Data Leaks Show Epik’s Registered Site Associated With Neo-Nazi Terror
Jack Espinoza, a former Michigan section chief of the neo-Nazi terror group Atomwaffen Division, registered the propaganda site on April 15, 2020, according to Hatewatch’s review of a mine of data leaked by Epik, a company of web hosting popular with the far right. for its demonstrated permissiveness of violent and / or hateful content. The Espinoza site, which Hatewatch chose not to name to reduce its visibility, served as a propaganda medium for supporters of white power accelerationism – a belief, increasingly popular among far-right extremists , that violence and terrorism are the only means to achieve their goal. political goal of an all-white ethno-state. Among the extremists Espinoza highlighted on its website were the National Socialist Order, a group founded by former Atomwaffen members in mid-2020; James Mason, a mentor to members of these two groups and an ideological architect of white power accelerationism; and at least one of the co-founders of the Atomwaffen division, Brandon Russell, who was sentenced to five years in prison in 2018 for possession of explosives.
The Canadian and British governments designated one of the site’s contributors, the National Socialist Order, a terrorist entity in 2021. Canada also included James Mason on the same list. The authors of the Espinoza website have also explicitly argued for white supremacist terror. On several occasions, its pseudonymous contributors have declared terrorism the ideal method to end the “occupation” of white America. In another article, the same contributor said that any white power activist who has not embraced “the rivers of war and violence” is only a “racist liberal”.
Hatewatch concluded that Espinoza was the administrator, as well as the technical and billing contact for the site, through its review of a mine of database files leaked by the site’s registrar, Epik. Hatewatch obtained these documents after hacktivist collective Anonymous disclosed them to the public in mid-September. (Although Anonymous’s original website crashed soon after they were released to the public, the journalist collective Distributed Denial of Secrets later helped distribute them to reporters and researchers.) The files included detailed information on customer payment histories, domain purchases and transfers, and registration. information from the web hosting company. While Epik founder Rob Monster initially denied that the company had suffered a data breach, an email sent to customers announcing that it had suffered a “suspected security incident” gave credence to the claim. veracity of Anonymous’s claims and of the data contained in the leak.
Epik’s records show that the site was registered on April 15, 2020, under the pseudonym “Jim Green”. In its review of the leaked Epik data, Hatewatch discovered that “Green” had registered as the site administrator, as well as its primary technical and billing contact in Epik’s domain registry database. . Those records showed that “Green” used a post office box in Garden City, Mich., Which Hatewatch determined was near Espinoza’s place of residence, according to public records. Hatewatch was able to connect Espinoza to his character as “Jim Green” through his review of other files in the dataset. According to logs from the same leak which contained detailed information on customer invoices, Espinoza used his real name and home address to pay for Epik’s services. His contact details also matched those of the character of “Jim Green”, as he used one of the same emails and phone number with the Texas area code.
Hatewatch emailed Espinoza and left a message at a phone number associated with him regarding his website and involvement in the Atomwaffen division, but he did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Hatewatch also emailed Monster of Epik. He responded by setting out his explanation of the difference between Epik’s job as a web registrar and hosting services.
“Again, there is a difference between providing hosting services (which usually requires a hosting contract) and domain registration (which does not). The difference between these elements is fundamental to the functioning of the Internet, and if you plan to report on an Internet company, a brief explanation is required, ”Monster wrote.
Monster also explained that the Espinoza content violated Epik’s terms and conditions and that it terminated its recording. Hatewatch has decided to post its entire commentary on DocumentCloud.
A propaganda center linked to Atomwaffen
Espinoza registered and launched his website at a crucial time for the accelerationist movement of white power. Throughout 2019 and into early 2020, federal authorities arrested and charged many core members of the two main self-proclaimed accelerationist groups, The Base and Atomwaffen. This lawsuit, combined with the efforts of law enforcement, far-right researchers, anti-fascist activists and journalists to expose the inner workings of these groups, has eroded their credibility with their supporters and members. In March 2020, about a month before the launch of the Espinoza site, James Mason, a close confidant of many Atomwaffen members, announced the group’s disbandment.
The Espinoza site took superficial steps to differentiate itself from Atomwaffen from the start, saying it was neither a “re-branding of [Atomwaffen or] any other organization. However, the blog administrators launched the site on April 16 by reposting archives from a former Atomwaffen-aligned blog. It wasn’t until May 18, 2020, that the site’s pseudonymous editor, “Texas Pete,” posted the first piece of original content. In it, “Texas Pete” explained the site’s link to Italian Futurism, an early 20e social and artistic movement of the century whose founders provided an aesthetic and ideological basis for Italian fascism.
Contributors to the Espinoza blog have included many former members of the Atomwaffen division. Russell, the then-jailed Atomwaffen co-founder and former Army National Guard, contributed to a series of brief “prison essays,” which were posted to the site on May 26, 2020. (Russell has since been posted. The posts, which were dated late February to May 2020, focused on the opportunities the COVID-19 pandemic presented to accelerationists. Russell also praised the fallen “heroes” of the white power movement. It is not known if Russell contributed to the site without the knowledge of the Bureau of Prisons. As journalist Janet Reitman noted in Rolling stone (after Russell provided the voiceover for a 2018 Atomwaffen video pitting former members of the group he deemed insufficiently loyal), white supremacist leaders in security institutions are often banned from producing such propaganda when they are behind bars.
The Espinoza site also became the unofficial seat of Atomwaffen’s successor, the National Socialist Order. In an announcement published on July 25, 2020, attributed to the account of the official author of the National Socialist Order, the group said it traced its origins back to “the remaining leadership of the Atomwaffen division.” Since then, the group and accounts believed to be owned by members of its leadership have also posted a handful of other official announcements on the site.
Early follower of accelerationism
Espinoza claimed to have joined the Atomwaffen division in November 2016, according to a series of discussion logs obtained by the Southern Poverty Law Center revealing the inner workings of Atomwaffen. Public records indicate that he had just turned 16 or was about to celebrate his 16th birthday by the time he joined the white power group.
Anti-fascist activists from the Chicago-based group Panic! in the Discord first identified Espinoza as the Iron March user “Black Israelite” in February 2020. Hatewatch was able to independently verify the activists’ findings by reviewing “Black Israelite” statements to others forum members on its location, its remaining publicly available social media. profiles, and its comments to members of the Atomwaffen Discord server. Hatewatch was also able to verify that Espinoza was using the same grip on Iron March and Discord. In both cases, “Black Israelite” described himself as a Michigan resident who lived outside of Detroit.
“I don’t live in the city itself but on the outskirts near the city border,” he wrote in his November 22, 2016 introductory article on Iron March.
Espinoza, writing under the name “Black Israelite,” provided more detailed information about his location to Atomwaffen members on Discord. “I live in a white area but on the border of a [N-word] city and 4 miles from Detroit too, ”he wrote on Jan. 1, 2018. (Espinoza’s house is located a few miles from the city limits of Detroit.) A day later, Espinoza referenced at Capriotti’s, a Nevada-based sandwich shop chain, opening a location near it. Hatewatch was able to identify two Capriotti locations in the greater Detroit area, both of which closed permanently but were open for business around the time Espinoza discussed the channel with other Atomwaffen members.
As early as December 2016, a month after Espinoza claimed to have joined the group, he introduced himself to potential users on Iron March as the section head of the Atomwaffen division. He and other users of this forum have described him as an occasional resource person for the group. On a few occasions in the spring of 2017, Espinoza offered to match a potential recruit with “Odin” – the pseudonym used by Russell – for an interview to join the group. Then, on May 6, 2017, Gabriel Sohier Chaput, a neo-Nazi propagandist who used the name “Zeiger” online, asked another user to “talk to Odin, Black Israelite and Ryan AW” to get a physical copy. by James Mason. SEAT, a fundamental ideological document for white power accelerationists.
However, unlike other Atomwaffen chapters across the country, it is unclear to what extent Espinoza was involved in the group’s actual activities, such as flyers and dating (known as ‘hate camps’). ). On January 1, 2018, Espinoza noted that even though there had been plans for a “Detroit Meetup,” he was “happy it didn’t come to fruition,” adding that it “would have been worse than the shit in May. “. The comment was made during a conversation about one of the group’s former members, Devon Arthurs, and appeared to refer to Arthurs’ alleged murder of two other members of the organization, Andrew Oneschuk and Jeremy Himmelman, in May 2017 During the police investigation into the deaths of the two men, police arrested Brandon Russell and charged him with possession of explosives. The court has declared Arthurs unfit to stand trial and he is receiving treatment at an inpatient mental health facility until a judge decides his case can proceed.
Photographic illustration by SPLC