Neo-Nazi leader responsible for ‘Operation Kristallnacht’ arrested in Michigan by the Forward

Neo-Nazi leader responsible for ‘Operation Kristallnacht’ arrested in Michigan

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The self-proclaimed leader of the white supremacist group “The Base,” was arrested in Michigan last week and charged with multiple felonies according to a statement from Michigan’s attorney general, Dana Nessel.

The Base is an online Neo-Nazi group with members around the country. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center it is made up of small, “terroristic cells” and believes “society should be pushed to collapse so a white ethnostate can arise out of the ruins.”

Founded in 2018, it has gained notoriety for its quick spread and brazen recruiting on online platforms.

Last year, the group vandalized a Wisconsin synagogue as part of what members called “Operation Kristallnacht.”

The operation was part of a planned campaign of vandalism meant to terrorize Jewish citizens and make them fear for their safety, so that they would “refrain from freely exercising their rights to use and hold property in the same manner as non-Jewish white citizens,” according to court documents from the trial of the synagogue’s vandal.

Police were accompanied by FBI agents in Bad Axe, Mich., a town about 100 miles north of Detroit, when they arrested 25-year-old Justin Watkins and 35-year-old Alfred Gorman.

According the statement, the two had photographed a home in Dexter, Mich., in an attempt to intimidate Daniel Harper, a left-wing podcast host who was critical of neo-Nazis.

They posted the photos online with the message “The Base sends greetings to Daniel Harper.” However, Harper did not, in fact, live in the pictured home.

For their attempted harassment of Harper, Both Watkins and Gorman have been charged with membership in a criminal gang, using a computer to commit a crime and the unlawful posting of messages. All three crimes are felonies which combined could carry a prison sentence of more than 25 years.

Justin Watkins, who claims that he was appointed leader of the group, had also run so-called “hate camps” in Michigan, where he trained initiates in tactics and firearms use for a potentially violent overthrow of the government.


David Ian Klein

David Ian Klein

David Ian Klein covers breaking news and international Jewish communities for the Forward. You can reach him at and on Twitter @davidianklein .

Neo-Nazi leader of ‘Operation Kristallnacht’ arrested

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Neo-Nazi leader responsible for ‘Operation Kristallnacht’ arrested in Michigan

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