Active Clubs: The Growing Threat of ‘White Nationalism 3.0’ across the United States

Published: 24 October 2023

Authors: Ciarán O’Connor, Laurie Wood, Katherine Keneally and Kevin D. Reyes

The number of Active Clubs in the United States, Canada and Europe is increasing, posing a threat to public safety. Active Clubs (“ACs”) are white nationalist extremist groups that emphasize physical fitness and hand-to-hand combat skills and have a history of violence. Though each “club” is autonomous, the groups frequently engage in coordinated activities offline, such as mixed martial arts (MMA) tournaments, protests and physical training. In recent years, these clubs have used their social media profiles to encourage likeminded individuals to establish their own clubs in their respective locations. ISD’s research shows this strategy has been highly effective throughout the US.

This report identifies and analyzes the network of Active Clubs operating within the US along three themes: ideology, tactics and targets. The research predominately focuses on the use of the messaging platform Telegram by ACs, and includes detailed data analysis exploring how this network uses Telegram to produce and promote white nationalist propaganda, expand the network of clubs, and facilitate on- and offline collaboration between members and groups.