In this article, we provide an overview of the Lahti and Kankanpää far-right terrorists and the accelerationist ideas behind them. We also discuss an ongoing case in which an author living in Ylöjärvi is suspected of sending fake letterbombs to Green and leftist party offices during the election in 2023 (and has until recently been a member of the Finns party). The article was previously published in Finnish and will be updated once all court cases are over.
Over the past year, three police investigations into extreme right-wing groups and individuals have been made public in Finland, in which a total of ten men have been investigated for terrorist crimes. The first investigation is taking place in western Finland and has been ongoing for several years involving five young men in Kankaanpää who have stolen firearms and explosives for terrorist purposes. In the second case, a trial began in Lahti in September against four other men who 3D-printed firearms while planning sabotage and violent attacks against political opponents. The members of the Lahti group were sentenced in the district court on 31 October 2023. Lastly, in November, it was revealed that a man who was still a member of the Finns party until this summer is under investigation for sending fake letter bombs and is also suspected by police for planning a murder.
Both the neo-Nazi groups and the man acting alone were inspired by National Socialist “siege culture” and the ideology known as “accelerationism”. Both of these closely related ideas aim to plunge society into chaos by violence in order to seize power. Various fantasies of social collapse began to appear increasingly in Finnish far-right circles during the COVID-19 crisis.
In addition, the underlying motives in these cases appear to have been inspired by satanist and occult ideas common in some fascist groups. In this article, we will present what is now known about these three cases and their perpetrators’ connections to the rest of the Finnish far-right.
“The Kankaanpää Five“
According to the police, the events linked to the Kankaanpää case started as early as 2016 and continued until the end of 2019. The police first began investigating the group in 2019 for drug-related crimes and weapons being stolen from summer cottages in the mostly rural area. Initially, three men were taken into temporary custody in January 2020 on these suspicions. A month later, after consulting the prosecutor general, the police decided that there was reason to suspect the aforementioned crimes committed with terrorist intent rather than simple theft. After monitoring them and their communications, the police learned that the men held radical far-right views and seemed to be very committed.
The preliminary investigation continued and in December 2021, five suspects were arrested again. The suspects Tommi Nieminen, Kimmo Nieminen, Aku Mäkinen, Markus Jaakkola and Jere-Matias Niittyvirta are 23 to 26-year-old men from Kankaanpää. They are suspected of preparing terrorist offences as well as handling explosives with the intent of terrorism. In early 2022, all five were again released, because according to the Satakunta District Court, the police had not presented any new evidence that would have allowed the suspects’ detention to continue.
The preliminary investigation continued and finally concluded in June 2023. The prosecutor has still (as of December 2023) not put forth court dates, but the crimes would be aggravated firearms offence committed with terrorist intent, intentional explosive offence, training for a terrorist offence and aggravated theft. The leader of the group and two other members are suspected of all the offences. A fourth member is suspected of all offences except aggravated theft, while the fifth member is suspected only of the training for terrorism offence.
Preliminary investigation documents show that the police had seized what appeared to be assault rifles, handguns, shotguns and dynamite from the group. The police also seized fertilizer containing ammonium nitrate, which has been a terrorist favorite for decades because of its explosive properties and availability. The police had previously suspected the leader of the group of burning down a (at the time already-empty) center for asylum seekers in nearby Niinisalo in 2015. Members of the group are suspected of planning a bombing of the same building.
The criminal records of the suspects reveal that they had been committing acts of violence since their teenage years. Two of the men are brothers and the third is their cousin. Between 2016 and 2019, the suspects have repeatedly assaulted and harassed members of hbtq and other minority groups outside of bars and restaurants in Kankaanpää. Students at the Kankaanpää Art College in particular have been victims of violence by these neo-Nazis, with one assault occurring as recently as spring 2021. Since then, the group has not been visible on the streets. In autumn 2021, three of the suspected men founded a kickboxing club, which the police say is unrelated to this investigation. However, the far-right has a habit of setting up various associations, for example to raise funds, manage finances and rent or set up their infrastructure.
The Kankaanpää Nazis appear to have been well connected with the rest of the far-right in Finland so this should not be seen as an isolated incident, but rather as a consequence of the fascist ideas that glorify and encourage violence. According to the police, the leader of the group is connected with the Nordic Resistance Movement (outlawed in Finland since 2020) and the perpetrators of an assault on an anti-fascist book event in Jyväskylä in 2013. The alleged leader also visited the Hammerskins clubhouses in Muurame and Kerava. According to the police, he was heavily influenced by the Finnish Hammerskins section, then known as Crew 38.
Crew 38 and the Hammerskins network are closely linked to the violent neo-Nazi music scene, and one of the purposes of the international Hammerskins network is to provide secret hideouts for its members abroad. Members of the network have also committed murder and other acts of violence.
“The Lahti gun manufacturers“
The Lahti terrorist group includes four men, three of whom were sentenced to prison by the Päijät-Häme District Court in October 2023 for crimes committed with terrorist intent. This is the first time that far-right extremists have been convicted of terrorist offenses in Finland.
The main suspect Viljam Lauri Antero Nyman (born 1994) was sentenced to three years and four months in prison for aggravated firearms offenses committed with terrorist intent, training to commit a terrorist offense and drug offenses. Nyman has previously been active in the Lapland district of the Finns party and was a candidate in the municipal elections in 2017.
Nyman became radicalized in the ethno-nationalist groups of the Finns’ youth organization and was already involved in organizing fascist conferences such as “Awakening” in 2019, together with Tuukka Kuru, who is now the chairman of the Sinimusta liike party (The “Blue and Black movement”, referring to the interwar fascist IKL and Lapua movements in Finland). Nyman also participated in the far-right “188” demonstrations in Turku and in the Uudenmaan Akseli youth organization connected to Suomen Sisu. Nyman revealed in an interview that he has been supporting the “Operation Kotkanpesä” campaign both as a legal advisor and financially. The aim of the project is to buy properties and infrastructure for the Finnish far-right, but after a few years of fundraising there has not been any public success of the campaign. Examples like these prove that Viljam Nyman has been involved in almost every new far-right group of the past years and has become increasingly radicalized.
Nyman was considered to be the main perpetrator of the Lahti group by the court, as he had manufactured the 3D-printed FGC-9 model firearms. This type of weapon is common internationally because it is easy to manufacture and use. When former Prime Minister Sanna Marin had visited Lahti in 2022, Nyman wrote to his co-conspirators that he could easily have made it to the event with a gun.
Nyman had also compiled a list of potential targets, including the home addresses of (then) interior minister Maria Ohisalo (Green party) and former prosecutor general Raija Toiviainen. Nyman also made a document titled “left-wing places”, in which he had listed the adresses of associations, political activists and even restaurants. The list included the Left Alliance party office in Helsinki, the Vastavirta punk venue in Tampere and the Book Café in Turku, among others. This is not the first time the Nazis have been caught with list of their “political enemies”. In 2015, Nordic Resistance Movement member Paavo Laitinen was sentenced to pay 50.000 Euros after getting caught with an extensive register.
Petteri Niko Suikki (b.1996) was convicted of aggravated firearms offenses committed with terrorist intent, training to commit a terrorist offense and five other offenses and sentenced to one year and nine months in prison. Suikki was in possession of one of the weapons and had used it to shoot the mailbox of a POC family in Lahti. He also shot his own cat during target practice. After shooting the guns in a sand pit, he and Nyman were arrested and the police started to investigate the ideology and chats of their group.
Tuukka Tapani Karinkanta (b.2001) lives in Oulu and was not as involved as his co-conspirators, according to the district court. He was sentenced to seven months suspended imprisonment for aiding and abetting an aggravated firearms offense committed with terrorist intent, aiding and abetting training for a terrorist offense and a minor firearms offense.
Jyrki Voitto Antero Niemi (b.1957) is a pensioner living in Somero, and is known in far-right circles as “Grandpa”. In the 2010s he was active in the so-called counter-jihad group Finnish Defence League (FDL) as well as in the “Close the borders” movement, which started in autumn 2015 and continued for a couple of years. The FDL was inspired by the English Defence League and organized small performance-style events and racist demonstrations before its activists fell out with each other or went on to other projects.
According to the court files, “Grandpa” had sold Suikki an old Mosin Nagant rifle and acted as an inspiration to the group among other things. Niemi wrote in the group’s Telegram chat that the 2022 Helsinki without Nazis demonstration should be bombed. In addition, an unauthorized handgun and ammunition were seized from him during a search of his home.
According to his social media, Niemi considered himself the “general of the future rebellion”, but the trial showed that his role in the Lahti group was less important. He was not charged with crimes committed with terrorist intent, but was sentenced to one year and two months’ imprisonment without parole for the firearms offenses.
Far-right accelerationism arrives in Finland in the 2020s
In the early 2010s, “accelerationism” began to be used as a term for a previously undefined set of mixed political and philosophical thought that has its roots in communist theory. The term was initially used in a negative sense by other leftists, who opposed the ‘accelerationist’ tendency on the left. Thinkers who were positive about accelerationism have seen ideas linked to it already in the writings of Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels. The term has since then been criticized by several schools of thought but has nonetheless been adopted by a variety of subjects across the political spectrum, from feminists to neo-Nazis. The US far-right began promoting accelerationism more visibly in the mid 2010s and influenced the Finnish far-right around 2020. In the Finnish media landscape, the term ‘accelerationism’ is almost synonymous with the far-right variety, even though the term has its roots elsewhere.
In the context of the far-right, accelerationism has merged with glorification of violence and terrorism which has been part of the fascist ideology from its beginning. The pan-Nordic national socialist organization known as the Nordic Resistance Movement founded its Finnish chapter in 2008 and was active until banned in 2020. The Resistance Movement (in Finnish: Pohjoismainen vastarintaliike, PVL) has its roots in the Nazi terrorist groups active in Sweden in the early 1990s. The PVL cited the Aryan Resistance Movement and Vitt Ariskt Motstånd as its inspirations, both of which promoted their “race war” through terrorism. Their focus on bank robberies and murders ultimately led to an early grave or prison for many of their members. In Finland, members of the PVL have also committed acts of violence and are responsible for at least two murders.
Far-right ‘accelerationism’ is based on the idea that the current society is so stable that it can only be changed by the collapse of the current order, rather than by political action, aimed at reform or revolution. The task of the Nazi terrorist is then to accelerate the internal contradictions of the “rotten” social system to its breaking point. For these accelerationists, the destructive tendencies of the system must be accelerated to speed up the collapse of society as a whole, and only then can their vision be realized in its place.
Fascist terror has been an integral part of the movement for the last hundred years. In Italy, neo-fascists carried out bomb attacks against both the state and leftists in the 1970s. In the United States, the open glorification of ‘race war’ was given new meaning when neo-Nazi James Mason published the book “Siege” in the early 1990s. The book has been translated into Finnish and is widely circulated in Telegram groups and elsewhere online. The “Siege culture” which Mason inspired, and far-right ‘accelerationism’ are often confused or used interchangeably in the discourse by both Nazis and academics.
Mason suggested in his writings that due to the Nazi failure of building a mass movements post-World War II, they should instead focus on small, closed networks of leaderless resistance, with secret terrorist cells or “lone wolves” carrying out violent terrorist attacks. Such extreme tactics have been used by the likes of Anders Behring Breivik in Norway and Brenton Tarrant in New Zealand, who murdered dozens of people.
Siege culture began to gain momentum on the far-right in the 2010s, with the emergence of groups such as Atomwaffen Division and The Base in the United States. The Russian Imperial Movement is also among the groups committed to siege culture and accelerationism. Some scholars suspect that the Nordic Resistance Movement could evolve in this direction, although the organisation remains largely focused on movement building and seeks to achieve a national socialist revolution this way. Nevertheless, the NRM has carried out countless attacks against those it considers enemies, and its members have committed murders and bomb attacks in both Finland and Sweden.
The occult traditions of the Nazis
In addition to Siege culture and accelerationism, satanic and neo-pagan elements have also been on the rise in far-right circles in recent years. Since the early 20th century, fascism has included tendencies that attempt to link fascism with spiritual ideas. Neo-paganism and occultism were in vogue among the leaders of Nazi Germany. SS leader Heinrich Himmler was deeply inspired by Karl Maria Wiligut and founded a SS base with him in Wewelsburg Castle. Their collaboration popularised the use of certain runes and the so-called ‘black sun’ (schwarze Sonne) in Nazi subcultures. This influence can still be seen in far-right movements today.
The secretive Order of Nine Angles (Ona), founded in England in the 1980s, has developed an original combination of Satanism, occultism and fascism. Ona has been studied over the years, but the secretive nature of the movement makes it difficult to estimate its membership. Globally, it is estimated to have a few thousand members, but its ideas are influential in occult and art circles. Ona is considered a fringe thought both within Satanism and far-right milieus, but it has made headlines repeatedly in the 2010s, with several far-right terrorists citing its texts. Ona’s texts glorify extreme violence, including ritualized rape and murder.
In 2018, a book titled 21 polkua pimeyden valtakuntaan (“21 Paths to the Kingdom of Darkness”) was published in Finland, clearly inspired by Ona’s ideas (among other things, ritual murders). The book was published by the Finnish division of the Black Order network. Both the Kankaanpää group and the Lahti group had acquired this book, and took inspiration from it. In far-right circles, the ideology of accelerationism is not mainstream, but its support is not marginal either. For example, Finnish far-right websites such as Partisaani and Sarastus have published books and texts promoting accelerationism, as well as criticizing it.
“Letterbombs” and literature from a Finns party member?
Before the Finnish Parliamentary elections in spring 2023, suspected letterbombs were sent to the offices of the Left Alliance, Greens and Social Democrat parties. The packages were quickly revealed to be fake, but the police launched an investigation and arrested Ylöjärvi resident Marko Meretvuo (b. 1980) in March 2023, suspected of public incitement to commit a crime. Mr. Meretvuo’s activities are covered in a story by Yle, where he is referred to as “Master”, his university degree. The police initially investigated the fake letter bombs as an illegal threat, but as the investigation progressed, they began to suspect there was a terrorist motive. Later, the police began to suspect that Meretvuo was practicing devil worship and preparing a ritual murder.
Communications were found on Meretvuo’s mobile phone suggesting that he was involved in the publishing of the above-mentioned “21 Paths to the Kingdom of Darkness”. He has been a long-time contributor to far-right websites such as Sarastus and Kansalainen under the pseudonym ‘M. A. Meretvuo’. In recent years he has published texts on topics such as religion, fascism and accelerationism. His book has been published by Kiuas Kustannus, a joint publishing house of Suomen Sisu and Sarastus, which publishes texts popularizing fascism.
Meretvuo has previously been employed by the Finns’ party think-tank Suomen Perusta. In addition to this, 25 of his essays were published by the Finns party, most of them bashing liberal democracy and human rights. The texts disappeared from the blog as soon as news of the investigation into Meretvuo became public in the autumn 2023, but they had still been published and shared throughout this summer.
Meretvuo has supported the previously mentioned fascist organization Sinimusta liike (“Blue and Black movement”) and participated in the 2019 Awakening conference, which brought together most of the Finnish far-right and was organized by Viljam Nyman, the main suspect in the Lahti terror group. Nyman and Meretvuo are likely to have met at that event. At the very least, they have communicated with each other in Nazi Telegram groups focusing on accelerationism, where Nyman went by the pseudonym “Kahen kilo Siege” and Meretvuo using “Herra Kansa”. It is therefore probably no coincidence that Nyman and Meretvuo have both been associated with violent far-right activities and have been investigated by the authorities within one year.
In Finland, preliminary investigations and major trials often drag on for years, and it is yet to be seen what the verdicts will be for the “Kankaanpää Five” and Meretvuo cases. As the preliminary investigations and this article show, the members of the Lahti and Kankaanpää groups and Meretvuo were well networked with the larger far-right. In addition to Finland, at least the members of the Kankanpää group probably also have contacts abroad. It is therefore possible that further links and crimes will be uncovered in connection with these three cases.
- Nordic Resistance Movement banned in Finland – the history of the court case and what the Nazis are doing now (2021)
- The long relationship between the Finns Party and the far-right in Southwest Finland (2021)
- Finnish parliamentary elections: Right wing liberals and the far right joined in austerity & anti-immigration politics (2023)
- Yle: Police prepare Kankaanpää neo-Nazi case for prosecutors, trial likely next month (2023)