- Leaked chat records from a white supremacist group show many applicants claim to have current or former ties to the US military.
- The records were posted online by Unicorn Riot, a media collective known for reporting on extremist groups.
- Applicants with military backgrounds said they could offer skills like “Marine martial arts” and the ability to “clear rooms.”
Leaked chat records and membership applications show roughly one in five people who applied to join the white supremacist group Patriot Front claimed to have current or former ties to the US military, according to documents published by Unicorn Riot and analyzed by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
SPLC, a civil rights nonprofit that tracks hate groups, found that 18 of the 87 people who applied said they were either in the military or veterans, with a number highlighting skills picked up through the military.
Applicants reportedly included a 21-year-old man claiming to be a former Marine and a current employee of the Department of Homeland Security, a man claiming to be a current Army reservist, and a veteran who said that he became a national socialist after listening to Alex Jones’ 9/11 conspiracy theories.
In January, activists from Unicorn Riot, a left-leaning media collective known for reporting on extremist groups, published more than 55,000 messages and files from the Patriot Front group.
Patriot Front was established in the aftermath of the deadly 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va. by former members of the neo-nazi group “Vanguard America,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Applicants who claimed to have ties to the military said they had skills like the ability to “clear rooms” and knowledge of “Marine martial arts” and said they had “training in firearms” and “military intelligence.”
This trend of seeing people with connections to the military join up with extremist groups is not limited to the Patriot Front group.
It has been seen elsewhere, such as with the Oath Keepers, which 81 uniformed US service members have signed up with, according to a recent USA Today report. Fourteen of 20 still in the service used their official military email address.
In February 2021, a report from the Pentagon said military members are “highly prized” recruits for extremist groups and that they can “bring legitimacy to their causes and enhance their ability to carry out attacks.”
Current service members are prohibited from advocating for or actively participating in extremist organizations, but the Department of Defense does not ban specific groups. The Pentagon issued new rules in 2021 attempting to further prevent US military personnel from engaging with these groups.