The Trump administration announced Monday they are taking the “unprecedented” step of designating a white supremacist group as a terrorist organization, targeting a Russian group that they say trains neo-Nazis and tries to rally Americans and Europeans to push a white supremacist agenda.
Ambassador Nathan Sales, the State Department’s counterterrorism coordinator, said at a State Department briefing that the Russian Imperial Movement – also known as RIM –and three of its leaders are now Specially Designated Global Terrorists.
“Since 2015, the world has seen a surge in white supremacist terrorism,” Sales said. “Last month was the first anniversary of the horrific terrorist attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. The United States is not immune to this threat. We’ve seen attacks targeting people because of their race or religion in places like Pittsburgh, Poway, and El Paso.”
Sales said that combating the threat of white supremacist terror “is a top priority for this administration” and said they are “taking decisive actions” to do so. President Trump has been accused by Democrats of not taking a strong enough stance against domestic white supremacists, though he has repeatedly denounced them.
Stanislav Anatolyevich Vorobyev, Denis Valliullovich Gariev and Nikolay Nikolayevich Trushchalov are the three individuals that the administration is designating as terrorists along with the RIM group.
“These designations are unprecedented. This is the first time the United States has ever designated white supremacist terrorists, illustrating how seriously this administration takes the threat,” Sales said.
Sales described some of RIM’s actions, including training Swedish individuals in St. Petersburg before those men carried out attacks in Sweden.
“This group has innocent blood on its hands,” Sales said.
Sales went on to say emphasize that the U.S. will take on threats against American interests and citizens from any foreign terror group, no matter what belief system they espouse.
“Today’s designations send an unmistakable message that the United States will not hesitate to use our sanctions authorities aggressively, and that we are prepared to target any foreign terrorist group, regardless of ideology, that threatens our citizens, our interests abroad, or our allies,” he said.