2022 Excellence in Audio Digital Storytelling, Ongoing Series finalist

Verified: The Next Threat

About the Project

As rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 Mark Greenblatt, a senior investigative correspondent with the Scripps Washington Bureau, was closely watching a small group of extremists wearing Nazi swastikas and carrying racist slogans. He began poring through old documents showing his own family’s survival from persecution in Imperial Russia and during the Holocaust. This pushed him and the team from the Verified podcast to find out how white extremism is growing today in the U.S. and abroad. In this six-episode serial Verified investigates how the danger from racially motivated violent extremists is growing every day and how these groups are now finding each other across borders in unprecedented ways.

Named “best podcast of the week” by Amazon Music, “bingeable” by Stitcher and a “best new podcast” by CBC Radio Verified The Next Threat takes the listener on a journey from Russia, to Europe to the United States – to reveal how extremists are learning from each other and recruiting for a new global fight for white power. We speak to the people at the center of this story. Stanislav Vorobyev is the proud leader of the Russian Imperial Movement, the only white supremacist group the U.S. State Department has designated as terrorists. “To those guys who recognized us as terrorists — our ideas are what make us dangerous,” said Vorobyev. In an exclusive interview, he paints a disturbing picture of a movement seeking the return of male dominated, white, Christian rule. Vorobyev reveals to us that he is actively building a global network of white supremacists to team up for something he calls “The Last Crusade,” a new global and final holy war aimed at taking on the infidels, immigrants and Jews, or anyone who is not a white Christian. The network of The Last Crusade is growing in Europe, but its participants have strong U.S. connections that go back years. In an exclusive interview, we meet Matt Heimbach, an American extremist who brought the Russian Imperial Movement for a guided tour of America to network with U.S. extremists and allies. We unpack how extremists, like Heimbach, are amplifying each other’s messages with a global audience to spread fear and destabilize democracies. “The biggest thing was learning how to be a European style movement,” Heimbach said about his networking with other extremists, “because like the American white nationalist movement, pardon my language, but is like fucking stupid.”

So what can the U.S. actually do to handle The Next Threat? In the first-ever podcast interview with the State Department’s Counterterrorism Bureau, officials admit they don’t yet have the knowledge or the resources they need to battle this problem. The series opens a window into a topic many people want to avoid, but one that is real and spreading. “Racially and ethnically motivated violent extremists are metastasizing around the world,” said Irfan Saeed, a top counterterrorism official at the State Department.