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In August 2023, the global landscape is marked by an alarming resurgence 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 August 2023, offering insights into its origins, 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.
Two Teachers Targeted by Far-Right Extremism Forced to Leave a German Village
Two teachers, Laura Nickel and Max Teske, have been compelled to depart from a German village due to the hostile atmosphere engendered by racist and homophobic ideologies among certain students. Both educators were employed at a school in the village of Burg, located in the Lusatia region. They reported the presence of Hitler salutes, swastikas, and racist language within the school through an anonymous letter sent to the local press. Despite their courageous reporting, they encountered harassment and indifference from the school administration. As a result of the severity of the harassment, they have decided to relocate, and their departure is emblematic of the ongoing struggle against extremist attitudes in select regions of Germany, highlighting the intricate challenge of addressing these issues within the education system.
Burg and Cottbus, two towns in the area, have become hotspots for extremist elements, including neo- Nazis, hooligans, and far-right groups. This has led to intimidation of the police and lenient legal responses. After the exposure by these teachers, similar incidents were reported in other schools in eastern Germany, capturing national attention (Le Prioux, 2023). Furthermore, this incident has shed light on the growing influence of the far-right AfD party and its appeal to those who embrace radical ideologies
New Coup Plot Details Highlight Escalating Far-Right Extremism in Germany
Germany is currently grappling with an unprecedented challenge posed by a resurging far-right movement, as the hardline Alternative for Germany (AfD) party surges to second place in opinion polls. Disturbing revelations have emerged regarding a former AfD lawmaker, who is also a judge, allegedly leading members of a far-right terrorist group in a plot to overthrow the government. This group conducted reconnaissance tours of the Reichstag, the nation’s parliament, to prepare for a potential violent attack. These charges have also exposed connections between AfD lawmakers and the extremist Reichsbürger movement, which was itself planning an armed coup (Smith, 2023). The involvement of AfD figures in such activities has raised concerns about the party’s increasingly extremist and anti- democratic nature.
Nazi Symbols and Child Pornography Discovered in German Police Chats
Another deeply concerning incident involving Nazi imagery has come to light within Germany’s law enforcement agencies. Officials in Recklinghausen are deeply alarmed by this second incident in recent months. According to the Essen prosecutor’s office, illegal content searches among police officers in North Rhine-Westphalia revealed the presence of Nazi symbols in chats involving five officers from three different police districts. The suspicion is that these five individuals, aged between 22 and 25, exchanged Nazi symbols in their chats and were in possession of child pornography during their training. Annette Milk, the lead prosecutor investigating the case, stated that three of the accused officers belong to the police headquarters in Recklinghausen, with one each from the headquarters in Kleve and Borken.
Racist Gunman Kills Three People in Florida Store
A racist gunman targeted and killed three black individuals in a Dollar General store in Jacksonville, Florida. This tragic incident prompted the FBI to open a civil rights investigation, treating it as a hate crime. The attack occurred in close proximity to historically black Edwards Waters University, where the shooter had previously been asked to leave the campus due to his refusal to identify himself. He later returned to the store wearing protective gear and opened fire, claiming three lives before ending his own. This horrifying incident has drawn condemnation from leaders, including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who referred to the attacker as a ‘hateful lunatic’(Binley, 2023). The FBI is pursuing this case as a hate crime due to its racially motivated nature.
Affiliated White Supremacist Arrested on Drug and Ammunition Charges in California
In Southern California, a man associated with a violent white supremacist group, Ryan Scott Bradford, 34, was apprehended on charges related to methamphetamine distribution and illegal possession of ammunition. Law enforcement discovered firearms components and 3D-printed devices capable of converting semi-automatic firearms into fully automatic ones in his possession. Additionally, the FBI is investigating Bradford’s affiliation with extremist ideologies, as his online posts included advocating for violence against Jews and aligning himself with groups such as ‘White Lives Matter USA California’ and ’14 Words,’ which promote the ideology of white supremacy’(Yang, 2023).
White Supremacist Banners Emerge in Louisiana’s capital city
In the predominantly Black community of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, banners promoting the white nationalist hate group Patriot Front have appeared, sparking concerns about the prevalence of exposing their connection to Patriot Front and their use as a means of visual propaganda for recruitment. Patriot Front, characterized as a violent white supremacist gang, strategically placed these banners with the intention of invoking fear and propagating their racist ideology. This incident underscores the broader issue of escalating racial tensions in Louisiana, a state with a deep history of racial discrimination. It emphasizes the urgent need to address the spread of supremacist ideologies that threaten the safety and unity of diverse communities.
Political Backlash Arises Following the US Women’s Soccer Team’s Defeat
In the aftermath of the US women’s national soccer team’s (USWNT) loss to Sweden in the Women’s World Cup, a right-wing backlash has emerged, focusing on the assertion that the team’s progressive values contributed to their defeat. Prominent right-wing figures, including former President Donald Trump and pundit Benny Johnson, have taken to social media to claim that the team’s outspoken support for LGBTQ rights and equal pay, as well as their refusal to visit the White House during the Trump administration, somehow impacted their performance on the field.
This narrative, encapsulated by the slogan ‘woke equals failure,’ oversimplifies the complexities of sports performance and diverts attention away from factors such as the team’s injury struggles and coaching decisions that may have had a more direct influence on their loss. This phenomenon highlights how political figures seize opportunities during moments of national attention to advance their agendas, even in unrelated areas like sports, contributing to the broader trend of ideological polarization that permeates various aspects of society (Abad-Santos, 2023).
White Supremacist Arrested for Threatening Jurors in Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooter Trial
Hardy Carroll Lloyd, a 45-year-old self-proclaimed “reverend” of a white supremacy movement, has been arrested on federal charges of witness tampering, obstruction, and transmitting threats (Burke, 2023). Lloyd targeted the Jewish community through social media posts and online comments during the trial of Robert Bowers, the shooter at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, who had been convicted of fatally shooting 11 people in 2018 and was sentenced to death on August 3.
Lloyd’s disturbing posts included calls for Bowers’ release and threats against the jurors who served on his trial. He also allegedly threatened to publicly release jurors’ names and addresses. White supremacy stickers bearing Lloyd’s website were found around Pittsburgh, some featuring swastikas and “White Pride” slogans. The arrest was made as Lloyd’s actions were seen as an attempt to “influence, obstruct, and impede” the trial. Additionally, Lloyd has a history of run-ins with the law, including prior firearms-related charges.
Lawsuit Against Patriot Front Highlights Rising Legal Challenges for White Supremacist Group
Charles Murrell III, a Black teacher, musician, and civil rights activist from Boston, has filed a federal lawsuit against the white supremacist organization Patriot Front, alleging that he was brutally assaulted by members of the group during a march through Boston on July 2, 2022 (Lowe, 2023). The attack, described as “coordinated, brutal, and racially motivated,” occurred while Murrell was playing his saxophone near the Boston Public Library. He was surrounded by masked Patriot Front members carrying metal shields.
Despite the severity of the assault, no one has been charged in connection with the attack on Murrell, and the investigation remains open. This lawsuit is the latest legal action against Patriot Front, which has faced previous legal challenges over its activities, including incidents of vandalism and arrests during Pride events. Unlike their claims of exercising free speech, the Boston incident is notable for its alleged coordinated and racially motivated violence, leading to a legal battle between Murrell and the organization’s leader, 24-year-old Thomas Rousseau (Carless, 2023).
Jewish Mayor of Surfside Receives Police Protection After Death Threat by Self-Proclaimed Nazi
Shlomo Danzinger, the mayor of Surfside and a member of the Orthodox Jewish community, has been placed under 24-hour police protection following a chilling death threat. The threat came from an individual who identified themselves as affiliated with a Nazi group and suggested going to the mayor’s home to “teach his family a lesson” (Lowe, 2023). Both local law enforcement and the FBI are investigating the threat. The incident has shocked the local community, with residents expressing disbelief at the threat against Mayor Danzinger.
Texas Teacher Fired Over Racist Social Media Posts
The Mesquite Independent School District in Dallas County, Texas, has dismissed a teacher known as Claire Kyle on Twitter for her involvement in spreading racist and hateful messages on social media. The teacher’s posts included criticism of her sister for dating a white man and openly declaring her racism. Following an investigation prompted by social media users, the school district confirmed her termination. Despite efforts by local media to obtain a statement, the teacher declined to respond. The incident highlights the consequences of online hate speech, even leading to employment termination in this case.
Former Minneapolis Police Officer Sentenced to Prison for Involvement in George Floyd’s Death
The United States Justice system has sentenced former Minneapolis police officer Tou Thao to four years and nine months in prison on Monday for his role in the death of George Floyd. Thao was already serving a three-and-a-half-year sentence for violating Floyd’s civil rights and failing to intervene to prevent excessive use of force. Now, he has been convicted of aiding and abetting second-degree unintentional murder, as reported by CNN (EP, 2023).
During Floyd’s fatal arrest, Thao was responsible for controlling the crowd that witnessed the incident. Thao expressed in court that on that day, he had no intention of causing harm or damaging anyone and did what he believed was the best course of action. His involvement in the incident joins that of Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng, and Thomas Lane, the four Minneapolis police officers involved in the tragic arrest. Chauvin was previously sentenced in June 2021 to 22.5 years in prison on various murder charges by a state court, and another state court also confirmed a 21-year prison sentence.
White Supremacist Arrested in the U.S. for Threatening Jury in Anti- Semitic Attack Case
U.S. authorities arrested a 45-year-old white supremacist in the state of West Virginia on Thursday for threatening the jury that convicted the perpetrator of an anti-Semitic attack in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which resulted in the deaths of 11 people. The suspect is facing charges of obstructing justice, making threats, and witness tampering, as announced by the U.S. Department of Justice. This individual identified himself as a “reverend” of a white supremacist movement on the internet and sent multiple threats to the jury and witnesses during the trial of Robert Bowers (Swiss Info, 2023). Additionally, the arrested individual placed stickers in various locations in the city, directing people to his website, where he published threats and anti-Semitic messages.
Two Far-Right Leaders Sentenced to 17 and 15 Years in Prison for Capitol Assault
Two leaders of the far-right group Proud Boys have been sentenced to 17 and 15 years in prison for their involvement in the assault on the U.S. Capitol. Joseph Biggs, a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, led around 200 Proud Boys members in an attempt to forcefully overturn the victory declaration of then- President-elect Joe Biden. Prosecutors had sought a 33-year prison sentence for Biggs, but the judge sentenced him to 16 years less, stating that he had “no intent to kill people” (RFI, 2023). Zachary Rehl, another accused, received a 15-year sentence, significantly less than the requested 30 years. Both defendants expressed remorse and disassociation from politics during the trial. This represents one of the most significant sentences in the Capitol assault cases, although many legal commentators had anticipated harsher penalties.
Former Teenage Far-Right Extremist Imprisoned for Further Crimes, Including Child Pornography
Harry Vaughan, previously convicted as a teenage far-right extremist with an interest in Satanism, has been sentenced to prison for new offenses, including making an indecent photograph of a child. Vaughan, now 21 and going by the name Harry Blake, initially faced 14 terrorism offenses and two charges of possessing indecent images of children during his first trial (Badshah, 2023). In 2020, he received a two- year suspended sentence along with rehabilitation and notification orders. However, in June 2023, he pleaded guilty to additional crimes, such as child pornography and breaching orders related to Serious Crime Prevention and notification. These breaches included failing to report an email address and cryptocurrency account details. For his recent offenses, Vaughan has been sentenced to 38 months in prison and received a five-year Serious Crime Prevention Order.
During his 2020 trial, it was revealed that Vaughan, a former grammar school pupil, had developed interests in right-wing extremism, Satanism, the occult, and violence from a young age, influenced by online content. His arrest in 2019 was part of a counter-terrorism investigation into Fascist Forge, an extremist right-wing forum. Police discovered a significant amount of extremist material, including graphics encouraging terrorism and documents related to Satanism, neo-Nazism, and antisemitism on his devices (Badshah, 2023).
Putin Calls on Wagner Group and Private Military Contractors to Pledge Loyalty to Russia
Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued a decree mandating that members of the Wagner Group and other private military contractors pledge loyalty to the Russian state. This decree, effective immediately following the alleged death of Wagner Group leaders in an “aircraft accident,” applies to anyone involved in military activities in Ukraine, aiding the military, or serving in territorial defense units. Furthermore, a far-right subunit of the Wagner Group, known as Rusich, has announced the suspension of military operations in Ukraine. In a Telegram post, Rusich accused the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs of failing to protect one of the group’s founders, Yan Petrovsky, who was arrested in Finland for visa-related violations and now faces extradition to Ukraine. Analysts suggest Putin’s decree is an attempt to reassert his authority following the Wagner Group’s uprising in June.
Ecuadorian Presidential Candidate Fatally Shot After Campaign Rally
Ecuadorian presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio was fatally shot following his participation in a campaign event for the elections on August 20. He was shot as he was about to enter his car after concluding the rally. Villavicencio’s focus was on dismantling political mafias with ties to narcotics trafficking and illegal mining, along with rooting out corrupt structures within the public sector. Ecuador’s conservative President Guillermo Lasso has attributed the attack to hitmen, stating, “Organized crime has gone too far, but they will face the full weight of the law.” (17) Ecuadorian police also conducted a controlled detonation of an unexploded grenade at the scene. The Prosecutor’s Office reported the detention of six individuals allegedly involved in the murder during a series of raids in Conocoto and San Bartolo, two neighborhoods in the capital, Quito. Additionally, nine people were injured as a result of the attack, including a candidate for assemblywoman and two police officers.
Graphical Analysis of Far-Right Terrorism and Violence
In August 2023, the world witnessed a disturbing landscape in extreme right-wing terrorism, with a total of 17 recorded incidents across several countries. The United States experienced the highest number of events, with 11 cases, including a tragic incident in Florida where a racist gunman claimed three lives. Germany faced three incidents, one of which saw two teachers targeted by far-right extremism, forcing them to flee their village. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom grappled with a former teenage far- right extremist imprisoned for further crimes, shedding light on the persistent threat posed by radicalized individuals. Additionally, Ecuador and Russia each reported one event, underscoring the global reach of this concerning trend.
Throughout the month of August 2023, the world bore witness to the disturbing and multifaceted manifestations of extreme right-wing terrorism, a stark reminder of the persistent threat it poses to global security. This period was marred by a series of unsettling incidents, revealing the diverse tactics employed by extremists to advance their agenda and sow discord. Also, extreme right-wing terrorism manifested in various forms across the globe. These incidents included three instances of explicit threats of violence, five cases of incitement to violence, three acts of actual violence, four arrests, and two trials.
One noteworthy arrest exemplifies the gravity of the situation. In the United States, a white supremacist was apprehended for threatening a jury involved in an anti-Semitic attack case. This incident underscores the persistent and dangerous nature of extremism within the extreme right-wing movement, with individuals actively attempting to disrupt the judicial process and incite violence. These events collectively demonstrate the multifaceted threat posed by extreme right-wing terrorism.
The ideologies underpinning the events of extreme right-wing terrorism in August 2023 reveal a disconcerting tapestry of extremism. White supremacy, neo-Nazism, and anti-government sentiments emerged as the dominant driving forces, reflecting a disturbing commitment to racial and ideological superiority. These ideologies perpetuate an atmosphere of hatred, intolerance, and a desire for social and political upheaval, threatening the very foundations of democratic societies.
In addition to these prevailing ideologies, manifestations of racism and unspecified extreme right-wing beliefs further amplified the diversity of extremist thought.
Furthermore, a few isolated incidents in August 2023 shed light on lesser-known but equally troubling extremist ideologies. These included an incident of black supremacy, reflecting a dangerous counterpoint to white supremacy, as well as an anti-Semitic attack, underscoring the enduring menace of anti-Semitic sentiments. An incident involving satanic neo-Nazism, though rare, showcased the depths of extremism, blending radical ideologies with dark occultism.
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ABC, (2023, August 10), Despiden a una profesora de Texas por quejarse en redes de que su hermana saliera con un hombre blanco: «Me gusta ser racista».
Ansorena, J. (2023, August 8). La Justicia de EEUU condena a más de cuatro años de cárcel a un expolicía implicado en la muerte de George Floyd. ABC.
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BBC (2023, August 26). Putin firma un decreto que obliga a los miembros del Grupo Wagner a jurar lealtad a Rusia.
Binley, A. (2023, August 27). Jacksonville shooting: Racist gunman kills three black people in Florida store. BBC.
Burke, M. (2023, August 10). White supremacist charged with threatening jurors on Pittsburgh synagogue shooter trial. NBC News.
Cline, S. (2023, August 3). White supremacist banners appear in Louisiana’s capital city. AP News.
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El Diario (2023, August 10). Asesinado a tiros el candidato presidencial de Ecuador Fernando Villavicencio tras un mitin.
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Pratt, M. (2023, August 8). Boston man files lawsuit seeking to bankrupt white supremacist group he says assaulted him. AP News.
RFI (2023, August 31). Condenan a 17 y 15 años de cárcel a dos líderes de grupo ultraderechista por asalto al Capitolio de EEUU.
Smith, P. (2023, August 4). Reichsburger coup plot: AfD role fuels Germany’s far right fears. NBC News.
Sommer, F. (2023, August 15). Símbolos nazis y pornografía infantil en chats de la policía alemana. Euronews.com.
WPLG Local 10 (2023, August 10), Alcalde judío de Surfside recibe protección policial tras ser amenazado de muerte por un autoproclamado nazi.
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