the base

Multiple members of the white supremacist group, The Base, have been charged with killing a ram and posing with its head (above) following a 'ritual sacrifice' that involved them drinking the animal's blood while they were training for a race war in Georgie in 2019
Multiple members of a white supremacist group in rural Georgia have been charged with killing a ram and posing with its head following a 'ritual sacrifice' that involved them drinking the animal's blood while they were training for a race war.

Five members of The Base were charged earlier this month with killing the ram during what authorities have said was a 'ritual sacrifice' at the group's training camp in the small Georgia town of Rome back in 2019.

Patrik Mathews, William Garfield Bilbrough IV, Brian Mark Lemley Jr., Brandon Gregory Ashley and Duncan Christopher Trimmell have been charged with aggravated animal cruelty by a Floyd County grand jury, according to an indictment obtained by the Rome News-Tribune.

Everyone apart from Trimmell also were charged with livestock theft.

Three other members were charged in the animal's killing last year.

Investigators say the group stole the ram from a local property and tried to kill it with a knife during a meeting on the isolated property back on Halloween in 2019.

The men allegedly ended up shooting the ram and cutting off its head before drinking the animal's blood and posing for photos with it.

Prosecutors said the animal was killed in what they described as a 'Norse-pagan ritual'.

The recent charges against alleged members of the white supremacist group have shed further light on The Base, which has faced scrutiny following an undercover state and federal law enforcement investigation.

An undercover FBI agent who infiltrated the group previously said members used the training camp to shoot guns and take drugs as they prepared for a race war.

The agent participated in shooting drills in preparation for what the group believed was an impending collapse of the US and the subsequent race war.

The undercover agent was among the members who posed for photos in tactical gear. The photos later were used in its propaganda material.

Authorities also have said some members allegedly plotted to kill a couple who they believed were anti-fascist activists but were arrested before they could act on it.

They had believed killing the couple would send a message to enemies of The Base, according to authorities.

Court documents related to the investigations include details of how some of the men built an assault rifle using parts, purchased thousands of rounds of ammunition and traded vests that could carry body armor.

Mathews, Lemley and Bilbrough, who were among the five recently charged in regards to the animal killing, were also arrested in Maryland and Delaware on federal felony charges back in January 2020.

Three other men, all from north Georgia and linked by authorities to The Base, already face charges related to the animal's death and other alleged crimes.

Luke Austin Lane, Michael Helterbrand and Jacob Kaderli have been held without bond for more than a year in the Floyd County jail.

A federal judge in December sentenced Bilbrough to five years in prison after he pleaded guilty to two counts related to assisting Mathews.

Lemley, a US Army veteran, and Mathews, a former Canadian Armed Forces reservist, pleaded not guilty to charges including transporting a firearm and ammunition with the intent to commit a felony.

The FBI has previously said The Base has proclaimed war against minority communities within the United States and abroad.

Unlike other extremist groups, it's not focused on promulgating propaganda. The group instead aims to bring together highly skilled members to train them for acts of violence.

Organizers of The Base recruit fellow white supremacists online - particularly seeking out veterans because of their military training - using encrypted chat rooms and training members in military-style camps in the woods, according to experts who track extremist groups.

The group is believed to have been founded and run by Rinaldo Nazzaro - a 46-year-old American living somewhere in Russia.

Nazzaro is said to have started the group back in 2018.