How much of a threat do right-wing groups pose? A new report highlights the activities of just one of them — and how the authorities are not doing enough to step in.
Listen To This Story
Far-right extremism is surging in the US as small neo-Nazi cells, many of them connected, are popping up throughout the country. Now, an investigation of just one of them — a New England-based neo-Nazi gang — offers a glimpse into the criminal activities and inner workings of the group, its ties to other extremists, and the lack of legal action against gang members.
The numbers show that this is a serious issue. Acts of domestic terrorism, most of which have been committed by right-wing groups, shot up by 357 percent between 2013 and 2021, and three-quarters of extremism-related murders in the past 10 years were committed by right-wing extremists.
To show how much impact just one of these right-wing groups has, Task Force Butler, a watchdog organization, has investigated Nationalist Social Club, or “NSC-131” (131 is an alphanumeric abbreviation used by the group for “anti-Communist action”). The findings of the probe were recently released in a comprehensive report.
“[NSC-131 is] a violent terrorist gang that primarily functions to plan, train, and obtain weapons for the explicit purpose of engaging in acts of violence and harassment against religious, racial, and ethnic minorities, the LGBTQIA+ community, and others deemed ‘enemies,’” the investigation found. The report also stresses the need for law enforcement to recognize the inherent criminal aspect of NSC-131.
“Every single criminal act that an NSC-131 gang member engages in on behalf of the organization is the result of a conspiracy by, with, and through the organization’s hierarchical leadership structure, and should be treated as such by law enforcement,” the report states.
The document is not publicly available.
“Project Husky” was released upon request to journalists, researchers, and law enforcement, and painstakingly outlines the criminal activities and violent ambitions of NSC-131. The report, intended for law enforcement and “legal accountability practitioners,” argues that NSC-131 falls under the legal definition of a criminal street gang, and is intended “to form the basis for civil and criminal legal action against the violent terrorist gang known as NSC-131.”
This need for comprehensive legal action against NSC-131 is underscored, claims the report, by the inaction of law enforcement and prosecutors, with the report finding that NSC-131 “is emboldened by law enforcement failing to treat [them] as a violent, criminal street gang and racketeering organization.”
The report identifies dozens of members and associates of the group, documents their ties with other far-right organizations, and closely examines NSC-131 events and propaganda.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), there are over 700 active hate groups in the United States. While a political minority, these groups are often an oversized threat due to their extreme ideologies and use of violence. NSC-131 is just one of those groups.
NSC-131, which is listed as a neo-Nazi hate group by both the Anti-Defamation League and SPLC, was started in December 2019 in Massachusetts by Chris Hood and has since grown to operate across New England.
According to an NSC-131 social media post, their ultimate goal is that “New England will be formally recognized as a White Homeland and a sovereign state.” Another post hints at the violent tactics NSC-131 envisions to achieve this goal: “The nature of the conflict will only become more open in the future. No one, friend or foe, will be able to hide his nature.”
The report’s intent is to “form the basis for civil and criminal legal action” against NSC-131, and maintains that “local, state, and federal government must work together to impose disincentives through both criminal and civil legal action against all known members of NSC-131 who have participated in their various criminal conspiracies, and bias-motivated acts of terrorism.”
Project Husky details nine incidents since 2021 in which members engaged in “politically-motivated violence.” These incidents include members attacking volunteers at a book reading at a Providence, RI, community library, and a member smashing the car window of a political opponent following an NSC-131 rally.
Task Force Butler also highlights numerous members of NSC-131 and their ties to the wider American far-right movement. The majority of NSC-131 members, a number of which were found to be former members of the US military, formerly or currently belong to other white supremacist groups, including neo-Nazi terrorist organizations.
NSC-131 responded to the report in a social media post, saying it is “comprised of slander, speculation, exaggerations, and classic Jewish reframing,” while doubling down on the use of violence.
The report looks toward the New Hampshire attorney general’s office and their pursuit of civil charges against NSC-131 leaders for civil rights violations as a step in the right direction.
Task Force Butler hopes to inspire more legal action like this to ultimately “hold NSC-131 legally accountable for their politically and bias-motivated harassment of vulnerable minority communities, their terrorizing of local residents in cities and towns throughout the United States, their acts of violence, and their use of American cities as backdrops to showcase for the media and the nation the ethno-nationalist agenda.”