Pro-Trump Christian Extremist Prepares Serb Nationalists for New War With Muslims, Reports Reveal

After being banned from Hungary, a militant Christian, far-right millionaire who has supported President Donald Trump has set his sights on the Balkans, where he is training far-right Serbian activists in information warfare and providing Serbs with military-style equipment, according to reports.

An investigation by the BBC and the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network demonstrated that Jim Dowson—a far-right millionaire who publicly backed Trump for president and was a financial supporter of the fascist British National party—is also closely linked to the Knights Templar International portal, a group of websites that promote anti-Muslim, Christian nationalism in Europe and deride ethnic minorities.

In February, Wired reported that the Knights Templar International uses dozens of Facebook pages and fake news websites to target British social media users with extremist messages and far-right memes. The Facebook pages claim that Europe’s downfall is imminent and a war between Christians and Muslim unavoidable. Media groups tied to Dowson also spread conspiracy theories about former candidate Hillary Clinton and pro-Trump messages during the U.S. presidential elections in 2016.

The Knights Templar International was banned from Hungary last year for allegedly joining paramilitary groups that targeted refugees traveling to the European Union from the Middle East and Africa. Dowson himself was kicked out of the country in April last year for being a threat to Hungary’s national security. He is currently appealing the decision.

Now, Dowson and the Knights Templar International, which is named after the Catholic military order founded in 1119, have set their sights on Serbia, the investigations published Tuesday revealed. Dowson and the Knights Templar are training far-right activists in Serbia on how to win an online propaganda war, and are producing propaganda videos from Serbia’s capital Belgrade. The videos criticize billionaire philanthropist George Soros, warn of a Zionist infiltration of the Christian far-right and details work between Serbian nationalists in Kosovo and the Knights Templar International. 

Further, Dowson has sent military-style equipment to Northern Kosovo, an area populated by ethnic Serbs that is technically part of Muslim-majority Kosovo.

Some experts say that the Balkans, with its history of nationalism and separatist conflicts, is an attractive region for populists and ideologues like Dowson who are looking to stir up sentiments about a clash of civilizations.

“We’ve known since the 90s that the broader Serb nationalist mythos about the Yugoslav Wars was very attractive to the Western far-right, constructing the conflict as a struggle between Christendom and Islam, a defense of Europe from ‘invading’ Muslim hordes,” Jasmin Mujanovic, a Balkan analyst, told Newsweek.

“Given the broader resurgence of far-right sentiment in the West, anti-immigrant and Muslim sentiment especially, it’s unsurprising that the Balkans would re-emerge as a central staging ground for both local and international reasons," Mujanovic continued. 

Dowson, however, defended his work in the Balkans in an interview with British media on Tuesday. Speaking to the BBC, he argued that it is “ludicrous” to assert that he is stirring up tensions in the region.

“There has been several, several wars there,” Dowson said when asked why he is stirring up tensions in Kosovo. “There was a Serbian, Christian politician murdered only the other week. They certainly don’t need me to stir up tension there. There is tension there. It’s a trouble zone.

“Being involved in giving civilian people protective clothing, just like the BBC gives to its employees when they’re going to dangerous places, to save them from being killed by terrorists, is not stirring up tensions,” Dowson said of his decision to send military-style protective body armor to Serbs in Northern Kosovo.

In a January interview with the right-wing radio show The Trump Phenomenon, however, Dowson described his plans to prepare militias for an imminent war between Christians and Muslims.

“One of the main things the Templars do in Europe, is that we pull together white people who are trying to kill each other,” Dowson said during the interview about animosities between Catholic Croats and Orthodox Christian Serbs in the Balkans. “We do pull together Serbs, and Serbs and Croats, and Serbs and Hungarians…What we have to do is unite and fight the common danger that’s facing us.”

In the same interview, Dowson claims to have met with the right-wing Croatian writer Tomislav Sunic during a meeting in the city of Brno, Czech Republic.

Dowson has ties to Protestant Ulster nationalists loyal to Britain, and he claims to have been wounded fighting the paramilitary group Irish Republican Army. He has also campaigned against abortion and women’s right to choose.