Week in Review
Action Zealandia member planned terror cell
An anonymous member of the white supremacist Action Zealandia organisation discussed purchasing firearms from the black market and creating terror cells in New Zealand. Marc Daalder reports.
In leaked Telegram chats obtained by Newsroom, an anonymous member of the far-right Action Zealandia group chatted with American terrorists, discussed purchasing guns from the black market and planned the creation of terror cells in New Zealand.
The user, calling themselves Matt, shared Action Zealandia propaganda across far-right channels on the encrypted chat platform, including photos of Action Zealandia members vandalising a National Party electorate office used by Jian Yang and Paul Goldsmith taken from angles not found in material officially released by the group.
"There's a literal Chinese spy as an MP in New Zealand," he wrote, referencing Newsroom's reporting that Yang had trained spies while living in China and had caught the attention of the NZSIS.
"And he shares an office with a Jew," Matt added. Goldsmith is not Jewish.
After Newsroom contacted Action Zealandia on Thursday, Matt deleted his account.
For the second time in a week, Action Zealandia denounced the alleged actions of one of their members. "These accusations, if true, were done on his own accord. These are a gross violation of our code of conduct. Action Zealandia, does not endorse illegal, or violent activities," a spokesperson said.
Interaction with overseas terror groups
Matt also participated in chats with members of Atomwaffen Division - an American terror group linked to eight murders - discussing organising tactics, including how to form and operate terror cells. He dreamed of a New Zealand-based terror group called Southern Order, but never formed it.
"Yeah it's a pretty good idea," he wrote of news that Atomwaffen had split into numerous small cells. "Every different cell in charge of their own vetting, if one cell is r*tarded they go down and no one else is affected."
In other Telegram channels, Matt chatted with members of the far-right Nordic Resistance Movement, which is banned in Finland and has conducted bombings and attacked anti-racism and LGBT rights marches in other Nordic countries. He invited NRM members to visit New Zealand, promising to "take you on a pilgrimage route a saint did last year", referencing a popular far-right meme depicting the alleged Christchurch gunman as a saint.
The Base, a far-right group raided by the FBI after members plotted a terror attack during a gun rights rally in Virginia, was also a subject of Matt's affection. "I just want to send a message of support and prayer from New Zealand scene to The Base," he wrote.
In a survivalism channel, he talked about wanting to purchase firearms from the black market. "Unfortunately I have to resort to the black market for my firearms," he wrote.
Linked to domestic extremists
Matt's connections were not limited to overseas organisations. He also claimed to be linked to at least two high-profile New Zealand extremists: the far-right soldier whose arrest Newsroom first reported in December, and 19-year-old Sam Brittenden, an Action Zealandia member who was arrested on Wednesday in connection with a terror threat against Al-Noor mosque in Christchurch.
In one chat, Matt said he had left school early to join the army. It is unclear whether he still claims he is actively serving in the New Zealand Defence Force. An NZDF spokesperson said they could not comment on the case because of the lack of detail as to Matt's identity.
When asked by other users how to help the arrested far-right soldier, who has name suppression, Matt wrote, "Hes [sic] alright for now. Hes [sic] still getting paid the army wage. I'm on a no contact order with him so can't actually ask him but I know he's doing alright and doesnt [sic] need financial support for now."
Matt also helped circulate the terror threat against Al-Noor mosque on Telegram. He sent the image to a handful of far-right groups, saying the individual was one of his "boys". After Brittenden's arrest was reported, Matt wrote, "bugger".
Security services comment
A police spokesperson said they would not talk about specific cases or threats. "Police proactively work to ensure we have an in-depth knowledge of individuals and groups whose actions may pose a threat in New Zealand, however we will not discuss specific individuals/groups or their tactics," the spokesperson said.
"We encourage anyone who has concerns about particular individuals or groups to report those concerns to police - we all need to work together to ensure New Zealand is the safest country."
An NZSIS spokesperson similarly declined to comment on the specific case but emphasised that the intelligence service "works tirelessly to understand the threat picture to New Zealand and gain intelligence about individuals who may wish to cause harm to our communities".
"We are well aware that online chatrooms are channels which are used to spread violent ideologies and extremist material. We work very closely with New Zealand Police to identify and respond appropriately to intelligence about individuals or groups whose actions may pose a threat to New Zealand. Should the NZSIS become aware of intelligence which suggests that violent actions are planned then we will immediately work with New Zealand Police to disrupt that activity."
"We strongly encourage anyone who has concerns about individuals or groups to contact police or the NZSIS. Even if you are not sure if your information is important or not, please make contact anyway and let us make that assessment," the spokesperson said.
Accelerationism a failure
Brittenden's arrest also seemed to facilitate a change in Matt's political views. He had previously advocated accelerationism, the ideal that existing social divisions - for the far-right, racial and cultural ones - should be accelerated in order to arrive at the end goal - in this case, white supremacy.
After Brittenden's arrest, however, Matt grew more critical of the theory. "[Christchurch accused Brenton Tarrant] accelerated us from a pretty lax libertarian style police dont [sic] care about anything sort of state to a full on UK style police state," he wrote.
"I dont [sic] like it guys I wanna go back."
"I was all for accelerationism, but after being affected by it personally. And seeing how hard it really makes even just organising and meeting up with fellow goys [non-Jews], I dont [sic] know if it's a viable strategy."
Plotted terror attacks
In one discussion where users fretted over infiltration of far-right groups by security forces, Matt again returned to his theories on terror cells.
"Thinking of a strategy that will work, in the nature of the war we're in can we have any movements or organizations like that at all? Or are we at the point where what we do has to be completely decentralized and organized within independent cells of 3-5 men each. All acting of their own accord?"
In response to a user asking what the cells would do, Matt wrote, "Probably attacking leftist buildings and people, anything to stoke the flames. idk I'm getting restless, I have to think a bit to figure out a strategy that will work."
Matt also discussed wanting to throw bricks at LGBT rights marchers from a rooftop. He said he wanted the death penalty for homosexuality, writing "better to smite them where they stand".
The chat logs were supplied to Newsroom by the left-wing Australian activist group White Rose Society and a user calling themselves ParaDoxx NZ, via the Paparoa group.
"Members of Paparoa - an organisation that tracks NZ's extreme right - are horrified by the level of Islamophobia they are finding online," a Paparoa spokesperson said.
Credible information is crucial in a crisis.
The pandemic is pushing us into an unknown and uncertain future. As the crisis unfolds the need for accurate, balanced and thorough reporting will be vital. Newsroom’s team of journalists is working hard to bring you the facts but, now more than ever, we need your support.
Reader donations are critical to what we do. If you can help us, please click the button to ensure we can continue to provide quality independent journalism you can trust.