Ex-Marines in neo-Nazi terror cell planned to attack power grid as precursor to assassination campaign: government
Courtesy US Department of Justice

A neo-Nazi terror cell enmeshed in the US Marine Corps made plans to attack the power grid last fall, hoping to set the stage to carry out assassinations in their quest to create a white ethno-state, according to a new indictment issued last month.

Arrests in the government's takedown of the terror cell, whose members called themselves "BSN," began in October 2020, starting with founders Liam Montgomery Collins and Paul James Kryscuk, and gradually expanding to include three others through June 2021. Collins and Kryscuk were initially charged with surreptitiously manufacturing and transporting firearms for profit, but in November 2020, a superseding indictment charged them with manufacturing and shipping firearms, including suppressors, "with the intention that they be used unlawfully in the furtherance of civil disorder." As has previously been reported, members fantasized about shooting Black Lives Matter protesters in Boise, Idaho in the summer of 2020.

The most recent indictment, handed down on Aug. 18, adds a new charge of conspiracy to sabotage an energy facility. The purpose, according to the government was "to attack the power grid both for the purpose of creating general chaos and to provide cover and ease of escape in those areas in which they planned to undertake assassinations and other desired operations to further their goal of creating a white ethno-state."

Alicia Garza and Patrisse Cullors, the co-founders of Black Lives Matter, have previously disclosed that the FBI notified them in October 2020 that their names were found on a list in Kryscuk's home in Boise around the time of his arrest.

Kryscuk, the only member of the terror cell without military experience, moved to Boise from the New York City area in early 2020, according to the government. Jordan Duncan, a Marine Corps veteran who is also charged in the conspiracy, joined him there in September 2020 and began working as a contractor for the US Navy in Idaho, while Kryscuk sought work as a private prison guard. Collins finished his Marine Corps service in September, and arrived in Boise the following month.

Three BSN members — Kryscuk, Duncan and Joseph Maurino, then a member of the New Jersey National Guard — met earlier in Boise in July 2020 for what the government describes as "live-fire weapons training."

That month, in an Instagram chat, Kryscuk recommended to Duncan that he "follow BLM Boise" to gain intel from their social media.

Twice over the summer — on July 21 and Aug. 18 — the government alleges, Kryscuk surveilled BLM rallies by parking within eyesight and then slowly driving around the rallies.

Records from Kryscuk and Duncan's Instagram accounts that were pulled by the feds capture a chilling exchange between the two as they casually fantasized about shooting protesters on Oct. 1, only two weeks before a grand jury indicted Kryscuk.

Duncan: "How the BSNs finna be pulling up to chipotle after hitting legs."

Kryscuk: "Death squad…. Assassins creed hoodies and suppressed 22 pistols."

Duncan: "People freaking tf out."

Kryscuk: "About what?"

Duncan: "The end of democracy."

Kryscuk: "One can hope."

The most recent indictment also provides specific details about BSN's preparations to target the power grid, alleging that Collins, Kryscuk and Maurino studied a previous attack by an unknown group that "used assault rifles in an attempt to explode a power substation." A fifth member, Justin Hermanson, allegedly showed a man — identified only as "MW" in court documents — "an animated reenactment of that attack, and told MW that if his group would manage to blow up one of these substations, it would take down the entire regional or coastal power grid and cause chaos for the country."

Collins, Kryscuk, Duncan and Maurino discussed using homemade thermite — described as "a combination of metal powder and metal oxide which burns at temperatures over 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit" — to "burn through and destroy power transformers." The government also alleges that Collins, BSN's acknowledged leader, asked Hermanson and MW to obtain Tannerite, a brand of binary explosive that is an ingredient in thermite.

The government alleges that Kryscuk had a list of transformers, substations and other components of the power grid at about a dozen different Idaho and neighboring states on Oct. 20, around the time of his arrest.

Google images submitted as evidence by the government in the case depict three sites in Portland, Ore. and California's Bay Area. They include what appears to be an electrical substation on the Willamette River in Portland; the Zenith Energy terminal, a petroleum storage facility in Portland; and the Menlo Park Rescue site, a shuttered facility next to the Dumbarton Bridge linking Menlo Park to Fremont, in California. The Google images, along with other exhibits, were obtained by Raw Story from a federal courthouse in Wilmington, NC, part of the Eastern District of North Carolina, where the case is charged.

The defendants are set to be arraigned on the new charges in federal court in Wilmington in January.

'Think of it as a modern-day SS'

Liam Montgomery Collins and Paul James Kryscuk, the two earliest members of BSN, met on Iron March, a neo-Nazi online forum founded by Russian nationalist Alexander "Slavros" Mukhitdinov, in 2011. The forum shut down without explanation in November 2017. Two years later, anonymous researchers leaked the entire history of chats, and a website associated with the @JewishWorker Twitter account was set up to provide a searchable database of the contents. In its day, Iron March provided a forum to connect violent racists and allow them to meet up in real life. Participants in the forum, including future members of AtomWaffen and Vanguard America, embraced an accelerationist strain of white supremacy that rejects political solutions and calls for violent insurrection to bring about a race war. AtomWaffen is tied to multiple murders. A man who rallied with Vanguard America at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va. drove his car into a crowd of anti-racist marchers, murdering Heather Heyer; a splinter group from Vanguard America rebranded itself as Patriot Front.

Collins and Kryscuk's initial meeting on Iron March in February 2017 began with the two men disclosing their respective ethnicities and religious affiliations.

"New Jersey here," Collins wrote. "What's your ethnicity? Also denomination?"

"Irish and Ukrainian," Kryscuk responded. "Traditional Catholic."

"Interesting lol," Collins wrote. "I'm Irish and Polish. Also a Traditionalist Catholic myself. What part of NYC are you in?"

"I'm a bit north of it in Westchester County."

Unmentioned in his exchange with Collins on Iron March, Kryscuk had been working as a porn actor under the name of "Pauly Harker" since 2009. Several of the films that feature Kryscuk "degrade Black women, according to websites that track abusive porn," HuffPost has reported. Contrasting with his work as a porn actor, Kryscuk would adopt a religious nickname — "Deacon" — when he joined BSN, while Collins called himself "Disciple."

From the start, Collins' goal was to assemble a neo-Nazi commando group comprised of men with military experience.

"I live in the Northeast, so I have a tightknit crew of ex-Mil and Security I train with," Collins wrote on Iron March in August 2017. "We do hikes, gym sessions, live firing exercises, and we eventually plan to buy a lot of land. Can't really specify the name or details because it's an inner-circle thing, but it will serve its purpose when the time comes. Think of it as a modern-day SS."

As he noted to another member of the forum, Collins entered Marine Corps Basic Training at Parris Island in South Carolina that same month.

"I have a friend in AtomWaffen who's at Ft. Hood with the Army Engineers at the moment," Collins added. "He was in OEF. He's on this site too, I can give you a way of contacting him if you want. If only you were up by me, I really need an intel/radio guy for my own group at the moment. The only fascists I roll with are ex-military."

That wasn't exactly true.

Two days after meeting Kryscuk on Iron March in February, Collins asked him if he was interested in meeting up with other fascists in the tri-state area and whether he drove. Then he asked: "And do you have any prior/future military experience or ambitions?"

"I'm definitely interested," Kryscuk responded. "Yes, I drive. I was never in the military nor would I consider joining. However, I do have extensive training in firearms and martial arts."

Collins was pleased.

"You seem to share a lot in common with me and my compatriots," he told Kryscuk. "I like the hard-headed attitude. A lot of people don't share the same vision as people like us. We're militants, not intellectuals."

At Collins urging, Kryscuk set up a Facebook account so he could join a private group to get "briefed."

In a post on Iron March cited by the government, Collins revealed that he planned to play a long game.

"I'll be in the USMC for 4 years while my comrades work on the group's physical formation," he wrote. "It will take years to gather all the experience and intelligence that we need to utilize — but that's what makes it fun."

Although he eschewed military service, Kryscuk had a similar vision, as he outlined to Collins on Iron March in February 2017: "First order of business is knocking down The System, mounting it and smashing its face until it has been beaten past the point of death… eventually we will bring the rifles out and go to work. I believe the System is killing itself organically and it will collapse sooner than later. It is our duty to weaken it and encourage its collapse as much as possible. When that happens, we will have to hit the streets and strike as many blows to the remaining power structure as we can to keep it on the ropes, work our punches to the body, and make it drops its hands so we can set up that big kiss goodnight on the chin and turn its lights out for good. If you consider yourself a revolutionary, you know what to do when the time comes. Remember, forget the pawns and go for the knights, kings and queens."

While assigned to Camp LeJeune in North Carolina, Collins recruited Jordan Duncan and Justin Wade Hermanson to BSN.

In Duncan, Collins fulfilled his goal of finding "an intel/radio guy."

While assigned to the 2d Radio Battalion at Camp LeJeune in 2017 and 2018, the government alleges, Duncan "gathered a library of information, some military-owned and some publicly available, regarding various weaponry, to include firearms, explosives, and even nerve toxins."

The BSN members lavished praise on Collins for his effort and leadership.

"Disc has definitely sacrificed the most and contributed the most for the cause," Kryscuk wrote in an Instagram chat submitted into evidence by the government last December. "Added 3 leathernecks and got us tons of gear and training while suffering in the Corps for years."

Between November 2017 and August 2020, the government alleges, Collins "stole military gear, to include body armor and magazines for assault-type rifles" from Camp LeJeune, "and had them delivered to other members of the group."

Meanwhile, Instagram chats obtained by the government, show that Kryscuk and Duncan were closely monitoring the dynamic among Black Lives Matter protesters, law enforcement and right-wing vigilantes in the summer of 2020, while looking for opportunities to insert themselves in the mix.

In July, Kryscuk told Duncan he was analyzing a video of federal agents deployed by President Trump to Portland in response to continued unrest following the death of George Floyd.

"I'm analyzing this video, and these two move like a couple twerps," Kryscuk said. "They're both super skinny, no rifles, no nods, rockin multicam in an urban environment. Kinda cringe tbh."

"Being a fed is super cringe," Duncan agreed. "Low level agency boiz for sure."

In late August, the two men were enthralled when Kyle Rittenhouse fatally shot two protesters in Kenosha, Wisc. during protests against the police shooting of Jacob Blake.

"It's popping off," Kryscuk told Duncan. "Volatility levels are hitting critical mass." Commenting on a left-wing social-media post denouncing the use of violence to defend property, Kryscuk called the protesters "subhuman" while calling for "mass executions."

Only a day later, Kryscuk and Duncan expressed admiration for Brenton Tarrant, the white supremacist who carried out a massacre against 51 Muslim worshipers in Christchurch, New Zealand in March 2019. Tarrant livestreamed his murders on Facebook and left behind a manifesto to inspire copycats. He was immediately hailed as a "saint" by neo-Nazis on Telegram. In short order, two white supremacists in the United States carried out fatal shootings. John T. Earnest, who opened fire on a synagogue in Poway, Calif. during a Passover service, and Patrick Wood Crusius who targeted Latinx people in a massacre at an El Paso, Texas Walmart, both referenced Tarrant's crime as a motivation.

Following their July 2020 training outside of Boise, BSN made a compilation video that depicts Kryscuk, Maurino and one other individual firing assault-style rifles. As the government notes, the end of the video shows the participants outfitted in AtomWaffen-style skull masks while giving straight-arm Nazi salutes, along with a superimposed black sun symbol that is favored by white supremacists. The last frame of the video displays the words, "Come home white man."

Megan Squire, a computer science professor at Elon University who monitors online activity by extremists, said the video is similar to recruitment propaganda by AtomWaffen, the Base and other neo-Nazi accelerationist groups.

"These videos are about projecting brotherhood, facility with guns, small group events," she said, "whereas the old-fashioned marching in the streets-style videos were about projecting strength."

Squire cautioned against media outlets sharing videos like the one produced by BSN.

"Many of these hateful, violent groups have been removed from mainstream social media platforms and don't have access to very big outlets to convey their message. So, when mainstream media republish the propaganda videos, they're undoing all of that work that has been done to keep these messages out of the public eye."

Kryscuk and Duncan were heartened by what they saw in Kenosha in late August, last year.

"More people are being turned into fascists than any point in history besides the first time," Kryscuk told Duncan in an Aug. 26 Instagram message. "I'm seeing screenshots of tweets from normies saying how they're being pushed far right."

Duncan interjected a note of skepticism.

"We shall see," he said. "There's always people talking on the internet."

But they both agreed that white supremacist revolution they wanted so badly would not happen unless they intervened.

"Seeing effective action is what will bring out the real ones," Duncan said.