Members of the Sacred Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in Georgia are now claiming state leadership of the “Soldiers of Odin,” a far-Right anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim organization. The Soldiers of Odin (SOO) formed in 2015 in Finland, but have now spread to other European countries, to Australia, to Canada (the Québec group remains affiliated with Finland, while other groups have distanced themselves from Finnish leadership), and – despite initial growing pains in this country – to the United States.
The Soldiers of Odin, known for their anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim street patrols, claim not to be “a MC [motorcycle club], criminal organization or a Nazi group!” However, the founder of the Soldiers of Odin in Finland was convicted of a racist attack in 2005 and is a supporter of the Nordic Resistance Movement, whose politics are neo-Nazi. Finnish SOO leadership is clear that white supremacists are welcome within their organization’s ranks. The US division we discuss in this article is answerable to SOO leadership in Finland.
The Sacred Knights KKK members now serving as Georgia state leaders for the Soldiers of Odin are part of “Soldiers of Odin – Heiðinn Division”. The SOO “Heiðinn Division” in the United States was founded by a murderer who was released from prison last year. In this article we will provide more information about the SOO “Heiðinn Division” and its Missouri-based leader; about the Soldiers of Odin Georgia chapter president and its vice president; and finally, about another white supremacist affiliated with SOO in Georgia.
L-R: SOO “Heiðinn Division” founder Strider Rögnirhár AKA Gabriel Saraceno; Georgia SOO participants Joey Hobbs, Brandon Smith and Terrance Sellars.
(1) The Soldiers of Odin “Heiðinn Division” and its Leader Strider Rögnirhár
Before discussing the Georgia members of the SOO “Heiðinn Division”, it is important to discuss its leader, who does not live in our state (and unlike Georgia state leaders, does not have a history with the KKK).
Early on New Year’s Day 1993 in Newhall, California, Gabriel John Saraceno – just entering his 20s – beat his roommate, 56-year-old David Wallace, to death, using a large can of food as a weapon. Saraceno committed the murder because Saraceno wanted his 17-year-old girlfriend to move in. Saraceno and an accomplice to the killing buried Wallace in a shallow grave. Saraceno was arrested less than two weeks after the murder and eventually accepted a plea deal for second-degree murder. Prosecutors at first sought first-degree murder charges and the death penalty, which Saraceno was able to avoid through the deal.
In prison, Gabriel Saraceno also used the name Jonathan Anthony Picollo. After he was moved to Nebraska under the Interstate Corrections Compact, Saraceno/Picollo took the name Strider Rögnirhár. This new name reflected Saraceno/Picollo’s adoption of the Asatru (i.e. Germanic Neopagan) religion, as well as his membership within a heathen religious “tribe” in the Nebraska prison system. Other members of the Nebraska prisoner “tribe” have also taken “Rögnirhár” as a last name. One of Strider Rögnirhár’s tribal brothers – Arnskegger Rögnirhár AKA murderer Scott Patrick McNeill – has the gang motto “GFBD” (short for “God forgives, brothers don’t”) tattooed across his neck, suggesting that in at least Arnskegger’s case, the “tribe” overlaps with white prison gangs.
After years in Nebraska, Strider Rögnirhár was transferred back to the California prison system. On September 28, 2017, Rögnirhár was paroled after almost a quarter century behind bars. Rögnirhár established a Facebook account the next day. As an aside: if there is any doubt about the identity of Strider Rögnirhár and Gabriel John Saraceno, simply compare this Facebook profile for Rögnirhár with this one for Saraceno.
By October 2017, Rögnirhár had set up a YouTube channel and was broadcasting videos on his version of heathenism. Rögnirhár is explicit that he is a “folkish” heathen – meaning that he believes his religion is exclusively for “Indo-European” peoples. While Rögnirhár claims to not hate people from other races, he also insists that each people have “their own [native] gods” and that his religion is for a “specific [racial] group of people” only. Since continued worship of the “folkish” gods depends on racial bloodlines being preserved, Rögnirhár’s version of paganism is inherently a racial separatist project.
Also in October 2017, Rögnirhár set up a Facebook page for the “Herjar Þjóð” community of “folkish” heathens. It is clear from an early post that this Facebook page is for Rögnirhár’s heathen “tribe” inside and outside the prison system.
As 2017 progressed, Rögnirhár’s interest in anti-immigrant and Islamophobic movements across Europe seems to have increased. In November, Rögnirhár opened a Twitter account; one of the early materials he retweeted was an article claiming that the Soldiers of Odin in Finland were “keeping the Muslim migrant rapists in line.” Also in November, the “Herjar Þjóð” Facebook page shared a link portraying arson attacks against refugee centers in Sweden as an understandable reaction by Swedish people to “a Muslim invasion” and “political leaders […] shoving multiculturalism down the[ir] throat”. The Facebook page by that time had multiple members approved to post materials, but at minimum Rögnirhár left the post up. Rögnirhár’s Twitter also celebrated the anti-immigrant and Islamophobic organization Britain First. In December, Rögnirhár posted an American flag coupled with an image stating, “Soldiers of Odin – United We Stand”, in this way signaling his affiliation with SOO.
The US “Heiðinn Division” of the Soldiers of Odin was authorized in January 2018 by the original Soldiers of Odin group, and “reports directly to Kemi [chapter in Finland] as of January 2018” according to Rögnirhár. While numbers are still low, “Heiðinn Division” currently has a presence in Tennessee, Missouri, Virginia, Arizona, and other states. The “Heiðinn Division” operates independently of other projects bearing the “Soldiers of Odin” name in the US, for example a popular Facebook page which mainly seems to be used to direct traffic to a hard-Right website. “Heiðinn Division” appear more blatant about their far-Right politics than many other groups (often little more than a Facebook page) bearing the “Soldiers of Odin” name in the US, although all are united in their bigotry towards Muslims and hostility toward immigrants. For example, the “Heiðinn Division” includes the Black Sun/Schwarze Sonne symbol – more typically used by neo-Nazis and the extreme-Right – at a central position within its logo, as if to deliberately undermine the “We are not […] a Nazi group!” part of the Soldiers of Odin rules. On his “Strider SOO” Facebook profile used for Heiðinn Division business, Rögnirhár posts that unless whites are in command, civilizations decline. He is also explicit that he believes whites to be “superior” to other races.
While Rögnirhár was released from prison in California, he appears to have moved to Missouri earlier this year, giving the location of Dora, Missouri on Facebook.
(1A) Interlude: Sons of Odin United States
As well as his leadership of the Soldiers of Odin “Heiðinn Division” and his promotion of a racist version of heathenism through YouTube broadcasts and the “Herjar Þjóð” Facebook page, Strider Rögnirhár is also active within the Sons of Odin United States and was an admin for their Facebook page. He identifies his role in the Sons of Odin United States as: “Jarl of Missouri, Holder of the Central Northern States.”
The Sons of Odin was founded in Norway not long after the Soldiers of Odin in Finland; like the Soldiers of Odin, the group has an anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant ideology, and has spread to Canada as well as the United States. However, the organization has a different organizational hierarchy than the Soldiers of Odin and strikes a slightly less combative tone. For example, the Sons of Odin bill themselves as “helping hands in our communities” and combine their patrols with activities such as trash clean-ups to appear in a more favorable light. A Sons of Odin spokesperson in Canada even claimed that the organization is merely opposed to Shariah law, not all Muslims or immigrants. However, the Norwegian “king” for the organization frames the Sons of Odin’s mission as counteracting a Muslim “invasion” responsible for “rapings […] killings […] no-go zones.” This leader invokes the Crusades as what was needed “last time” to “run Islam out of the countries in Europe” and explicitly argues that all Muslims are a threat.
The Sons of Odin claim that they “are not related” to the Soldiers of Odin, although both respond to “similar problems” and “serve their communities.” Meanwhile, an admin for Sons of Odin United States leads a division of the Soldiers of Odin in the US.
The separation between Sons of Odin United States and the Soldiers of Odin “Heiðinn Division” is not merely an issue of different chains of command, ultimately tracing to Norway and Finland respectively. It also appears to be a matter of convenience. Since the Soldiers of Odin seem to attract more flagrant white supremacists and have more menacing imagery, those who are not a perfect fit for the Soldiers of Odin can remain in the Sons of Odin and still build the overall Islamophobic/anti-immigrant ranks. In addition, Rögnirhár can presumably use his regional role within the Sons of Odin to locate potential recruits for the Soldiers of Odin “Heiðinn Division”. (The Sons of Odin United States has a handful of supporters in Georgia.)
We now turn to the Soldiers of Odin “Heiðinn Division” membership in Georgia.
(2) Soldiers of Odin Georgia Chapter President Joey Hobbs
Joey Marcus Hobbs Jr. of Dublin, Georgia is not only the Chapter President for the SOO “Heiðinn Division” in our state but also has a history as a leader of the Sacred Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. The Sacred Knights of the KKK in Georgia should not be confused with the Honorable Sacred Knights, a Klan group in Indiana. For his Soldiers of Odin activities, Hobbs also goes by the alias “Wraith SOO”.
Hobbs is best known for applying for the Sacred Knights to have a cross burning at Stone Mountain Park in 2017 (the application was denied). There are other indicators that Hobbs was a high-ranking Sacred Knights member. In an image of the Sacred Knights, Hobbs – hooded, but recognizable from his hand tattoos – wears a green robe, which within some Klan groups is reserved for a Grand Dragon (main state organizer/highest ranking Klansman in the state). In addition, the Sacred Knights website was registered under Hobbs’ name. (We do not believe that Hobbs is at the Hawkinsville address used for registration.)
One curious aspect of Hobbs and other Sacred Knights members joining the Soldiers of Odin “Heiðinn Division” is that the Klan is a Protestant Organization. “Heiðinn” on the other hand means “heathen” in Old Norse. This, combined with Strider Rögnirhár’s overall leadership, suggests that the SOO division has a different religious orientation than the Sacred Knights KKK, to say the least. However, as of at least this year, Hobbs has started wearing a Mjölnir (Thor’s hammer) around his neck, suggesting a religious change. It is unclear whether Hobbs has formally relinquished his role in the Protestants-only Sacred Knights due to this religious shift, but there is every indication that the SOO “Heiðinn Division” is Hobbs’ main concern at present.
We previously noted Joey Hobbs’ association with Christopher Gibson, a Klansman – likely a Sacred Knights member – who placed propaganda for the white nationalist Patriot Front around Dublin earlier this year. Other Klan associates of Hobbs now seem to have followed Hobbs into the “Heiðinn Division”.
(3) Soldiers of Odin Georgia Vice President Brandon Smith (and his KKK Wife Susie)
Brandon Thomas Smith of Eatonton, Georgia (AKA “James Jones” and “Brandon SOO” on Facebook) is the Vice President in Georgia for the “Heiðinn Division” (Smith announces this position on his FB profiles). Earlier this year, Brandon Smith still portrayed himself as a Klansman. He currently claims to be a “Folkish [i.e. racist] Odinist” organizing with the Soldiers of Odin.
Brandon’s wife Susie Wells Smith (AKA “Scarlett Jones” on social media) was involved with the Sacred Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Susie Wells Smith has not publicly affiliated with the SOO “Heiðinn Division” but remains a fervent white nationalist. Susie Smith also goes by Suzanne Wells and Dianna Christine Wells (and was known as Dianna Cargile and Dianna Christine Durden/Susie Durden from earlier relationships).
Brandon Smith never publicly stated that he was with the Sacred Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, but he has signaled his general membership in the KKK. That the Sacred Knights is his specific Klan group is easy to figure out. In one Facebook post from earlier this year, Brandon Smith wrote: “33/2 14/88”. “14/88” is white supremacist code for the “14 words” racist motto, combined with “88” which is alphanumeric code for “H.H.” or “Heil Hitler.” “33” refers to the Ku Klux Klan (“K” is the eleventh letter of the alphabet, so “K.K.K.” is represented by 3 times 11, which is 33). The number two at the end of “33/2” is a reference to the second era of the Ku Klux Klan. The website meta description for the Sacred Knights KKK site describes the organization as a “traditional second era Klan”.
Brandon Smith is an associate of Sacred Knights leader Joey Hobbs, now President of the “Heiðinn Division” in Georgia. In addition to this Sacred Knights link, Brandon’s wife Susie Wells Smith is openly part of the Sacred Knights. It would be extremely unusual for a husband and wife to both be in the Klan but belong to different Klan groups. We therefore believe that Brandon Smith was part of the Sacred Knights. Smith is also connected online to Terrance Sellars – see below – and Dublin, Georgia Klansman Christopher Wayne Gibson, who we wrote about earlier this year.
In May of this year on Twitter, Susie Wells Smith under the name “Scarlett Jones” identified the Sacred Knights KKK as “my organization”. Susie Smith also maintains a far-Right Facebook profile under the “Scarlett Jones” name, although her white nationalist politics are just as clear on her Facebook profile under her own name.
Earlier this year, we mentioned the Facebook account of “Anglea Smith”, a “Shieldmaiden” of the Sacred Knights KKK. It is possible that “Anglea Smith” is yet another profile for Susie Wells Smith. Interestingly, in May of this year, “Anglea Smith” was connected on Facebook to Strider Rögnirhár.
At present Susie Wells Smith has not publicly affiliated with the Soldiers of Odin “Heiðinn Division” but rather seems to be promoting a “United White Front.” It is possible however that Susie Wells Smith will help her Georgia Vice President husband on SOO efforts, or eventually broadcast an affiliation with the group.
(4) Georgia SOO “Heiðinn Division” Affiliate Terrance Sellars
Finally, Terrance L Sellars of Wrightsville, Georgia was added to the Soldiers of Odin “Heiðinn Division” Facebook page at approximately the same time as profiles for Joey Hobbs and Brandon Smith were. Unlike Hobbs and Smith, Sellars is not listed as having a leadership role within SOO. Similarly to Hobbs and Smith, Sellars is – or at least was – a Klansman.
In April of this year, Terrance Sellars identified himself as a Klansman by posting an image to his Facebook featuring the Klan motto “Non silba sed anthar.” The image was then liked by several other Klansmen, such as Christopher Gibson, Joey Hobbs, plus Susie and Brandon Wells. Sellars is further linked to the Sacred Knights through Brandon Smith commenting “33/2” on Sellars’ profile and referring to him as “brother”. As discussed earlier, “33/2” is a coded way of saying “second era KKK”; the Sacred Knights of the Ku Klux Klan refer to themselves as a “traditional second era Klan”. On Instagram, Sellars marked images with “311” – another way of expressing “KKK” (three times the eleventh letter of the alphabet).
In 2015 Sellars posted an image featuring the “14 words” white power slogan to the “Rock Stone Mountain” Facebook page. Another photo from that year showed Sellars holding a Confederate flag and giving a “Sieg Heil” salute.
Sellars may also have been involved in white power gangs, since he has been photographed making a hand sign associated with the Aryan Circle gang. Sellars also has tattoos featuring the number 13, which is sometimes used as alphanumeric code for A.C. or Aryan Circle.
While Sellars currently wears a Mjölnir (Thor’s hammer) and has this symbol as a decal on his truck as well, after a recent auto accident Sellars thanked “the good Lord” that the accident was not worse. This suggests some degree of religious flip-flopping or indecision, even while Sellars’ racism remains constant.
In this article, we discussed the Soldiers of Odin “Heiðinn Division” and its national leader, Strider Rögnirhár AKA murderer Gabriel John Saraceno. We also discussed the Sons of Odin United States, a project Rögnirhár is also involved in and which has some sympathizers in Georgia. Finally, we discussed three known members of the Soldiers of Odin “Heiðinn Division” in Georgia – Joey Hobbs, Brandon Smith, and Terrance Sellars. Hobbs is currently the Georgia President for this SOO division, while Smith is the Georgia Vice President. Hobbs, Smith and Sellars all have pasts as Klansmen in Georgia – very likely side-by-side in the same Klan organization.
We have discussed the Soldiers of Odin “Heiðinn Division” and its Georgia members in detail because this Division seems determined to build a street presence and not merely be a collection of Facebook “Soldiers.” While we drafted this article, SOO leader Strider Rögnirhár’s online posts became increasingly vehement in their declarations of white supremacy. We believe the threat from the SOO “Heiðinn Division” should be tracked, and if the Soldiers of Odin surface in a community, neighbors should stand up against the bigotry and intimidation which that organization represents.
If you have further information about the Soldiers of Odin (or the Sons of Odin United States) in Georgia, please contact us.