit us safely to reduce our own capabilities and burden-share with our allies.”
This, indeed, would be music to Putin’s ears. Perhaps Putin’s admiration for Trump is motivated by the fact that neo-Nazi parties who, effectively, do his bidding in European Parliament, have co-opted the Trump campaign through Gaffney.
In an ironically symbolic illustration of this neo-Nazi, pro-Putin Trojan Horse in the heart of the Republican Party, Gaffney’s CSP gathered together many of the same figures he had hosted in 2009, at the ‘Defeat Jihad’ summit on 10th February 2015.
Speakers at the summit included Ted Cruz, several Republican Congressman, IFPS chair Lars Hedegaard, and de facto representatives of the European parties at the helm of the leading pro-Putin neo-Nazi coalitions in the European Parliament: the PVV’s Geert Wilders and Ukip peer Lord Malcolm Pearson.
The consolidation of trans-Atlantic ties between US self-styled counterjihadists, European neo-Nazis and Kremlin neo-fascists is thus part of a mutual effort to leverage the reigns of government across the US and Europe.
The surge in anti-Muslim hatred has been accompanied by a surge in anti-Semitism precisely because the driving shared ideology of the far-right is a neo-Nazi narrative, which has increasingly gravitated toward the Breivik ‘Vienna school’ of fascism to tactically expand its influence in mainstream right-wing political circles.
The investigation also shows that these interconnected neo-Nazi parties form an eclectic, divided but still tightly coupled trans-Atlantic network, many of which are on the cusp of power. Putin’s interest in these groups, including in Trump, is because he sees an opportunity to accelerate the fragmentation of Europe into 28 divided, smaller, weaker state units, and thereby to fatally undermine NATO.
If these parties manage to cement their hold on power in multiple European nations, then this prospect is actually quite plausible, even within the next 5 years.
Needless to say, whatever the faults and failures of NATO and the EU — of which there are many — the break-up of the union threatens to destroy the entire postwar security architecture sustaining 60 plus years of peace within Europe.
This prospect, amidst the emergence of multiple neo-Nazi governments in Europe, potentially represents the biggest threat to international security since the Second World War.
[i] Piggot, op. cit.
[ii] Matthew Duss, Yasmine Taeb, Ken Gude, and Ken Sofer, Fear, Inc. 2.0: The Islamophobia Network’s Efforts to Manufacture Hate in America (Washington DC: Center for American Progress, February 2015) https://cdn.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/FearInc-report2.11.pdf
[iii] Nafeez Ahmed, ‘The US military industrial complex, Wall Street and Big Oil are vying to buy the presidency: A dummies guide to who might own the White House’, INSURGE intelligence (24 May 2016) https://medium.com/insurge-intelligence/who-will-own-the-white-house-57c1e95c101c
[iv] Ahmed, ‘David Cameron confidante promotes forced depopulation of Muslims in Europe’, Media Diversified (28 April 2015) https://mediadiversified.org/2015/04/28/david-cameron-confidant-promotes-forced-depopulation-of-muslims-in-europe/
[v] Ahmed, ‘Geert Wilders tries to break America’, New Statesman (9 June 2012) http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/north-america/2012/06/geert-wilders-tries-break-america
[vi] ‘Expressing Sense of House Representatives Concerning Participation of Extremist FPO in Government of Austria’, Congressional Record (Vol. 146, Part. 3, 21 March 2000 to 4 April 2000) pp. 4248–4252
[vii] Congressional White Paper, ‘Joerg Haider and the Freedom Party of Austria-FPO’, in ibid., pp. 4250–4252
[ix] Stefan Theil, ‘Far Right Politicians Find Common Cause in Israel’, Newsweek (27 February 2011) http://europe.newsweek.com/far-right-politicians-find-common-cause-israel-68583
[x] Anna Goldenberg, ‘Rise of Austria’s Far-Right Seen Through Eyes of Lone Jewish Lawmaker’, Forward (20 October 2013) http://forward.com/news/185729/rise-of-austrias-far-right-seen-through-eyes-of-lo/
[xi] Laurence Doering, Vera Mair, and Werner Reisinger, ‘Austria’s Nazi Frat Boys?’, Vienna Review (5 March 2012) http://www.viennareview.net/news/front-page/austrias-nazi-frat-boys
[xii] Charles Hawley, ‘The Likud Connection: Europe’s Right-Wing Populists Find Allies in Israel’, Spiegel (29 July 2011) http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/the-likud-connection-europe-s-right-wing-populists-find-allies-in-israel-a-777175.html
[xiii] Etienne Vermeersch, ‘Filip Dewinter en het nazi-racisme’ (23 March 2004) http://www.etiennevermeersch.be/artikels/politiek/filip-dewinter-en-het-nazi-racisme
[xiv] Daniel Luban and Eli Clifton, ‘Dutch Foe of Islam Ignores US Allies’ Far Right Ties’, Inter Press Agency (28 February 2009) http://www.ipsnews.net/2009/02/politics-dutch-foe-of-islam-ignores-us-allies39-far-right-ties/
[xv] ‘Paul Belien Goes to Work for Geert Wilders’, Gates of Vienna blog (3 September 2010) http://gatesofvienna.blogspot.co.uk/2010/09/paul-belien-goes-to-work-for-geert.html
[xvi] Lynn Wenzel, ‘False equivalence does not justify racism’, The Union (17 September 2014) http://www.theunion.com/opinion/13045825-113/black-racism-west-equivalence
[xvii] Ronald Radosh, ‘McCarthy on Steroids’, FrontPage Mag (6 August 2013) http://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/199666/mccarthy-steroids-ronald-radosh
[xviii] ADL report, David Yerushalmi: A Driving Force Behind Anti-Sharia Efforts in the US (New York: Anti Defamation League, January 2012) http://www.adl.org/civil-rights/discrimination/c/profile-david-yerushalmi.html
[xix] David Modell, ‘Christian fundamentalists fighting spiritual battle in Parliament’, Telegraph (17 May 2008) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1975933/Christian-fundamentalists-fighting-spiritual-battle-in-Parliament.html
[xx] Steven Rose, ‘Sam Solomon, Christian Concern and Gerard Batten’, Tell Mama blog (16 May 2014) http://tellmamauk.org/sam-solomon-christian-concern-gerard-batten-steven-rose/
[xxi] Francis Wheen, ‘The right revs up’, Guardian (13 October 1999) http://www.theguardian.com/uk/1999/oct/13/race.world
[xxiii] Andrew Porter, ‘Ukip rejects pact with far right BNP’, Telegraph (3 November 2008) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/3373682/Ukip-rejects-pact-with-far-right-BNP.html
[xxiv] Jay Rayner, ‘Far right invades anti-Europe party’, Guardian (21 May 2000) http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2000/may/21/foodanddrink.expertopinions
[xxv] Mark Townsend, ‘Ukip refuses to oppose EU funding for far-right parties’, Guardian (27 January 2013) http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/jan/27/ukip-far-right
[xxvi] John Hooper, ‘Ex-Berlusconi minister defends Anders Behring Breivik’, Guardian (27 July 2011) http://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/jul/27/ex-berlusconi-minister-defends-breivik
[xxviii] Alex Andreou, ‘Is Ukip a party of bigots? Let’s look at the evidence’, New Statesman (11 February 2013) http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2013/02/ukip-party-bigots-lets-look-evidence
[xxix] Nicholas Farrell, ‘If Nigel Farage is worried about anti-Semitism, he shouldn’t be teaming up with Beppe Grillo’, Spectator (28 June 2014) http://www.spectator.co.uk/2014/06/farages-strange-new-ally/
[xxxi] Richard Orange, ‘Anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats now the biggest party, according to poll’, Telegraph (20 August 2015) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/sweden/11814498/Anti-immigrant-Sweden-Democrats-now-the-biggest-party-according-to-poll.html
[xxxii] Péter Krekó, Marie Macaulay, Csaba Molnár and Lóránt Győri, Europe’s New Pro-Putin Coalition: the Parties of ‘No’ (Institute of Modern Russia and Political Capital Institute,
[xxxiii] Antonis Klapsis, An Unholy Alliance: The European Far-Right and Putin’s Russia (Wilfried Martins Centre for European Studies, 2015) http://www.martenscentre.eu/sites/default/files/publication-files/far-right-political-parties-in-europe-and-putins-russia.pdf
[xxxv] Ahmed, ‘The US military industry complex’, op. cit.
[xxxvi] Frank Gaffney Jr, ‘Embrace Trump’s Immigration Platform’, Center for Security Policy (17 August 2015) https://www.centerforsecuritypolicy.org/2015/08/17/embrace-trumps-immigration-platform/
[xxxvii] Harriet Sinclair, ‘Donald Trump finds an unlikely supporter in Vladimir Putin’, Independent (30 April 2016) http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trump-finds-unlikely-support-from-vladimir-putin-a7008601.html
[xxxviii] Ben Judah, ‘Those who call for Brexit are handing European power to the Kremlin’, Independent (9 March 2016) http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/those-who-call-for-brexit-are-handing-european-power-to-the-kremlin-a6921386.html
[xxxix] Lucy Crossley, ‘“I think maybe it’s time”: Trump says Britain WILL leave the EU because of migration “craziness” and says “thousands and thousands” of people backed his claims about “radicalized” London’, Daily Mail (24 March 2016)
[xl] Michael Settle, ‘Brexit could lead to break up of EU, says Vote Leave sources, as Gove insists it would liberate UK’, Herald Scotland (20 April 2016) http://www.heraldscotland.com/politics/14438136.Brexit_could_lead_to_break_up_of_EU__says_Vote_Leave_sources__as_Gove_insists_it_would_mean_liberation_for_UK/?ref=rl&lp=5
[xli] Steve Holland, ‘Donald Trump Calls NATO “Obsolete”’, Reuters (4 February 2016) available via http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-nato_us_570060bce4b0a06d5805e283
[xlii] Gaffney, ‘Farewell to European superstate: Failed EU experiment is heading for a crack up’, Washington Times (7 May 2012) http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/may/7/farewell-to-european-superstate/
Tell MAMA independently and separately commissioned INSURGEintelligence to explore the network dynamics of far right extremism in Europe. The views and opinions in this investigative project do not necessarily represent those of Tell MAMA.