A global neo-Nazi organisation led by a 13-year-old Estonian schoolboy

Estonia’s Internal Security Service (KAPO) captured a ringleader of the extremist Feuerkrieg Division (“Firewar Division” in German; FKD for short) – a 13-year-old schoolboy, known online as “Commander FKD”; the boy lived in a small Estonian town.

KAPO stopped the activities of the boy, using a “Commander FKD” or “Kriegsherr” (“Warlord” in German) pseudonym in the encrypted FKD online forums, in January, the Estonian weekly newspaper, Eesti Ekspress reported. The boy, who cannot be prosecuted (nor named) due to his age, was a ringleader of the Feuerkrieg Division – a small, international neo-Nazi organisation founded in late 2018.

Mass-murderer heroes

According to the New York-based Jewish NGO, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) – an international anti-hate organisation – the Feuerkrieg Division embraces the most extreme interpretations of white supremacist ideology. “Their current leader lives in Estonia, but the group’s membership is increasingly American. The group celebrates the concepts promoted in Siege, a collection of noxious essays written by US-based neo-Nazi James Mason,” the ADL said in a brief, written before the capture of the Estonian ringleader.

The “FKD was established in October 2018 in the Baltics, most likely Estonia. Over time, the group has expanded its footprint to include Belgium, [the] UK, Ireland, [the] Netherlands, Norway, Latvia, Germany and Russia. In 2019, [the] FKD continued to expand their recruitment efforts in Europe and in North America, including Canada and especially the US,” the ADL noted.

The Feuerkrieg Division is heavily influenced by the Atomwaffen Division (“Atomic Weapon Division” in German), a neo-Nazi group allegedly tied to five murders across the US. The “FKD advocates similar core beliefs, racist and vitriolic propaganda with shared graphics and general subculture. While the bulk of their activity is online, members have engaged in leafleting efforts, distributing violent, racist and anti-Semitic propaganda,” the ADL said in a brief, seen by Estonian World.

The FKD’s stated enemies include a range of ideological and symbolic targets, in addition to minority groups including Jews, Muslims, the LGBTQ community, religious leaders and police, among others. “They refer to their calls for violence as holy war, which they term ‘white jihad’. In private chats, FKD members discuss elaborate plans to target ‘the system’, including kidnapping, executing or otherwise harming others, while applauding previous deadly white supremacist attacks,” the ADL said.

An image used by the Feuerkrieg Division (ADL).

In encrypted forums, FKD members honour the lives and violent actions of some of the most notorious murderers in recent history, quoting and referencing figures including the Christchurch shooter, Brenton Tarrant; the Charleston church shooter, Dylann Roof; the Norwegian mass-murderer, Anders Behring Breivik; and the Oklahoma City bomber, Timothy McVeigh. “The ideology weaves the teachings and actions of James Mason, Adolf Hitler and Charles Manson, among others, into a tapestry of extreme hate,” the ADL said.

The 13-year-old “commander” set the minimum age limit of 16 for other recruits

The administration and management of the FKD was all conducted online, enabling the Estonian ringleader to hide his identity, including his real age. Ironically, the “commander” set the minimum age for recruits at 16, while he himself is just 13 years old. “The members of the organisation were, of course, unaware of this fact,” Eesti Ekspress said.

A screenshot of the photo of the “Commander” from the Feuerkrieg Division’s encrypted communication channels, published initially by the US-based non-profit media portal, Unicorn Riot.

According to the weekly, the “commander” was probably the only official member of the FKD from Estonia. However, there were others in Estonia who showed interest of the FKD and Siege ideology and some of them may have had contacts with the “commander”. “They probably did not have access to the official FKD channels, but, for example, one of the forums created by the Commander (not directly dealing with FKD matters) contains the usernames khan, Kupper and Kert Valter from Estonia,” the paper said. It is important to note here that “Kert Valter” as well as “Bert Valter” were used as pseudonyms by bogus University of Tartu students who wrote opinion articles for the Estonian newspaper, Eesti Päevaleht. Ruuben Kaalep, a neo-Nazi MP of the Estonian Conservative People’s Party, EKRE, later admitted that he used the “Bert Valter” synonym.*

As far as is known so far, the Estonian “commander” was influenced by the texts of a US-based neo-Nazi, James Mason. He read the texts in a Russia-based English-language forum, IronMarch, set up by an Uzbek, Alisher Mukhitdinov, using alias Alexander Slavros, who is reportedly still living under the radar in a Soviet-era apartment block in Moscow. The Atomwaffen Division (a neo-Nazi group allegedly tied to five murders across the US) that influenced the FKD, also grew up from the IronMarch forum.

Teachings on how to make explosives

The US-based non-profit media portal, Unicorn Riot, recently posted the leaked material from the Feuerkrieg Division’s encrypted Wire and Riot communication channels – the earliest information is from July 2019, the latest from February this year. Eesti Ekspress reviewed all the material and said it offers a “unique insight” into the activities of FKD as well as Siege culture in general.

In the conversations, the members share teachings on how to make explosives and instruct on how to modify or acquire weapons. Some of the FKD members are also gun owners who post photos, their faces covered with skull masks. “They encourage each other to train and, of possible, practice with weapons,” Eesti Ekspress said.

In a similar style, in late 2018 and in 2019, EKRE’s MP Ruuben Kaalep organised firearms training sessions with pistols and assault rifles to youngsters from the Blue Awakening, EKRE’s youth wing. They later posted posing pictures, some of which carried anti-Semitic messages, publicly on the social media. When EKRE’s deputy leader and Estonia’s finance minister, Martin Helme, was asked to comment by the Estonian daily newspaper, Õhtuleht, on the party’s youth wing actions, he responded he “supported” and “encouraged” them.

Members of Blue Awakening, EKRE’s youth wing, posing with weapons. The picture was posted on Blue Awakening’s Facebook page on 25 November 2018. At least one member is wearing a skull mask, a symbol of the Feuerkrieg Division. Ruuben Kaalep (standing in the middle) became one of EKRE’s MPs few months later, on 3 March 2019.

Threatening the Estonian Jewish community

There were also references to rape in the FDK forum. “Rape Christian nuns in Hitler’s name,” the Estonian “commander” wrote in one place. He also shared the prison addresses of both Anders Breivik and Brenton Tarrant, so that the members could “send Christmas and birthday cards” to them.

The most talked about topic in the forum was the “system”, which in the worldview of the FDK members means the “Jewish-led Western way of life”, the state, banks and corporations. “As with the Nazis, the story always ends up revolving around the Jews,” Ekspress noted. “We only have one synagogue. But I’m not going to give up. We have a Jewish school and their community centre in the same building. So if I survive, I’ll probably kill some yid kids too…ahahhaaa,” the 13-year-old Estonian “Kriegsherr” wrote in the forum.

“In general, however, everyone is an enemy. Everyone must be killed and sent to the wall,” the paper summarised the forum’s discussions. “In one place, the Commander FKD formulates an official list of enemies in order of importance: 1) police officers, politicians, racial traitors, 2) Jews, 3) libertarians, 4) conservatives, 5) communists, 6) liberals, 7) furries, 8) Negroes, 9) gays, 10) transgenders.” It is not clear what he meant under “furries” – but probably either long-haired people, like heavy metal fans, who are in Estonian sometimes derogatively referred to as karvased, ie “furry people”, or the furry subculture, ie people dressing up as animals.

The Estonian internal security service is keeping an eye on

Eesti Ekspress concluded that probably the most dangerous aspect is that so-called lone wolves could become inspired by the FKD and the Siege movements – encouraging and pushing each other. “There are already examples. Several FKD members have been arrested in different countries. They didn’t just talk.”

“Internet radicalisation is a wider societal problem and indeed a global phenomenon that we are working with international partners to tackle. People with similar extremist views communicate with each other internationally. The Estonian Internal Security Police is aware of it,” Alar Ridamäe, a representative of KAPO, told Eesti Ekspress. He added that the security service was verifying the allegations about the participation of Estonians in the online discussions of extremists. “When there is a suspicion of danger, we intervene to prevent things from getting worse, which is what we were doing in this case,” he said, referring to the 13-year-old ringleader of FDK.

The HQ of Estonia’s Internal Security Service in Tallinn (KAPO).

Ridamäe said children and young people were especially at risk from online radicalisation, as they are often more vulnerable than adults. “Extremists try to draw young people into their sphere of influence by mystery, concealment and rebellion. We would like to emphasise the role of parents, who have the first opportunity and primary obligation to notice the dangers. Unfortunately, in practice, there are cases where parents themselves have bought extremist literature for their children, which contributes to radicalisation,” he said.

Ridamäe emphasised that to date, no form of violent extremism has wider support in Estonia, but the danger of “lone wolves” cannot be ruled out. As for the now stopped “Commander FDK”, KAPO simply said “he is being taken care of”, without specifying.

*The article originally said that “Kert Valter” was a pseudonym used by the EKRE’s MP, Ruuben Kaalep. While Kaalep has admitted using “Bert Valter” as a pseudonym, there is no evidence that he used “Kert Valter” (although various sources claim that it was a pseudonym used by a member of the Blue Awakening, the EKRE’s youth wing).

The cover image is illustrative (photo by Max Bender/Unsplash).

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