December 06, 2022

The Military Still Has No Good Way to Spot Extremist Recruits and Troops on Social Media


Journalist: Steve Beynon

The military has struggled to address the problem, saying the numbers of extremists in the ranks are relatively small. Austin ordered an extremism working group in the months after the Capitol attack that created some recommendations, as well as a department-wide stand-down.

"The challenge comes with the recruiter and unit-level commander," Katherine Kuzminski, the senior fellow and program director for military, veterans and society at the center, told "What happens if someone has an anonymous account? How many searches on Google are they supposed to go through? Everyone says a like is not an endorsement, but what if they like a neo-Nazi page?

"In September, a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne was arrested and booted from the military after an FBI probe found that his motivation for enlistment was to become proficient in killing Black people. Law enforcement found Spc. Killian Ryan's social media peppered with ties to white supremacy and other extremist groups. His email address was "Nazi Ace1488."

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  • Katherine L. Kuzminski

    Deputy Director of Studies, Director, Military, Veterans, and Society Program

    Katherine L. Kuzminski (formerly Kidder) is the Deputy Director of Studies, and the Director of the Military, Veterans, and Society (MVS) Program at CNAS. Her research special...