Generation Identity (GI)’s summer camp in France didn’t turn out quite as the far-right movement had hoped.
Instead of establishing a strategy for the coming year, the pan-European movement left the weekend bruised. After The Observer contacted activists at the camp for comment on the fact that Tore Rasmussen, a central figure in the UK branch, had a history in the Norwegian nazi scene, co-leader Tom Dupré abruptly left the movement, striking a major blow against GI UK. The organisation lacks other capable leaders, and it remains to be seen whether the UK branch can survive without Dupré.
Dupré’s departure came after the revelation that Rasmussen had been active in the Norwegian nazi group Vigrid in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Norwegian watchdog group Monitor described Rasmussen as a “well-known nazi” in 2001. It has been reported that Rasmussen was one of a group of nazis handing out flyers bearing the call to “save the white race”, with further information about hearing American nazi William Pierce “talk about the Jews”. Rasmussen also used to attend matches of the Oslo football club Vålerenga alongside figures active in the Norwegian extreme right. Vigrid leader Tore Tvedt has recently stated that he is “proud” of Rasmussen, referring to him as his “lieutenant”.
Rasmussen, who became a key organiser in GI UK last summer, was banned from entering the UK earlier this year. He instead moved to Ireland and started managing the European de facto leader Martin Sellner’s clothing brand Phalanx Europa.
Rasmussen has not been completely honest about his past to followers of GI. Despite Rasmussen’s far-right activism starting at least 15 years earlier, Rasmussen claims in a YouTube video from May 2018 that he was “red-pilled” (converted to far-right views) in 2015 in the wake of the refugee crisis, stating that before this time he lived “in a golden cage of fear afraid to speak my mind about whatever the media would define as controversial”.
When questioned Rasmussen has briefly mentioned his nazi involvement in Norwegian language interviews, but it’s clear that he has downplayed the extent of his involvement, and also the violent aspects of the movement he was involved in. In 2001, members of Vigrid were convicted for a horrific attack against two men of immigrant backgrounds outside of a nightclub in Stavanger, throwing a cobblestone and stabbing one of the men six times, puncturing his lung. In total seven of the eight accused nazis were convicted, among those Tommy Olsen, now active in the Nordic Resistance Movement.
Whilst Rasmussen claims to have completely severed all ties with Vigrid, there are several articles on Vigrid’s website discussing Rasmussen and GI, including an article written by Tore Tvedt, the founder and leader of the organisation, congratulating Rasmussen on his position in GI. Tvedt also states that he is proud of his “lieutenant”, going on to write of Rasmussen and a fellow activist:
They have like many others followed the advice I gave them about distancing themselves and asking for forgiveness for their activism in Vigrid when the pressure got too heavy. And then, after some time, again taken on leading positions elsewhere. It shows wisdom, ability to learn and adapt.
In the wake of his exposure, Rasmussen has announced that he is moving from Ireland back to Norway. GI Ireland and Northern Ireland branch published a statement saying that “Tore is a great patriot and friend and we wish him well”.
Questions are now raised over how much was known by the UK branch and the international leadership, including Sellner. Benjamin Jones, GI UK’s co-leader, told the Independent that Rasmussen had “wiped his hands clean of youthful misjudgements”. But that view clearly wasn’t shared among the whole group. Dupré stated to the Independent:
I find Nazism disgusting, I find that kind of violence horrendous as well and I’m just not going anywhere near that … to some extent the success or failure of groups [like GI] rests on how well we can keep these people out. I thought we had but clearly not, and that’s why I left.
GI’s core ideology is racist and has long attracted people from the extreme fringes. HOPE not hate have previously exposed GI UK activists for having previously been active in National Action, now banned in the UK as a terrorist group. This is just further evidence that GI’s claims not to be racist or ideologically extreme are untenable.
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