Brandon Clint Russell is a three-time convicted felon, violent, neo-Nazi domestic terrorist who was arrested once again this week after being caught planning to destroy an electric grid in Baltimore, Maryland. Russell is a former student at the University of South Florida where he studied nuclear physics; at the time of his first arrest, he was serving in the Florida Army National Guard.
In 2015, at just eighteen-years-old, Russell first appeared on the influential fascist website “Iron March.” The forum, which was shut down in 2017, was a popular webpage for white nationalists who were able to freely express their terrorizing plans to wage war against minorities, specifically the Jewish people. Russell used Iron March to advertise his neo-Nazi regime which he was creating after an intensive three years of research: the dangerous Atomwaffen Division (AWD). He was specifically seeking radical individuals familiar with military training and received dozens of interested recruits.
Atomwaffen or ‘nuclear weapons’ in German, often goes by the alias name of the Nationalist Socialist Order (NSO). It is a terrorist, neo-Nazi organization that formed under Russell’s vision of accelerationism. This mindset believes modern-day civilization cannot be redeemed and therefore must be destroyed so that a ‘whites-only utopia can take its place.’ The group obsesses over the notion of jihadi and other terrorist actions to receive this lifestyle.
AWD is listed as a hate group and terrorist group by multiple international governments, including the US, the UK, and Canada. Under Russell’s leadership, members of the AWD were responsible for several murders, planned terrorist attacks, antisemitic hate crimes, and other criminal actions. The inspiration for these attacks originates from Russell’s inspirational heroes – neo-Nazis William Pierce, James Mason, and Joseph Tommasi. When it came to recruitment, Russell specifically sought young college men with slogans such as: ‘Join Your Local Nazis’ and ‘The Nazis are Coming.’ Russell was even able to recruit several veterans and current members of the U.S. Armed Forces to help train in the use of firearms and military tactics. Upon recruitment, members were encouraged to read Hitler’s Mein Kampf.
AWD members were required to attend ‘Hate Camps’ where they produce propaganda to entice new members to join. In these propaganda videos members are seen yelling, ‘gas the Kikes, race war now’ while shooting weapons into the air. AWD advocates for attacks against Jewish communities because they believed the ‘kike plans to destroy the Aryan race.’
In May 2017, Russell’s AWD roommate, Devon Arthurs, who recently converted to militant Islam, was arrested for murdering fellow AWD members with an assault rifle. The arrest turned into a hostage situation which led to the discovery of a large stockpile of explosives in Russell’s possession. Upon entering Russell’s room, there was a framed picture of Oklahoma City bomber, Timothy McVeigh and the explosives were the same type used in the Oklahoma City Bombing. The FBI issued an arrest warrant for Russell on explosive charges and warned he may be planning a terrorist attack. Shockingly, the Judge presiding over the case released Russell on a $200,000 bond stating he was ‘not a threat.’
Two days later, Russell was pulled over and arrested after Officers discovered his car was filled with assault rifles, explosive materials, body armor, and more than a thousand rounds of ammunition. The FBI stated the explosives were powerful enough to destroy an airliner and confirmed he was planning to target civilians, with an emphasis on attacking synagogues.
In 2017, Russell pled guilty in a federal court and was sentenced to five years in jail. While in jail, he issued a statement to his AWD members and thanked them for their ‘undying loyalty and courage.’ This letter, which was intercepted by the FBI, revealed bomb-making instructions and told the AWD members the ‘sword had been drawn, there is no turning back now.’ Russell was released on August 23, 2021.
Earlier this week, a federal grand jury charged Russell and his girlfriend, Sarah Clendaniel, for conspiracy to attack Baltimore’s electrical plants. Before being arrested, Russell claimed this act of terror would be the ‘greatest thing somebody can do.’
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