The Nordic Resistance Movement

Philip Manshaus gives a Nazi salute as he appears for his hearing at a courthouse in Oslo on 7 October, 2019. (Heiko Junge / NTB Scanpix / AFP)

The Nordic Resistance Movement is a Nazi foundation that aims to dismantle the Nordic countries and form a new unity for its members of the ‘Nordic race’. It is a racist neo-Nazi organisation founded in 2016 and has links to mainstream political parties and organisations. The young man who attacked the mosque in Bærum seems to have been closely linked to the NRM.

The NRM itself is actually part of a lineage of so-called ‘Resistance Movements’ in the Nordic region. For example, the NRM’s forerunner, the Swedish Resistance Movement was founded in 1997 in Sweden by Klas Lund and a few other members from Vitt Ariskt Motstånd – VAM (White Aryan Resistance). Klas Lund had served a prison sentence for robberies and manslaughter.

In terms of development, in 2016, the Swedish branch of the movement had gathered enough support to start up affiliates in Finland, Norway and Denmark, it was later dismantled in Denmark. NRM has been banned in Finland since 2017. The ban came into place after a demonstration where a member of the public died after being attacked by an NRM demonstrator. The NRM is a legitimate political party in Sweden, where it stood in the national elections in 2018. In Norway, it was revealed that a local youth leader of the radical-right Fremskrittspartiet Frp at Viken was a previous member of the movement. Anders Jupskås at C-REX says that the local party in question was doing very badly and that in general ‘the local branches of the youth parties are relatively small and easy ‘to take over’

The organisation is violent and has been described as a terrorist paramilitary organisation. They aim  to abolish democracy whilst sporting weapons and wearing black and white uniforms. The NRM have become infamous in the last few years due to their extreme views, violent demonstrations and attacks on the general public.

NRM demand a stop to all immigration and for the Nordic countries to leave the EU, Norway and Iceland are not members but are both part of Schengen. At first glance their stance on immigration and the EU seem very close to the mainstream centre right’s, but this is a violent, racist movement. They campaigning to expel people who aren’t of the ‘Nordic race’ and they want a new Nordic country based on Adolf Hitler’s third Reich. NRM is based in the Nordic countries but they also have members and followers across the Baltic states and they undertake military training in Russia. Researchers say there are clear links between NRM and Russia.

Geir Hågen Karlsen at the Norwegian Defence University College notes that Latvian and Swedish police and security services report that Russia is trying to influence politics in the region and that the strategy is to split the EU by supporting extremist groups. The NRM was invited to the World National Conservative Movement in 2015 where more than 50 extremist groups were gathered. NRM in Sweden say they are open for collaboration with the WNCM but won’t join the organisation.

It is no surprise that the Russian embassy in Oslo denies the connection, but there is evidence to support that two NRM members had para-military training in Russia and later attempted to blow up the Syndikalistiskt Forum which is a left-wing forum for activism and a feminist bookshop linked to the national trade union movement. They also set of two more bombs in Gothenburg in 2017.

According to Göteborgs Posten GT, the NRM members had trained with the paramilitary organisation Partizan where they learned to make bombs and use Kalashnikovs. Partizan is linked to the Russian Imperial Movement (RIM) and the Russian Imperial Legion, which is the paramilitary wing of RIM and sends volunteers to fight in the Ukraine.

The BBC reports that the US neo-Nazi Ronaldo Nazarro is running the militant group ‘the Base’ from Russia, St Petersburg where the NRM members trained. The Base was founded in 2018 and seem very similar in its ideology to the NRM with most followers online where they communicate via encrypted messaging and urge members to undergo paramilitary training with an aim to topple the government.

According to the FBI, the Russian Imperial Movement (RIM) – who trained the Swedes from NRM – had offered training to the ‘Unite the Right’ rally organisers in Charlottesville. The FBI also suggested members of US white nationalist groups should undergo similar paramilitary training to the RIM in Russia called ‘Partisan’.

Conclusion

It seems pertinent that the police and governments need to act on their own intelligence, it is not only the NRM, the NRM do more than marching and shouting and have a sophisticated way of recruiting young people online. One of the charismatic leaders of the Norwegian branch of the NRM, the Swede Tommy Nyberg, has recruited many young people; a large proportion are vulnerable youths in care who he recruits from chatrooms. He lives in Bærum, minutes away from where Phillip Manshaus lived.

Phillip Manshaus who broke into the Mosque in Norway in August last year had close links to the NRM but the Norwegian security Service as well as the media have ignored this connection. They prefer a story with a foreign angle – implying Manshaus’ radicalisation came online via US Neo-Nazi groups.

After the terror attack in Christchurch, NRM advised its members who had planned similar attacks to keep a low profile and keep their affiliation to the NRM quiet. The strategy they said would make similar attacks more likely to succeed and not draw attention to the NRM ‘being responsible’ for them. The mainstream media seems to have been influenced by a couple of self-declared extremism experts in reporting that Manshaus’s actions were not influenced by Norwegian – or Nordic – Nazis but by American accelerationist Nazi groups, such as Atomwaffen Division. Others argue that Manshaus was brainwashed by the NRM and that they have a strong presence in Bærum where the attack on the mosque took place.

Why isn’t this interesting for the Norwegian media and the Norwegian Police Security Service (PST)? Manshaus told university friend he wanted to join the NRM and they contacted the PST. There is no evidence that Mansahus was linked to ‘Atomwaffen Division’ but there is a lot of evidence linking him to NRM.

Is it too much to bear that once again Norway created the ‘monster’ themselves? This is where the real soul-searching lies.

Dr Mette Wiggen is a Senior Fellow at CARR and a Lecturer in Politics and International Studies at University of Leeds. See her profile here.

© Mette Wiggen. Views expressed on this website are individual contributors and do not necessarily reflect that of the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right (CARR). We are pleased to share previously unpublished materials with the community under creative commons license 4.0 (Attribution-NoDerivatives).