Atomwaffen encourages flag desecration, the burning of the United States Constitution, and attacks on the federal government of the United States, minorities, gays, and Jews.
Atomwaffen Division has engaged in plans to cripple public water systems and destroy parts of the Continental U.S. power transmission grid Atomwaffen has also been accused of planning to blow up nuclear plants in order to cause nuclear meltdowns. The organization's aim is to violently overthrow the federal government of the United States via terrorism and guerrilla warfare tactics. Since 2017, the organization has been linked to five killings and several violent hate crimes.
The organization explicitly advocates Neo-Nazism, drawing a significant amount of influence from James Mason and his publication, Siege, a mid-1980s newsletter of the National Socialist Liberation Front that paid tribute to Adolf Hitler, Joseph Tommasi, Charles Manson, and Savitri Devi. It was published into a book that is required reading for all Atomwaffen Division members. Mason, a neo-Nazi and Holocaust denier who advocates murder and violence in order to create lawlessness, anarchy and destabilize the system, is the main advisor to the group.
The group advocates a revival of Italian Futurism, a pre-World War I avant-garde art movement which glorified "war - the world's only hygiene - militarism, patriotism, the destructive gesture of freedom-bringers, beautiful ideas worth dying for."
ProPublica obtained 250,000 encrypted chat logs written by members of the group.
Some members of the group sympathize with the Salafi movement and jihadism, forms of Islam. The leader of Atomwaffen Division, Brandon Russell, is alleged to have described Omar Mateen, who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and perpetrated the Orlando nightclub mass shooting, as "a hero". A member of Atomwaffen Division, Stephen Billingsley, was photographed at a vigil in San Antonio, Texas, for the victims of the Orlando shooting, with a skull mask and a sign saying "God Hates Fags".
Atomwaffen Division has recruited several veterans and current members of the U.S. Armed Forces who train the organization's members in the use of firearms and hand-to-hand combat. Atomwaffen members have also sought to train with the Azov Battalion in Ukraine.
In 2015, the group announced its creation on the neo-Nazi website IronMarch.org, that has been linked to several acts of neo-nazi terrorism and violent militant groups such as the Nordic Resistance Movement, National Action and the Azov Battalion. In its initial posts, the group described itself as a "very fanatical, ideological band of comrades who do both activism and militant training. Hand to hand, arms training, and various other forms of training. As for activism, we spread awareness in the real world through unconventional means."
The group's membership is mostly young, and it has also recruited new members on university campuses. Its campus recruitment poster campaigns urge students to "Join Your Local Nazis!" and say "The Nazis Are Coming!". It posted recruiting posters at the University of Chicago, the University of Central Florida, the Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, and Boston University.
In early 2018, ProPublica estimated that Atomwaffen had 80 members, while the Anti-Defamation League estimated that it had 24 to 36 active members.
The group is one of several neo-Nazi and alt-right organizations which have been banned by Discord and YouTube for violations of their Terms of Service. However, the group has since re-uploaded content to YouTube and Youtube has allowed the content to stay online.