The terrorist gang—who called themselves “BSN,” an acronym with a meaning that has not been explained by prosecutors—comprised a former porn film actor, two veterans of the US Marine Corps, a currently serving Marine, and an enlisted National Guardsman— moved to the state in early 2020 and began setting up operations there. They were arrested in late October of that year, originally charged with a gun-running scheme.
But once investigators began sitting through the evidence, they realized the men were plotting much, much more.
Three of the men—Justin Hermanson, 21, who used the code name “Sandman”; Liam Collins, 21, aka “Disciple”; and Jordan Duncan, 25, aka “Soldier”—had met while serving in the Marines at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, while a fourth—Joseph Maurino, aka “Bishop”—was a National Guardsman in New Jersey. The fifth—Paul Kryscuk, 35, whose nom de plume was “Deacon”—was a porn actor (under the stage name “Pauly Harker”) who had lived most of his life on Long Island, New York. He met the other men online in the now-defunct neo-Nazi message board Iron March, though they all identified as members of the larger neo-Nazi terrorist organization Atomwaffen Division.
In 2017, when Iron March was still active, the men had discussed among themselves how to create “a modern day SS,” as one of them put it, referencing the Nazi paramilitary organization Schutzstaffel, the indictment says. Kryscuk outlined the group’s long-range plan then:
“First order of business is knocking down the System, mounting it and smashing it’s face until it has been beaten past the point of death … eventually we will have to bring the rifles out and go to work.”
“Second order of business … is the seizing of territory and the Balkanization of North America.” Buying property in remote areas that are already predominantly white and right leaning, networking with locals, training, farming, and stockpiling.”
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“Start buying property now in the types of regions mentioned above and get to work on building your own group … As time goes on in this conflict, we will expand our territories and slowly take back the land that is rightfully ours … As we build our forces and our numbers, we will move into the urban areas and clear them out. This will be a very reminiscent of Iraq as we will essentially be facing an insurgent force made up of criminals and gang members.”
Kryscuk bought a home in the Boise area in February 2020 and moved there, and Duncan and Collins gradually followed suit. Hermanson—who was stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina and remains an active member of the Marine Corps—joined them in July for a training exercise in the Idaho desert. The participants compiled a video of the live footage from that training showing Kryscuk and another person firing a variety of rifles. At the end, the four men—all outfitted in Atomwaffen—are seen giving the Nazi salute masks beneath a Sonnenrad, an occult Nazi symbol. The final frame reads: “Come home white man.”
Investigators found an abundance of evidence to charge them with plotting to attack the power grid in the region. According to the superseding federal indictment, the five men made plans to use their assault-style rifles to target transformers at power substations in Idaho and nearby states. They researched a 2013 attack on the grid by unknown terrorists at a power transmission station near San Jose, California, known as the Metcalf sniper attack.
The men also had a plan to target power transformers using homemade thermite, concocted from Tannerite, which is an explosive available to the public as a target for gun owners. Their plan was to collect enough of the target explosive units to manufacture the thermite, which burns at such a high temperature that it will destroy metal transformers.
Hermanson, the indictment says, told a co-conspirator that if the group was successful in blowing up a power substation, “it would take down the entire regional or coastal power grid and cause chaos for the country.” Just before their late-October arrest, Collins, Kryscuk, and Duncan discussed plans to take out a power grid.
Joining them in the discussions was Zacharek, who had been a member of the BSN gang since its formation online in 2017 under the moniker “Dealer,” according to testimony by NCIS Special Agent Chris Little. In his Iron March bio, Zacharek had described an interest “in (National Socialist) economics as a way of throwing off the chains of usury and Jewish owned banking” and his disgust with “the vile ‘culture’ of the African.” He went by the nom de plume “Panzerleiter.”
Zacharek was hired by the Lafayette Police Department (LPD) in Indiana as a probationary recruit in June 2020. An LPD release at the time described him as a former Penn State student originally from Edwards, New York, who served three years as a tank crewman in the US Army. “He visited Lafayette and fell in love with the community,” the LPD release said.
According to Little, Zacharek was part of a BSN gang discussion in October 2020 about how to successfully attack a power grid, and described the Metcalf incident—in which a group of unknown men used rifles to shoot up a transmission station, forcing Pacific Gas & Electric to resort to emergency measures to keep the grid operating. He told them how the men used flashlights to communicate. Afterwards, they critiqued the California operation and discussed ways to make such an attack more successful in disrupting the grid.
Then, on Oct. 16, Zacharek was doxxed by an antifascist researcher who had obtained the Iron March data and connected him to the “Panzerleiter” account, pointing both to his bio and to his disturbing comments, including: “It wasn’t until I started working as an EMT in the inner city that I openly questioned the view that all races are equal.”
Within 24 hours, LPD had announced he was fired. Chief Pat Flannelly was angry and frustrated: “I know the question everyone will have, how does something like this get missed in a background investigation,” he said. “How is it possible and how do we prevent this from ever happening again?”
In a panic, Zacharek had a text conversation with Duncan. “Mr. Duncan appeared to be encouraging him to get to Boise, and that’s what Mr. Duncan understood the plan to be,” Little testedified. And it—from being able to communicate with Mr. Zacharek, that stressed him out. He became scared and concerned at that point of being—because of being publicly outed and what that meant within the group.
“He was afraid that the group would think he had talked or given information to law enforcement, and he feared retribution,” Little clarified.
What none of them knew was that the original indictment on the weapons charge had already been issued by a grand jury on Oct. 12. The men shocked when they were arrested on Oct. 20.
Investigators found Zacharek at his parents’ home in upstate New York. He immediately began cooperating.
Prosecutors say the purpose of the gun-running scheme was “to regularly and repetitively manufacture and transport firearms and firearm parts, to include suppressors, in a manner that the government would not know the recipients had them, for criminal purposes”—namely “in furtherance of a civil disorder.”
The “civil disorder” included attacking the Black Lives Matter movement, including its leadership. Founder Alicia Garza reported in a tweet that the FBI had informed her that her name had appeared on a list of targets found in one of the men’s homes in Boise.
The neo-Nazi gang had twice conducted surveillance on Black Lives Matter events in Boise: First, on July 21, at a rally on the campus of Boise State University, Kryscuk was observed within visual range of the event, first sitting in a parked vehicle and then driving around the gathering slowly.
Then, on Aug. 18, Kryscuk was observed lurking in the vicinity of a Black Lives Matter rally/protest at a park in downtown Boise. Kryscuk and Duncan discussed in a text chat how things would go down after the BSN attacked Black Lives Matter marchers as they envisioned.
“How the BSNs finna be pulling up to chipotle after hitting legs,” Duncan asked.
“Death squad,” Kryscuk answered, adding: “Assassins creed hoodies and suppressed 22 pistols.”
“People freaking tf out,” Duncan replied.
“About what,” Kryscuk asked.
“‘The end of democracy’,” Duncan wrote.
“One can hope,” Kryscuk answered.
When they were arrested, prosecutors say, investigators found a handwritten list on an envelope in Kryscuk’s possession that identified a dozen locations with transformers, substations, and other power grid components in Boise, Idaho; Portland, Oregon; Seattle, Washington; and San Francisco and other locations in California, along with a fuel depot. On the envelope’s back side were the names of 12-14 targeted individuals, Little said, including the governor of Oregon.
In one of their chats, Kryscuk said he had torn down Black Lives Matter fliers he wanted to replace with their own propaganda. Maurino suggested a slogan for the BSN fliers: “The lights go out and so do you.”
“This is significant to me because of the statements made by Mr. Hermanson regarding how the group discussed the use of power issues in their—what he described as operations,” Little testedified. “This would be creating an outage that diverts the police, causes chaos from the outage itself, causes damage to equipment, takes a long time to replace and causes an outage of significant length; and then using that to create a favorable operating environment to conduct an assassination or murder of a specific person.”
Kryscuk entered a guilty plea in February, while Hermanson did the same on March 8. Both pleas include arrangements to cooperate with convicts and serve as witnesses in the trial of the remaining members. Trial dates have not yet been set for Collins, Duncan, and Maurino.