Extremists plotted violence and trained at Georgia camp, feds allege

An unknown person fires at paper targets in a propaganda video from The Base. Federal investigators say the video was taken at Luke Lane’s compound outside of Rome, Ga.

An unknown person fires at paper targets in a propaganda video from The Base. Federal investigators say the video was taken at Luke Lane’s compound outside of Rome, Ga.

Three suspected white extremists arrested last week ahead of a pro-gun rally in Virginia made two trips last year to Georgia to train at what federal prosecutors describe as a “regional training camp” for The Base, a violent, neo-Nazi terrorist group that seeks to provoke civil war.

Last week, federal agents arrested Maryland residents Brian Mark Lemley, Jr., 33, and William Garfield Bilbrough IV, 19, and Patrik Jordan Mathews, a 27-year-old fugitive from Manitoba, Canada, and accused them of various firearms violations, including transporting a machine gun and ammunition across state lines with intent to commit a crime, as well as crimes related to Mathews' illegal entry into the United States.

At the same time, state and federal authorities arrested three Georgia men and accused them of plotting to murder a Bartow County couple and of belonging to a criminal gang. Michael John Helterbrand, 25, of Dalton; Jacob Kaderli, 19, of Dacula; and Luke Austin Lane, 21, of Silver Creek, are being held without bond in Floyd County.

All six men — plus a seventh arrested in Wisconsin — are accused of belonging to The Base, an “accellerationist” extremist group that advocates violent acts as a way to speed the collapse of society, allowing them and other white supremacists to build a white ethno-state out of the rubble.

Charged with participating in a criminal gang and conspiracy to commit murder are: Luke Austin Lane, 21, of Silver Creek; Jacob Kaderli, 19, of Dacula; and Michael John Helterbrand, 25, of Dalton. (Floyd County Police via AP)

icon to expand image

By matching federal filings in the cases against Lemley, Bilbrough and Mathews with state records related to Helterbrand, Kaderli and Lane, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has been able to put together the clearest picture yet of how The Base operated what federal agents referred to as a regional training base on a rural compound just a few miles south of downtown Rome.

Cassie Miller, a senior research analyst with the Southern Poverty Law Center, said the court documents outline what researchers view as a “growing radical wing” of an already radical philosophy. Miller said unlike the alt-right, which sought to bring white nationalism into mainstream politics, The Base’s goal is simply destruction.

“They are not interested in creating any sort of broad appeal,” she said. “These are really small networks because these are the most extreme, most radicalized people in the movement.”

While it is encouraging to see two of these cells disrupted by law enforcement, Miller said there is online evidence of cells spread around the nation. These arrests may only further radicalize them, she said.

Firearms training in August

The Base's foothold in Georgia was first reported by Vice News in December, but the location of the alleged training base and the people behind it were not known at the time.

Federal court records state Maryland residents Lemley and Bilbrough came to Georgia Aug. 2-4 to attend a training camp that consisted of “tactical training and firearm drills.”

That was the same time that an undercover law enforcement agent made his first in-person contact with Georgians Lane and Kaderli. According to an affidavit filed in state court, the agent met with the two men in downtown Rome after weeks of “online vetting” for membership in the group.

Kaderli and Lane took the agent to Lane’s 105-acre property in Silver Creek, seven miles south of Rome. The agent was given a black hood with a Base patch and welcomed into the group.

At the same time, Lemley and Bilbrough arrived at Lane’s property from out of state to attend firearms training.

“Based on previous discussions with members of The Base online, the (agent) believed the intended purpose of those drills were (sic) to prepare for the ‘Boogaloo,’ a term used by members of The Base to describe the collapse of the United States and subsequent race war,” the affidavit states.

The agent said he and the members of The Base posed for pictures with their faces covered which “were later used for propaganda.”

Planned violence against antifa

Lemley returned to Georgia from Maryland on Sept. 15, this time bringing along fellow Base member Patrik Mathews. Mathews, a former member of the Canadian Army Reserves, had fled Winnipeg, Manitoba, after a local journalist exposed his plans to establish a neo-Nazi cell there.

Mathews stayed in Georgia for about seven weeks, according to the federal filing. Some, if not most, of this time was spent at Lane’s Silver Creek residence.

According to records filed in the state case and reporting by the AJC, the undercover FBI agent met with Mathews, Lane and Kaderli in early October and “discussed The Base’s violent opposition to members of antifa, their desire to fight and ultimately a veiled plan to murder an unspecified victim or victims.”

Antifa refers to a loose network of left-wing activist groups which oppose white nationalists and other hate-based groups. Antifa groups and white supremacists have physically confronted each other at times, perhaps most violently during the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va.

“These antifa types, all these people. There has to start being consequences for what they are, and that’s race traitors and agents of the system,” Mathews said, according to the state filing.

“You call them neo-Nazi terrorist enough, they’ll eventually show you what a neo-Nazi terrorist is,” Kaderli allegedly said, adding that he wanted to “fight something, dude.”

Lemley and Bilbrough rejoined Mathews at Lane’s Silver Creek property on Oct. 30 for another training session. It was during this period that Lemley and Bilbrough allegedly purchased approximately 1,550 rounds of 5.56 mm ammunition commonly used in automatic and semi-automatic assault rifles before leaving the state for Maryland.

‘Violent revolution is now’

To accomplish its aims, The Base calls on its members to form small cells to commit violent acts to destabilize society and provoke a violent response from its enemies. Authorities found evidence the men discussed such plans.

“The time for violent revolution is now. That time is already here,” Mathews said on a video federal agents retrieved from his computer. “Derail some (expletive) trains, kill some people and poison some water supplies.”

Lemley, Bilbrough and Mathews were arrested last week ahead of a massive pro-gun rally in Richmond, Va. According to court documents, the men built an assault rifle from ordered parts and discussed killing police officers for their tactical gear, targeting random civilians from sniper positions, and sparking a civil war by inciting violence at the rally.

“We can’t let Virginia go to waste,” Mathews said to Lemley.”We have a (expletive) rifle, you’ll have your (expletive) kit set up. We’ll have radios, (night-vision goggles). Holy (expletive).”

At the same time, authorities arrested Lane, Helterbrand and Kaderli in Georgia. Court documents allege the three met with the undercover agent several times in December to discuss their plan to kill the Bartow couple for allegedly belonging to an antifa group.

Helterbrand, Kaderli and Lane have each been charged with participating in a criminal gang and conspiracy to commit murder. Jail records do not identify any attorneys representing them. Floyd police hope for the case to go to a grand jury for an indictment. Leigh Patterson, Floyd’s district attorney, declined to comment Thursday.

A warrant for Lane’s arrests lists an address for him on John Ingram Road south of Rome. The road twists up woody, hilly terrain to a remote community with modest homes. Eventually, the road gives way to a dirt one on the Lane family’s property. Neighbors declined to comment or did not answer their phones.

The Rev. Kyle Tibbetts is the pastor of Damascus Baptist Church, a little white house of worship with a view of the Lane family property. Between 40 and 50 people attend services there on Sundays. Tibbetts has heard gunfire nearby, but he said that is typical during hunting seasons.

“I can’t recall any kind of weapons fire that would sound out of the ordinary,” he said. “It is not like there is some real riffraff traveling through.”

He added: “It is kind of crazy that it has happened so close to us.”