(Washington and Saint Petersburg) Washington on Monday listed a white supremacist group on its blacklist for international terrorism for the first time in order to show its determination in the face of this particularly acute “threat” in the United States, despite the ambiguity often criticized for Donald Trump.
Francesco FONTEMAGGI and Marina KORENEVA
France Media Agency
The measure targets a group called the Russian Imperial Movement and three of its leaders, Stanislav Vorobiev, Denis Gariev and Nikolai Trushchalov.
“This is the first time that the United States has put white supremacist terrorists on this black list, which shows how seriously this government takes this threat”, the anti-terrorism coordinator told US Department of State, Nathan Sales.
If an old website of this small group has been banned in Russia for extremism, the movement itself is not considered “terrorist” by Moscow.
Washington accuses him, however, of “providing paramilitary training to neo-Nazis and white supremacists” in two centers in Saint Petersburg, and of having thus trained Swedes who then carried out attacks in their late country. 2016 – start 2017.
This monarchist movement claims to be able to train in knife fighting and martial arts, and considers it “criminal weakness for a modern man in Russia not to be a warrior”.
“We want to make sure he can't do the same thing here in the United States,” Nathan Sales told a conference call with reporters.
United States “not immune”
The Trump administration believes that this group “plays an important role in trying to rally Europeans and Americans in a common front against those whom they perceive as their enemies,” said the diplomat.
“Generally speaking, any foreign terrorist group that tries to make common cause with Americans is a big concern for us,” insisted Nathan Sales.
“It's ridiculous,” reacted Denis Gariev, questioned in Saint Petersburg by AFP who had met him in 2015 when he was training “volunteers” in combat in Ukraine alongside the pro-Russian separatists. “So many years have passed. So they could have accused tens of thousands of volunteers of terrorism, “he added, denying any racist or supremacist ideology.
“All of this is politics,” he said.
Beyond its concrete aspect – the organization and its leaders will no longer have access to the American financial system -, the American decision is in fact above all symbolic. It is a matter of displaying the action of the Trump administration in the face of this “white terrorism”, also active on American soil.
“The United States is not immune to this threat” of “terrorism linked to white supremacism”, which has spread throughout the world since 2015, recognized the diplomat.
He spoke of recent attacks “targeting people for their race or religion”, against synagogues in Pittsburgh, where 06 people lost their lives in October 2018, or in Poway, California, where a white supremacist from 19 years ago killed a woman and injured three people in the middle of the Passover year a year ago.
But also the murderous shooting of El Paso, including the author, last summer before killing 22 Customers of a supermarket, had written a manifesto denouncing “a Hispanic invasion of Texas”.
Since these attacks in Pittsburgh and El Paso, the FBI has multiplied operations in circles of the radical white far right.
For years, the American authorities have been accused by many observers of neglecting the cases of internal terrorism, which have killed more in the United States since 2002 than jihadism.
For several analysts, the ambiguity long maintained by Donald Trump with regard to white nationalists and neo-Nazis, in the wake of shootings and other violent events, had pushed the FBI not to attack head-on to this threat.
But the American federal police now clearly make it a priority. Its director, Christopher Wray, had assured in July that 850 investigations for “internal terrorism” had been opened and that his agents had carried out a hundred arrests.
These recent strikes mark a change, which is now also manifested in the action of American diplomacy.