SEATTLE — A notorious neo-Nazi whose antics have included organizing paramilitary exercises in the woods of western Washington state to prepare for a “race war” has discovered there are limits to organizing violent extremism. Using a so-called “red flag” law, Seattle Police have taken away all of his guns.
Kaleb J. Cole, the 24-year-old leader of the state’s chapter of the violent fascist group Atomwaffen Division (AWD), was ordered by the state’s civil courts to surrender his guns earlier this month, according to a report from Ali Winston of The Daily Beast. The order resulted from Seattle City Police filing an “Extreme Risk Protection” petition against Cole on the basis of his violent rhetoric and organizing.
Cole first came to national attention last year as one of the ringleaders of the neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division, exposed in a deep Pro Publica profile of the organization already associated with several murders. A video portrayed him leading a shooting exercise in the woods near the town of Concrete, in the western Cascades Range. He is formerly from the border town of Blaine in Whatcom County, but reportedly moved to Snohomish County near Arlington after the profile was published.
According to Winston’s report, Cole surrendered several firearms, including a pistol and an AK-47 variant with a high-capacity drum magazine. He was photographed with the weapons while participating in an Atomwaffen exercise in Nevada in 2018.
FBI agents greeted Cole at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago last year, according to a report from Mike Baker of The New York Times, upon his return from a trip to Europe in which he apparently hooked up with a number of other far-right extremists. An inspection of photos on his cell phone found he had visited the Auschwitz concentration camp site in Poland with other neo-Nazis, and there were photos showing him and others with the Atomwaffen banner, giving the Nazi salute.
“This was an individual who had access to firearms and was preparing for a race war,” Kimberly Wyatt, a King County prosecutor, told the Times.
Washington’s “red flag” law allows law enforcement or civilians to obtain a court order to confiscate weapons when there is evidence that people are at high risk of harming themselves or others. A similar law in Oregon was recently used to confiscate the weapons of another right-wing extremist, Marine Sgt. Michael Kohfield, who had announced his plan to hunt down and murder antifascists in their homes.
Western Washington has been plagued with the presence of a number of far-right extremists and their organizations the past several years, including street-brawling groups such as Joey Gibson’s Patriot Prayer and the Proud Boys, as well as more violent paramilitary organizations such as Atomwaffen Division and The Base, which recently began holding training exercises in the state’s northeastern corner.
There’s also a fair amount of crossover membership within these groups. A member of the Proud Boys from the Seattle neighborhood of Ballard, Sean-Michael Scott, was recently exposed by Puget Sound Anarchists as another participant in Atomwaffen exercises as well.
According to Winston, Cole liked to use the nom de plume Khimaere in his online exchanges with other Atomwaffen members. He is also a fan of neo-Nazi “black metal” music and was in a band called Opferblut, which means “sacrificial blood” in German; Cole apparently likes to mix Satanism with his fascist ideology.
Wyatt told the Times that the confiscation of Cole’s guns was part of an increased focus on the activities of white supremacist terrorists in the Pacific Northwest by regional law enforcement, noting that their threatening behavior and rhetoric posed a constitutional challenge that the use of “red flag” laws helps them overcome.
“What do you do when there’s a general threat versus one specific individual?” Wyatt observed.