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SEPTEMBER 2020

US Congress Members Call For State Department To Designate Ukraine’s Azov Battalion As Terrorist Organization

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US Congress Members Call For State Department To Designate Ukraine's Azov Battalion As Terrorist Organization

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On October 16th, 40 members of US Congress signed a letter urging the US State Department to designate the Ukrainian Azov “volunteer” battalion as a terrorist organization.

The letter is spearheaded by Democrat Max Rose, and claimed that the “violent white nationalist” group meets all of State Department’s criteria to be designated as a terrorist organization.

The letter alleges that the Azov Battalion “is so well-known, in fact, that the 115th Congress of the United States stated in its 2018 omnibus spending bill that ‘none of the funds made available by this act may be used to provide arms, training or other assistance to the Azov Battalion.’ The United Nations has chronicled human rights abuses and incidents of torture in this group’s relatively short history. Despite these facts, Azov has been recruiting, radicalizing, and training American citizens for years, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”

In a September testimony to Congress, and in the subsequent report, Ali Soufan and his Soufan Center released a report that claimed Ukraine had become the world’s Nazi hub in recent years.

The report and testimony are mentioned in Max Rose’s letter.

As examples of what sort of threat white nationalism had become, Rose mentioned the gunman in Halle, Germany, who livestreamed his failed attempt to enter a Synagogue and as a result killed two civilians on the street on October 9th.

The letter also reminds of the March 15th Christchurch, New Zealand shooting, when a shooter streamed his attack on a Mosque and an Islamic Center and left 51 total dead.

The members of Congress request a response no later than November 4th, 2019.

In a sign of complete denial, Ukrainian national outlet Unian reported that “some military experts in Ukraine” suspect that the US Congress’ initiative “has signs of Russian special services’ possible operation.”

Other groups that, according to Max Rose and Co. should be added to the Foreign Terrorist Organization list include National Action (a neo-Nazi group based in the U.K.), and Nordic Resistance Movement (a neo-Nazi network from Scandinavia).

“It’s clear that the threat we face today is of a self-radicalized gunman,” Rose said. “Somebody who has been radicalized online, whether it’s in accordance with jihadi ideology or a global white nationalist, neo-Nazi group.”

Global far right terrorism has been on the rise in recent years, but since March 2019, when the Christchurch shooting took place there’s been a significant ramp-up. Despite that Max Rose is questioning why other Republican from the US Congress was backing up the letter to State Department.

“I’m baffled as to why my Republican colleagues have refused to sign on to this,” said Rose. “Not only are Azov Battalion, National Action, and Nordic Resistance Movement directly connected to inspiring attacks in the homeland, they’re direct purveyors of anti-Semitic ideologies that inspire attacks against Jews. It’s curious to me that the Republican Party, for the better half of this year, are claiming they’re against anti-Semitism. Here they have an opportunity to label it, but they’re not willing to stand against it.”

The Rise Above Movement, a U.S.-based street-fighting gang, sent some of its members to train with Azov in 2018, according to the FBI. And an American soldier was recently arrested for sharing bomb-making manuals online. According to the federal complaint, he’d discussed joining Azov.

And as mentioned earlier, Rose’s letter points out that the US government is well aware of Azov’s extremist leanings: In March 2018, Congress added a provision to its spending bill that barred the US from arming Azov in the fight against the separatists in Eastern Ukraine because of its ties to neo-Nazis.

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