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In January 2024, the global landscape was marked by an alarming presence of terrorism linked to extreme right-wing ideologies. This analysis underscores the paramount significance of this issue in the contemporary world order.
Terrorism, irrespective of its ideological roots, has long posed a grave threat to international peace and security. Recent times, however, have witnessed a distinct shift in this threat landscape. The ascent of extreme right-wing terrorism has introduced a new layer of complexity to the global security equation.
This report aims to provide a comprehensive analysis of extreme right-wing terrorism in January 2024, offering insights into its evolution, and current manifestations. By dissecting the trends, causative factors, and ramifications of this phenomenon, our objective is to foster awareness and inform policymaking while fostering international collaboration to counter this growing menace.
Federal Prosecutors Seek Death Penalty for White Supremacist Behind Buffalo Supermarket Massacre
Federal prosecutors announced their intention to pursue the death penalty against Payton Gendron, a 20-year-old white supremacist who killed 10 black individuals in a Buffalo supermarket. Gendron is already serving a life sentence without parole after pleading guilty to state charges of murder and hate-motivated domestic terrorism in the 2022 attack. While New York does not impose the death penalty, the Department of Justice had the option to seek it in a separate federal case on hate crimes. The decision to seek the death penalty was based on substantial planning during the shooting, including the selection of the location: a Tops Friendly supermarket in the East Side, predominantly inhabited by a black community, aiming to “maximize the number of black victims (Associated Press, 2024)
Relatives of the victims had mixed opinions on whether federal prosecutors should pursue the death penalty. Among the dead, who ranged in age from 32 to 86, were eight customers, the store’s security guard and a church deacon who was leading shoppers to and from the store with their purchases. Three people were injured but survived.The rifle Gendron fired was marked with racial slurs and phrases including “The Great Replacement,” a reference to a conspiracy theory that there is a plot to diminish white influence.
Man Sentenced to 80 Months for Illegal Weapons with Troubling Pro-Mass Shooting Ideology
River Smith, a 21-year-old from Savage, has been sentenced to 80 months in federal prison for illegal weapons possession, including auto sears and grenades. Investigator reports reveal that Smith purchased these items from an undercover FBI agent. Smith sent a photo of guns and ammo strewn around his living room to a friend over a messaging app along with the note: “This isn’t even half of my Muslim- killing arsenal.” On another incident, Smith applauded mass shootings and wrote, “I can’t stand Muslims or Blacks or Jews.” Despite his attorney, Jordan Kushner, describing Smith as someone with “unconventional ideas and ideologies,” prosecutors argued that he had the potential to become a mass shooter or terrorist (Raguse, 2024)
Florida Man Arrested for Online Threats of Mass Violence
A 26-year-old man from Venice, Florida, named Alexander Lightner, has been arrested and charged with making interstate threats and a weapons violation after allegedly posting online comments indicating his intention to carry out an event involving mass casualties for racial or ethnic reasons. According to a federal court affidavit, Lightner’s online comments included phrases like “Highscore will be defeated” and “2024 there will be saints,” with an FBI investigator explaining that the term “saint” refers to an individual committing an act of violence to advance white supremacist and accelerationist goals (CNN, 2024).
The FBI executed a search warrant at his residence. During the search, agents discovered an illegal firearm silencer in a laundry basket in a bedroom shared by Lightner and his brother. Additionally, white supremacist and accelerationist propaganda was found in Lightner’s bedroom. The term accelerationism refers to a belief in promoting division and polarization to induce the collapse of existing societal structures and trigger a civil war.In an FBI interview, Lightner admitted to making the posts but claimed he was intoxicated at the time and did it for attention.
DEI Coordinator in South Portland Resigns Amid Safety Concerns Following Threat from White Supremacist
Mohammed Albehadli, the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) coordinator for public schools in South Portland, Maine, has resigned and left the state due to safety concerns for his family. Albehadli, who arrived in the U.S. a decade ago from Iraq, received a threatening letter from a white supremacist, prompting his decision to step down.
Albehadli, having experienced threats in Iraq, expressed the fear of potential escalation, stating, “You hear something first. And the next thing, an action follows.” The resignation highlights the challenges faced by individuals championing diversity and inclusion in educational institutions, and it raises concerns about the safety and security of those actively working towards fostering an inclusive environment. (Sharp, 2024)
White Supremacist Convicted for Vandalizing Michigan Synagogue in Hate-Fueled Plot
Nathan Weeden, a 23-year-old member of The Base, a multi-state white supremacist group, has been convicted on two counts for vandalizing a Michigan synagogue in 2019. Weeden, along with fellow group members Richard Tobin and Yousef Barasneh, engaged in discussions on an encrypted messaging platform in September 2019 to plan acts of vandalism targeting property associated with African Americans and Jewish Americans. The federal jury found Weeden guilty of one count of conspiracy against rights and one count of damage to religious property.
Described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a white nationalist network, The Base is known for its members’ belief in pushing society to collapse for the creation of a white ethnostate. Weeden and his co-conspirators named their plot “Operation Kristallnacht,” referencing the events of Nov. 9-10, 1938, when German Nazis perpetrated violence against Jews, destroying homes, synagogues, schools, and businesses (Chew, 2024). The conviction highlights the persistence of hate-fueled actions and the ongoing threat posed by extremist ideologies.
Continued Antisemitic and Racist Attacks in Norwalk
Norwalk Police and Mayor Harry Rilling have reported ongoing harassment attacks, including antisemitic and racist hate emails, targeting members of the Norwalk Common Council. The Norwalk Police Department, in collaboration with the FBI, is actively investigating these atrocious acts, deemed as persistent cyber harassment against city government officials.
The incidents commenced on January 16 during a virtual meeting of the Common Council’s Ordinance Committee, where antisemitic and racist comments were voiced. Subsequently, council members received antisemitic postcards at their homes, and most recently, hate-filled emails. Mayor Rilling condemned these acts as ignorant, racist, and antisemitic, emphasizing the city’s determination to continue its governmental services undeterred by such actions (El Sol News, 2024).
The police investigation has been intensified, and city staff has received training on addressing inappropriate rhetoric in public meetings. Norwalk legislators also expressed deep concern and condemnation of hate speech, offering their support to the Common Council.
Australia Criminalizes Nazi Salute and Hate Symbols to Combat Rising Hate Incidents
Australia has implemented legislation criminalizing the Nazi salute and the display or sale of symbols associated with designated “terror” groups, responding to a surge in hate and anti-Semitic incidents. The law targets symbols such as the swastika and SS lightning bolt insignia, criminalizing their sale and display. Attorney General Mark Dreyfus emphasized that performing the Nazi salute or publicly trading Nazi hate symbols is now unlawful (Al Jazeera, 2024).
Originally omitting a ban on the Nazi salute, the bill was amended following incidents, including clashes between neo-Nazis and transgender rights protesters in Melbourne. Dreyfus stated that the legislation aligns federal law with state legislation, with all Australian states and territories having already passed or announced plans to ban Nazi symbols. The new law also extends to symbols associated with designated terrorist organizations, including Hamas. Australia’s intelligence agency has raised concerns about the increasing visibility and organization of far-right groups in the country.
Neo-Nazi Gathering in Sydney Foiled as Police Disrupt Propaganda Stunt
Extremism researchers reveal that a three-day neo-Nazi gathering in Sydney over the weekend was orchestrated as a propaganda stunt aimed at bolstering the National Socialist Network’s presence in New South Wales. A masked group, brandishing flags and a banner proclaiming “Australia for the white man,” faced police intervention while attempting to board a train. Efforts to convene around a Turramurra public hall, disguised as a birthday party and family-friendly event, were thwarted by police. Later on, approximately 30 black-clad men gathering in Artarmon reserve were also dispersed (Bodgle, 2024).
The National Socialist Network, a white supremacist group, organized the national meet-up, but the weekend did not unfold as planned. Six individuals were arrested, and 57 received infringement notices for offensive behavior. Despite representation from various Australian states, the group faced setbacks in achieving their objectives. Police minister Yasmin Catley stated that the group may have had recruitment intentions, but police disruption hindered their goals.
First White Supremacists Convicted in Spain, Sentenced to Prison
In the trial against white supremacists in Spain, two individuals, identified as William R. and Carlos A., have agreed to sentences of two and a half years and three and a half years in prison, respectively. The charges stem from their dissemination of social media messages encouraging attacks against immigrants, homosexuals, and individuals with disabilities. Initially facing requests for penalties of up to ten years and ten months from the prosecution, both defendants reached an agreement with the prosecutor. Carlos A. received an additional charge of illegal possession of weapons, contributing to his three-and-a-half-year sentence. The trial continues for a third accused, J.E., facing charges related to public health offenses involving marijuana and other drugs found in the farmhouse where the accused intended to establish a “militia,” as well as charges of illegal weapons possession, which could lead to a 5-year and eight-month sentence (Efe, 2024).
Residing in a farmhouse in La Pobla de Cérvoles (Lleida, Catalonia), William R. and Carlos A. harbored fantasies of carrying out attacks, inspired by their idols Brendon Tarrant, responsible for 51 deaths in two mosques in Christchurch (New Zealand), and Anders Breivik, the perpetrator of Norway’s deadliest terrorist attack, which claimed 77 lives. The convicted Spaniards, who met online, crafted a racist manifesto and propagated their ideology through the instant messaging platform Telegram. Titled “Iron Pills: A Heroic Life Project,” the document urged actions culminating in a “racial war” between whites and ethnicities they deemed “inferior.” Their plan involved establishing small communities in rural areas, sustaining themselves through drug trafficking. When the time came, they intended to take up arms to counter the perceived invasion of foreigners into Europe.
Neo-Nazi Podcasters Jailed for Targeting Prince Harry and Son
Two neo-Nazi podcasters, Christopher Gibbons and Tyrone Patten-Walsh, have been sentenced to prison for promoting violence against Prince Harry and his son Archie. The London-based duo, described by the sentencing judge as “dedicated and unapologetic white supremacists,” used their “Lone Wolf Radio” podcast to disseminate racist, antisemitic, Islamophobic, homophobic, and misogynistic views. They encouraged listeners to commit violent acts against ethnic minorities, endorsing the idea of hanging so-called “race traitors,” particularly those in interracial relationships (Melley, 2024).
Gibbons, 40, received an eight-year prison sentence, while Patten-Walsh, 34, was sentenced to seven years. The judge emphasized that their desire for a world dominated by white people and their distorted thinking about the influence of various racial and ethnic groups had crossed the boundaries of civilized society. The podcast, “Lone Wolf Radio,” had 128 subscribers and approximately 9,000 views across 21 episodes. The hosts praised right-wing extremists involved in mass murders in Norway, Christchurch (New Zealand), and Charleston (South Carolina), and shared disturbing images depicting Nazi executions and racial violence. Gibbons faced additional charges for disseminating terrorist documents through an online neo-Nazi “radicalization” library with over 2,000 subscribers. Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism unit expressed concern about the potential of such material to draw vulnerable individuals, particularly young people, into terrorism.
Singaporean Teenager Radicalized by Far- Right Extremism Given Restriction Order
A 16-year-old Singaporean student, radicalized by online far-right extremist propaganda, has been placed under a restriction order as per the Internal Security Act (ISA). Despite being of ethnic Chinese descent, the teenager identified as a white supremacist and aspired to carry out attacks overseas. His radicalization involved exposure to violent extremist material online, particularly from far-right political commentator Paul Nicholas Miller, known for promoting white supremacist ideologies. Under the restriction order, the youth faces several conditions, including residence and travel restrictions, internet and social media access limitations, and restrictions on issuing public statements without approval (Strait Time, 2024). The Internal Security Department (ISD) revealed that the teenager strongly identified with white supremacist views, harboring intense hatred towards targeted communities.
This marks the second instance of a Singaporean being dealt with under ISA due to far-right radicalization, with the first individual, now 19, having been released from detention in January after close to three years. The ISD is working with community- based programs to equip the youth with pro-social skills. The announcement underscores the need for vigilance against far-right ideologies, which can adapt to local contexts, potentially leading to societal divides and acts of violence.
Graphical Analysis of Far-Right Terrorism in January 2024
In January 2024, the global far-right terrorism landscape continued to exhibit concerning trends. A total of 11 incidents associated with right-wing extremist terrorism or radicalization were documented, indicating a slight decrease compared to the previous month. Notably, Australia experienced a surge in such activities. We have observed a decrease in events in Europe, although there has been a significant incident in Spain that mirrors the urgency of the current situation, involving a trial against white supremacists.
We have also observed an incident in the United Kigdom where podcasters link to a neo-nazi ideology have been jailed for targeting Prince Harry. This event highlights the global reach of far- right ideologies, extending beyond traditional hotspots. Additionally, another notable occurrence took place in Singapore, a country that surprises by appearing on the list of extreme right-related violent events. The incident involving a 16-year-old who aspired to carry out attacks overseas to further the white supremacist cause underscores the evolving nature of far-right extremism and the need for heightened vigilance on a global scale.
Regarding incident typology, there is a notable trend in January 2023 regarding trials, as there were no reported violent acts related to extreme right ideology; however, there were several incitements to violence and ongoing trials concerning right-wing extremism during this period.
The surge in far-right violent incitement reflects the current global atmosphere of heightened tension and fractures between communities. It also highlights the emergence of racially motivated hate. These dynamics underscore the urgent need for comprehensive strategies to address both the immediate challenges of online extremism and the broader societal issues contributing to such trends.
The escalating presence of threats and the incitement of violence associated with extremist ideologies on social networks becomes increasingly significant. Effectively combating these threats requires a multifaceted approach, involving collaboration between governments, tech companies, and civil society to monitor, counter, and prevent the spread of extremist content while respecting fundamental principles of free speech and online privacy.
Throughout January, the far-right extremist landscape has undergone significant developments, marked by a sustained focus on neo-Nazi sentiments and an intensified emphasis on worldwide protests. The intersection of surging far-right ideologies and escalating violence raises growing concerns, portraying a shifting and dynamic landscape where anti-immigration sentiments and global conflicts fuel extremist activities.
A noticeable uptick in racially motivated ideology, coupled with a surge in white supremacy sentiments, has become apparent. The intertwining of these ideologies and corresponding actions underscores the crucial need for a comprehensive response aimed at countering and preventing such incidents moving forward.
Al Jazeera. Australia outlaws Nazi salute and hate symbols | Crime News. (2024, January 8). Retrieved February 5, 2024.
AP News. SHARP, D. (2024, January 30). When a white supremacist threatened an Iraqi DEI coordinator in Maine, he fled the state. Retrieved February 5, 2024.
CNN. Levenson, E. (2024, January 25). Trials of Michigan school shooter’s parents set to test limits of who’s responsible for a mass shooting.
EL PAÍS (2024, January 18). Condenados a prisión los primeros supremacistas juzgados en España.
EL SOL News. Benzema, K. (2024, January 31). Policía y FBI investigan correos electrónicos antisemitas y racistas. Retrieved February 5, 2024.
Europa Press. Detenido en Siberia un hombre sospechoso de planear un “ataque terrorista” contra un edificio gubernamental de Rusia. (2024, January 22).
FOX 2 Detroit. Ainsworth, A. (2023, July 27). Ethan Crumbley’s journal, search history show thorough planning of Oxford High School shooting.
KARE 11. Raguse, L. (2024, January 31). Minnesota man sentenced for illegal weapons.
Los Angeles Times. MELLEY, B. (2024, January 5). 2 neo-Nazi podcasters sentenced to prison for targeting Prince Harry and his son.
Singapore Law Watch. Iau, J. (2024, January 25). S’porean teen who identified as white supremacist placed on restriction order.
Telemundo 47. Gendron, S. (2024, January 12). Pedirán la pena de muerte para el supremacista blanco que mató a 10 personas en supermercado de Buffalo.
The Guardian. Bogle, A. (2024, January 29). Neo-Nazi rallies in Sydney a publicity stunt to boost their profile, experts say.
WPDE. CHEW, B. (2024, January 26). Member of white supremacist group convicted of vandalizing Michigan synagogue.