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This analysis focuses on the most relevant events of the month of April 2023 related to far-right violence and terrorism. In America, some events occurred in Brazil, Argentina and the United States should be highlighted. In Brazil, one far-right extremist killed four children at a pre-school, and Telegram was suspended by the judicial system of the country since the company refused to share with the police data on neo-Nazi groups which are accused of inciting violent attacks that have taken place in Brazilian schools in recent months. In Argentina, the federal police found a “Nazi museum” linked to sexual exploitation investigation. Lastly in the U.S., two white supremacists were sentenced for planning to attack power grids, a man was pleaded guilty to hate crime against Jewish people for setting fire to a synagogue, a trial began for the white supremacist man accused of killing 11 Jewish people, and warrants for members of the white nationalist group “Patriot Front” were issued by judges as they are accused of developing plans to disrupt a Pride festival.
In Europe, relevant incidents related to far-right extremism occurred in Spain, where a man was sentence for hate crime against Jewish people; in Germany, where Alternative for Germany’s (AfD) youth was classified as right-wing extremist organization by intelligence services since it promoted a racial concept of society among other ideas contrary to the democratic order; in Hungary, where the President pardoned a various prisoners related to far-right extremism known for their anti-Semitic and homophobic ideas; and in the United Kingdom, where one white supremacist was jailed for terror offences and a far-right extremist was sentenced to Community Order for sharing extremist right-wing and racist ideas.
Directly related to far-right terrorism, it should be highlighted the aforementioned events that took place in Hungary, in the U.K. (supremacist jailed for terror offences) and in the U.S. (the arrests related to the power grids attack plan). Further, as it can be observed through the relevant events occurred in April 2023, racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic ideas of right-wing extremists stand out, as they are often the main motivations of people who commit far-right violent and terrorist acts.
Pre-school attack linked to neo-Nazism
A Brazilian 25-year-old man killed four children (between the ages of five and seven) and injured others at a preschool in the Brazilian state of Santa Catarina. The attacker shared on social media far-right ideas, and he had a criminal record for violent acts and possession of cocaine. After the attack, he turned himself into the police. He will be charged with four counts of triple homicide and four charges of attempted triple homicide (Associated Press, 2023; La Gaceta, 2023; Telam, 2023).
The Federal Police is investigating neo-Nazi groups because they are possibly involved in the attacks that have taken place in Brazilian schools recently. The Justice and Public Security Minister stated that there is a connection between this type of attack in schools and “the proliferation of hatred in society due to an unregulated internet and irresponsible companies” (Merco Press, 2023).
A Brazilian court orders the suspension of Telegram after it refuses to hand over data on neo-Nazi groups
Brazil’s judicial system ordered a temporary suspension of the app Telegram in the country in April until the digital platform complies with the order to share information and hand over data on extremist and neo-Nazi groups using the messaging app. Members of those groups were accused of inciting the violent attacks that have taken place in Brazilian schools in recent months. The Brazilian government is striving to end the increasing school violence by focusing on the influence of content that allegedly incites violence on social media and the internet.
However, after partially revising the ruling, one Brazilian federal judge lifted the suspension of the app’s use but kept the daily fine for Telegram’s refusal to hand over the required data. Although it was the Federal Police who asked for the data, Telegram appeals to its mission to protect free speech and privacy (Europa Press Internacional, 2023; Hughes, 2023; Reuters, 2023).
Federal Police found a “Nazi museum” linked to a sexual exploitation investigation
The Argentine Federal Police found a “museum of Nazism” during a raid on three flats in Buenos Aires as part of an investigation into human trafficking and sexual exploitation.
According to the investigation, one of the raided places operated as an alleged center for ‘aesthetics and spa’, but there, foreign women offered sexual services in exchange for money. Two victims were found during the raid in a situation of exploitation.
The large number of objects related to Nazism and Holocaust denial vindicate the National Socialist Regime and the Third Reich, which constitute a crime according to the Law 23.592 of Argentina on measures against discriminatory acts. Some objects did not circulate in the legal market, and the police also seized ammunition and a weapon during the raids (Infobae, 2023; Página 12, 2023).
German intelligence agency classified Alternative for Germany’s (AfD) youth as a right-wing extremist organization
German security services classified the youth wing of the political party Alternative for Germany (AfD) as a “far-right organization” and as an extremist entity that threatens democracy. The AfD entered the Bundestag (German parliament) in 2017 and it currently has 78 seats. In 2020, the most radical faction of this party, called “The Wing”, was disbanded as intelligence services declared it a far-right organization.
The domestic intelligence agency has monitored the youth group of the AfD since 2019, and it confirmed in April 2023 that this AfD faction pursues anti-constitutional goals and harbors aspirations against the democratic constitutional order.
The intelligence agency stated that one of its main objectives is to monitor those organizations that spread “ideologies and concepts contrary to human dignity and hostile to democracy” (Andersson, 2023). The agency confirmed that the youth wing of AfD had the objective of excluding the so-called “foreigners”, propagating an image of them as enemies, and stirring up resentment, which can in turn encourage violence against them. Further, the investigators concluded that the far-right group propagated a racial concept of society (Andersson, 2023; DW, 2023).
Hungarian President pardoned several prisoners related to far-right extremism
Katalin Novák, the President of the Republic of Hungary, pardoned in April 2023 seven people convicted of terrorism and other crimes, including the far-right extremist György Budaházy. They were known for their several Molotov cocktail attacks perpetrated between 2007 and 2009 against the properties of leftist politicians and clubs frequented by leftist groups and the LGBT+ community. It is also known that they advocated homophobic and anti-Semitic ideas (Bardi et al., 2023; EFE, 2023).
White supremacist jailed for terror offenses
Vaughn Dolphin, a 20-year-old British man, was found guilty of terror offenses which include the possession of explosive material and manuals to build explosives and firearms. He was also found guilty of charges related to the distribution and possession of terrorist manuals, the dissemination of terrorist publications, and the possession of a firearm.
He was arrested in June 2022 after an investigation carried out by counterterrorism police. Investigations showed that he was interested in far-right terrorist attacks that took place in New Zealand or the U.S., and he was also interested in the manifestos that the terrorists wrote (Counter Terrorism Policing, 2023b; Gardham, 2023).
Far-right extremist sentenced to Community Order
William Loyd-Hughes, a 27-year-old British man, was sentenced to an 18-month Community Order for posting offensive messages on the social media site Twitter and for showing support for the Ulster Defence Association, a proscribed organization.
The Counter Terrorism Police arrested him last September, and he was a serving member of the police staff when the offenses were committed in 2022. He used Twitter to share extreme right-wing ideas and a racist hashtag to promote them to a wider audience (Counter Terrorism Policing, 2023a).
Two white supremacists were sentenced for planning to provide material support to attack power grids
Two white supremacist men were sentenced in April 2023 for crimes of supporting plans to attack power grids in the United States. The domestic terrorism plot was motivated by the men’s adherence to ethnically or racially violent extremist ideology.
Christopher Brenner Cook, a 20-year-old man, and Jonathan Allen Frost, a 24-year-old man, both U.S. citizens, pleaded guilty to the charge of conspiring to supply material support to terrorists. They were sentenced to 92 months and 60 months in prison, respectively. They plotted armed attacks in energy facilities to foster white supremacy by stirring up division among the population and causing unrest; also talked about the possibility of causing a war (even a “race war”) and inducing the “next Great Depression”.
According to the investigations, the men met in an online chat in 2019 and both began efforts to recruit others for their plan of attacking power grids. They were also getting materials such as weapons or suicide necklaces to carry out the attacks (Department of Justice, 2023b).
Texas man pleaded guilty to arson and hate crime for setting fire to synagogue
A man from Texas pleaded guilty in April 2023 to a hate crime and arson for setting fire to the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Austin, Texas, on October 31, 2021.
The fire was provoked amid a series of antisemitic incidents in the city of Austin organized by the group called “Goyim Defense League” (GDL), which is a white supremacist group that promotes antisemitic ideas and rallies promoting hatred of Jews. Franklin Sechriest admitted that he targeted the synagogue because of his antisemitic ideas and his hatred of Jews. However, the GDL’s founder stated that Sechriest was not associated with the group (Cramer, 2023; Department of Justice, 2023a).
The trial for the white supremacist man accused of killing 11 Jewish people began in the U.S.
Robert Bowers, a 50-year-old man from the U.S., began in April 2023 to face trial for an attack he perpetrated in 2018. The violent act took place at a synagogue in Pennsylvania, where the attacker allegedly shot and killed 11 Jewish worshippers. He faces 11 charges of hate crimes resulting in deaths. If convicted, he faces a possible death penalty for the attack “considered to be the deadliest antisemitic attack in U.S. history” (Yan, 2023).
Bowers allegedly killed those motivated by his antisemitic ideas, and it is known that he used the social media site Gab, a platform that, since its founding, has become infamous for its tolerance of radical and hateful right-wing users (including anti-Semites). Moreover, he believed in the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory, which falsely affirms that elites want to bring non-whites into Western countries to replace white people. Far-right extremist attacks such as the one in El Paso, Texas (2019), by Patrick Wood Crusius, and the one in Buffalo, New York (2022), by Payton Gendron, were also partly motivated by this conspiracy theory (Edison Hayden, 2023; Yan, 2023).
Judges issued arrest warrants for members of the white nationalist group “Patriot Front”
Five members of the white nationalist hate group “Patriot Front” were added to a wanted list by judges from Idaho. They are accused of developing plans to disrupt a Pride festival in Idaho in 2022. At that time, at least 31 members of the group were arrested and charged with conspiracy to riot.
All of them attended initial hearings in their cases, pleading not guilty, but all did not appear at subsequent hearings. One of them cooperated with the propaganda operations of Media2Rise (one of the most important propaganda organs for the white supremacist movement, which was created by Robert Rundo) (Gais & Wilson, 2022; Wilson & Tischauser, 2023).
Man sentenced for hate crime in Barcelona
A man was sentenced to 18 months in prison (but he will not comply with the sentence as he has no previous criminal record) for a hate crime, as he made anti-Semitic chants during a demonstration on October 12, 2021.
According to the sentence, the man motivated by his hatred of Jewish people and Israel, started to repeatedly shout anti-Semitic chants that instigated feelings of hostility, hatred and violence. He shouted expressions such as “kill Jews”, “death to Israel” or “death to the Jews”, and several attendees of the demonstration joined his proclamations. Also, during the demonstration, attendees shouted slogans in favor of Franco and Hitler and against foreign minors.
The man acknowledged the facts and he agreed to pay a fine of 1080 euros. Moreover, he agreed to follow a treatment program to avoid imprisonment (Europa Press, 2023).
Andersson, O. (2023). Los servicios secretos clasifican como extremistas a las Juventudes de Alternativa para Alemania. La Razón. https://www.larazon.es/internacional/servicios-secretos-clasifican-como-extremistas-juventudes-alternativa-alemania_202304266449785873ab380001e08837.html
Associated Press. (2023). Axe attack at Brazilian pre-school leaves four children dead and five injured. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/apr/05/brazil-pre-school-attack
Bardi, B., Mortensen, A., Pickston, E., & Chen, H. (2023). Convicted terrorist pardoned in Hungary on eve of Pope’s visit. CNN World. https://edition.cnn.com/2023/04/30/world/hungary-terrorist-pardon-pope-francis-visit-intl-hnk/index.html
Counter Terrorism Policing. (2023a). Huddersfield Man Sentenced for Offensive Social Media Posts. Counter Terrorism Policing. https://www.counterterrorism.police.uk/huddersfield-man-sentenced-for-offensive-social-media-posts/
Counter Terrorism Policing. (2023b). Walsall man jailed for terror offences. Counter Terrorism Policing. https://www.counterterrorism.police.uk/walsall-man-guilty-of-terrorism-offences/
Cramer, P. (2023). Man pleads guilty to hate crime in 2021 Texas synagogue arson. The Times of Israel. https://www.timesofisrael.com/man-pleads-guilty-to-hate-crime-in-2021-texas-synagogue-arson/
Department of Justice. (2023a). Texas Man Pleads Guilty to Hate Crime and Arson for Setting Fire to Synagogue. The United States Department of Justice. https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/texas-man-pleads-guilty-hate-crime-and-arson-setting-fire-synagogue
Department of Justice. (2023b). Two Men Sentenced for Conspiring to Provide Material Support to Plot to Attack Power Grids in the United States. The United States Department of Justice. https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/two-men-sentenced-conspiring-provide-material-support-plot-attack-power-grids-united-states
DW (2023). German intelligence classifies AfD youth wing as “extremist.” Deutsche Welle. https://www.dw.com/en/german-intelligence-classifies-afd-youth-wing-as-extremist/a-65439622
Edison Hayden, M. (2023). Antisemitic Mass Shooting Suspect Faces Death Penalty In Trial. The Southern Poverty Law Center. https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2023/04/21/antisemitic-mass-shooting-suspect-faces-death-penalty-trial
EFE. (2023). Presidenta de Hungría indulta a 7 condenados por terrorismo. Swiss Info. https://www.swissinfo.ch/spa/hungría-criminalidad_presidenta-de-hungría-indulta-a-7-condenados-por-terrorismo/48469654
Europa Press Internacional. (2023). La Justicia de Brasil ordena el cierre de Telegram tras la negativa de la empresa a entregar datos sobre grupos neonazis. Europa Press. https://www.europapress.es/internacional/noticia-justicia-brasil-ordena-cierre-telegram-negativa-empresa-entregar-datos-grupos-neonazis-20230426201552.html
Gais, H., & Wilson, J. (2022). Media2Rise Propagandist Identified as Montana Neo-Nazi. The Southern Poverty Law Center. https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2022/02/03/media2rise-propagandist-identified-montana-neo-nazi
Gardham, D. (2023). Vaughn Dolphin: White supremacist who blew up family kitchen convicted of terrorism charges. Sky News. https://news.sky.com/story/vaughn-dolphin-white-supremacist-who-blew-up-family-kitchen-convicted-of-terrorism-charges-12868439
Hughes, E. (2023). Telegram app back on in Brazil after judge lifts suspension. ABC News. https://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/telegram-app-back-brazil-after-judge-lifts-suspension-98963276
Infobae. (2023). Encontraron “un museo del nazismo” durante allanamientos por un caso de explotación sexual. Infobae. https://www.infobae.com/sociedad/policiales/2023/04/20/encontraron-un-museo-del-nazismo-durante-allanamientos-por-un-caso-de-explotacion-sexual/
La Gaceta. (2023). Neonazi y bolsonarista: el perfil del hombre que atacó a niños de un jardín de infantes con un hacha, en Brasil. La Gaceta. https://www.lagaceta.com.ar/nota/986444/mundo/neonazi-bolsonarista-perfil-hombre-ataco-ninos-jardin-infantes-hacha-brasil.html
Merco Press. (2023). ¿Violencia escolar en Brasil, vinculada a movimientos neonazis? Merco Press. https://es.mercopress.com/2023/04/07/violencia-escolar-en-brasil-vinculada-a-movimientos-neonazis
Página 12. (2023). “Un museo del nazismo”: el impactante hallazgo en un allanamiento policial a un estudio jurídico. Página 12. https://www.pagina12.com.ar/542401-un-museo-del-nazismo-el-impactante-hallazgo-en-un-allanamien
Reuters. (2023). Brazil court suspends Telegram for not complying with order on neo-Nazi groups. Reuters. https://www.reuters.com/technology/brazil-court-suspends-telegram-not-complying-with-order-neo-nazi-groups-2023-04-26/
Telam. (2023). Brasil investiga a grupos neonazis por la masacre en el jardín de infantes. Telam Digital. https://www.telam.com.ar/notas/202304/624762-brasil-neonazis-ataque-jardin-infantes.html
Wilson, J., & Tischauser, J. (2023). Patriot Front Members Appear on Idaho Wanted List. The Southern Poverty Law Center. https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2023/04/12/patriot-front-members-appear-idaho-wanted-list
Yan, H. (2023). The death penalty trial for the man accused of killing 11 at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue begins. CNN. https://edition.cnn.com/2023/04/27/us/tree-of-life-synagogue-shooting-trial/index.html