US imposes sanctions on Nordic Resistance Movement in fight against white supremacy

FILE PHOTO: Members of the Neo-nazi Nordic Resistance Movement march through the town of Ludvika

By Daphne Psaledakis

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Friday imposed sanctions on the neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement and several of its leaders, designating them terrorists as Washington seeks to combat violent white supremacy, the U.S. State Department said.

The action designates Sweden-based NRM and three of its leaders as "specially designated global terrorists," the State Department said in a statement.

NRM is the largest neo-Nazi group in Sweden and has branches in Norway, Denmark, Iceland and Finland, where it has been banned since 2020, according to the statement.

"The United States remains deeply concerned about the racially or ethnically motivated violent extremist threat worldwide and is committed to countering the transnational components of violent white supremacy," State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement.

"NRM’s violent activity is based on its openly racist, anti-immigrant, antisemitic and anti-LGBTQI+ platform," he added.

The State Department said members and leaders of the group have carried out violent attacks against political opponents, protesters, journalists and others, and have also taken steps to collect and prepare weapons and explosive materials and organized training in violent tactics, including knife fighting.

Friday's action freezes any of the group's U.S. assets and generally bars Americans from dealing with it.

U.S. President Joe Biden has railed against white supremacy while in office.

He frequently says the "Unite the Right" white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 made him decide that he should run for president in 2020. The rally followed months of protests over the city's plan to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

In 2021, Biden launched the first-ever U.S. National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism that included resources to identify and prosecute threats and new deterrents to prevent Americans from joining dangerous groups.

Biden has also called on Congress to do more to hold social media companies accountable for spreading hate.

(Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis and Jarrett Renshaw; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)