This analysis delves into significant events in June 2023 concerning far-right violence and terrorism. It encompasses arrests, trials, and investigations linked to terrorist plots, hate crimes, and attacks targeting various sites, such as mosques, synagogues, and power grids.
In the United States, two noteworthy arrests of neo-Nazis occurred during this month. One individual was apprehended for plotting attacks on the power grid, while another was planning an attack in a synagogue. Meanwhile, Australia dealt with the sentencing of members belonging to a far-right extremist organization.
Across Europe, a mosque in Germany received a menacing letter from a neo-Nazi group, and in Hungary, authorities detained a Norwegian citizen who was planning a far-right terrorist attack. France saw an alleged neo-Nazi terror plot exposed during a high-profile trial. Additionally, the United Kingdom faced numerous cases involving neo-Nazi groups and right-wing extremist individuals involved in terrorism and violence. These incidents underscore the vital importance of diligent efforts by authorities to combat and address these far-right extremist threats.
A former Marine Corps veteran with Neo-Nazi affiliations was arrested for planning to target both the power grid and BLM protesters
In the United States, the case of Jordan Duncan, a former Marine Corps veteran affiliated with neo-Nazi ideology, came to light. He was arrested in October 2020 for allegedly planning terrorist attacks. In June 2023, it was revealed that he possessed classified Defense Department materials at the time of his arrest. The arrest occurred in Idaho, and during the investigation, authorities found bomb-making instructions on his computer. Duncan, who served as a Russian linguist in the Marine Corps, had ties to a group organized by another Marine named Liam Collins, who used a neo-Nazi forum for recruitment. The group referred to itself as a “modern-day SS.” Duncan and his associates were found discussing a previous attack on a power grid and were subsequently charged with planning to damage a power grid and engage in legal gun manufacturing and sales. Defense officials are currently investigating how Duncan obtained classified information and the extent of his involvement in extremist movements. Following his military service, Duncan relocated to Idaho, where he was engaged in discussions about shooting protesters during Black Lives Matter rallies and expressed harmful ideas about those participating in the protests through an Instagram chat (James, 2023).
Author of Pittsburgh Synagogue massacre found guilty of charges
In June 2023, Robert D. Bowers, the perpetrator of the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre, was found guilty on 63 criminal counts, including hate crimes and obstruction of religious exercise leading to death. The devastating attack on the Tree of Life synagogue occurred on October 27, 2018, during a Sabbath service, and remains the deadliest mass shooting targeting Jews in US history. Bowers had a history of expressing anger online, specifically targeting immigrants and Jews. His anti-Semitic views were prominently displayed on the social network Gab, where he found a community of like-minded Nazi supporters. During the trial, the defense argued that Bowers was influenced by conspiracy theories related to immigration. The verdict rendered Bowers guilty on all federal charges, and he may potentially face the death penalty in the sentencing phase (Turkewitz, J., & Roose, K., 2018; Al Jazeera, 2023).
Neo-Nazi arrested for plotting an attack in a synagogue in Michigan
Seann Pietila, a 19-year-old teenager with ties to neo-Nazi ideology, was apprehended by the FBI in Michigan for allegedly planning a mass shooting at a synagogue. Disturbing messages lauding past mass shooters and promoting extremist beliefs were discovered on his social media accounts. Pietila faced charges for transmitting threats and was found to have expressed clear intentions to target an East Lansing synagogue using pipe bombs, Molotov cocktails, and multiple firearms. A subsequent search of his residence led authorities to uncover a cache of weapons, tactical gear, and a Nazi flag. Shockingly, the planned attack was slated for March 15, 2024, coinciding with the anniversary of previous far-right terrorist acts. While Pietila admitted to sending the threatening messages, he denied any intention of actually carrying out the attack (Roush, 2023; Reyes, 2023).
An investigation has been initiated in response to a hate incident instigated by individuals associated with neo-Nazis
New Hampshire authorities are currently investigating an incident that took place outside Teatotaller, a café in Concord known for its commitment to LGBTQ+ inclusion and for hosting a drag event. During the event, a small group affiliated with the neo-Nazi organization “NSC-131”, which is associated with white supremacists, conducted a protest. The individuals in the group covered their faces while making Nazi salutes and chanting. This is not the first time the group has been involved in such incidents, prompting the Attorney General’s office to take civil action (NHPR Staff, 2023).
Unidentified caller’s mass shooting threat sparked investigation
An investigation is underway in Ross County, Ohio, following a disturbing incident where an unidentified caller made threatening statements about carrying out a mass shooting. The call was received on June 21 and traced back to the 213 area code in Los Angeles, California. The caller, claiming to be a 37-year-old “incel,” expressed explicit intentions of acquiring a firearm. It’s important to note that “incel” refers to individuals who identify as involuntarily celibate and often harbor animosity towards women.
In response to this serious matter, the Ross County Sheriff’s Office sought assistance from the Ohio State Highway Patrol. Moreover, they are collaborating with the Los Angeles Police Department and the FBI to swiftly identify and locate the caller (Scioto Valley Guardian, 2023).
Author of the attack in Club Q faces crime charges
Anderson Lee Aldrich, a 22-year-old man, perpetrated the mass shooting at Colorado Springs’ LGBTQ+ nightclub, Club Q, in November 2022. He has already pleaded guilty to murder and attempted murder charges, resulting in a life sentence in prison. However, Aldrich now faces additional federal hate crime charges as the FBI has launched an investigation into the incident. It has become evident that Aldrich’s actions were driven by an extreme hatred for the LGBTQ+ community, as revealed through his online activities and statements.
During the trial, disturbing details emerged, showcasing Aldrich’s use of racial and homophobic slurs, as well as his posting of unsettling images. He even considered live-streaming the attack. Furthermore, it was discovered that Aldrich operated a neo-Nazi website, indicating the depth of his extremist beliefs.
Additionally, Aldrich’s intentional evasion of background checks and possession of unserialized firearms underscore his clear intent to carry out the attack with premeditated malice (CBS News, 2023; Cavallier, 2023).
Members of a neo-Nazi group have been handed sentences for their disturbing offenses
In South Australia, two individuals affiliated with a far-right extremist organization, Duncan Cromb and Jackson Pay, have been sentenced to prison terms of over two years for possessing materials related to terrorist acts. The arrests of these “National Socialist Network” members occurred in 2021, and during the trial, the court found them in possession of multiple documents that outlined methods of terrorism and promoted racist ideologies. In a particularly concerning discovery, Cromb had recordings of the 2019 attack carried out by the far-right terrorist Brenton Tarrant in Christchurch.
As a result of their actions, Cromb received a sentence of two years and six months, while Pay was sentenced to two years and one month behind bars (Hams, 2023).
Mosque in Germany received neo-Nazi threat
During June 2023, the DITIB-affiliated mosque in Duisburg, Germany, received a disturbing racist and threatening letter. The letter contained a swastika and referenced “NSU 2.0,” which is associated with a violent neo-Nazi organization. Yusuf Aydin, the head of the DITIB Central Mosque Association, called for a prompt and thorough investigation to apprehend the perpetrator or anyone else potentially involved in this distressing incident (Anadolu staff, 2023).
German police arrested a second man related to a 32-year-old racist arson attack case
In June 2023, German authorities made a significant arrest in connection with an attack that occurred 32 years ago on a shelter for asylum-seekers. This comes after the arrest of a former neo-Nazi leader last year, who was also linked to the same attack. The current arrest coincides with an ongoing trial involving the previously apprehended individual, with both suspects facing charges of murder and attempted murder.
According to information from security authorities, prior to the arson attack on the shelter, the suspects allegedly gathered at a local pub where they expressed support for targeted violence against accommodations for asylum-seekers. These details highlight the continued efforts by German authorities to address historical cases of right-wing extremist violence and ensure accountability for such heinous crimes (Kirez, 2023; AP News, 2023).
Hungarian police detained Norwegian citizen for plotting a terrorist attack
During June 2023, Hungarian counter-terrorism forces carried out an arrest in Budapest, apprehending a 45-year-old Norwegian man who was planning a terrorist attack bearing similarities to the one perpetrated by Norwegian far-right terrorist Anders Breivik in 2011. The suspect’s attack plans were shared through videos, where he made threats against individuals and targeted airports and train stations. Notably, his communication was conducted in English and Scandinavian languages.
Upon further investigation, authorities discovered the suspect’s previous convictions in Norway, which involved violence and sex crimes. As a result of the arrest, he is now being held at a forensic mental institution (Reuters, 2023).
In Paris, a trial has shed light on an alleged neo-Nazi terror plot
In June 2023, a trial commenced in Paris involving four men, aged between 22 and 28, who were accused of conspiring as a neo-Nazi terrorist group. They were allegedly involved in plotting attacks on mosques and Jewish organizations in France during 2017 and 2018. The investigation was triggered when authorities detected that one of the individuals, Alexandre Gilet, a 22-year-old volunteer deputy gendarme and the alleged leader, had ordered materials for explosive devices. Prosecutors assert that the group, known as “Operation WaffenKraft,” operated as an ultra-right, neo-Nazi online forum, espousing extremist ideologies (Chrisafis, 2023; Agence France Presse, 2023).
A neo-Nazi group was involved in plotting terrorist attacks
The “New British Union” (NBU), a neo-Nazi group, has been found to be plotting terrorist attacks to be executed by individuals across Britain. During a secret meeting, the group’s deputy leader addressed fanatics dressed in Nazi uniforms and proposed providing members with an illicit manual on constructing explosives. The NBU, known for glorifying Oswald Mosley, a British politician who founded the British Union of Fascists in the 1930s, is notorious for propagating anti-Muslim and anti-foreigner sentiments. Furthermore, the group has established connections with armed far-right extremist groups in the United States, including those involved in the U.S. Capitol attack. The meeting revealed hate-filled rallying speeches and plans to form a “military-style” force (Merriman, 2023).
Anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist jailed for phone mast plot
Christine Grayson, a 60-year-old anti-vaccine conspiracist, has been sentenced to 12 months in prison after being found guilty of conspiracy to commit a criminal act. She became involved in an online chat group in 2021, driven by her belief that 5G masts were connected to the Covid-19 vaccine.
Her co-defendant, Darren Reynolds, also 60 years old, received a 12-year prison sentence for terror offenses linked to his extreme right-wing, antisemitic, and racist views. The court revealed that Grayson and Reynolds discussed their plans to destroy the masts using expanding foam and angle grinders, and they connected through the social media platform Telegram (Bryson, 2023).
Neo-Nazi sentenced for hate-fueled online posts and support to a terrorist group
Richard Osborne, a 53-year-old man from the United Kingdom, has been sentenced to nearly four years in prison. The sentencing came as a consequence of his actions, which involved posting racist and homophobic content on VK, a Russian social media platform. Additionally, he was found to have praised the banned neo-Nazi terrorist group “National Action.” As part of the police investigation, it was discovered that Osborne held extreme far-right views and was in possession of weapons (Mosheim, 2023).
A far-right extremist has been sentenced for engaging in weapon-making activities and collecting terrorism-related materials
In the United Kingdom, a 25-year-old man named Ben Styles, known for supporting extreme right-wing ideology, was apprehended for his involvement in weapon-making and collecting terrorism-related materials. The arrest occurred when authorities discovered him constructing a weapon in his garage. Upon investigation, Styles admitted to possessing a submachine gun, distressing imagery, and various right-wing materials. Disturbingly, he had also amassed information pertaining to the terrorist attack in Christchurch, including the manifesto and video of the mosque attack. As a result of these actions, he has been sentenced to eight years in prison (BBC News, 2023).
Far-right extremist imprisoned for promoting violent ideology
Kristofer Kearney, a 39-year-old man hailing from Liverpool and also known as Charlie Big Potatoes, has been sentenced to prison for sharing extremist material that advocated violence against Jews and Muslims. Notably, he is the first member of the group “Patriotic Alternative” to be convicted of terrorist offenses.
During his trial, it was revealed that Kearney, who had previously served in the Army’s parachute division for two years, frequently appeared as a guest on conservative podcasts, specifically “Patriotic Talk” and “The Absolute State of Britain.” Despite being based in Alicante, Spain, he was extradited to face justice. Kearney distributed multiple documents that promoted right-wing terrorist attacks, including manifestos from infamous far-right terrorists such as Breivik and Tarrant.
While he pleaded guilty to disseminating terrorist publications, Kearney maintained that his intent was to spread a “fascist world view” and denied directly encouraging violence. Ultimately, he received a sentence of four years and eight months in jail (BBC News, 2023a).
Agence France Presse, (2023). French Far-right Suspects On Trial Over Alleged Terror Plot. Barron’s. https://www.barrons.com/news/french-far-right-suspects-on-trial-over-alleged-terror-plot-39ed77a6
Al Jazeera (2023). Man found guilty in Pittsburgh Synagogue attack that killed 11. Al Jazeera. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/6/16/man-found-guilty-in-pittsburgh-synagogue-attack-that-killed-11
Anadolu staff, (2023). Mosque in Germany gets letter with neo-Nazi threats. Anadolu Ajansi. https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/mosque-in-germany-gets-letter-with-neo-nazi-threats/2913862
AP News, (2023). Germany detains 2nd man over fatal arson attack on refugee shelter in 1991. AP News. https://apnews.com/article/germany-arson-nazi-attack-migrants-arrest-saarlouis-ghana-2dacc2a016d87d05cc07f22d89b10b4e
BBC News. (2023). Leamington Spa Homemade sub-machine gun builder jailed. BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-birmingham-65926262
BBC News. (2023a). Far-right fitness guru jailed over terror manifestos. BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-merseyside-66000035
Bryson, J. (2023). 5G: York anti-vaccine protester jailed over phone mast plot. BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-south-yorkshire-65809895
Cavallier, A. (2023). Club Q shooter now faces federal hate crime charges as FBI opens investigation. Mail Online. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-12235981/Q-Club-shooter-faces-federal-hate-crime-charges-FBI-opens-investigation.html
CBS News. (2023). Suspect in Colorado Springs LGBTQ nightclub shooting ran a neo-Nazi site, detective testifies. CBS News. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/colorado-springs-lgbtq-nightclub-shooting-anderson-lee-aldrich-ran-neo-nazi-site-detective-testifies/
Chrisafis, A. (2023). Four men go on trial in Paris accused of conspiring to plot neo-Nazi attacks. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/jun/19/four-men-trial-paris-accused-conspiring-plot-neo-nazi-attacks
Hams, S. (2023). Neo-Nazi group members jailed for «abhorrent and distressing» crimes. ABC News. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-06-02/neo-nazi-group-members-jailed-for-terror-planning/102426204
James, E. (2023). Neo-Nazi Marine Corps veteran had «classified DOD documents» on his hard drive when he was arrested. Mail Online. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-12149689/Neo-Nazi-Marine-Corps-veteran-classified-DOD-documents-hard-drive-arrested.html
Kirez, T. (2023). Germany arrests former neo-Nazi chief in 32-year-old racist arson attack. Anadolu Ajansi. https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/germany-arrests-former-neo-nazi-chief-in-32-year-old-racist-arson-attack/2915863
Merriman, S. (2023). Neo-Nazi group is caught plotting a sickening Aryan revolution using «lone-wolf» terror attacks. Mail Online. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-12155967/Neo-Nazi-group-caught-plotting-sickening-Aryan-revolution-using-lone-wolf-terror-attacks.html
Mosheim, T. (2023). Solihull Neo-Nazi jailed for extreme racist, antisemitic and pro-terror group posts. The JC. https://www.thejc.com/news/news/solihull-neo-nazi-jailed-for-extreme-racist-antisemitic-and-pro-terror-group-posts-41f8uLMB5qcYuDP7nc16S4
New Hampshire Public Radio Staff, (2023). NH officials say they’re looking into neo-Nazi incident outside Drag Story Hour in Concord. New Hampshire Public Radio. https://www.nhpr.org/nh-news/2023-06-19/nsc131-neo-nazi-teatotaller-drag-story-hour-concord
Reuters. (2023). Hungary arrests Norwegian plotting to «outdo» Breivik mass killings. Reuters. https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/hungary-arrests-norwegian-plotting-outdo-breivik-mass-killings-2023-06-20/
Reyes, R. (2023). Neo-Nazi accused of stockpiling weapons, plotting mass shooting at Michigan synagogue. New York Post. https://nypost.com/2023/06/18/fbi-arrests-antisemitic-man-accused-of-preparing-for-a-mass-shooting/
Roush, T. (2023). Neo-Nazi teen planned mass shooting at Michigan synagogue, FBI says. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/tylerroush/2023/06/17/neo-nazi-teen-planned-mass-shooting-at-michigan-synagogue-fbi-says/?sh=7bd321029aa4
Scioto Valley Guardian, (2023). Unknown Caller’s mass shooting threat triggers investigation. Scioto Valley Guardian. https://sciotovalleyguardian.com/2023/06/26/unknown-callers-mass-shooting-threat-triggers-investigation/
Turkewitz, J., & Roose, K. (2018). Who is Robert Bowers, the suspect in the Pittsburgh Synagogue shooting? The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/27/us/robert-bowers-pittsburgh-synagogue-shooter.html