A dangerous global trend: far-right groups are arming themselves

A dangerous global trend: far-right groups are arming themselves

Despite that humanity already finds itself under threat from broad existential problems like global climate change and its resulting natural disasters, human beings are nonetheless further complicating matters by violently fighting amongst themselves.

Recent years have seen a growing trend of left-wing and right-wing radicals, of both religious and atheistic persuasions, beginning to take up arms. Unfortunately, intelligence data from countries around the world confirm this trend. With frightening regularity, the media is full of news about the latest brutal murders and attacks.

Discussion about the arming of far-right organizations went international after the recent terrorist attack in New Zealand. Brenton Tarrant, who killed 51 Muslims in a mosque, enjoyed the support of the highly nationalistic, Islamo- and Turk-phobic identity Movement centered in Austria.

Belgian intelligence warned that members of this far-right racist group are “actively arming.” According to the Belgian intelligence service (VSSE), the extreme right in Western Europe began to move in a dangerous direction, with some of their leadership figures “calling on their members to learn to shoot and acquire weapons both legally and illegally.”

White-Сollar extremism

Far-right groupings have begun to develop new tendencies which the Belgian intelligence service describes as “far-right white-collar workers”.

“White-collar” refers to these groups above average socio-economic position, mainly consisting of young people who have received a good education joining groups like Génération Identitaire in France and the German Identity Movement.

VSSE points out that these groups seek to draw public attention to their rhetoric through social media, advocating for a return to “European Christian Identity”.

The Far-right group “Shield and Friends” (Schild en Vrienden) in Belgium is under the supervision of special services, who note that its rhetoric appeals to a very wide section of the population. Among them are right-wing conservatives, anti-violence democrats and nationalists who share neo-Nazi views.

“They are armed”

Another important trend noted by Belgian intelligence is the “active acquisition of weapons” by far-right groups.

According to the VSSE, the groups often explain their decision to take up weapons saying that “a social confrontation between the Islamic world and Christian Europe becomes inevitable, and one must be fully prepared for this.”

At the same time, VSSE emphasizes that social media and the Internet play a critical role in disseminating the ideas of the far-right, and are becoming effective tools for acquiring new followers. Far-right presence on Facebook is widespread, sometimes pulling in large numbers of followers.

Far-right radicals ranks are replenished by unemployment generated by economic crises around the world.

The premier confirms

Sometime after the terrorist attack in New Zealand, Austrian Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz announced that the killers were supported by Tarrant, thus confirming the information of Belgian intelligence.

Kurz said that “it was established that they provided financial support and that there was in close contact between the criminal who committed the terrorist attack in New Zealand and the leadership of the Movement of Identity in Austria.”

Flickr/OSCE Parliamentary Assembly

From Open Sources Data: Who takes part in the Identity Movement?

The Identity Movement, which is today one of the most prominent exponents of racist and fascist ideologies gaining momentum in Europe, first appeared in Austria and Belgium. These groups at first adhered to a principle of refusing to use force and weapons, but their ideology changed over time, and the organization adopted a strategy of systematic threats and attacks.

The sharp increase in the number of adherents over the past 2 years has attracted close attention from European intelligence agencies. Their reports emphasize the threat posed to European countries by the militarization of right-wing formations.

Members of these groups, who are on average around 22 years old, have moved to the direct implementation of attacks throughout Europe. They operate within the framework of an extensive system of cells, and from time to time distribute so-called manifestos.

One of the largest far-right groups in Finland, the “Odin Warriors”, also began to work in conjunction with the Identity Movement. At the same time in various regions of Europe, there has been a tendency to unite smaller right-wing groups around the Identity Movement.

Followers of Hitler

One of the main features of the Identity Movement is that its members praise Hitler and support his ideas. They consider themselves to be representatives of a superior race, while the rest of the world exists only to serve them. The group actively uses Nazi symbols and actively disseminates their ideas among university students.

Close attention to online presence

Intelligence reports emphasize the need to pay close attention to web forums like 4chan and 8chan, which were included in the list of prohibited Internet resources by the Telecommunications and Communications Authority of Turkey.

These sites spread far-right ideologies, and call for attacks and violence. The New Zealand shooter was a participant on these sites, and they threaten to produce dozens more like him.

Pictures posted on the web forums often feature users bodybuilding and training to use weapons. Some seem surprisingly well organized and professional.

The regular users of these sites are often antisocial, isolated, and have problems communicating with women.

Dedication to killing

Websites like 4chan were regularly visited by Elliott Rodger, who shot up a university campus in the United States. Rodger, like Tarrant, published his manifesto on the 4chan shortly before the attack.

Almost immediately afterward, professional soldier Alek Minassian, a user of the same websites, carried out a terrorist attack in the Canadian city of Toronto. The motive for the crime was “misogyny and the desire to preserve virginity.”

Moreover, his manifesto declared that he was dedicating the attack to the memory of Rodger, who he considered to be his “mentor.”

The same behavior was demonstrated by 46-year-old Robert Bowers, who killed 11 people and injured six during an attack on a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania last year.

The difference between them lies only in the fact that Tarrant considered the primary enemy to be Muslims, while Bowser blamed the Jews. Both of them were 4chan regulars and cited conspiracy theories as motives for their crimes.

The Alt-Right

The activities of right-wing radicals are not limited to the territory of the United States; they are also active in Russia and in almost all of the former Soviet republics.

Members of the so-called “Alt-Right” adhere to an ideology that is a broad mixture of radical right-wing viewpoints including Nazism and communism. Some among this group are convinced that the world is ruled by large corporations headed by Jews.

The group also has connections to Orthodoxy, and has even found supporters among world governments.

While countries admit to problems with foreign terrorists, they refuse to name right-wing elements within their country as such. They don’t believe that a tragedy might happen to them: but the leadership of New Zealand likely thought the same.

Nurettin Kurt
Journalist, specialist in criminology, recipient of the EU Prize for Journalism and Turkish Journalists' Association’s press freedom award , and the author of “Journalist-wolf in the stressful triangle - Incident-police proceedings-lawsuit”,  Sedat Simavi Journalism Award - 2007 (Turkey) 32 yıllık gazeteci, polis ve adliye uzmanı, Sedat Simavi Gazetecilik Ödülü başta olmak üzere, 2011 ve 2017 TGC Başarı ödülü, Avrupa Birliği Araştırmacı Gazetecilik Ödülü, iki kez Çağdaş Gazeteciler Derneği haber ödülü, yedi kez Barış Selçuk Gazetecilik Ödülü ile birlikte çeşitli Sivil Toplum Kuruluşları tarafından ödüle layık görülmüştür, ‘Olay-Polis-Adliye- Gerilim Üçgeninde Kurt Gazeteci’ isimli kitabın yazarıdır

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