Since 2015, the world has seen a surge in white supremacist terrorism. 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.
Countering this threat is a top priority for this Administration. After the El Paso attack, President Trump said, “In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry, and white supremacy. These sinister ideologies must be defeated.”
This Administration isn’t just talking the talk. We’re walking the walk. We’re taking decisive actions to counter this threat.
Today, the State Department is designating the Russian Imperial Movement – also known as RIM – as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, or SDGT. We’re also designating three of RIM’s leaders as SDGTs:
- Stanislav Anatolyevich Vorobyev;
- Denis Valliullovich Gariyev; and
- Nikolay Nikolayevich Trushchalov.
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. We are taking actions no previous administration has taken to counter this threat.
RIM is a terrorist group that provides paramilitary-style training to neo-Nazis and white supremacists, and it plays a prominent role in trying to rally like-minded Europeans and Americans into a common front against their perceived enemies. RIM has two training facilities in St. Petersburg, which likely are being used for woodland and urban assault, tactical weapons, and hand-to-hand combat training.
This group has innocent blood on its hands. In August 2016, two Swedish men traveled to St. Petersburg and underwent 11 days of paramilitary-style training provided by RIM.
A few months later, these men and another person conducted a series of terrorist attacks in the Swedish city of Gothenburg. In November 2016, they detonated a bomb outside a café. Two months later, they bombed a migrant center, gravely injuring one person. And three weeks after that, they placed another bomb at a campsite used to house refugees. Thankfully, that device failed to detonate.
Swedish authorities were able to arrest the attackers, and they’ve now been tried and convicted for their crimes. The prosecutor who handled their case blamed RIM for radicalizing them and providing the training that enabled the attacks.
These historic designations are just one part of the Administration’s broader efforts to counter white supremacist terrorism abroad. We’re bringing all of our counterterrorism tools to this fight – information sharing, countermessaging, combatting terrorist travel, engaging with tech companies, and building partner capacity to protect soft targets like synagogues and mosques.
Today’s actions are possible because of an order President Trump signed in September – the most significant expansion of federal terrorism sanctions authorities since 9/11. Thanks to this order, the State Department can now designate groups and individuals that participate in training to commit acts of terrorism. We can also designate the leaders of terrorist groups, without needing to show that they were involved in particular attacks.
And let me be clear: 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.