_ Four neo-Nazis arrested on gun charges wanted to spark a race war,
prosecutors said, and their potential targets included Black Lives
Matter protesters _
, Illustration: HuffPost; Photos: Getty
In 2016, Liam Collins, then just a teenager living in New Jersey, had
a very specific vision for his life. He was going to join the U.S.
Marines, get the training he needed, and then form a fascist
paramilitary group that would use violence and terror to create a
“It takes a man’s willpower and heart to make a commitment like
this,” Collins wrote at the time on a since-shuttered neo-Nazi web
forum called Iron March.
Four years later, in early October of 2020, Collins was discharged
from the Marines and moved to Idaho, where he settled down with a crew
of fellow self-described fascists. The group was allegedly heavily
armed, had conducted weapons training, and had even produced their own
propaganda videos in which they displayed support for the violent
neo-Nazi Atomwaffen Division.
But one day in late October, federal agents arrived. HuffPost first
that three men — including Collins, another former Marine, and a
porn actor — were arrested for a conspiracy to ship illegally
altered guns across state lines. Although initial court documents
offered no details of the men’s white supremacist
[[link removed]] activity, a
recently filed in federal court (which adds new charges and a new
defendant to the existing case) lays out horrifying details of their
alleged racism and bloodlust.
All told, the new court documents — along with leaked Iron March
messages [[link removed]] obtained by anti-fascist
activists — paint a frightening portrait of American extremist
[[link removed]] terror. They show
white supremacists finding spaces to organize online and in the
military, where they discuss moving to regions where they think they
can make inroads among predominantly white populations.
The documents also offer evidence of these white supremacists either
surveilling Black Lives Matter demonstrations or discussing how to
kill the protesters taking part. Prosecutors allege that on two
occasions this summer in Boise, Idaho, one of the neo-Nazi defendants
was spotted silently stalking the demonstrations from his car, driving
slowly near anti-racist protesters gathered in the state capitol. He
later allegedly texted one of the other defendants about forming a
“death squad” to massacre Black Lives Matter activists.
Collins, 21, was arrested in Idaho along with Paul Kryscuk, a
35-year-old former porn actor, and Jordan Duncan, a 25-year-old former
Marine. The fourth defendant, a 21-year-old active-duty Marine named
Justin Wade Hermanson, was arrested in North Carolina as part of the
A federal grand jury alleges that all four men — who referred to
themselves as “Disciple,” “Deacon,” “Soldier” and
“Sandman” — participated in a weapons conspiracy to manufacture,
transport and sell illegally altered firearms starting in 2019.
The four are facing an array of criminal counts. All of them are
charged with conspiracy to manufacture firearms and ship those arms
interstate. Collins, Kryscuk and Hermanson are also facing charges of
interstate transportation of firearms without a license. Collins and
Kryscuk each are charged with an additional count of interstate
transportation of unregistered firearms. According to the feds,
Collins and Kryscuk could face a maximum of 20 years in prison,
Hermanson could face as much as 10 years behind bars, and Duncan could
face a maximum of five years. Most defendants don’t end up receiving
the maximum sentence.
‘Come Home White Man’
Paul Kryscuk was known as “Pauly Harker” in the porn world, a
stage name he used in films in which he’d sexually abuse and
humiliate Black women. In 2014, according to a website that monitors
racism and abuse in the porn industry, Kryscuk expressed some regret
for his role in these films, calling it the “most degrading job”
he’d ever done.
But by early 2017 he was back on the job, starring in more vile and
racist porn videos, including some in which he specifically lashed out
at the Black Lives Matter movement.
It was around this time that he started posting to Iron March, an
online gathering place for the most dangerous elements of the
far-right, including murderous neo-Nazi groups like the Atomwaffen
“I’ve recently become much more of a virulent racist than I was
even a month or two ago,” Kryscuk wrote in one post, according to
Iron March chat logs [[link removed]] obtained and
published online by anti-fascist activists. “There is no possible
co-existence with the other races.”
Some of his posts attracted Collins’ attention. Collins had written
on Iron March about his dreams of forming a new group called
“Fascist Liaison.” It would be a “modern day SS,” a reference
to the genocidal paramilitary arm of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi party.
Members, Collins wrote, would go hiking and camping together, do gym
sessions, practice with weapons and eventually buy a plot of land, all
in preparation for a race war.
“We’re militants, not Intellectuals,” Collins explained to
Kryscuk in one message. “Let me know if you would be interested in
joining the Liaison. From then on you can be briefed.”
“I am extremely interested,” Kryscuk responded.
Iron March was shut down
in late 2017, but by then, according to federal prosecutors, Collins
and Kryscuk were using encrypted messaging apps to recruit other white
nationalists to their group. These recruits included the two other
defendants — Duncan and Hermanson — who, like Collins, had been
stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.
By February 2020, Kryscuk had moved to Boise. When he arrived,
according to the indictment, he met up with other group members in the
area and discussed possibly converting solvent traps, which are gun
cleaning devices, into silencers.
Prosecutors allege that he preached to the group that the “final
frontier is real life violence.” He claimed that he had been
“acquiring some serious skills” and that he had become “pretty
Duncan, who would soon begin working as a contractor with the U.S.
Navy in Boise, met up with Kryscuk in the city in July. Later that
summer the pair, along with two other unidentified group members,
participated in training exercises in the desert outside Boise, even
filming a propaganda video featuring the four men “outfitted in
AtomWaffen masks giving the ‘Heil Hitler’ sign, beneath the image
of a black sun,” according to the indictment.
The video ended with a message: “Come home white man.”
The Nazis Of Camp Lejeune
In November 2019, anonymous anti-fascist activists obtained and
published the contents of Iron March’s database
allowing researchers and journalists to match usernames with their
corresponding email and IP addresses.
Among the first Iron March users to be exposed in the press
was Collins. A Marines spokesperson told Newsweek at the time that a
“full investigation” into Collins’ alleged extremism would be
But by August of 2020, this investigation was still ongoing, Collins
remained a Marine, and prosecutors say Duncan and Kryscuk were
excitedly telling their fellow fascists about Collins, who they said
had “tons of gear and training” and had already recruited three
other Marines to their group.
According to the indictment, they also praised Collins for having
“sacrificed the most for the cause.”
A Marines spokesman told HuffPost that Collins, a rifleman who reached
the rank of lance corporal, was prematurely discharged from the
service in September 2020 because “the character of his service”
was “incongruent with Marine Corps’ expectations and
Citing an ongoing administrative process, the spokesman would not
elaborate any further.
In his previous posts on Iron March, Collins had been explicit about
his motives for joining the military: He wanted to get training he
could then use with his fascist paramilitary group. Members of his
group, he wrote in one post, would be “required to have served in a
nation’s military, whether U.S., UK, or Poland.”
Scholars of white supremacists in America have long warned of
precisely this dangerous military-to-paramilitary pipeline.
Veterans and active-duty personnel have historically been among the
most effective domestic terrorists, Kathleen Belew, author of “Bring
the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America,”
said in an interview last year after HuffPost exposed
seven white nationalist group members in the military.
Current and former military members have “played an instrumental
role in moving weapons, training and tactics from military to civilian
spaces” and have “dramatically escalated the impact of white power
violence on civilian populations,” Belew said.
Of the four defendants named in the latest indictment, three —
Collins, Duncan and Hermanson — had served in the Marines and
possibly met each other at Camp Lejeune.
Hermanson, by then a corporal, was the only active-duty Marine at the
time of the arrests. He was most recently stationed at Camp Lejeune,
where he worked as a clerk in the 1st Battalion, 2nd Division.
It’s also where, according to the indictment, he had started going
by the name “Sandman” while communicating with the fascist group.
He helped recruit and vet at least one other person for the group, the
indictment states, and had been viewing Atomwaffen propaganda
“The serious allegations are not a reflection of the Marine Corps,
do not reflect the oath every Marine takes to support and defend the
constitution, and do not align with our core values of honor, courage,
and commitment,” the Marines spokesman told HuffPost.
Hermanson and Collins had been assigned to the same unit at Camp
Lejeune. But in October, Collins was pushed out of the Marines and
joined Duncan and Kryscuk in Boise.
By then the group in Idaho had assembled an arsenal with at least
three 9 mm pistols with suppressors, four lightweight semi-automatic
rifles with detachable magazines, and two short barrel rifles,
according to the indictment. Kryscuk was also allegedly viewing
materials about car bombs, remote detonators and other explosives
They appeared to be inching ever closer to the “real life
violence” they craved. One of their potential targets? Those
demonstrating during this year’s historic Black Lives Matter
The ‘Death Squad’
News of the arrests of the first three men came to light
after Alicia Garza, a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement,
tweeted that the FBI had visited her home in October and said her name
had been found on a list in the home of an Idaho white supremacist.
“This is why this President is so dangerous,” Garza tweeted at the
time. “He is stoking fires he has no intention of controlling. I’m
ok y’all, but this shit is not ok. Vote this muthafucka out. For
The superseding indictment indicates that the four defendants had
started taking more proactive steps to target Black Lives Matter
Kryscuk, according to court documents, was “within eyesight” of a
BLM rally at Boise State University on July 21, “first sitting in
his parked vehicle then driving around the rally area slowly, for a
total of approximately 20 minutes.” His vehicle was spotted in the
area of another BLM rally in Boise on Aug. 21, the superseding
And on Oct. 1, Kryscuk and Duncan allegedly “discussed their group
... shooting protestors in Boise,” the indictment says.
Prosecutors say that the discussion, which appears to have taken place
via text message, went in part like this:
KRYSCUK - “Death squad”
KRYSCUK - “Assassins creed hoodies and suppressed 22 pistols”
DUNCAN - “People freaking tf out”
KRYSCUK - “About what”
DUNCAN - “The end of democracy”
KRYSCUK - “One can hope”
Boise State professor Terry J. Wilson II, a spokesperson for the local
Black Lives Matter chapter, told HuffPost that the news of the
neo-Nazis stalking his fellow anti-racist demonstrators “reinforces,
vindicates and validates why we are here.” He said the BLM
demonstrations in Boise were frequently met with antagonism from both
members of the far-right and local law enforcement, all of whom were
Wilson also recalled receiving an email from the Department of
Homeland Security ahead of one rally warning him and his fellow
organizers of “active efforts” to harm protesters. (HuffPost has
not independently confirmed this email.)
But Wilson said the Black Lives Matter organizers were unsure of
whether they could trust the federal agency. “To us, it sounded
like an active effort to keep us from protesting, is what it felt like
because of the Trump administration,” Wilson said, “and while we
knew there was a threat, we didn’t know it was that imminent.”
Still, he said he was not surprised to learn that neo-Nazis had
discussed killing him and his fellow demonstrators.
“Especially with the rhetoric that comes from the Republican Party,
the GOP/KKK, we’re not shocked, not surprised, that neo-Nazism is
alive in Trump country,” Wilson said.
Idaho, Destination For White Supremacists
In 2017, Kryscuk posted a short manifesto of sorts to Iron March,
urging his fellow fascists to prepare to fight a race war. A major
priority, Kryscuk wrote, is the “seizing of territory” and “the
[[link removed]]” of
He urged people to begin “buying property in remote areas that are
already predominantly White and right leaning.”
Then, he instructed, “incrementally start radicalizing your
neighbors and friends. Show them that there is no easy way out of
this. There will be many Whites that don’t agree with our
philosophy. Remember, when the SHTF [shit hits the fan] they will
listen to whoever is the strongest and WE are the strongest.”
By 2020, it seemed Kryscuk and his fellow fascists had settled on
Idaho as the place to set up shop. It was a somewhat unsurprising
selection, as the state and the greater Northwest have attracted white
supremacists and other extremists for generations. In the 1980s, the
Aryan Nations made its home in Idaho, occupying a sprawling compound
in the countryside.
Amy Herzfeld-Copple, an Idaho native and deputy director of the civil
rights organization Western States Center, told HuffPost in a
statement that although Idaho is increasingly diverse, it also remains
“overwhelmingly white” and is still wrestling with its past as a
destination for hate groups seeking to create a whites-only
“The combination of relatively affordable land, little-to-no
interference from the government and a largely conservative electorate
and legislature is a clear draw,” she said. “On top of that, while
many Idaho communities have a history of rejecting bigotry, some Idaho
elected officials hold far-right views and publicly partner with
Herzfeld-Copple added that the extremist threat has been severe this
year in Idaho.
“Armed anti-government extremists have resisted public health
measures, intimidated officials and broadly undermined democratic
practice in the state,” she said.
A Growing Right-Wing Threat
Although the feds allege the defendants plotted to potentially target
Black Lives Matter protesters while trying to set up a whites-only
ethnostate, none of them are charged with a domestic terrorism-related
crime. Because the plot involved guns and not, say, a bomb
no terrorism-related federal statute could be used against the
defendants. The First Amendment protects much of the activity of
domestic extremist hate groups, and no federal domestic terrorism law
[[link removed]] broadly
covers acts or potential acts of terrorism. Civil liberties proponents
worry that such a law would be abused by prosecutors.
There’s certainly reason to worry about federal government overreach
against defendants with disfavored political beliefs: Earlier this
year, a Trump-appointed federal prosecutor in Tennessee brought rare
against a member of an anarcho-punk band after he posted online images
from a photo shoot for his band in which he was holding a fake Molotov
cocktail. But the lack of a federal domestic terrorism statute means
that cases involving designated foreign terrorist groups are much
easier to bring
than cases against domestic extremists plotting violence. The federal
government has relied upon a variety of other federal charges to use
against white supremacists they consider dangerous.
Just last week, federal prosecutors in California unveiled charges
[[link removed]] of
enticement of a minor and production of child pornography against a
member of an anti-government militia group associated with the
“boogaloo” movement. The case grew out of an FBI counterterrorism
investigation into the death of Federal Protective Service officer
David Patrick Underwood. Two men associated with the boogaloo movement
have been charged
in connection with Underwood’s death.
The charges against the neo-Nazi foursome come as law enforcement
that President Donald Trump’s increasingly unhinged rhetoric about
the 2020 election is going to inspire violence from his supporters.
Current and former law enforcement officials of both parties say
Trump’s lies about mass voter fraud conspiracies could lead to
attacks on government officials by right-wing supporters who believe
the election was stolen.