A leaked Department of Homeland Security (DHS) list shows that Robert Paul “Rob” Rundo, founder of the violent white nationalist Rise Above Movement (RAM), has been marked on a 2019 “no-fly” list compiled by the Terrorist Screening Center (TSC). Individuals on this list are prevented from boarding aircraft within the U.S. and international flights bound to the U.S.
Additionally, seven other members of RAM were on an accompanying “selectee” list, which mandates that individuals be subjected to enhanced security screening on domestic flights and U.S.-bound international flights.
It is not clear whether RAM members are still on the lists, which are not publicly updated.
The listings shed light on shifting national security priorities as extremist movements surged late last decade and suggest that federal agencies – which had been investigating RAM since 2017 – considered the group dangerous enough to restrict members’ travel.
Rundo ‘no-fly,’ RAM members ‘selectees’
While Rundo is on the leaked “no-fly” list, eight other men associated with the group were on the less restrictive “selectee” list. The men, all from Southern California, are Robert Boman, now 29, of Torrance; Benjamin Drake Daley, 30, of Gardena; Aaron Matthew Eason, 43, of Anza; Thomas Walter Gillen, 29, of Redondo Beach; Tyler Jacob Laube of Hawthorn; Michael Paul Miselis, 34, of Lawndale; and Cole Evan White, 28, of Clayton.
The list, reportedly dating from 2019, was released by a pseudonymous Swiss activist last week. It was found unprotected on a server reportedly associated with U.S. airline CommuterAir. The list, which had been saved as “NoFly.csv,” contained some 1.5 million entries, though the number of individuals listed is far fewer, with some individuals apparently listed several times under alternative names or aliases. The individuals listed include dozens of American far-right extremists, including members of RAM.
Hatewatch emailed a contact address for the RAM successor organization founded by Rundo, Media2Rise, asking for comment. Rundo has answered emails from the address for previous stories.
Rundo responded but did not directly comment on the listing. Instead, he asked to be given a copy of the leaked link. Hatewatch informed him the list was too large to send by email but pasted in the spreadsheet entry featuring him. Hatewatch received no further response from Rundo.
RAM: A history of extremist violence
Rundo co-founded RAM in 2016 as a racist fight club, and from the beginning it trained members in mixed martial arts with a view to political violence.
Members used these skills to attack leftist counterprotesters at pro-Trump and “alt-right” rallies in Huntington Beach and Berkeley, California, in spring 2017. Graphic images of the violence they perpetrated at those rallies were celebrated far and wide by far-right groups and individuals, including the man then acting as their “in-house propagandist,” Vincent James Foxx.
At those events, group members were early adopters of skull masks, used by far-right groups as a way of both masking members’ identity and intimidating their perceived opponents.
As the summer began, the group participated in book burnings on Huntington Beach. Photographs of those events showed such books as Schindler’s List and The Diary of Anne Frank being set afire by group members, who were increasingly prone to using neo-Nazi tropes in their rhetoric.
In August 2017, a RAM contingent traveled to Charlottesville, Virginia, for the deadly “Unite the Right” (UTR) rally, where members participated in the notorious torchlit march on the grounds of the University of Virginia. The next day, they were early participants in the violence that consumed the event, and footage and photographs taken that day show members assaulting counterprotesters including Black people and women.
James Alex Fields, who also became notorious that day after he murdered UTR counterprotester Heather Heyer, is also on the leaked 2019 “selectee” list.
After Charlottesville, RAM’s activities at UTR drew national attention. RAM members were among some of the few participants involved in the riot that faced federal criminal charges, prosecuted in separate cases brought in 2018 in California and Virginia. In Virginia in 2019, Benjamin Daley, Thomas Gillen and Michael Miselis pleaded guilty to federal riot offenses. All received prison sentences: Daley for 37 months, Gillen for 33 months and Miselis for 27 months. Cole White was released on the basis of time served awaiting trial on lesser assault charges after cooperating with prosecutors.
The California case – against Rundo, Robert Boman, Tyler Laube, and Aaron Eason – saw Laube enter a guilty plea before Judge Cormac J. Carney dismissed the case on the basis of his determination that aspects of the 1968 federal Riot Act were unconstitutional. Laube applied to have his plea withdrawn at the judge's encouragement.
Rundo was released along with his co-defendants in June 2019 and soon traveled overseas. (He had attempted to flee the country in 2018 after the charges were first filed.)
Rundo, who is due in court to answer those charges in April, is currently in Bulgaria, according to investigative reporting organization Bellingcat.
Earlier this month, prosecutors issued a new indictment in that case, charging that Rundo, Robert Boman and Tyler Jacob Laube conspired to violate federal laws against rioting by recruiting others to their cause. That trial is set to begin on March 28 at a U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.
Rundo after RAM
Following RAM’s demise, Rundo founded Will2Rise (W2R), which is both a clothing and lifestyle brand and an SPLC-designated white nationalist hate group. An affiliate organization, Media2Rise (M2R), is a white nationalist propaganda outlet that aims to “serve those throughout European civilization who have been slighted for defending their nation and identity.” Media2Rise has provided fawning coverage not only of individuals directly affiliated with Rundo’s organization, but also Patriot Front, another white nationalist group closely aligned with Rundo’s operation.
Rundo has also organized a network of so-called active clubs, which Rundo has billed as a successor group to RAM.
Last April, a joint Hatewatch/Bellingcat investigation identified a Rundo acolyte as former U.S. Marine, Grady Mayfield, and showed how Mayfield had traveled overseas to spend time with Rundo in Serbia, where Rundo then lived.
Last February, Hatewatch identified previously pseudonymous Media2Rise on-air presenter “Lucca Corgiat” as Allen Michael Goff, who attained prominence in Montana starting in 2009 as a violent, active member of neo-Nazi and Creativity Movement groups in that state.
In a Media2Rise documentary about a mixed martial arts tournament the group held in San Diego, California last summer, Mayfield complained in an interview with Goff that “I’m already doxed, you’re doxed,” using Internet slang for having personally identifying information (PII) posted online.
In reporting on Goff and Mayfield, Hatewatch did not publish any PII such as addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, or names of previously unidentified family members of the two men online. Hatewatch simply connected their names with their public activities and propaganda.
Mayfield added, “The regime we live under in the U.S. is becoming more tyrannical day by day and having free thought and free expression and believing what you want to believe is no longer protected in this country,” even though the pseudonymity of public figures has never been constitutionally protected in the U.S.
The “no-fly” and “selectee” lists are not published, nor are they classified information. They are circulated widely to government agencies including the Transport Services Administration (TSA) and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), and to U.S. and international airlines. Unlike those with “no-fly” listings, those on the “selectee” list can board aircraft flying in, to, from or over the U.S., but they are subject to mandated enhanced security screening, which may include more thorough inspection of their luggage and their person by TSA officers, and questions about their travel.
Each list is a subset of a larger terrorist watchlist, within a monitoring system that was consolidated under the TSC within DHS as part of the reorganization of national security following the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks by members of Islamic extremist group al-Qaida.
In 2014, The Intercept reported on and published a copy of the guidelines for adding people to the larger terrorist watchlist. The outlet found that U.S. residents – like the RAM members – could be added by federal, state or local law enforcement agencies who had “reasonable suspicion” that they were involved in or supportive of terrorist groups or terrorist activities.
In 2021, Rundo was reportedly expelled from Serbia, and that country is currently nearing the end of negotiations to join the European Union.
Hatewatch’s review of the 2019 version of the list suggests that the small number of far-right extremists on the list is dwarfed by those listed due to their connections – real or alleged – to Islamist extremist groups and Central American drug cartels.
Photo illustration featuring Rob Rundo (left) and James Alex Fields by SPLC