Alex Rubinstein EU Ukraine

Blowback: Italian Police Bust Azov-Tied Nazi Cell Planning Terror Attacks

The arrest of Italian neo-Nazis affiliated with the Ukrainian Azov Battalion highlights the terrifying potential for blowback from the Ukraine proxy war.
Azov Battalion in Mariupol, Ukraine 2016. Wanderer777, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

By Alexander Rubinstein / The Grayzone

Italian police announced a series of raids against the neo-Nazi Order of Hagal organization. Accused of stockpiling weapons and planning terror attacks, the group has established operational ties to the Ukrainian Azov Battalion.

Five members of an Italian neo-Nazi organization known as the “Order of Hagal” were arrested on November 15th while an additional member remains wanted by authorities. He happened to be in Ukraine, fighting Russian forces alongside the Azov Battalion, which has been formally integrated into the Ukrainian military. 

The “Hagal” members are accused of plotting terrorist attacks on civilian and police targets. A sixth member of the Hagal group, now considered a fugitive, is in Ukraine and embedded with the Azov Battalion, a neo-Nazi paramilitary group that has been incorporated into the Ukrainian National Guard. 

Members of the Order of Hagal reportedly maintained “direct and frequent” contacts over Telegram with not just the Azov Battalion, but also the neo-Nazi Ukrainian military formations Right Sector and Centuria, “probably in the view of possible recruitment into the ranks of these fighting groups,” according to Italian media.

The police investigation was launched in 2019 and has included extensive computer searches and wiretapping; tactics which have revealed members of the group’s intent on carrying out violent acts in Italy.

One of the arrested members, Giampiero Testa, was reportedly “dangerously close to far-right Ukrainian Nationalist groups” and was planning an attack on a police station in Marigliano in Naples, according to wiretaps. The fugitive Azov fighter, Anton Radomsky, is a Ukrainian citizen who has lived in Italy but is currently fighting on behalf of the Ukrainian armed forces. Authorities say Radomsky planned to attack the “Volcano Buono” shopping mall in Naples.

In a January 2021 wiretap, Testa said he “would make a massacre like the one in New Zealand, but I wouldn’t go to the blacks, I would go to the barracks in Marigliano.” He was referring to the New Zealand mosque shooter who claimed to have visited Ukraine and wore a Nazi Sonnenrad, or “black sun” patch on his flak jacket as he slew 51 worshippers. The symbol, as the New York Times noted in 2019, is “commonly used by the Azov Battalion, a Ukrainian neo-Nazi paramilitary organization.”

In February 2021, Testa ranted over the phone, stating “Like [racist Christchurch mass shooter] Tarrant… tututututu. In the Marigliano barracks. Boom boom, I killed them all.”

Around the same time, police monitoring the Order of Hagal organization seized ”soft air weapons” that could be “easily modified to fire authentic bullets,” ammunition, tactical gear, and even a grenade launcher. The group is also accused of conducting paramilitary trainings in Naples and Caserta as well as seminars promoting white supremacy and Holocaust denial.

Footage of the arrests broadcast by the news channel Sky Tg24 shows long knives, a Nordic-style axe, a bat emblazoned with the words “Leader Mussolini,” a swastika flag, a gas mask, an Azov Battalion t-shirt and “Valhalla Express,” a memoir by an Azov fighter.

The TG24 report is below.

But Ukraine is not the only country to have been visited by members of the Order of Hagal; “some members” also traveled to Israel to train in Krav Maga and the use of long and short weapons,” according to police officials. In fact, they were even given diplomas for completing the training.

The police operation spanned thirteen provinces in Italy and has included “26 personal, home and computer searches,” according to the police press release announcing the arrests.

Among those arrested for “the crime of association with the purpose of terrorism or subversion of the democratic order” are Maurizio Ammendola, the founder of the group, its vice president Michele Rinaldi, and members Giampiero Testa and Massimiliano Mariano.

The fifth arrested member, Fabio Colarossi, is accused of spreading neo-Nazi propaganda.

While Nazism has found a safe space in the Ukrainian armed forces, the arrests and warrants against the members of the Order of Hagal that planned terror attacks suggests the potential for blowback from NATO’s Ukraine proxy war, as battle-hardened, ideologically extreme veterans encouraged by Western governments and supported with US and EU aid return home to cities across Europe.

“The high availability of weapons during the current conflict will result in the proliferation in illicit arms in the post-conflict phase,” Interpol Secretary General Juergen Stock has warned

As The Grayzone has reported, a 2022 Department of Homeland Security document acknowledged that “Ukrainian nationalist groups including the Azov Movement are actively recruiting racially or ethnically motivated violent extremist white supremacists to join various neo-Nazi volunteer battalions in the war against Russia” but noted a key intelligence gap: “What kind of training are foreign fighters receiving in Ukraine that they could possibly proliferate in US based militia and white nationalist groups?”


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Alexander Rubinstein
Alexander Rubinstein

Alex Rubinstein is an independent reporter on Substack. You can subscribe to get free articles from him delivered to your inbox here. If you want to support his journalism, which is never put behind a paywall, you can give a one-time donation to him through PayPal here or sustain his reporting through Patreon here.

5 comments

  1. Thank you Alexander, for this great reporting. Before Russia invaded western media was widely reporting on the existence and activity of the ultranationalist neo Nazi groups including the Azov battalion in Ukraine. Those responsible for the violence against peaceful demonstrators demanding less corruption in their government including the Maidan coup. Now all western governments happily support the Azov battalion thugs because they serve the purpose of fighting Russia. Again western duplicity including the mainstream media is on full display for those willing to look. The Emperor has no clothes! Now that we are creating and backing another extremist group western governments better prepare for much more violent blowback. This is the price of militarism over diplomacy. You think we would have learned form 20 years of futility in Iraq and Afghanistan but perpetual war, conflict, and death is great for business in the merchants of death as they sell arms to one and all! Break out the champagne Northrup Grumman, Honeywell, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon et al 2022 has been a very good year with 2023 looking even better! Sad!

    1. Russia didn’t invade Ukraine. Conflict began as far back as 1991. Learn about the US role in the 2014 Ukrainian coup and in installing (fascist) Zelensky in 2019. This has been a US financed war against eastern Ukraine, with its sizable ethnic Russian population (picture a US president waging a war on Mexican Americans in the southwest). The eastern regions had voted to align with Russia, and the US shrieked, “Fraud!” As Zelensky has been bombing those regions, Russia intervened.

  2. You could say the U.S. CIA has done and probably still is engaging in similar activities, e.g., 9-11.

  3. That’s the popular theme, I assume because people have been dumbed-down to the point where they don’t know what “fascism” means. What those Ukrainian “Nazis” do know is that Hitler regarded the Slavic people (Ukrainians, Russians, etc.) as subhuman. Hitler wrote, “Slavs should work for us, in case we don’t need them, let them die.” Need I note the absurdity of calling (Jewish) Zelensky a Nazi? But media “educate” the public…

  4. How the hell would you ‘easily modify’ an airsoft gun to fire real bullets? There is nothing similar about their mechanisms and firearms.

    Do they mean BBs? I mean, you could maybe get some extra muzzle velocity out of them, and potentially kill someone with the right projectile, but you’d get better results beating someone with your bare hands.

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