A young Canadian named Kristoffer Nippak is a key player in the growing neo-Nazi network of “Active Clubs,” VICE News can exclusively reveal. With more than 10 cells sprinkled across multiple provinces, the Active Clubs are the fastest-growing neo-Nazi movement in Canada. Meeting several times a month, members of the semi-autonomous cells train martial arts, put up racist posters, and recruit young, easily manipulated white men to their cause.
On October 18, the Active Club network celebrated its two-year anniversary and members from each cell met in Ontario to train and discuss further plans. Now, just weeks removed from this meetup, VICE News can reveal the identity of one of the key players who laid the groundwork for the national Active Club scene in Canada.Nippak is a 25-year-old Ontario man who, for years now, has dedicated his life to spreading hatred; he was a founding member of the Canadian offshoot of Atomwaffen, a group that has been connected to five murders and is designated a terrorist organization in Canada. What’s more, Nippak isn’t just a key player in building the Active Club scene in Canada—he’s helped the group spread overseas as well. VICE News was able to identify Nippak as a key leader in the Active Club scene and a founding member of Canada’s Atomwaffen cell through interviews with sources in the neo-Nazi community, law enforcement, and researchers, and online posts sources say Nippak wrote. One person familiar with Nippak’s white-supremacist organizing told VICE News he’s obsessed with spreading neo-Nazism.“This is his life,” this person, who was granted anonymity because of fear of safety, says.”It’s all he does.”
Active Club Canada during a meetup in 2022 organized by Nippak.
Nippak didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment sent to his Telegram accounts or accounts connected to the Canadian Active Club network. The Telegram accounts associated with Nippak, which are normally active multiple times every day, went silent for almost a week following the VICE News request for comment. While no response was received from several of the men who vet potential members for Active Club Canada, the account used by VICE News to contact them was blocked by the main page as well as by some of the vetters. VICE News connected with Erik Nippak, Kristoffer’s father, on Facebook to ask for comment and contact information for his son, but was likewise blocked shortly after sending the request. Other requests to family members and friends went unanswered.
Nippak has, according to sources and online posts connected to him, traveled the world attempting to build and strengthen the international network of racist fitness clubs. This has involved him traveling to Scandinavia, where he gladhanded and sparred with Swedish skinheads and neo-Nazis. In Canada, Nippak has aided in building a deep and active neo-Nazi movement that features not just dozens of dedicated male supporters, but also includes a women’s group and even a racist clothing brand.
Alexander Ritzmann, a senior advisor of the Counter-Extremism Project, has been a leading expert on Active Clubs and their international spread. He told VICE News that in the United States, the Active Clubs appear to be building “a militia that looks like a combat sports network.” “There’s lots of evidence suggesting that this is actually a shadow militia that is training and preparing for a Day X scenario. One that is undefined at the moment—it could be something like January 6, it could be something else,” said Ritzmann. “So it is very relevant when some of the leadership has a past of being members in outward, violent organizations.”
Nippak in a family photograph from 2019. Photo via Facebook.
Nippak has been active in the white power movement for years now. Like others in the movement, he has little to no online footprint under his real name. What can be found online about him either predates his involvement in the movement, or was shared by outside groups. One photo posted by a Estonian language school in which he appears, for example, refers to everyone in the photo by their full name, but to Nippak only by his initials. Even in photos posted on family members’ personal social media pages, Nippak is never named.
Thanks to archived websites reviewed by VICE News—they are not being named to avoid drawing an unfair connection between them and neo-Nazism—we can see that Nippak is of Estonian descent, and spent time in Estonian schools and camps while he was younger. An online blog apparently written by Nippak frequently mentions his heritage alongside relentless promotion of Estonian Active Clubs. While little is known about his radicalization, we do know he’s been in the scene since he was a teenager.“I have been a National Socialist for many years now, I won’t be exact. And not just online but in the real world,” reads the blog post. (VICE News was told by a knowledgeable source that Nippak wrote the post, and the heritage, travels, and connections of the writer match those of Nippak.) “Many National Socialists in multiple countries know who I am personally. “I work a regular job, and then also spend lots of time involved in Nationalist organizing and activism. Often these days I don’t even have time for my own family.” One of his first projects was banding together with other militant neo-Nazis in Canada to try and form an Atomwaffen cell. Atomwaffen was an infamous neo-Nazi terrorist organization that emerged in 2016, and has been linked to five murders in the United States. The group was openly accelerationist, meaning it was built around the idea of hastening the fall of society so it could build a white ethnostate.
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As the overtly edgy and militant aesthetic of Atomwaffen fell out of style in the neo-Nazi scene following several high-profile law enforcement operations and some members went underground, Nippak remained, for lack of a better term, active. When the Active Clubs began to spread across North America, including in Canada, Nippak took notice. Active Clubs are essentially semi-autonomous neo-Nazi fight clubs. They’re organized on a local level around racists training in martial arts—primarily jiu-jitsu and kickboxing—as well as performing on-the-ground activism like stickering, postering, and (more frequently as of late) showing up at hot-button issue protests. The network was founded by American white supremacist Robert Rundo, who was recently extradited from Romania to the U.S. to face charges linked to violent clashes with antifascists in 2017. Rundo has said that he was inspired by the European neo-Nazi combat scene, which he hoped to emulate in North America.
A marketing image from Vinland Battlewear.
While Nippak was not a part of the Active Club’s initial setup, several sources told VICE News that he joined a year after it began and quickly became a key figure. The group grew rapidly under his watch, and the network’s structure and organization improved dramatically. There are 11 groups in total, and they can be found in the Maritimes, Alberta, BC, Quebec, Saskatchewan, and Ontario. They’ve gotten the notice of some popular Canadian far-right podcasters, who have promoted the group. They are even connected to a white nationalist clothing company, dubbed “Vinland Battlewear,” which sells racist, Norse-inspired clothing. It is relentlessly promoted on the Active Club Canada Telegram page.
Sources with knowledge of Nippak’s online activity told VICE News that Nippak also runs a blog called James A Rants, where he writes at length about the Ukrainian-Russian war and neo-Nazism. The author’s activities—including traveling to specific Active Clubs in Scandinavia—match activities of Nippak’s described to VICE News by multiple sources. The blog’s author is someone who appears incredibly dedicated to the “cause” and disparages those in the neo-Nazi community who don’t organize in real life. The blog has been praised and shared by numerous active clubs and neo-Nazi pages on Telegram. “Just a friendly reminder that if you aren’t actively involved with your local Nationalist community in the real world, I hate you and you are a weak person not deserving of my respect,” the blog’s author writes.In the fall of 2022, several Active Club-associated Telegram channels chronicled the journey of a Canadian visiting and helping out several neo-Nazi athletic clubs in Scandinavia. Several sources have identified this man as Nippak. In November of 2022, Hammer House, an Active Club in Finland, boasted of a visit and posted a photo (with the face blurred out) alongside the caption, “We had the honor to train and show how we do things in Hammer House with a friend from Active Club Canada.” It also released a video showing a man whose face is blurred out but who shares a similar build, hairstyle, and color to Nippak training. In the video, the man shows some rudimentary grappling skills and gets submitted several times by a member of the Finnish active club.
A screenshot from a Finnish Active Club propaganda video.
One of the international gyms he traveled to, Gym XIV, an Active Club-affiliated group located in Värmland, Sweden, referenced him in a post, saying “he has not only supported (the nationalist gym) before we even existed…. a brother in our common struggle for our peoples around the globe.” Alongside the post was a photo of men with their faces blocked out by black bars.
Atomwaffen north of the border
To experts, one of the most concerning elements of Nippak’s profile are his ties to the Atomwaffen Division. One of Nippak’s long-term associates is Patrick Gordon MacDonald, whom VICE News exposed in 2021 as one of the co-founders of the Canadian Atomwaffen cell. Using the alias “Dark Foreigner”, MacDonald played a key role producing neo-Nazi propaganda for the group and cultivating its satanic aesthetic for the group and others like it. Like Nippak, he joined the Active Club scene after Atomwaffen was disbanded.MacDonald was recently charged with participating in the activity of a terrorist group, facilitating terrorist activity, and wilfully promoting hatred for a terrorist group. His case is one of the first time terrorism charges like these have been brought in Canada. Recently, the neo-Nazi propagandist was released on bail. Citing policy, the RCMP could not confirm if Nippak is a part of the MacDonald investigation.
“The RCMP usually confirms such information only once criminal charges are laid,” Sergeant Charles Poirier told VICE News. “We wouldn’t be able to confirm that a specific individual is under investigation at this point.”One former member of the American Atomwaffen cell told VICE News that he was familiar with the username connected to Nippak but that it wasn’t inside the nucleus of the American group. This isn’t surprising as MacDonald also fell outside of the core nucleus of Atomwaffen. While the Canadian cell has never been linked to violent crimes or murder, it did create several pieces of propaganda for the group. The RCMP alleges that MacDonald “participated in and facilitated the creation, production and distribution of three terrorist propaganda videos.” In the videos multiple members of the group train with weapons, stand before a large fire, and wave flags connected to the terrorist organization. MacDonald is still awaiting trial.Now though, Nippak is helping push a much more subtle, yet still insidious, form of organized hatred. Unlike Atomwaffen, Canadian Active Club propaganda eschews overt terroristic references, like images of Bin Laden combined with Hitler quotes, in favor of neo-Nazis engaging in martial arts training, putting up stickers, and, in one case, reading Bibles in a field. A key similarity between Atomwaffen and Active Clubs is that both groups are highly secretive about their personal information and use robust vetting and operational security. Peter Smith, a researcher and journalist for the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, has studied Active Clubs since they began to pop up in Canada.
A still shot from the Atomwaffen propaganda video Macdonald is accused of creating. Photo via RCMP.
“Most of the recruiter accounts had no profile picture and didn’t show signs of being used. A lot of them don’t seem to have a very active public online presence,” said Smith. “That’s even more true for the people we generally considered to be coordinating Active Club Canada, which is a membership of the Vinland Hammer Skins and Crew 38. “They’re very aware researchers, journalists, and law enforcement activists are attempting to enter these spaces,” Smith added. “ It’s a smart move for people who are looking to not have their personal lives affected by their activism.” One of the primary things that Smith found in his reporting is the connection between the club and The Hammerskins, a pre-existing skinhead group. Smith, VICE News, and others working in the space, like Left Coast Right Watch, have written about this connection. The Hammerskins are a decades-old skinhead group, formed in the 1980s, that has been linked to criminal activity. They were long thought to be on the downswing, but their recent collaboration with Active Clubs has led to a surge in membership. VICE News was told that, like several in the Canadian Active Club scene, Nippak is a member of Crew 38—a Hammerskins feeder organization. Despite connections to overtly violent groups with blood on their hands, Active Clubs are part of what’s been referred to as White Nationalism 3.0, which the Institute for Strategic Dialogue describes as “a decentralized, horizontal white nationalist network” that seeks to make white nationalism more palatable to the general public. The movement is a direct response to the more overtly violent groups such as Blood & Honour, Atomwaffen and even The Base that came before it.
What’s more, the concept seems to be successful. The ISD tracked a significant uptick in Active Club organizing since August 2022. In total, it found 53 channels on Telegram associated with the organization, 36 of which were created since the summer of 2022. One of the reasons why the Active Clubs are so successful is anyone can pick up the Active Club brand and form a cell. Then, if that cell is consistent and active enough, it will be accepted and brought in by the network. Each group typically has about five to 20 members and meets several times a month. A former leader of an American Active Club told VICE News cells are insidious in their recruitment, because they don’t present at first as neo-Nazi or white supremacist groups, and radicalize their members once they’re already in the fold.
A picture of an Active Club Canada meetup from 2022. Photo via Telegram.
By design, the group presents itself as a fitness club, but experts say you can’t take this at face value. Ritzmann told VICE News that it’s important members of law enforcement “don’t get fooled by the boxing videos and pictures.””Investigate as if this is a real threat to national security, to Jewish people, Muslim people, LGBTQ people, or anyone who is on their so-called enemy list to make sure you’re not missing out on a possibly growing threat in your country,” said Ritzmann. Ritzmann says that in his research he sees signs that Active Clubs are preparing for much more than just the simple fight tournaments they’ve been hosting. Robert Rundo, the group’s founder, has spoken about creating a militia-esque group that is ready to attack for a future event. Furthermore, Ritzmann has seen evidence that some cells are doing paramilitary-style and mass-casualty training which goes far and above what a fitness club would do.
‘Entrepreneur of extremism’
In Canada, the network that Nippak helped build just took to Telegram to celebrate its anniversary. “Two years ago this month, Active Club Canada made our first post online,” they wrote. “What started as a small group of friends in Ontario has grown into a coast-to-coast network with 11 clubs and a triple-digit number of participants.”Outside of the United States, Canada is one of the Active Clubs’ strongholds. A big reason for that is the group’s national unity, which Nippak was key to creating. According to sources with inside information on the clubs, last year Nippak was responsible for organizing a nationwide meet-up of the Active Club chapters where members of the cells from across the country traveled to Ontario to work out and network together. One of those invited to the meetup was a racist blogger who documented the trip.
“We got separated into a few different groups for this to be more manageable, with circuits like boxing, kickboxing, calisthenics, and street situational awareness,” the blogger wrote on his website, which VICE News will not be naming. The blogger wrote that he hurt himself during an impromptu jiu-jitsu match with a fellow racist he got himself into after losing a push-up contest. The night ended with the group spending time in a hotel room discussing operational security.
The group just recently held their second nationwide meetup, where members from every club were present. This, according to a write-up on the group’s public-facing Telegram page, is a show of strength.”In a country as large as ours, with a population as relatively small as ours, it’s easy to feel isolated in our beliefs,” it reads. “Active Club Canada changes that, not only increasing the physical, mental, and spiritual fitness of our participants but giving courage to their beliefs.”Nippak’s years of involvement with neo-Nazism may be starting to catch up with him. Multiple sources told VICE News that Nippak claimed he’d been the subject of a police raid over the summer, and wrote about it on a Telegram channel that he operates under an alias. (VICE News was unable to independently confirm the claim because the RMCP does not comment on investigations.) The raid, he wrote, was enough to scare him into taking his account down for several months.“To be clear, I never quit Nationalism, I said I was retiring from digital public life,” he wrote on Telegram in October when announcing the return of his blog. “But it seems I can’t even do that. In real life, online, I’ll give everything I can for our people. With so many slackers in our race I feel obligated to do everything I can both in real life and online.”
A photo from the recent nationwide meetup of Active Club Canada Photo via Telegram.
“I had people with grievances against me trying to spin tales about me to law enforcement, all of which resulted in various police agencies believing that I am an international Nationalist superstar,” he wrote. “What followed was me becoming a target of travel bans, exclusion orders from entire countries, a flashbang and federal police raid in the middle of the night, and $26,000 in lawyer fees as of August 31, 2023. This led to me deciding to reduce my exposure, delete my online presence, and simply continue as a boots-on-the-ground Nationalist.” On October 27, he told his followers that his “legal troubles are not over” and that he’s “still under investigation,” but that his followers shouldn’t worry about messaging him because “a solid 50% of the most active Nationalists across the West are constantly under investigation or surveillance anyway so that really doesn’t mean much.” He made it clear that he plans on continuing his work in spreading neo-Nazism, not just across Canada, but the world. Ritzmann told VICE News that tirelessly dedicated people like Nippak have been key to the massive growth of the neo-Nazi scene in recent years. He dubs these figures “entrepreneurs of extremism”: people who “change organizations and strategies” but relentlessly push their cause forward. “These are the movers and shakers. The generals,” said Ritzman. “The ones that organize events online and offline. The ones that put out the propaganda. There is an ongoing, alive, transnational right-wing motivated violent extremist network.“This guy is obviously part of that.”
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