Just two weeks after taking over as the new leader of the quasi-vigilante group Soldiers of Odin, Jan Tellef Aanonsen says he has quit and hopes the entire organization “disappears.” Its former leader, meanwhile, was back in court this week, charged with assault.
The group grabbed headlines last winter when members wearing hooded black jackets took it upon themselves to start “patrolling” various Norwegian cities. They expressed concern about the recent influx of refugees into Norway, and claimed they would “make the streets safer.”
Their patrols were unwanted by the police, top politicians and local residents in cities including Drammen and Tønsberg, who found them threatening. Some referred to them as a neo-Nazi organization, while members objected to the description.
Many, however, had criminal records themselves including Steffen Andre Larsen of Nøtterøy, who stepped down as leader in December and is now, reports newspaper Tønsberg Blad, back in court. Larsen was succeeded by Aanonsen of Arendal, but he only lasted a few weeks before declaring that he was quitting, too.
“The reason is the earlier leader’s criminal record and a totally ridiculous organization that’s not serious,” Aanonsen told newspaper Aftenposten. “They love to run around in their black hooded jackets but now I hope Soldiers of Odin disappears. I don’t want to have anything to do with them anymore.”
Aanonsen said he wanted to make the organization more professional but was met with a lack of willingness. He said he had no idea who may be leader now.