Social media sites Gab and Twitter were served with search warrants last month after a Colorado white supremacist who used the handle “National Satanist” was arrested on child pornography charges.
Wesley Gilreath, a 29-year-old Colorado man, was arrested in August on suspicion of having more than 100 photos and videos of child pornography. Gilreath had previously been under an FBI investigation, but not criminally charged, after he allegedly posted “hunting guides” about how to kill Jews, Muslims, and refugees.
The new search warrants for Gilreath’s web presence show that investigators want to know if he shared child porn with other users on the social networking sites. The search warrant for Gab is more extensive, asking for information on Gilreath’s possible financial transactions, associates, messages, and login history.
The warrants also shed more light on the extremist circles Gilreath frequented online. (Currently the criminal charges do not accuse him of sharing child pornography on Gab or Twitter.)
On Gab and Twitter, Gilreath posted as “NatSat” or “National Satanist,” according to the search warrant first noted by Seamus Hughes, deputy director of George Washington University’s Program on Extremism. The “NatSat” name is a play on the Nazis’ “national socialist” title. A subsection of the modern neo-Nazi movement is also heavily invested in Satanism.
Gab, a smaller site than Twitter, has nevertheless attracted an outsized concentration of white supremacists, due to its tolerance for racism. The site has been linked with a number of crimes, including to the murder of 11 worshippers at a Pittsburgh synagogue last year.
“This account was banned as soon as it was brought to our attention,” Gab told The Daily Beast. “Gab has zero tolerance for illegal conduct of any kind. We communicated and fully cooperated directly with federal law enforcement, as required by law, to identify this individual and bring them to justice. As this is an ongoing investigation we have no further comment.”
Meanwhile, an archive of one of Gilreath’s several now-deleted Twitter accounts reveals a virulently anti-Semitic web presence, where he shared content from the leader of a now-defunct white supremacist terror ring. Now-deleted tweets indicate he was highly active on the platform, trying to network with other white supremacists and argue with anti-fascist Satanists. He appears to have operated multiple similarly named Twitter accounts at different times, which suggests he was repeatedly banned and returned to the site under new pseudonyms (a common tactic for extremists on the site).
In May, Twitter users indicated they’d reported one of his now-suspended accounts for pedophilia. Indeed, Gilreath was already on federal authorities’ radar. In January, the FBI looked into him after he posted a “hunting guide” with addresses for mosques and synagogues, according to a criminal complaint. He was interviewed by the FBI that month but released.
Gilreath also tried to buy a gun in May, but was denied after failing a background check due to being ruled as “mental defective or committed to a mental institution” three years earlier, according to the criminal complaint. (“You’ve permanently ruined my ability to buy a gun in CO and other states,” he texted his father after the failed purchase, court documents show.)
But it would take an accident for authorities to arrest Gilreath. In May, Gilreath allegedly left his iPhone on a public bus. A bus driver found the device unlocked and opened to images of child pornography. When bus employees notified police, investigators were able to match the device to Gilreath, due in part to text messages referencing his interview with the FBI.
The recent search warrants for Gilreath’s Gab and Twitter activity indicate that authorities aren’t finished digging in to his internet activity.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect that it was Gilreath who texted his father after the failed gun purchase.