While many vets are being outed as far-right extremists, one branch keeps popping up when it comes to neo-Nazis: the United States Marine Corps. Last Friday, the Department of Justice released one of the latest in an endless string of indictments involving white men subscribing to the tenets of the far right and planning acts of terror in the U.S. The document also had an all-too-familiar detail: Former American service members using, prosecutors claim, their tradecraft to plan an attack And although it has unfortunately become commonplace to see veterans connected to domestic extremism, two of these men were part of a military branch that has repeatedly popped up when it comes to neo-Nazis: The United States Marine Corps (USMC).
In the latest filing, four men were charged with planning a coordinated, armed assault on a power station somewhere in the U.S. Two of the conspirators, Liam Collins, 21, and Jordan Duncan, 26, are ex-Marines who were formerly stationed at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina. According to the new charges, both men “discussed using homemade Thermite” to “burn through and destroy power transformers” and also “stole military gear, including magazines for assault-style rifles.” Another former Marine, Justin Hermanson, 21, was implicated in the same conspiracy and was previously charged; this is the third indictment involving all of the accused, as investigators continue to tack on charges from the original filing in November 2020. Over the past three years, at least seven former Marines have openly avowed or been identified with neo-Nazism or the extreme right, with some alleged to have been involved in planned terrorist acts. The Corps reported to NPR in April that it had, in the past three years alone, found 16 cases of extremism within its ranks. Though these numbers account for only a tiny fraction of those Marines who enlist and serve, the problem is worth noting, especially given the USMC’s past. Friday’s charges also noted that the four men had made a video shooting weapons and wearing the trademark skull masks popularized by the neo-Nazi terror group Atomwaffen Division (AWD), which has been under a yearslong FBI crackdown and is connected to several terrorism-related crimes in the U.S. One of the earliest members of AWD, Vasilios Pistolis, 23, was a former Marine whom ProPublica and Frontline outed for his involvement in the terror group in 2018. He was subsequently charged and booted from the Corps for his ties to the group
via vice: Why Are So Many Marines Neo-Nazis?