White Nationalist “Active Clubs” Maintain an Active Online Presence – Security Boulevard

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Nisos
White Nationalist “Active Clubs” Maintain an Active Online Presence

Threat Analysis

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Nisos regularly monitors mainstream and alternative social media platforms as well as other online communities for the activities of various extremist groups, including Active Clubs, to stay abreast of developments in their on- and offline behavior. Active Clubs are a network of locally and regionally affiliated white supremacist and white nationalist workout and mixed martial arts (MMA) training groups that conduct overt political activities such as protests and demonstrations, in-person and online propaganda distribution, and coordinated activities with other extremist groups such as the Patriot Front and White Lives Matter. Active Clubs exist in almost every US state and in numerous Western and Northern European nations.

Active clubs originated with Robert Rundo’s Rise Above Movement (RAM), a California-based white supremacist movement, and have gained significant traction in the United States and abroad. Rundo shifted tactics from leading the organized group RAM to promoting a decentralized network of Active Clubs following the sentencing of three RAM members in 2019 for violence related to the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia (see source 1 in appendix). Rundo’s record—including a recent arrest, release, and re-arrest—raises the question of whether Active Clubs are positioned to participate in future political violence. At surface level, the designator “Active Club” offers an ambiguity that allows such groups to operate under the radar, though their messaging exhibits an extreme white nationalist ideology. Active Clubs’ participation in public rallies, particularly counter-protests, combined with members’ focus on physicality, poses a risk for public violence. Rundo’s recent arrest does not diminish the threat of Active Clubs’ political and hate-inspired violence, particularly as this already vast network continues to expand. Monitoring Active Clubs activities to better understand this risk requires an evolving understanding of members’ techniques for evading law enforcement scrutiny and familiarity with the alternative online communities in which they congregate.

Graphic 1: Local, State, and International Active Club logos compiled by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
Active Club imagery almost always adopts the Celtic Cross symbol.
Note the Big Sky (top right) use of the Nazi Black Sun. ( See source 2 in appendix)

Active Clubs primarily operate on alternative social media platforms such as Telegram and Gab, where the average Club has several hundred subscribers or followers. The groups use these platforms to push propaganda, organize in-person training events, and coordinate with external groups such as Patriot Front and White Lives Matter. Nisos has identified approximately 100 Telegram channels associated with different Active Clubs in North America, along with profiles on alternative and traditional social media platforms such as Gab, Odysee, and X (formerly Twitter).

Graphic 2: Post on alternative social media site Gab outlining how and
why Active Clubs operate and their requirements. (See source 3 in appendix)

BACKGROUND

Rundo founded RAM in 2017 as a southern California-based white supremacist movement and group focused on street-fighting and MMA with an emphasis on real-world action in support of its ideological goals. It gained notoriety in the aftermath of the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville (see source 4 and 5 in appendix). In January 2021, Rundo and German neo-Nazi Denis Kapustin introduced the concept for decentralized, nationwide Active Clubs on the Active Club Podcast. The podcast outlined the Clubs’ purpose for training fighters in support of white nationalism and provided instructions on how to spread propaganda.

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DISCLAIMER:

The reporting contained herein from the Nisos research organization consists of analysis reflecting assessments of probability and levels of confidence and should not necessarily be construed as fact. All content is provided on an as-is basis and does not constitute professional advice, and its accuracy reflects the reliability, timeliness, authority, and relevancy of the sourcing underlying those analytic assessments.

About Nisos®

Nisos is the Managed Intelligence Company. We are a trusted digital investigations partner, specializing in unmasking threats to protect people, organizations, and their digital ecosystems in the commercial and public sectors. Our open source intelligence services help security, intelligence, legal, and trust and safety teams make critical decisions, impose real world consequences, and increase adversary costs. For more information, visit: https://www.nisos.com.

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