Revealed: the true identity of the leader of an American neo-Nazi terror group

The white supremacist group the Base uses terror to spread its ideology and recruit young men. The FBI is closely watching them and the Guardian is now able to reveal the identity of its secretive leader

The Guardian has learned the true identity of the leader and founder of the US-based neo-Nazi terror network the Base, which was recently the target of raids by the FBI after an investigation into domestic terrorism uncovered their plans to start a race war.

Members of the group stand accused of federal hate crimes, murder plots and firearms offenses, and have harbored international fugitives in recent months.

The Bases leader previously operated under the aliases Norman Spear and Roman Wolf. Members of the network do not know his true identity due to the groups culture of internal secrecy.

But the Guardian can reveal that Norman Spear is in fact US-born Rinaldo Nazzaro, 46, who has a long history of advertising his services as an intelligence, military and security contractor. He has claimed, under his alias, to have served in Russia and Afghanistan.

The revelation of his identity comes after a months-long investigation by the Guardian into Nazzaro and the activities of the Base.

The Bases members stand accused of federal hate crimes. Photograph: Obtained by the Guardian

While Nazzaros most recently used address is in New Jersey, there is evidence supporting his claims of being based in Russia, where he lives with his Russian wife.

The Base which is an approximate English translation of al-Qaida began recruiting in late 2018. The white supremacy group, which has regional and international cells, extols the virtues of an all-out race war while specifically targeting African Americans and Jewish people.

Using encrypted apps, members of the highly organized group planned terror campaigns; vandalized synagogues; established armed training camps and recruited new members.

The US attorney for Maryland, Robert K Hur, speaking after the recent arrest of three members of the Base, said that they did more than talk they took steps to act and act violently on their racist views.

Few traces of him exist anywhere

Rinaldo Nazzaro has maintained a decidedly low profile: he has no visible presence on any major social media platforms, no published writings under his own name, and no profile in local or national media.

Few traces of him exist anywhere, except where a name is required in official business such as real estate purchases and the registration of companies.

Multiple emails and phone calls to Nazzaro went unanswered.

But through a painstaking investigation involving freedom of information requests, the analysis of material provided to the Guardian by a whistleblower inside the group, and cross-examination of information found online and in databases, the Guardian was able to piece together his identity and some of his whereabouts.

The Guardian was able to unravel Nazzaros identity due to his 2018 activities in a remote corner of the Pacific north-west.

In chat rooms hosted by the Base, Nazzaro stressed the importance of in-person meet-ups and required members to attend training camps. The Bases propaganda videos show young men undergoing combat training together in rural areas.

Last August, an Oregon-based antifascist group, Eugene Antifa, warned that the Base was planning a hate camp in the neighboring state of Washington, and claimed Nazzaro (operating under the alias of Spear) had purchased land in Stevens county for training purposes.This warning came after a leak of the Bases internal chats.

EUG161 (@161EUG)

The neo-Nazi group called “The Base” is planning a ‘hate camp’ this month in Washington. Members are flying in from around the country to Spokane, WA this August to participate in the gathering.#DeBasedDoxx


August 5, 2019

Local media outlets picked up the story, which led local law enforcement to urgently seek information on the group.

In emails obtained by the Guardian via public records request, the Stevens county Sheriff, Brad Manke, is seen contacting the FBI and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) for advice on the group.

On 20 August 2019, Manke writes to an FBI agent, asking: Do you have a name for the actual head of the group The Base or the address where the property actually is?

In a 20 September email responding to an SPLC researcher, Manke writes: I have since learned that The Base has purchased property in Ferry County, WA which is a neighboring county.

Property record searches revealed that three 10-acre blocks of undeveloped land were purchased in December 2018 for $33,000 in the name of a Delaware LLC called Base Global. In a telephone conversation in late November, Manke confirmed that this was the block of land he had been referring to.

In recordings of two internal Base voice calls provided to the Guardian by the source, Norman Spear discusses his recent land purchase.

When asked why the land had been inexpensive, he replied: Because theres no possibility of getting utilities in there. Ever. He continued: But to me, that was a good thing for my purposes. I looked at it like it was just naturally secluded.

In deeds of sale, the address provided for the company was a New Jersey post office enough to conceal the purchasers identity. But separate tax affidavits associated with the purchase give a different address for Base Global.

That address is for a New Jersey apartment that has belonged to an older family member of Nazzaro since 1998. Nazzaro and his wife have also intermittently resided at that address, according to database searches.

The affidavits are also signed by Nazzaro, and dated 12/21/2018 Republic. Republic is the seat and the only city in Ferry county, Washington.

According to a source inside the Base, this date coincided with a trip by Russia-based Norman Spear to the United States, during which time he had in-person meetings with members of the group.

Speculation that Nazzaro was a federal agent

The location of the land is consistent with Norman Spears advocacy of a white supremaciststrategy called the Northwest Territorial Imperative (NTI), which was promoted by the deceased white supremacist Harold Covington.

The strategy argues for the creation of a separatist ethnostate in the Pacific north-west and encourages white supremacists to move to the region.

In one of Norman Spears first public appearances, on a far-right podcast recorded in December 2017, he was introduced as a Northwest Front (another white supremacist separatist group) organizer and went on to spell out a four-state plan culminating in achieving independence, realizing the ultimate goal which is an independent nation state in the Pacific north-west, an ethnostate.

The plan, he said, would trigger the relocation to the Pacific north-west of the white population in the United States.

Around the same time, Spear filmed a series of short instructional presentations on the tactics and strategy of guerrilla warfare.In an archive of those videos on the far-right site Bitchute, he is identified as Defense Studies expert and former CIA field intelligence officer Norman Spear.

This detail, coupled with other leads, compelled many to speculate whether Norman Spear was, in fact, a federal agent operating inside the Base.

The Base has emerged at a time when far-right organizing is on the rise in the US. Last year saw a spate of terror attacks by white supremacists. In August, the gunman who killed 22 people at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, is believed to have posted a white nationalist manifesto online prior to the attack.

In April, an attacker who killed one person after opening fire inside a San Diego synagogue killing posted a note online citing white supremacy influences and naming the gunman who killed 51 in an attack on a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, as an inspiration.

We have a significant increase in racially motivated violent extremism in the United States and, I think, a growing increase in white nationalism and white supremacy extremist movements, Jay Tabb, the head of national security for the FBI, said at an event in Washington recently.

Under the motto there is no political solution, the Base embraces an accelerationist ideology, which holds that acts of violence and terror are required in order to push liberal democracy towards collapse, preparing the way for white supremacists to seize power and institute an ethnostate.

Members remained defiant following the arrest of seven alleged members of the group in mid-January, calling it an unjust political witch hunt from the Liberal Globalist System.

Was the Base a honeypot designed to entrap people?

Beginning in 2009 and until as late as 2019, Nazzaro billed himself as an intelligence expert working with various government and military agencies.

Nazzaro is the principal of an LLC called Omega Solutions International (OSI), a company offering a range of intelligence and security contracting.

Its website, which was removed from the Internet some time after August 2019, boasted of the firms experience conducting intelligence analysis for government agencies, military organizations, and private businesses, as well as access to a network of seasoned security professionals with expertise in counterterrorism, counterinsurgency, homeland security, hostage rescue/negotiations, psychological operations, and more.

The firm also has a Cage Code, which is an administrative requirement for military and government contractors.

Materials inspected and sources consulted by the Guardian indicate that Nazzaro, as Spear, has faced persistent suspicions from current and former members of the group that he is a fed, or the agent of a foreign government, or that the Base is a honeypot intended to lure neo-Nazis out into the open for the benefit of law enforcement agencies.

Former members have cited this as a reason for leaving.

A connection with Russia

New York marriage records show that Nazzaro and his wife were married in New York City in 2012, during the period when Nazzaro is recorded as maintaining a midtown Manhattan address. At that time, he was recorded as having one child.

A Russian site that scrapes and archives social media accounts had captured a profile, and photos, posted by Nazzaros Russian-born wife to VK, the Russian social media site.

An early photograph of Nazzaro, dated 1994. Photograph: The Villanovan

She has since hidden that profile, but other social media archives confirm the prior existence of an account in Nazzaros wifes name (using her married name).

The photographs show the same person who has been presenting himself as Norman Spear.

Meanwhile, a reverse image search yielded a photograph matching public photos of Norman Spear atop advertisements for English lessons in St Petersburg, Russia.

The Guardian was only able to find one earlier photograph attached to his real name. It appeared above a vox pop in the Villanovan, the student paper of Catholic, Pennsylvania-based Villanova University, in 1994.

At the time of the photograph, Ron Nazzaro was described as a junior in philosophy, which is consistent with a 1973 birthdate. A source who has met Spear in person believes that the 1994 photo of Nazzaro is the same person he met.

A Rinaldo Nazzaro is also identified as a class of 1991 alumnus and donor of the prestigious New Jersey Catholic prep school the Delbarton School.

Nazzaros approximate age, his Italian heritage, his familys New Jersey location, his background in counter-intelligence, the nationality of his spouse, and the number of his children were relayed to the Guardian as characteristics of Norman Spear by an internally placed source.

I am on the terrorism watchlist

Richard Tobin, a Base member, is awaiting trial in New Jersey over allegations that he coordinated the September vandalism of synagogues in Michigan and Wisconsin. In a December custody hearing, the prosecuting assistant US attorney cited Tobins self-professed belief that Norman Spear was a Russian spy.

The Guardian has discovered that all of the business addresses associated with Nazzaros OSI LLCs are virtual offices. This describes a situation where a second company provides a business address, and sometimes meeting rooms and greeting services, for businesses who do not wish to maintain their own premises.

The addresses are often prestigious: OSIs virtual address locations include Fifth Avenue in Manhattan and K Street in Washington DC, an address associated with federal government contracting and lobbying.

Meanwhile, Norman Spear appears to have had no extended history in the neo-Nazi movement before emerging as leader of the Base.

According to an internally placed source, the only people within the movement who vouched for Spear were connected to the Northwest Front (NWF). The NWF founder, Harold Covington, was himself the subject of persistent rumors within the white nationalist movement that he was a federal informant, and that NWF was itself a honeypot a front organization routinely used by US law enforcement in order to entrap people.

Norman Spear has told Base members that he remains in Russia. Law enforcement sources have indicated on background that Nazzaro is believed by some agencies to be working for the Russian government.

The US government may have been monitoring Norman Spears activities for some time. In the April conversation planning a meetup in July, Spear was concerned that he would not be able to attend.

I have confirmed that I am on the FBI terrorism watch list. I mean, that doesnt really matter in the context of the training. What matters is that Im on it.

The Guardians investigation of the group continues.

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New York Times columnist accused of eugenics over piece on Jewish intelligence

Bret Stephens faces backlash after suggesting that Ashkenazi Jews are smarter than other people

The rightwing New York Times columnist Bret Stephens has sparked furious controversy online for a column praising Ashkenazi Jews for their scientific accomplishments, which critics say amounts to embracing eugenics.

In a column titled The Secrets of Jewish Genius and using a picture of Albert Einstein, Stephens stepped in the eugenics minefield by claiming that Ashkenazi Jews are more intelligent than other people and think differently.

Citing Sarah Bernhardt, Franz Kafka, Albert Einstein, Rosalind Franklin, Benjamin Disraeli and Karl Marx, Stephens asked: How is it that a people who never amounted even to one-third of one per cent of the worlds population contributed so seminally to so many of its most pathbreaking ideas and innovations?

He answered: The common answer is that Jews are, or tend to be, smart. When it comes to Ashkenazi Jews, its true Ashkenazi Jews might have a marginal advantage over their gentile peers when it comes to thinking better. Where their advantage more often lies is in thinking different.

That prompted furious accusations that Stephens was using the same genetics arguments that informed Nazism and white supremacist thinking.

Its hard to read this column as expressing anything other than a belief in the genetic and cultural inferiority of non-Ashkenazi Jews; its hard to tell if thats intentional or due to appalling sloppiness, but either way its not the sort of thing the Times should be running, tweeted Tim Marchman, editorial director of Vice.

New York Times contributor Jody Rosen offered on Twitter: Speaking as both an Ashkenazi Jew and a NYT contributor, I dont think eugenicists should be op-ed columnists.

A Jew endorsing the idea that certain races are inherently superior to other, lesser races, what could possibly go wrong? asked the journalist Ashley Feinberg on Twitter.

The writer Carrie Courogen posted the phone number to cancel a Times subscription, citing too many awful Bret Stephens pieces, todays eugenics propaganda being the final straw as why you can no longer in good conscience subscribe. It was easy & painless & I just did it; you can too.

Stephens latest column is far from his first brush with controversy.

In August, he became embroiled in a dispute with a professor who had called him a bedbug on Twitter, after it emerged the New York Times had become infested with the insect pest. The spat ended with Stephens cancelling his Twitter account.

Time to do what I long ago promised to do, tweeted Stephens before he deactivated his account. Twitter is a sewer. It brings out the worst in humanity. I sincerely apologize for any part Ive played in making it worse, and to anyone Ive ever hurt. Thanks to all of my followers, but Im deactivating this account.

Stephens is a regular target of liberals ire for other columns attacking climate change science, saying the activist group Black Lives Matter has some thuggish elements and for writing a piece about the disease of the Arab mind.

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Slave Play: the Broadway show sparking an intense debate on race

The drama tackling race, sex and slavery by the youngest black male playwright on Broadway is seeing queues and grabbing the attention of theaters biggest names

Slave Play does not officially open on Broadway until next month, but just a few nights into previews the ground-breaking drama is already sparking an animated debate over race, drawing queues down the street and the attention of some of the biggest names in theatre.

The play, which Jeremy O Harris wrote while he was still in his first year at the Yale School of Drama, tackles race, sex, sexuality and slavery through the lives of three modern day interracial couples against the backdrop of a plantation in Virginia. The Rihanna song Work also features the lyrics to which hang in Manhattans Golden Theatre.

Harris is part of a new wave of diverse theatre-makers and playwrights including Jackie Sibblies Drury, who won a Pulitzer prize for Fairview, and Tarell McCraney, who won an Oscar for Moonlight and whose play Choir Boy was recently on Broadway who are bringing new work and new voices to New York theatre. They are also changing perceptions of what can be commercially successful in the process.

Slave Play, directed by Robert OHara, was performed at New York Theatre Workshop last year, where it attracted rave reviews and sold-out audiences that included stars such as Madonna, Whoopi Goldberg and Scarlett Johansson. It also attracted anger from some in the form of a campaign to shut it down and a petition started by a woman who said it left her offended and traumatized.

But when, months later, it was still being talked about, the shows producers decided to take it to Broadway.

At just 30 years old, and only months since graduating, Harris is now the youngest black male playwright ever to have a play on Broadway, a place where he never expected his work to find a home.

Its really humbling and exciting that a work like this is going to Broadway, but its also raw, he said. Its a lot of different emotions for me because theres a history on Broadway and Im not really a part of it, or people like me arent really a part of it. You can probably count on your hand, on your right hand, the amount of black queer men or women who have had successful Broadway careers.

Theres definitely some energy happening I dont know that I can call it a sea change until its not a surprise that a young, black and queer person is on Broadway and having a show that people want to see, said Harris.

Lead producer Greg Nobile said the golden age of television and social media have helped shift audience tastes. Were seeing actively the conversation about what is commercial shifting pretty radically in real time on Broadway, he said.

To Sullivan Jones, who plays Phillip in Slave Play, Broadway always felt like an elite space. Of course there have been the outliers, but just like a trend of old pieces of theatre that have been composed and worked on by black people, brown people, queer people, and were bringing all of that forth with this, he said.

OHara, who directed both the off- and on-Broadway productions, said the play is incredibly triggering.

Such is the thought-provoking nature of the play that they are holding public conversations on Sunday afternoons for audience members to discuss the play.

During rehearsals, OHara said the cast had a lot of conversations about the nature of race, the nature of sexuality, the nature of interracial love, the history of America, the history of the world. All of that was in the world with us.

They worked with an intimacy director for the plays multiple sex scenes only the second Broadway show to do so.

During rehearsals, he said, the team was predominantly formed of black women. The smallest demographic was white men.

On any given day, two white men in the space. That dynamic does not happen on Broadway normally. Normally its a room full of white people and mostly white men running things, OHara said. That to me in itself led for a different type of conversation in a different type of environment.

On Thursday night, only the fourth night of previews, audience members queued down the street in the rain to get in and the cast performed to an almost full house.

In the auditorium the audience was vocal in their reactions laughing regularly and at one point breaking out into spontaneous applause mid-scene and gave a standing ovation at the end.

Outside the theatre, audience members said it would take time to process the experience.

Sandra Hood, 62, a senior court clerk from New York, said she was attracted to the play by its provocative title and the reviews of its first run. It sounded like something that would make me want to make my own opinion, because it sounded like there was quite a bit of polarity.

She added: Im digesting it Im still sort of scratching my head about what point or points were intended, so its going to be very individual, what you walk away with.

Paris West, 29, a marketing associate from Westchester county, does not go to the theatre very often and when she does, she usually prefers musicals.

She said: Im still processing it. There are a lot of themes. I sat with my mum so Im really interested in how she feels about it, but yeah, it was great I havent seen anything like it before, its very provocative.

Early viewers on Broadway have so far included the author Roxane Gay, who praised it on Twitter, saying it was incendiary and moving and hilarious and brilliant and uncomfortable and painful and true.

Hamilton star and creator Lin-Manuel Miranda enthused: Dear Jeremy, I cant be at opening but Im dying to see your play and Im so excited its on Bway.

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To end racial disparities in policing, we must look beyond the data | Jennifer Eberhardt

Data shows black people in Oakland are much more likely than white people to be stopped, searched, handcuffed and arrested

People are damaged. People are heartbroken. People have fear, the dark-skinned Oakland native said, his voice amplified by outrage and pain. People are scared of the same people thats supposed to protect them.

Like the others sitting with me at the long table in front of the crowd at the Oakland public library, I was part of an advisory board tasked by the California attorney general with helping to quantify and address racial profiling by law enforcement. We listened as speaker after speaker shared hurtful and humiliating stories: traffic stops turned ugly, calls for help ignored, teenage boys hassled by cops for no discernible reason, rude encounters with officers who mistook victims for criminals.

The publics complaints were grounded in the present but set against a backdrop of brazen misconduct in a police department that had historically treated the mostly black areas of Oakland like a no-mans-land, where any black face could be an enemy.

The Oakland police department had been plagued with scandals for decades. The most notorious involved a band of vigilante cops who called themselves the riders and roamed the streets of the city from the late 1990s to 2000, planting drugs on innocent people, physically assaulting them, then falsely accusing them of criminal activity.

I felt ill when I learned of the victims accounts: A father taking his young son on his first barbershop visit had his nose broken and teeth knocked loose by a cop. A woman was forced to strip in the street while one officer searched her and another planted a rock of cocaine in the trunk of her car. A minister leaving a funeral service was stopped and searched by a cop who slid a crack pipe into his pocket, then hauled him off to jail. And more than once, officers bragged about shooting and killing their victims dogs, to send a clear message about who was in control.

The four officers who led the terror campaign were fired and criminally charged in 2000 with kidnapping, assault, conspiracy and obstruction of justice, but not one of them was ever convicted. The ringleader fled the country, escaping before he could be tried; juries for the others either acquitted or couldnt agree on a verdict. A class-action lawsuit was filed, with 119 plaintiffs, all but one of them black. Collectively, they had spent more than 14,665 days (approximately 40 years) behind bars for crimes that never occurred. In the end, the lawsuit, filed by the civil rights lawyers John Burris and Jim Chanin, led to a $10.9m settlement for the plaintiffs and federal oversight of the Oakland police department.

The oversight agreement required the department to collect data on police stops by race. But it took nearly ten years for the department to collect the kind of reliable data needed to figure out who was being stopped. In the spring of 2014, I was brought in as a subject matter expert to help analyze the data, determine whether there were significant racial disparities, and suggest ways to improve police-community interactions.

I soon recruited a group of researchers at Stanford to assist in the cause. Together, we analyzed over 28,000 police stops that occurred in 2013 and 2014. We found that roughly 60% of the stops officers made in Oakland were of black people, although they made up only 28% of the Oakland population at the time. Black people were disproportionately stopped even when we controlled for factors like the crime rate and the racial breakdown of residents in the areas where the stops took place.

We found that not only were black people significantly more likely than white people to be stopped but black people were significantly more likely to be searched, handcuffed and arrested. In fact, while 72% of Oakland police officers had handcuffed a black person during the course of a stop even when no arrest was made only 26% of officers had handcuffed a white person who was not arrested.

But institutional change requires looking beyond data on traffic stops. As clear as the racial disparities in policing were, we could not say that the differences were due solely to the racial biases of individual officers. There were too many cultural and procedural forces within the department that could influence officers choices on the streets, including department policies, enforcement strategies and supervisors direct commands to their officers.

In fact, the same disparities that community leaders view as proof of racial profiling have been cited by police officers as proof of who is most likely to commit crimes. In Oakland, for example, 83% of violent crime was attributed to black people in 2014. From a law enforcement perspective, the extreme racial disparities that show up in police stops are aligned with those crime rate stats, validating the focus and scope of their crime-fighting tactics.

In cases like this with two diametrically opposed interpretations of what the same numbers mean data collection alone, without additional levers to access, cannot close the breach. Its hard for the voices of community leaders to compete with what officers see and hear every day as they patrol the streets.

MALE BLACK. MALE BLACK. MALE BLACK. MALE BLACK. On a typical day, an officer on patrol might hear that dispatched description 300 times or 1,200 times a week, 50,000 times each year. I can only imagine the impact of that constant refrain.

When MALE BLACK is broadcast over the police radio, it is seldom followed by substantial descriptions. Sometimes members of the public who call the police may offer a rough estimate of the age or height or weight of the suspect, or possibly a vague description of his clothing. But virtually every description that police on patrol receive includes a basic gender-race pairing.

This is where procedural justice training, a type of restorative training that departments around the country have come to embrace, might come in. The focus is not on tactics but on building healthy relationships with the public. The goal is not to tally up as many stops as possible, but to improve the quality of each interaction once a stop has occurred.

The training aims to override a reflexive reliance on bias by encouraging officers to consider how they talk and how they listen to everyone they encounter on the job. It prods officers to behave in ways that are more in line with their ideal selves. This means that they give members of the public a chance to tell their story. They listen and consider community members concerns. They apply the law fairly and impartially. They act in a manner that the public will find respectful. They present themselves as authorities who can be trusted. And they do this not just at community meetings but every day, on every street, in every encounter. Both research and real-life experience have shown that if officers act in accordance with four tenets voice, fairness, respect, trustworthiness residents will be more inclined to think of the police as legitimate authorities and therefore be more likely to comply with the law.

How we are policed not only impacts the person at the center of an officers attention, but those observing nearby. I remember a sunny day in February 2008. Id just spoken at a conference on the death penalty in Monterey, California, and my husband and our three boys had come down from Palo Alto to join me. We were walking back to the hotel when we stopped to rest at a quiet local park. Once I caught my breath, I noticed a police officer walking up to a young black couple seated at a picnic table next to ours. The police officer began directing his attention to the teenage boy. I was stunned by how suddenly the atmosphere in that tiny space had changed. The officer began checking their IDs and calling the information in on his radio. Another officer showed up in a cruiser. The girl flipped open her cell phone and made a call. We were just out here sitting in the park. I dont know why theyre stopping him. What should I say? What should I do? I could hear a womans voice on the other end of the line, but I couldnt make out her words. I imagined a mother, about to be worried sick.

It turned out that a crime had been committed nearby and the boyfriend matched a description of the suspect. MALE BLACK. The officers asked him to stand; one pulled out a camera and began photographing him right there in the grassy picnic area next to Fishermans Wharf. The teenager stood stiffly as the officers camera clicked and families around us impassively looked on.

I wondered what I would say over the phone the day my own son called with fear in his voice, because he or a friend was inexplicably stopped and questioned by police. I felt suddenly frozen, unbearably aware of all the ways their lives would change as they moved beyond the bubble that boyhood in suburbia provided.

My boys were going to grow older and they were going to be fearful and the cops were going to be fearful unless we all could find a way to free ourselves from the tight grip of history.

From BIASED by Jennifer L Eberhardt, PhD, published by Viking, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright (c) 2019 by Jennifer L Eberhardt.

Dr Jennifer Eberhardt is a professor of psychology at Stanford and a recipient of a 2014 MacArthur genius grant. She has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and was named one of Foreign Policys 100 Leading Global Thinkers. She is the cofounder and codirector of Sparq (Social Psychological Answers to Real-World Questions), a Stanford center that brings together researchers and practitioners to address significant social problems.

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