Combat 18 (a.k.a. C18, 318, nicknamed “Terror Machine”) is a neo-Nazi group that seeks to create white-only countries through violence.
The group was established in the United Kingdom and is now present in at least 18 countries worldwide. The “18” in the name refers to the first and eighth letters of the English alphabet, A and H, for Adolf Hitler. Combat 18 was founded in 1992 by Paul “Charlie” Sargent. It largely drew its membership from white supremacists associated with the Chelsea Headhunters soccer hooligan gang and the British neo-Nazi record label and political organization Blood and Honour (B&H).
Over time, Combat 18 has ceased functioning as a centralized organization. Instead, the group’s ideology and brand have become a transnational rallying call for neo-Nazi action. Combat 18 encourages the creation of independent cells and lone-wolf terrorism under the slogan “whatever it takes!” While the group may have once had an official roster, supporters of Combat 18 now claim that membership is achieved through participation in violent neo-Nazi activities.
Combat 18 refuses to participate in electoral politics, instead directly appealing to potential recruits through fliers, stickers, magazines, music distribution, and the use of violence. The organization is banned in Germany, and Combat 18 members in the United Kingdom are barred from working in law enforcement or corrections facilities. In the 1990s, Combat 18 members allegedly made ties with the loyalist paramilitary group Ulster Defence Association in Northern Ireland. Combat 18 has also been linked to Aryan Strike Force 318 (ASF318) in the eastern United States, the Racial Volunteer Force (RVF) in Britain, and the National Socialist Underground (NSU) in Germany.
Founded and originally led by Paul “Charlie” Sargent. Today, Combat 18 describes itself as leaderless resistance organized in cells.
Base of Operations
Founded in London; chapters exist in the United Kingdom, United States, France, Italy, Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, Greece, Denmark, Sweden, Austria, Canada, Australia, South Africa, and Argentina.
Membership Size and Relevance
Combat 18 is present in at least 18 countries in Europe, North America, South America, and Australia. According to the group itself, there are no membership rolls, making membership fluid and its numerical strength difficult to estimate. A Facebook page allegedly belonging to an Australian chapter of the group had 169 likes as of April 2, 2018, and 194 likes as of July 3, 2018. By March 19, 2019, the page had 252 likes. The page had been discontinued as of June 29, 2020. In 2016, the British organization Hope Not Hate approximated that Combat 18 had between 20 and 30 members in the United Kingdom.
Combat 18 has been promoted by bands in the neo-Nazi skinhead rock music scene. Numerous white power skinhead bands in Germany, Russia, Poland, the United Kingdom, Serbia, Slovakia, Switzerland, and the United States have recorded songs praising Combat 18. Several online neo-Nazi record stores sell merchandise with the group’s logo and slogan.
Europol has warned that Combat 18 poses a threat across Europe. Combat 18 has remained particularly active in the United Kingdom, Germany, and Greece. In the United Kingdom, Combat 18 supporters have joined other far-right groups such as the xenophobic North West Infidels, which opposes Muslim immigration. Germany banned Combat 18 in January 2020 after linking it to the June 2019 murder of German politician Walter Lübcke. Combat 18 has reportedly established cells in seven out of Germany’s 16 states since 2013. In 2006, a Combat 18 cell in Dortmund smuggled firearms from Belgium and planned assaults on immigrants and politicians. French President Emmanuel Macron announced in February 2019 that France would move to ban the group as well. In 2016, former Combat 18 leader Nigel Bromage claimed that the group was attempting to persuade teachers to join in order to influence schoolchildren. In March 2018, Greek authorities arrested 11 people suspected of belonging to a Combat 18 cell that was accused of more than 30 arson attacks, primarily on migrants, anarchists, and Jewish sites. Greek police raids against the group have recovered firearms, explosives, Molotov cocktails, narcotics, and edged and blunt weapons. In June 2019, Canada designated Combat 18 and Blood & Honour as terrorist groups. It was the first time Canada designated far-right groups.
Recruitment and Propaganda
Historically, Combat 18 has recruited from a pool of neo-Nazi skinheads and soccer hooligans, particularly from the B&H network and far-right skinhead music scene.
Combat 18 has a minimal Internet presence but some websites and social media pages for the group do exist. A Greek cell has used Facebook to coordinate attacks. A Czech cell that operated from 2011 to 2012 maintained a website to spread its message and recruit.
Combat 18’s National Socialist Political Soldiers Handbook is a guidebook for prospective recruits. In addition to the group’s creed, the manual offers advice on physical fitness, recruiting, evading detection and capture, and intentionally vague “direct action,” which the handbook describes as “the disruption and elimination of all that is detrimental to our race and opposed to the cause of National Socialism.” The text is available online and through Internet retailers.
- From 2010 to 2018, Greek authorities accused Combat 18 Hellas of committing more than 30 attacks with bombs or gasoline on left-wing facilities, a migrant dwelling, and Jewish memorials. Greek police claimed that the cell was planning a large bombing prior to the arrest of its members.
- On February 4, 2010, two alleged members of Combat 18 in Australia were arrested for shooting at the roof of a mosque in Perth with a .303 rifle. Bradley Neil Trappitt was fined more than AU$9,000, and Jacob Marshall Holt was sentenced to seven months in jail. The police accused both men of belonging to Combat 18.
- On April 18-19, 2009, four men in the Czech Republic threw Molotov cocktails into the home of a Romani family in Vitkov. Three people were injured, including a 2-year-old girl who suffered extensive burns. Václav Cojocaru, Jaromír Lukeš, Ivo Müller, and David Vaculík were charged with perpetrating the attack, which coincided with Adolf Hitler’s birthday.* Vaculík was accused by the prosecution of being a member of Combat 18 and reportedly had a “C18” tattoo on his chest.* Lukeš, Müller, and Vaculík were each sentenced to 22 years in prison. Cojocaru was sentenced to 20 years.
- In May 2001, Combat 18 physically assaulted British Asians and their shops in Oldham, England, with the aim of provoking retaliatory violence. Combat 18 members also distributed information on making incendiary devices as well as the personal information of anti-racist activists in the Oldham area.
- In January 1997, three Danish Combat 18 members were arrested and found guilty of sending a letter bomb to British celebrity Sharron Davies.* During a raid, Danish police found firearms and explosives components belonging to the perpetrators. One of the neo-Nazis, Thomas Derry Nakaba, shot a police officer during his apprehension.
- On February 15, 1995, members of Combat 18 in the United Kingdom traveled to Dublin, Ireland, to attend a soccer match between England and Ireland.In what became known as the Landsdowne Road football riot, soccer hooligans—including Combat 18 members—caused authorities to cancel the match due to violence. Approximately 50 people were injured.
- Combat 18 in Northern Ireland text message, June 2009: “Romanian gypsies beware beware/Loyalist C18 are coming to beat you like a baiting bear/Stay out of South Belfast and stay out of sight/And then youse [sic] will be alright/Get the boat and don’t come back/There is no black in the Union Jack/Loyalist C18 ‘whatever it takes.’”
- Combat 18 magazine, 1994: “In this magazine we are going to tell the truth about the modern day nightmare that the white Race is being plunged into, we will expose traitors and in-filtrators that have plagued nationalism for decades, we will urge our supporters to intimidate and attack the enemies of our people just as they have intimidated us.”
- Combat 18 magazine, 1994: “We will hit them when and where they least expect it! We will dictate the battles, not them! We will win this war, not them! REMEMBER – VICTORY IS OURS ‘WHATEVER IT TAKES’”
- Combat 18 magazine, 1994: “If we can build a network of ‘white-wingers’ nation and worldwide then we might stand a chance when the right leader emerges who can take our people by the reigns and lead us to victory, as the great Adolf Hitler did.”
- National Socialist Political Soldiers Handbook: “Combat 18 advocates covert action as the only constructive form of action which should be undertaken at this moment in time by individuals committed to the National Socialist cause.”
- National Socialist Political Soldiers Handbook: “The ‘lone wolf’ tactic is by far the most secure approach as you are dependent on no-one else for the successful completion of your plan and your personal security is entirely in your own hands. In this way, if your plan fails for whatever reason you have only yourself to blame. If your plan succeeds your courage will speak for itself.”