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Infiltrating Antifa: the Feds and Their Long History of Subversion

Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair

On May 31st, President Trump (or his people) tweeted: “The United States of America will be designating ANTIFA as a Terrorist Organization.” Attorney General, William Barr, said: “The violence instigated and carried out by Antifa and other similar groups in connection with the rioting is domestic terrorism and will be treated accordingly.”

Trump and Barr were referring to the Antifascist collective that has supported the ongoing, international Black Lives Matter (BLM) demonstrations. Mary McCord, an ex-Department of Justice official, reminds Trump that “no current legal authority exists for designating domestic organisations as terrorist[s].” At the time of writing, Trump has taken no action to officially designate Antifa a terror group.

Antifa is a leaderless, direct action platform, making it unusually easy for police, intelligence groups, and rival organizations to infiltrate and frame for violence. For example, on the same day that Trump tweeted his wish to see Antifa banned, a livestreamer was forced to run away after he incited a New York BLM group to “flip” over a truck before the crowd called him out.

So, let’s see how the federal authorities infiltrate, provoke, and subvert.

ANTI-FASCIST ACTION & THE ANTI-NAZI LEAGUE

In Britain, Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) officers “Colin Clark” and “Paul Gray” (cyphers HN80 and HN126) infiltrated the Socialist Workers’ Party and the Anti-Nazi League between 1977 and 1982. “Geoff” (HN21) raised money for Rock Against Racism and the Anti-Nazi League in the 1970s, but was an undercover SDS officer. Anthony Lewis (“Bobby Lewis” HN78) posed as an anti-racist in the 1990s to gather information about Doreen and Neville Lawrence, whose son, Stephen, was murdered in a racist attack. The Lawrence family campaigned against the police cover-up of the institutional racism behind their son’s death. In his undercover role, Lewis had relationships with at least two anti-racist women, Bea and Jenny.

The British group, Anti-Fascist Action, was infiltrated by the Metropolitan Police’s Mark Jenner, who posed as “Mark Cassidy” (HN15). Jenner worked for the Special Demonstration Squad. Jenner fathered children with a left-wing activist, Alison, whom he later dumped.

In the US in 2001, it was alleged that the former Roman Catholic priest and anti-fascist, Bill Wassmuth, was a de facto double-agent, using his Northwest Coalition Against Malicious Harassment (NWCAMH) as a front to spy on Antifa. Following attacks against Idaho’s Anti-Racist Action (ACA) by a splinter of the racist Aryan Nations, it was alleged that Wassmuth, who died in 2002, had used his sympathies with ACA as a pretext to gather information later shared with the police. Disclosure suggests that Wassmuth passed faxes, flyers, and letters on to Coeur d’Alene’s Police Chief, Dave Scates.

It would also appear that Wassmuth worked wittingly or unwittingly with an FBI informant. Activist and author Jay Taber writes of the broader left-wing groups with which the NWCAMH was associated: “planted in the midst of the board of this group of social reformers and opponents of US foreign policy was an FBI informant,” whom the authorities could manipulate because of her status as an immigrant (Blind Spots, 2003).

THE GLADIO CONNECTION

After WWII, the US and Britain set up “stay behind” networks to fight the Soviets in case of an invasion of NATO countries. Broadly known as Gladio, the other objective was to use far-right and fascist groups in Italy, Spain, and elsewhere as a proxy against the pan-European left. One alleged Gladio operative, Roberto Fiore, was wanted by the Italian authorities for questioning over the blowing up of the Bologna railway station, Italy, in 1980: an act of terrorism which killed 80 people and was blamed on the left. But Fiore was an MI6 asset who went on to mentor British racists, including members of the National Front. The Thatcher government protected him from extradition.

Fiore alleges that one Carlo Soracchi (“Carlo Neri” HN104), who was working for the Met Police’s Special Demonstration Squad (SDS), tried to provoke two Antifa activists into firebombing Fiore’s London property. Soracchi was later confirmed to be an SDS spy. In July 2001, he drove Anti-Nazi League activists to a protest in Bradford, which led to the infamous riots, as the left clashed with the National Front and the British National Party (led by Fiore’s protégé, Nick Griffin). In 2004, Soracchi attended a protest organized by the Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers’ union, where it was feared that he was passing on information about activists to industry black-listers. While spying on the Socialist Party, Soracchi had relationships with at least three lefty women: Andrea, Beth, and Lindsey.

THE BLACK BLOCK

Since the anti-World Trade Organization “Battle of Seattle” in 1999, gangs of young, masked vandals have descended on international protests, causing divisions between protestors and police. These are broadly known as the Black Block, in reference to their dress code. Their leaderless tactics and choice of attire lump them in with Antifa. But time after time, evidence exposes their followers as agents provocateur.

In 2007, Heiligendamm, Rostock, Germany, hosted the Group of Eight (G8) meeting. Around 80,000 demonstrators protested that month, only to be met with then-unprecedented state-violence: “pre-crime” raids, arrests, kettling, and eventual prohibition. After the Black Block caused trouble, the Federal Constitutional Court banned the demonstrations. Welt reports: “police have admitted the use of black-clad civilian officers during the summit protests.” Witnesses said that the undercover cop “incited to collect stones from the gravel bed of the Molli Railway.” Another said: “he hurled a stone at the fence and called: ‘Get on the cops!’”. Statewatch counted at least five black-clad provocateurs, some of whom were questioned by peaceful protestors about their agendas and backgrounds, to which they replied in formal German and refused to answer questions.

Also in 2007, the political leaders of the US, Mexico, and Canada met in the latter country in Montebello, near Ottawa, to discuss the Security and Prosperity Partnership 2005. Two thousand people gathered at the chateau to protest. Despite swearing that they were not provocateurs (“[a]t no time did the police of the Sûreté du Québec act as instigators or commit criminal acts”), the Quebec provincial police acknowledged that they had planted at least three, black-clad, masked, undercover officers among the protestors. Their police-issued boots gave them away. One of the coppers was seen carrying a rock. Videographer, Paul Manly, caught one of the undercover cops slapping the face of a riot squad officer.

In 2010, Vancouver hosted the Winter Olympic Games. The Olympic Resistance Network was there to protest. Constable Lindsey Houghton of the Vancouver Police described: “people dressed in all black who were encouraging the vandalism.” Harsha Walia described what activists believed was a provocateur: “He was pushing forward and forcing people into the police.”

CONCLUSION: ANTIFA TODAY

After Trump “won” the election in 2016, a young Baja Fresh manager, June Davies (“Tan”), donned black to join Antifa in Lake Oswego, Portland, Oregon. Within weeks, “Tan” was working with Portland Sgt., Jeff Niiya, telling him about planned protest routes.

Alberta-based teacher, Kurt Phillips, set up a website, Anti-Racist Canada, to track far-right groups. But the far-right Rebel Media alleged that Phillips was also an informant spying on the left. Phillips strenuously denies Rebel Media’s claim that he was a “member” of Antifa, but in an interview, Phillips does not deny or even raise the issue of being an informant against Antifa. The term “member” does not apply to the member-less, leader-less Antifa. It would be helpful if Phillips could clear this up.

Antifa came out in support of the recent and ongoing Black Lives Matter protests.

Referring to FBI Director, Christopher Wray, the National Security Advisor, Robert O’Brien, stated: “The president and the attorney general want to know from [Wray] what the FBI has been doing to track and dismantle and surveil and prosecute Antifa … And if that hasn’t been happening, we want to know what the plan is going forward.” In early-June, media reported on “a law enforcement official with access to intelligence” about Antifa.

Also in early-June in Minneapolis, #UmbrellaMan trended on Twitter after a man dressed in black, carrying an umbrella and wearing a mask, gloves, and boots, was caught by peaceful protestors breaking AutoZone windows with a hammer shortly before the establishment was set ablaze. When asked if he is a policeman, Umbrella Man replied: “Does it matter?” The St. Paul Police Department denies that he’s one of their officers. But it’s not just the feds. More recently, @ANTIFA_US incited violence on Twitter. The fake account was traced to the white supremacist group, Identity Evropa, and deleted by Twitter.

As usual, the state is the most violent of all the institutions involved. It subverts and oppresses as methods of its survival. The state typically directs its energy against left-wing groups while allying with far-right and fascist elements as proxies against progressives. None of this can be uttered in mainstream media, lest one is accused of conspiracy theorizing. Grassroots activists, on the other hand, are all-too-aware of these tactics.

T. J. Coles is director of the Plymouth Institute for Peace Research and the author of several books, including Voices for Peace (with Noam Chomsky and others) and  Fire and Fury: How the US Isolates North Korea, Encircles China and Risks Nuclear War in Asia (both Clairview Books).

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