Who is U.S. neo-Nazi group 'The Base'?

(Reuters) - The FBI has arrested three suspected members of an armed neo-Nazi group known as The Base that hopes to start a race war in the United States, officials said on Thursday.

The arrests came just days before a gun-rights rally in Virginia that was expected to draw thousands of people.

Here is how the Counter Extremism Project (CEP), a non-profit, non-partisan organization that tracks extremist groups, and the Anti-Defamation League, characterize the group:

- The Base is an “accelerationist group that encourages the onset (of) anarchy and so it can then ‘impose order from chaos.’” The CEP says The Base seeks to train members to fight a race war and draws inspiration from the book “Siege” by the neo-Nazi James Mason.

- The Base was launched by Norman Spear, also known as Roman Wolf, in 2018. The CEP said both names are believed to be pseudonyms. The Base’s members portray themselves as vigilante soldiers defending the “European race” from a broken “system” infected by Jewish values, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

- The Base has organized training camps around North America on weaponry and military tactics and distributed manuals for “lone-wolf terror attacks, bomb-making, counter-surveillance and guerrilla warfare.”

- “The Base,” is the English translation of al Qaeda, although it is not clear if that was intentional and if there are other similarities between the two.

- The network is also present in Europe and Australia, CEP said. Although members mainly organize online, it’s real-world presence has increased, the Anti-Defamation League said.

Reporting by Maria Caspani and Mark Hosenball, Editing by Frank McGurty and Cynthia Osterman