This analysis focuses on the most significant events in July 2023 concerning far-right violence and terrorism. In Finland, a foiled far-right terrorist plot involved extremists planning to use 3D-printed guns. In Austria, raids on outlaw motorcycle gangs revealed a concerning fusion of extremist ideologies and criminal activities. In the UK, there were various cases, ranging from monitoring suspects to convicting podcast hosts. In Spain, a white supremacist disrupted a celebration of a left-wing political coalition.
On the other hand, in Canada, there were arrests linked to neo-Nazi groups that underscored the global reach of such networks via online platforms. Finally, in the U.S., incidents like vandalism, terrorism, and violence against marginalized communities emphasized the persistent and evolving danger posed by far-right ideologies. All these incidents across different countries illustrate the multifaceted nature of far-right extremism and violence.
The Finnish authorities thwarted a far-right terrorist plot involving the use of 3D-printed firearms to incite a “race war” and collapse society. Police investigations revealed that the suspects were motivated by “accelerationist” ideology, aiming to disrupt society through violent actions.
Four individuals, associated with far-right extremist beliefs, are under scrutiny for their involvement, with one having ties to the Finns Party. The suspects allegedly manufactured submachine guns using 3D printers and discussed targeting people based on skin color, political, and ideological views. They also contemplated attacking infrastructure, including the electricity network and rail traffic.
The investigation highlighted the growing threat of extreme ideologies fueling violent intent and shed light on the disturbing impact of far-right ideologies on potential acts of terror, emphasizing the urgent need for vigilance against such extremist beliefs. Finland’s Interior Minister, Mari Rantanen, expressed serious concerns over the disrupted far-right terrorist plot and stressed the importance of taking all radical ideologies seriously (Teivainen, 2023; Mac Dougall, D, 2023).
Police investigations concluded: Suspected far-right terrorist plot to attack reception center
In July 2023, the police investigation in Southwestern Finland concluded its probe into a series of suspected terrorist crimes committed by a group of five men driven by radical far-right beliefs. The investigation uncovered evidence suggesting that these individuals were planning to attack a reception center in Niinisalo using explosives.
The investigation, which has been ongoing since December 2021, focuses on multiple terrorist offenses committed by the group in the Kankaanpää area. The suspects, aged between 23 and 26, were found to have connections to extremist right-wing ideology. They were suspected of obtaining firearms, dynamite, and ammonium nitrate-containing fertilizer with the intent of carrying out terrorist acts.
The charges under consideration include aggravated firearms offenses with terrorist intent, intentional explosives offenses with terrorist intent, receiving training for terrorist offenses, and aggravated theft with terrorist intent. Three suspects are allegedly involved in all crimes, while one participated in all but one theft, and the fifth suspect is believed to have received training for terrorist acts.
The investigation also explored acts of violence against sexual minorities driven by ideological hate, as well as violent acts related to the group’s mutual discipline practices. The investigation received support from various law enforcement agencies, including Europol and the Finnish Security Intelligence Service (Europol, 2021; YLE News, 2023).
Austrian authorities seized weapons, drugs, and Nazi memorabilia in raids on an extreme-right gang
Security operations in Austria led to the apprehension of six individuals and the seizure of an extensive arsenal of weapons, Nazi-related artifacts, and illicit drugs in raids on properties linked to a far-right group. The raids encompassed 13 locations across the provinces of Upper and Lower Austria. The suspects are believed to be affiliated with “outlaw motorcycle gangs.”
Police uncovered not only a significant number of firearms, including pistols, sub-machine guns, and long firearms, but also discovered Nazi paraphernalia such as flags, daggers, busts, uniforms, and pictures, alongside illegal drugs and over €1 million in cash. Grenade launchers and more than 10,000 rounds of ammunition were also among the confiscated items. The investigations come in the wake of suspicions that the “Bandidos” motorcycle group, an international organization, was planning an expansion into Austria, leading authorities to take preemptive action. The Austrian intelligence agency revealed that the seizures highlight the increasing prominence of right-wing extremism within outlaw motorcycle factions and underline a surge in the militarization of the extreme far-right scene in the country (Bell & Armstrong, 2023; i24News and agencies, 2023).
Justice Minister’s released neo-Nazi from prison
Poland’s Justice Minister has decided to release a 21-year-old woman known for her far-right extremist and neo-Nazi views from prison. She had been serving a three-year sentence for assaulting a woman at an LGBT event in 2020. The assailant, Marika Matuszak, along with three others, attacked a participant of the Pride Poznań event, causing her injuries. Matuszak held extreme right beliefs and had been photographed wearing neo-Nazi emblems. Additionally, she was a co-founder of the neo-Nazi group “Front for National Cleansing.” The decision to release her has sparked criticism and ignited debates about ideology and justice in Poland (Sieniawski, 2023).
Man linked to far-right extremism faced terrorism charges
An 18-year-old man from Brighton, Mason Reynolds, is facing 11 terrorism-related charges linked to extreme right-wing ideology. These charges include counts of gathering and disseminating information that could be useful for terrorism purposes. Counter-terrorism authorities have reported that he conducted research on the “Holland Road Synagogue,” raising concerns about security. These charges underscore the ongoing threat that Jewish communities face from antisemitic elements (BBC News, 2023a).
Neo-Nazi under government powers for suspected terrorism
A man in his 20s, publicly referred to as LXB, has become the first alleged neo-Nazi to be subjected to special government powers for monitoring and managing suspected terrorists. These powers, known as TPIMs (“Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures”), allow UK authorities to monitor individuals who are not facing criminal charges but are considered to be suspected terrorists. These measures involve various forms of monitoring and control, including electronic tagging, relocation, and internet bans. LXB is the first right-wing extremist to be subjected to TPIMs, which have primarily been used on Islamist suspects since their introduction in 2011.
Previously, authorities believed that LXB had the potential for terrorist actions. He has admitted to breaching the imposed TPIMs, specifically pleading guilty to two breaches involving the possession of unauthorized video equipment. The defendant’s sentencing has been postponed until August 8th (De Simone, 2023).
Neo-Nazi podcast hosts found guilty of terrorist charges
Christopher Gibbons and Tyrone Patten-Walsh, two individuals who hosted a neo-Nazi online podcast promoting violence and criticizing mixed-race relationships, have been convicted of terrorism offenses. The duo encouraged acts of terrorism and made disturbing remarks about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s son. They also endorsed violent acts such as the murder of MP Jo Cox and praised the terrorist attack carried out by Brenton Tarrant. The hate-filled podcast featured homophobic, racist, and antisemitic views, urging listeners to engage in violence. Gibbons curated a “Radicalisation Library” containing extreme right-wing content. With thousands of subscribers, the men produced 21 episodes and are now awaiting sentencing in September (Jackson, 2023).
Man admitted distributing far-right terrorist material
A 24-year-old man residing in London, Alfie Stevens, has admitted to disseminating extremist right-wing terrorist content through the encrypted messaging app Telegram. He pleaded guilty to three charges related to the distribution of terrorist documents within two groups in January 2021. One of the groups was named “Band of Brothers,” while the other was identified as “White Race Camp.” The charges allege that his actions were intended to directly or indirectly incite terrorism or were performed recklessly, with an awareness of the potential consequences. Sentencing has been postponed until October 2023 to allow for a psychological evaluation and pre-sentence report. Stevens remains on unconditional bail during this period (Warren & PA Media, 2023).
Alleged Neo-Nazi Sparks Alarm at Post-Election Celebration
An alleged white supremacist wielding a 20-centimeter knife entered a bar in Madrid where prominent members of the left-wing political coalition Sumar were celebrating the election results. The armed individual, who had extremist tattoos, including one featuring the number 88 associated with the Nazi salute, was forcibly removed due to his aggressive behavior. Despite wielding the weapon and attempting to attack the bouncer, no injuries were reported (Ollero, 2023).
Far-right extremists arrested for terrorism and hate propaganda
Canadian authorities have arrested two men for their alleged involvement with a terrorist group linked to neo-Nazism. Patrick Gordon Macdonald, 26, is facing charges of terrorism and hate propaganda for his purported role in producing propaganda for the “Atomwaffen Division.” This group, which operates across multiple countries, promotes white supremacism and nationalism through violent means. Designated as a terrorist entity in Canada in 2021, the Atomwaffen Division adheres to “accelerationism,” seeking to hasten societal collapse. Macdonald is accused of participating in the creation and dissemination of three videos that promote the group’s ideology.
Concurrently, another individual was arrested and may potentially face charges in the future. This case has underscored the challenges faced by law enforcement in investigating far-right groups due to their tactics of concealment and affiliations. The fragmented nature of far-right groups in Canada presents difficulties in monitoring their activities effectively. The trial has also shed light on the significant impact of online propaganda and networking, emphasizing the need for robust measures against extremist ideologies (BBC News, 2023; Al Jazeera, 2023).
Proud Boys members were ordered to pay over $1 million for the destruction of a racist church
A civil lawsuit ruling has compelled members of the far-right extremist organization, Proud Boys, to pay a significant sum exceeding one million dollars for their involvement in vandalizing a church property. The incident, which occurred in December 2020 at the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in Washington DC, involved the destruction of a Black Lives Matter sign owned by the church.
The ruling strongly condemned the “orchestrated” and “racially motivated” behavior exhibited by the Proud Boys during their attack on the Metropolitan AME church. The judge emphasized that the far-right extremist group has a history of violence against marginalized communities, particularly targeting Black and African American individuals. The lawsuit was initiated to curb the Proud Boys’ ability to act without facing consequences, with the ultimate goal of preventing the group from acting with impunity (Campbell, 2023; Europa Press, 2023).
White supremacists’ help enables release of accused killer
A 19-year-old man, Kaleb Elijah Fleck, who is charged with the alleged murder of a homeless man in Kalispell, Montana, has been released from county jail after a known white supremacist posted his $500,000 bail. Among those who helped secure Fleck’s release is Zachariah Harp, who has established connections to the white supremacy movement and is affiliated with the “Creativity Movement,” an organization that has advocated for the “protection” of the white race.
While Fleck has pleaded not guilty, he allegedly admitted to assaulting the victim. If convicted, he could potentially face a life sentence in prison (Perkins, 2023).
A far-right extremist has been sentenced for his involvement in the January 6 Capitol attack
A 22-year-old man, Matthew Jason Beddingfield, from North Carolina, was sentenced in July 2023 to three years and two months in prison for assaulting police officers with a flagpole during the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol. He was captured on surveillance and civilian video assaulting officers with the flagpole. The evidence showed Beddingfield jabbing and striking officers as he marched with the mob. Images also depicted him giving a Nazi salute and breaking into the Capitol.
Earlier, Beddingfield had been on pretrial release for attempted murder in 2019, as he shot a Hispanic teenager. The delayed arrest and lenient sentence in this case have raised concerns, exposing discrepancies in addressing domestic terrorism (Crosse, 2023).
White supremacists targeted pride events across the country
In a troubling trend, white supremacists have been targeting pride events across the United States. In the Northwest, a new white supremacist network known as the “Northwest Nationalist Network” (3N), along with various active clubs and nationalist groups, has been engaging in acts of intimidation within communities through their armed presence and provocations. Many of these white supremacists have concealed their faces, and their actions have gone beyond the boundaries of typical protests (Epperly, 2023).
Furthermore, five individuals (Forrest Rankin, Devin Center, Derek Smith, James Michael Johnson, and Robert Whitted) associated with the white supremacist group “Patriot Front” have been found guilty of conspiring to incite violence at a gay pride event in an Idaho city in 2022. These men, along with dozens of other group members, were arrested while equipped with riot gear and a smoke grenade as they approached the pride event. The court sentenced them to three days in jail, in addition to their prior two-day detention. They also received a year of unsupervised probation and were restricted from coming within a two-mile radius of city parks. This trial marked the first for the 31 Patriot Front members who were arrested on that day (Bubalo, 2023).
Leader of white supremacist gang received 25-year prison term for drug trafficking and officer assault
David Milam, a self-proclaimed founder and leader of the “Aryan Kings” gang, a white supremacist group, has been sentenced to 25 years in prison. This sentence is the result of his involvement in trafficking methamphetamine and heroin, possessing an illegal firearm, and assaulting a federal officer. During an investigation into his gang’s criminal activities, authorities uncovered drugs, cash, weapons, and white supremacist paraphernalia in Milam’s residences. The gang’s activities included drug trafficking, assaults, witness intimidation, and even firing at a law enforcement officer (Department of Justice, 2023).
Man received 18-month prison sentence for vandalizing Jewish museum
Luke Foster, a man from Alaska, has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for vandalizing the Alaska Jewish Museum and other locations with swastikas. The vandalism spree took place in 2021 and included tagging the museum and distributing stickers with neo-Nazi symbols. While federal authorities initially tracked Foster down for unrelated online drug trafficking of hallucinogenic mushrooms, a search of his home revealed evidence linking him to the vandalism. He was sentenced for one count of drug trafficking and two charges of hate-motivated property damage (Lapin, 2023).
White supremacist arrested on meth and ammunition charges
Ryan Scott Bradford, a 34-year-old man linked to a violent white supremacist group, has been arrested on charges related to methamphetamine possession and ammunition in California. Upon searching his residence, authorities discovered methamphetamine, ammunition, homemade guns produced from a 3D printer, and Nazi propaganda materials. Due to his prior felony conviction, Bradford is prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition. He is alleged to be associated with the “San Fernando Valley Peckerwoods,” a violent white supremacist gang that originated in California prisons. Bradford had posted messages advocating violence against Jewish individuals on online platforms and mentioned his involvement in constructing 3D printed firearms. If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in federal prison for drug-related charges and up to 15 years for possessing ammunition (Helsel & Blankstein, 2023).
Aljazeera. (2023). Prominent neo-Nazi propagandist arrested in Canada: Police. Aljazeera. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/7/5/prominent-neo-nazi-propagandist-arrested-in-canada-police
BBC News. (2023). Canada man charged with terror over far-right videos. BBC. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-66115518
BBC News (2023a). Brighton teenager charged with terrorism offences. BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-sussex-66094245
Bell, B., & Armstrong, K. (2023). Drugs and guns seized from extreme-right Austrian biker gangs. BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-66059738
Bubalo, M. (2023). US white supremacists found guilty of gay pride riot plot. BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-66271505
Campbell, J. (2023). Proud Boys members ordered to pay over $1 million in ‘hateful and overtly racist’ church destruction civil suit. CNN. https://edition.cnn.com/2023/07/01/politics/proud-boys-fined-ame-church-destruction/index.html
Crosse, J. (2023). North Carolina neo-Nazi sentenced to three years in prison for assaulting police on January 6. WSWS. https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2023/07/13/wqkt-j13.html
De Simone, D. (2023). First alleged neo-Nazi under special terror powers, BBC learns. BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-66133530
Department of Justice. (2023). Leader of White Supremist Gang Receives 25 Years in Federal Prison for Armed Drug Trafficking and Assaulting an Officer. United States Attorney’s Office – Press Release. https://www.justice.gov/usao-ednc/pr/leader-white-supremist-gang-receives-25-years-federal-prison-armed-drug-trafficking
Epperly, E. (2023). ‘Hate wants hate back’: White supremacists target Pride events across the Northwest as organizers push back with love. The Spokesman-Review. https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2023/jul/16/hate-wants-hate-back-white-supremacists-target-pri/
Europa Press. (2023). La organización de extrema derecha Proud Boys pagará un millón de dólares por quemar una pancarta de BLM. Europa Press. https://www.europapress.es/internacional/noticia-organizacion-extrema-derecha-proud-boys-pagara-millon-dolares-quemar-pancarta-blm-20230701191854.html
Europol. (2021). Five arrests in Finnish investigation targeting right-wing extremism. Europol. https://www.europol.europa.eu/media-press/newsroom/news/five-arrests-in-finnish-investigation-targeting-right-wing-extremism
Helsel, P., & Blankstein, A. (2023). California man linked to white supremacist group arrested on drug and ammunition charges. NBC News. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/california-man-linked-white-supremacist-group-arrested-drug-ammunition-rcna97020
I24News and agencies. (2023). Austrian police seize guns, Nazi memorabilia in raid on far-right gang. I24NEWS. https://www.i24news.tv/en/news/international/europe/1688218683-austrian-police-seize-guns-nazi-memorabilia-in-raid-on-far-right-gang
Jackson, S. (2023). Neo-Nazi podcast hosts who targeted Harry and Meghan’s son Archie convicted of terror offences. Sky News. https://news.sky.com/story/neo-nazi-podcast-hosts-who-targeted-harry-and-meghans-son-archie-convicted-of-terror-offences-12916825
Lapin, A. (2023). Alaska man gets 18 months in prison after vandalizing Jewish museum with swastikas. The Times of Israel. https://www.timesofisrael.com/alaska-man-gets-18-months-in-prison-after-vandalizing-jewish-museum-with-swastikas/
Mac Dougall, D. (2023). Far-right terror plot suspects printed 3D guns to ignite Finland ‘race war’. Euronews. https://www.euronews.com/2023/07/21/far-right-terror-plot-suspects-printed-3d-guns-to-ignite-finland-race-war
Ollero, D. (2023). Un neonazi blande un arma blanca en el bar donde Sumar celebraba su fiesta tras las elecciones. El Mundo. https://www.elmundo.es/madrid/2023/07/24/64be1490fc6c8368508b459e.html
Perkins, D. (2023). Accused killer out free after white supremacist helps post bail. Daily Inter Lake. https://dailyinterlake.com/news/2023/jul/06/accused-killer-out-free-after-white-supremacist-he/
Sieniawski, B. (2023). Polish minister releases neo-Nazi from prison. Euractiv. https://www.euractiv.com/section/politics/news/polish-minister-releases-convicted-neo-nazi-from-prison/
Teivainen, A. (2023). Far-right terror plot is disturbing and very serious, says interior minister. Helsinki Times. https://www.helsinkitimes.fi/finland/finland-news/domestic/23913-far-right-terror-plot-is-disturbing-and-very-serious-says-interior-minister.html
Warren, J., & PA Media. (2023). Man admits sharing far-right terrorist documents. BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-london-66265865
YLE News. (2023). Police wrap up probe of suspected far-right terrorist plot to attack Reception centre. YLE News. https://yle.fi/a/74-20039190