The Antifa expert's statement to Philipp contrasts with law enforcement's perception of the domestic terrorist group. Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray said back in September 2020 that Antifa was more of an "ideological movement" than an organization. "Antifa is a real thing: It's a movement, or an ideology may be one way of thinking of it," he said that time. Wray nevertheless acknowledged that Antifa had "small groups" or "nodes."
"Antifa is more than an idea. It's also a movement [with] networks of organizations, and some of them are organized into formal groups," Ngo elaborated. These formal groups found in different cities include Portland-based Rose City Antifa, Torch Network and Atlanta Antifa.
According to Ngo, Antifa's training curriculum is similar to how extremist Muslim groups such as ISIS radicalize their members. The anarcho-communist group does so by launching events that look like social gatherings. It then uses these events to disseminate extremist literature and recruit people to its cause.
The journalist elaborated that the brand of fascism Antifa opposes is not the traditional kind espoused by Adolf Hitler or Benito Mussolini. Rather, Antifa redefined fascism for its own use as "anything that is in opposition to the far-left political agenda." Some of the things Antifa has dubbed as fascist included the Trump administration, the U.S. itself, capitalism and liberal democracy.
Antifa traced its roots during the period between the two world wars, as a "paramount tree" of the German Communist Party. When Germany was split into two, the communist east formalized the Antifa ideology. Being an anarcho-communist organization, Antifa appears to have contradicting goals. What the totalitarian state communists strive for directly opposes the anarchist goal of a leaderless state. It has partnered with other like-minded groups to "end [the] American criminal justice system" and "demonize free markets [and] property ownership."
Ultimately, Antifa's end goal is abolish all nation states worldwide and create anarchist, communist collectives. "[It believes] that [it] can actually organize society without a government," Ngo remarked. The journalist has uncovered a lot of evidence about Antifa, which he presented in his upcoming book titled Unmasked: Inside Antifa's Radical Plan to Destroy Democracy. (Related: New report shows platforms run by Big Tech companies enable Antifa violence.)
Antifa managed to grab territory from the federal government back in 2020. It established the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) in Seattle amid Black Lives Matter protests in the city. Ngo described the zone as a "lawless area" after spending some time there. Warlords within the CHAZ competed with each other for dominance – and with it came crimes such as homicides, shootings and sexual assaults. A hard border between the zone and the outside world was created with armed volunteers serving as guards.
He continued that CHAZ was able to sustain itself only because restaurants and people from outside provided food and other supplies. "[CHAZ] thought that [it] didn't need capitalism to function," Ngo commented.
He told Philipp that Antifa victimizes its targets through a sustained barrage of intimidation. This results in the target being fearful of an attack coming from anywhere. Doxing is one strategy Antifa employs for this purpose. Ngo explained that doxing involves publicly releasing a person's details such as where they live and work and how to contact their homes and employers.
Ngo himself fell victim to an Antifa attack in June 2019. Members of the anarcho-communist group beat and robbed him, hurling cups of "cement milkshakes" at the journalist. Ngo suffered a brain injury and was hospitalized as a result of the attack. He underwent various treatments and therapies to address the injuries he suffered, but he has not yet received any justice.
Not content with physically attacking Ngo, Antifa demanded that the largest independent bookstore in Portland remove his new book. Powell's Books did remove the book from its shelves, but retained it on its online catalog. He expressed sympathy for the family-owned bookstore, given that Antifa has a track record of making good on its threats to burn and loot businesses. (Related: Antifa smashed Democrat headquarters in Portland, but Republicans were blamed.)
Despite the opposition Ngo faced from Antifa, he remains adamant in exposing the truth about the group to a wider audience. He hopes to help law enforcement in systematically dismantling Antifa networks. Furthermore, Ngo hopes that his revelations about Antifa challenge the ideology the group uses to poison people's minds.