USF Adjunct Professor: Hate groups recruiting online, parents should be alert

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Hate groups are getting bigger, bolder and stronger by the day, according to experts. In the modern day battle of good versus evil, the battlefield itself can be a never-ending maze of minefields on the Internet.

That’s where the bad guys recruiting for hate groups are up to no good.

They monitor social media. They look for certain types of people. They recruit heavily and young people are responding.

The issue was most recently brought to light when a Tampa Palms man with Neo-Nazi ties allegedly murdered his roommates, who also both had Neo-Nazi ties.

Devon Arthurs, 18, allegedly shot and killed Jeremy Himmelman, 22, and Andrew Oneschuk, 18.

A fourth roommate, Brandon Russell, is facing federal charges after police found material to make high explosives inside the apartment the men shared.

“They are usually people in their teens to their late twenties,” said University of South Florida adjunct professor H. Roy Kaplan.

Kaplan has taught countless classes on race relations and serves as a member of the U.S. Attorney’s Task Force on hate crimes. He has written six books on the subject and actually has interviewed members of these hate groups and terrorist-based organizations.

“The groups are looking at people who are alienated, isolated. These are the ones that are outcasts. You find them in schools, and they sit alone in the cafeteria. They don’t have friends. They keep to themselves,” Kaplan said, describing their recruits.

He advises parents to pay close attention to what your children are reading on social media and what they’re putting out online about themselves.

The hate groups collect information on potential members and move in for the hard-sell on becoming a part of the organization. Parents, he says, need to be on alert.

“Monitor what your kids look at, their TV programs, their electronic devices, and with the reading,” he said.

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