Atomwaffen Division’s Washington State Cell Leader Stripped of Arsenal in U.S., Banned from Canada

Ali Winston
Police Handout

Kaleb James Cole, the 24-year-old leader of Atomwaffen Division's Washington State Cell stripped of his firearms by a “red-flag law” late last month, was deported and banned for life from Canada earlier this year, according to court records, which also showed that he had been previously interrogated by American border agents about his extremist views.

Cole, a National Socialist black metal enthusiast who goes by the alias “Khimaere,” was first identified as a member of Atomwaffen Division in a 2018 ProPublica investigation. He played a key role in organizing “hate camp” trainings for the group's members at an abandoned building known as “Devil's Tower” in Skagit, Washington, and in Nevada's Death Valley. Cole also helped craft the group’s eye-catching propaganda.

Atomwaffen Division is an underground neo-Nazi guerrilla organization which had 23 chapters throughout the United States as of mid-2018. Since its inception in 2015, Atomwaffen members have been implicated in five homicides and several bomb plots, and are the subject of an intensifying national investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It makes common cause with other militant fascist groups like the Base and Sonnenkrieg Division in the United Kingdom, where authorities have charged a number of members with terrorism-related offenses.

As The Daily Beast reported, the Seattle Police Department obtained an “Extreme Risk Protection Order” against Cole on September 26 to confiscate his concealed carry firearms permit and any firearms he owned for at least a year. That same day, SPD seized five rifles, a shotgun, three semiautomatic handguns and four lower receivers (the firing mechanism of a rifle that can be used to craft untraceable ‘ghost guns’) from Cole's father's house outside Arlington, in Washington State's Snohomish County.

According to court records, none of the guns or the lower receivers seized from Cole were registered in Washington State's licensed firearms database.

“Law enforcement officials are increasingly concerned about the respondent's access to firearms and his involvement in the Atomwaffen Division, a known terrorist group,” Seattle Police Sergeant Dorothy Kim wrote in a petition for an Extreme Risk Protection Order. 

As further evidence, Sgt. Kim cited Atomwaffen Division propaganda calling for “Race War Now,” and the group's adherence to “acceleration theory,” which urges actions that undermine the existing social order to “exacerbate the feeling of alienation among white supremacists and a greater impulse to engage in violence or destructive behavior.”

Cole's “words, actions and behavior suggest he has taken additional steps towards a plan with his ideologically motivated violence. Specifically, the coordinated camps with firearms training, overseas travel with Atomwaffen paraphernalia-flags/skull masks, threats to kill (gas the Kikes) and the possession of firearms, suggest an imminent risk to public safety if Cole is permitted to continue to purchase or possess firearms,” Sergeant Kim wrote.

The request to seize Cole's guns was reportedly made to Seattle Police by the FBI, which did not have enough information to file criminal charges but believed Cole posed a serious threat to public safety.

Multiple law enforcement sources told The Daily Beast that Cole had been the target of an FBI investigation following his February 2018 identification by ProPublica. However, law enforcement made no contact with him until December 28, 2018, when Cole landed in Chicago's O'Hare International Airport on a flight from London. Customs and Border Protection pulled Cole aside for secondary screening. Records of that interview were included by the Seattle Police Department in their emergency risk petition last month.

During the interview, Cole told CBP agents he had traveled to the Czech Republic, Poland and Ukraine with two friends from Washington State, Aidan Bruce-Umbaugh and Edie Allison Moore. The trip, Cole said, was to “see the historic architecture and museums in Eastern European countries.” The three also attended a heavy metal festival while in Kyiv. The 2018 edition of Asgardsrei, a festival several National Socialist black metal bands have played in the past, was held in Kyiv from December 15-16 last year. Photographs from the concert posted to social media show an Atomwaffen Division flag brandished by individuals in the crowd. 

According to information obtained by The Daily Beast, Aidan Bruce-Umbaugh is a member of the Washington State cell of Atomwaffen Division, and goes by the moniker “Nythra.” The drummer for Kaleb Cole's old metal band, Operblut, is listed as “Nythra” on music websites. In the CBP interview, Cole told federal agents he and Bruce-Umbaugh had been friends since grade school.

Border agents searched Cole's luggage, and found a skull mask balaclava and an Atomwaffen Division flag inside his bag. When questioned about press reports tying him to Atomwaffen Division, Cole admitted to his involvement with the group and stated that he “shares a Fascist ideology, 'strong dominate the weak'.” He also admitted he owned an AK-47 and multiple handguns “for his own protection.”

Cole's phone was also searched by border agents, who downloaded several images from the device. Amongst them are a photograph of Cole and another man wearing skull mask balaclavas in front of the gates of Auschwitz, the death camp where the Nazis murdered hundreds of thousands of Jews. Images of him posing with other Atomwaffen members, firearms, and the group's flag were also recovered from Cole's phone.

According to multiple sources close to law enforcement, Cole previously attracted the interest of Canadian authorities by frequently driving across the border to British Columbia, sometimes several times a week. In late May, Cole was detained by the Canadian Border Service Agency because of press reports linking him to Atomwaffen Division, as well as “his overseas travel to Ukraine,” where several right-wing extremists have traveled to fight with the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion against Russia-backed separatists.

According to court records, he was held by Canadian authorities and placed into deportation proceedings due to his involvement in “an organization that may engage in terrorism,” per Section 34 [1][F] of the Canadian Immigration Code. According to records prepared by the Seattle Police Department, Cole was deported in July and “barred from Canada for life.”

The Canadian Border Services Agency and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police both declined to comment on Cole's deportation, the Atomwaffen Division or its affiliated organizations in Canada, citing the restrictions of Canada’s Privacy Act. 

Earlier this year, Patrik Mathews, a master corporal in the Canadian Military Reserve went AWOL after being identified as a recruiter for the Base. Mathews—who reportedly came to the attention of multiple Canadian security agencies because racist material was previously found by the Canadian Border Services Agency in his car while crossing the border with the United States—is still at large.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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