Skip To Content

Neo-Nazis who vandalized a synagogue are recruiting in plain sight

A group of neo-Nazis and domestic terrorists called The Base whose members vandalized a Wisconsin synagogue in 2019 are recruiting on social media platforms, on messaging apps and even in video games, according to new podcast episodes out Thursday from the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“It’s all done quite openly,” said the co-host of the podcast “Sounds Like Hate,” Geraldine Moriba. “We do have secret recordings from their vetting rooms but their recruiting is done openly on every social media platform.”

The podcast explores The Base’s methods of recruitment, but also their vetting process, which has been revealed through recordings leaked to the Southern Poverty Law Center by a whistleblower.

The leadership of the group, including 47-year-old founder Rinaldo Nazzaro, looks for military and combat experience. Leaders brag about their land ownership, saying members can use it to train. They go to “great lengths,” to figure out who is white, said Moriba, by interrogating the background of prospective members and asking if they have ever done a DNA test.

They worry that some people are “white-appearing but might be Jewish,” she said.

Founded in 2018, The Base is made up of small terror cells around the United States. They hope for a societal collapse that would leave room for a white ethnostate.

The group made headlines in January of 2020 after the FBI charged three members with firearms and alien-related charges. The criminal complaint against them mentions discussions of acts of violence against Black Americans and Jews.

Analysts used artificial intelligence to find patterns in the recordings.

For example, there were 37 mentions of Nazarro’s land, used as proof that he was putting his “name and land on the line” for the cause, said Moriba. Nearly half the recordings mentioned targeting by the system, the police, the government or the media. And a third of the conversations contain the phrase “not doing anything illegal.”

One prospective member, known as the Ecologist, talks about how he wants to liberate white people “through economic sabotage such as bombings” and arson.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.