On Tuesday, an investigation coordinated by the Naples prosecutor’s office published its results, shedding light on a subversive neo-Nazi, Holocaust denialist and white supremacist organization called the Order of Hagal.
According to prosecutors, it engaged in “constant paramilitary training activity, including attending courses abroad in hand-to-hand combat and on the use of firearms, both small and large,” and had “direct and frequent contacts with Ukrainian ultranationalist groups,” such as the Azov Battalion, Pravi Sector, Misantropya Division and Centuria, probably with a view to possible recruitment into the ranks of the fighting groups.
Four suspects have been arrested on charges of terrorism, subversion of the democratic order and propagandizing racial hatred, plus a fifth suspect who is being kept under constant monitoring by the authorities. More than 26 searches were conducted in the provinces of Naples, Avellino, Caserta, Milan, Turin, Palermo, Ragusa, Treviso, Verona, Salerno, Potenza, Cosenza, and Crotone, including the Avellino bookstore belonging to Franco Freda, a neo-fascist extremist convicted of subversive conspiracy.
The Order of Hagal cell, established in 2018, used social media for its propaganda; it was active on Telegram with a channel named “Protocol 4,” through which they spread neo-Nazi, Holocaust denialist, homophobic, anti-vax, anti-green pass and anti-migrant ideology.
One of the suspects, Anton Radomsky, is still at large because he has gone back to Ukraine: investigations revealed that he was in contact with the Azov Battalion (founded by Andriy Biletsky, a soldier and far-right politician with neo-Nazi sympathies). Investigators are accusing him of organizing military training and recruitment for the cell.
At the head of the Order of Hagal was Maurizio Ammendola, 43, together with second-in-command Michele Rinaldi, Massimiliano Mariano (responsible for indoctrination) and Gianpiero Testa, active in outreach to find new adepts. The group planned to retreat to the countryside in a kind of authoritarian, self-sufficient structure bound by vows of secrecy.
Ammendola and Testa are graduates of the European Security Academy in Poland: “The training programs,” the prosecutors write, “copied those provided for military special forces (from operational guidance to tactical or dynamic fire with the use of weapons, as well as self-defense techniques). They also took the advanced course in Krav Maga (a martial art of the Israeli special forces) and combined firearms.”
The group had not engaged in any operation, but the investigations found that they were preparing violent actions against the carabinieri station in Marigliano (the official headquarters of the Order) and at the Vulcano Buono shopping center in Nola. Becoming a member required an allegiance ritual featuring Nazi symbols and the payment of 30 euros on a Postepay card. The statutes required unconditional acceptance of the internal rules of the Order of Hagal together with a “perpetual pledge of secrecy, even if one decides not to join after reading the statutes or later leaves or is kicked out.”