Soldiers of Odin is a network of anti-immigrant vigilantes founded in October 2015 by nazi Mika Ranta in Kemi, Finland.
Established as a response to an increase in asylum seekers, the various groups patrol cities by night claiming they are protecting “our women” against potential assailants. The network is said to have groups in over 20 Finnish cities and its activities have been supported by True Finns Party politicians including MP Laura Huhtasaari.
Soldiers of Odin denies accusations of racism. However, Mika Ranta has connections to the nazi group Nordic Resistance Movement and has been convicted for a racially motivated assault in 2005. According to the Finnish public broadcaster Yle, posts by members in their closed Facebook groups also show racism and nazi sympathies.
The network rapidly spread to several countries such as the UK, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, the Republic of Ireland and the United States, although some of these groups are now inactive.
Founded by Mikael Johansson in the beginning of 2016, the network had groups in at most 20 cities.
Several members have been convicted for assault and battery, drunk driving, drug related crimes and in possession of weapons. Some have been affiliated with other far-right groups.
Soldiers of Odin in Sweden also functioned as guards at Folkets Demonstration, a monthly manifestation against the government and immigration with speakers including nazi sympathizer Ingrid Carlqvist and Jan Sjunnesson.
Odins Soldater, the Norwegian branch of Soldiers of Odin was founded by Ronny Alte in January 2016.
Ronny Alte was previously the spokesman for Norwegian Defence League. His time at Odins Soldater was short-lived, leaving the outfit in March of 2016.
In February 2016 the Norwegian MP for the Progress Party and spokesperson for Justice Jan Arild Ellingsen applauded the establishment of Odins Soldater and said they should be “praised”.
In March 2017 current Odins Soldater leader Steffen Larsen stated that members who had been taken to court for refusing to disperse whilst patrolling and for refusing to remove their hoodies emblazoned with the group’s logo, had been acquitted of all charges.
A Republic of Ireland branch of the Soldiers of Odin emerged in February 2016 and carried out their first patrol in Dublin in May 2016. The Daily Star reported in July 2016 that the branch had also carried out patrols in Wexford, Laois and Kilkenny. A spokesperson from the branch told the reporter that they would continue to keep members’ identities hidden.
In March 2017, the branch distanced itself from Soldiers of Odin, having renamed their Facebook page ‘Clann Eirean Defence Association’ (also referring to itself as ‘Clann Worldwide’). The Facebook page, along with the group’s website, now appear to have been taken down and the group appears to no longer engage in patrols.
A Clann Wales Facebook group appeared in April 2017 though it remains very small and has no apparent offline presence.