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Mongolia's neo-Nazis rally around a new cause: the environment

Carlos Barria / Reuters

Members of the neo-Nazi group Tsagaan Khass walk through a quarry where they questioned a worker, southwest of Ulan Bator, Mongolia.

Carlos Barria / Reuters

A member of a self-described skinhead group clenches his fist as he trains at a gym in Ulan Bator. Ultra-nationalist groups have expanded in the country in recent years.

A Mongolian neo-Nazi group has rebranded itself as an environmentalist organization fighting pollution by foreign-owned mines, seeking legitimacy as it sends Swastika-wearing members to check mining permits.

Tsagaan Khass, or White Swastika, has only 100-plus members but it is one of several groups expanding a wave of resource nationalism as foreign firms seek to exploit the mineral wealth of the vast country, landlocked between Russia and China.

From an office behind a lingerie store in the Mongolian capital, the shaven-headed, jackbooted Tsagaan Khass storm-troopers launch bizarre raids on mining projects, demanding paperwork or soil samples to be studied for contaminants.

"We used to talk about fighting with foreigners, but some time ago we realized that is not efficient, so our purpose changed from fighting foreigners in the streets to fighting the mining companies," the group's leader, Ariunbold Altankhuum, 40, told Reuters, speaking through a translator. Read the full story.

Carlos Barria / Reuters

Ariunbold Altankhuum, founder of Tsagaan Khass, walks through a lingerie store as he leaves the group's headquarters in Ulan Bator.

Carlos Barria / Reuters

A swastika is seen on the seat of a car belonging to Ariunbold Altankhuum as he drives along a busy street in Ulan Bator.

Carlos Barria / Reuters

Uranjargal, a leader of the Mongolian neo-Nazi group Tsagaan Khass, stands next to a statue of Chingunjav, a Mongolian national hero, in Ulan Bator.

Carlos Barria / Reuters

Members of Tsagaan Khass hang up portraits of Mongolian heroes at the group's headquarters in Ulan Bator.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Pictures taken June 22-24, 2013 and made available to NBC News today.

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