This analysis focuses on the most significant events in May 2023 concerning far-right violence and terrorism. During this month, two individuals associated with neo-Nazism carried out attacks resulting in multiple fatalities in the United States and Serbia. Further investigations will determine whether these incidents are classified as terrorist attacks or other types of crimes. Additionally, another neo-Nazi-affiliated individual threatened the U.S. President by intentionally crashing his truck into security barriers near the White House.
In the United States, several far-right extremists were found guilty of various charges, including seditious conspiracy, in connection with the Capitol attack on January 6th. It is worth noting that in May 2023, the U.S. President declared white supremacy as the greatest terrorist threat to the country during a speech (Olorunnipa, 2023).
Turning to Europe, it is important to mention that in Ireland, a group of far-right extremists set fire to an asylum seeker camp. Furthermore, in Germany and the United Kingdom, numerous right-wing extremists faced prosecution or received sentences for their involvement in violent acts.
Neo-Nazi kills eight people at a Texas shopping mall
On May 6th, 2023, a 33-year-old man named Mauricio Martínez García opened fire in a mall parking lot in Allen, Texas. The shooter killed eight people and injured seven before being shot and killed by the police. While several victims had Asian backgrounds, witnesses reported that the shooting appeared indiscriminate. The attacker’s writings do not clearly indicate whether the attack was ideologically motivated, and further investigations will determine if it qualifies as a terrorist attack. However, it is known that the assailant exposed white supremacism, neo-Nazism, misogynistic, racist (anti-Asian and anti-Muslim/Middle Eastern background), and homophobic ideas (ADL, 2023b, 2023a; Europa Press, 2023; Tolan et al., 2023).
Man charged with threatening U.S. president after truck crash near White House with a Nazi flag
In May 2023, a 19-year-old truck driver named Sai Varshith Kandula from Missouri was charged with threatening to kill or harm the U.S. President after crashing into security barriers near the White House. He also faces charges of assault with a dangerous weapon and reckless operation of a vehicle. The authorities discovered a Nazi flag in his possession. Initially, there was skepticism on social media regarding the accusations and Kandula’s identity. Experts suggest that people of color in the United States are being drawn to far-right, neo-Nazi, and white supremacist groups due to misinformation, particularly online, and authoritarian influences from their families’ countries of origin. The crash took place in Lafayette Square, and preliminary investigations indicate that the driver may have intentionally crashed into the security barriers multiple times. No injuries were reported among White House or Secret Service personnel (Oladipo,
Oath Keepers founder sentenced to 18 years in prison for the U.S. Capitol attack on Jan. 6, 2021
Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the right-wing extremist group Oath Keepers, has been sentenced to 18 years in prison for orchestrating the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. He was convicted of seditious conspiracy, and his sentence includes an enhanced penalty for terrorism. This sentence is the longest handed down thus far in the Capitol attack cases. The judge described Rhodes as a charismatic figure who manipulated his followers into believing they had the right to impose their political beliefs through force. The Justice Department sought to prove that the Capitol assault was the result of weeks of plotting rather than a spontaneous protest (Le Monde, 2023; Weiner et al., 2023).
Four Proud Boys leaders found guilty of multiple charges related to the U.S. Capitol attack on Jan. 6, 2021
Four leaders of the Proud Boys, namely Henry Tarrio, Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, and Zachary Rehl, have been found guilty of seditious conspiracy and other charges in connection with the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. They were convicted for plotting to oppose the lawful transfer of presidential power and impede the duties of Congress members and federal law enforcement officers. Their sentencing included various charges, notably seditious conspiracy, obstruction of an official proceeding, assault, and destruction of government property.
The trial revealed the violent role played by the Proud Boys in rallies leading up to the Capitol attack. The defendants conspired to obstruct the certification of the Electoral College vote and defy the authority of the U.S. government. On January 6, 2021, they directed a group of Proud Boys and others onto the Capitol grounds, resulting in the breach of the building, destruction of property, and assaults on law enforcement. Subsequently, they claimed credit for their actions on social media and in an encrypted chat room.
These convictions represent a significant step in holding individuals accountable for their involvement in undermining the peaceful transfer of power. The U.S. Department of Justice has secured over 600 convictions related to the Capitol breach. The investigation into the violent events of January 6, 2021, remains ongoing, and the FBI encourages anyone with information to come forward (U.S. Department of Justice, 2023).
Former neo-Nazi pleads guilty to two murders
Devon Arthur, a 24-year-old man from the United States, who was previously associated with neo-Nazi ideology, pleaded guilty in May 2023 to two counts of second-degree murder with a firearm. In 2017, he was accused of killing his two roommates. It is worth noting that his third roommate, Brandon Russell, the leader of an online Nazi movement, was arrested this year for planning a terrorist attack (refer to the OIET February report on far-right violence and terrorism).
Man with neo-Nazi symbols kills 8 people in Serbia
In Serbia, a 22-year-old man went on a shooting rampage, killing 8 people and injuring 14 others. The attacker fled approximately 90km to the city of Kragujevac after randomly firing at multiple locations from a moving vehicle. The shootings began at a schoolyard in the village of Dubona, where he killed a police officer and his sister. During the attack, the perpetrator was wearing a T-shirt adorned with neo-Nazi symbols and used an automatic weapon. He was found in possession of a Kalashnikov, four grenades, and a significant amount of ammunition (BBC News, 2023; Bronic & Vasovic, 2023).
Members of far-right terrorist group “Vereinte Patrioten” on trial
Five individuals, including four men and one woman, suspected of being members of the terrorist group “Vereinte Patrioten” and associated with the “Reichsbürger” movement, are currently facing trial in Germany. The group stands accused of planning a coup and plotting to kidnap German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach in 2022. The motive behind targeting the health minister was his advocacy for strict measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. The defendants are being charged with founding or being a member of a terrorist organization. The group aimed to incite a situation akin to a civil war by causing an electricity blackout, with the ultimate goal of overthrowing the German government and abolishing parliamentary democracy. Concrete preparations were made, including identifying targets for attacks on the electricity network and acquiring weapons and explosives. If convicted, the defendants could face several years of imprisonment (Hille, 2023).
Neo-Nazi sentenced to jail for planning racist terror attacks
A 21-year-old German man, identified as Marvin E., has been sentenced to three years and ten months in prison for his involvement in a plot to establish a neo-Nazi terrorist group in Germany. Inspired by the US-based Atomwaffen Division, known for its racist and antisemitic ideology, Marvin E. aimed to create an independent group named “Atomwaffen Division Hesse.” Their objective was to carry out attacks targeting politicians, Jews, and migrants. The court revealed that Marvin E. had taken concrete steps to acquire firearms, possessing five explosive devices and ordering materials online to construct additional explosives. He had also conducted research on potential targets prior to his arrest in September 2021. Atomwaffen Division, founded in 2015, is a violent extremist organization with cells in multiple US states, notorious for planning attacks against Jews, Muslims, and other targets. In Germany, authorities have conducted raids on individuals suspected of having connections to the group, including recruitment efforts aimed at young men through flyer campaigns and online propaganda at universities in Berlin and Frankfurt (AFP, 2023).
Federal Prosecutor’s Office in Germany charges four neo-Nazi men
Four men are facing charges for founding the far-right extremist combat group called “Knockout 51” in 2019, which allegedly focused on carrying out acts of physical violence. The group, reported to have had around ten members and connections to similar nationwide groups, included a founding member suspected of ties to the US neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division. The defendants, consisting of three alleged founding members and an additional member, are charged with 14 counts of violent offences.
The men were arrested in April 2022 during a large-scale raid and have been in custody since then. The raid involved the search of 61 properties across 11 German states. The investigations targeted various suspected right-wing terrorist groups. Approximately 800 police officers, including the Military Counterintelligence Service (MAD), were involved in the operation. This is the first trial resulting from the investigations, while other cases are still ongoing.
According to the indictment, the defendants were armed with knives and other weapons, and some members acquired significant components for semi-automatic firearms. The group’s activities included indoctrinating and training young men for physical confrontations under the guise of martial arts training. The training sessions were said to have taken place at the NPD (National Democratic Party) state office in Eisenach.
The accused individuals attempted to establish themselves as the dominant authority around the NPD headquarters, conducting “neighborhood patrols” with the aim of creating a “Nazi neighborhood.” These patrols allegedly involved severe physical violence against others. Numerous offenses, for which the Federal Prosecutor’s Office has filed charges, are related to a 2020 demonstration by the “Querdenker” movement in Leipzig, during which Knockout 51 members reportedly threw objects at police officers (Zeit Online, 2023).
Four far-right extremists sentenced to prison for attacking three Guinean men
A German court in Erfurt has sentenced four men to prison terms ranging from two to four-and-a-half years for their involvement in an attack on three Guinean men in August 2020. The assault took place near a building associated with far-right extremists and was part of a series of xenophobic incidents reported in Erfurt. The investigations revealed that the attackers were either members or sympathizers of the extreme right party “Der III. Weg” (“The Third Way”). The court determined that the assault was racially motivated and constituted a jointly committed offense of bodily harm driven by racist motives. Two of the victims suffered serious injuries during the attack. The court relied on DNA traces, as well as video and audio recordings made by one of the victims, which captured severe racist insults. Prosecutors had requested sentences ranging from one to six months and four years and three months. The verdict is subject to appeal and is not legally binding yet (Deutsche Welle, 2023).
White supremacist convicted of possessing a terrorist handbook
Ashley Podsiad-Sharp, a 42-year-old prison officer in South Yorkshire, has been convicted of possessing a terrorist handbook and faces imprisonment. He was found guilty of having a white supremacist manual containing instructions on killing people on his laptop, stored in an encrypted “virtual safe” file. Additionally, Podsiad-Sharp founded a fitness club for neo-Nazis, which prosecutors allege he used to train extremists. Although cleared of disseminating terrorist material, he posted songs with racist and extreme right-wing lyrics on a Telegram group. He was remanded in custody until a sentencing hearing in July. Counter-terrorism authorities emphasized their commitment to prosecuting individuals in possession of extremist materials (Baynes, 2023).
Far-right terrorist found guilty of planning an attack
On May 16, 2023, a 19-year-old man named Luke Skelton from Washington was found guilty of planning a terrorist attack. After a two-week trial, he was convicted of engaging in conduct to prepare for a right-wing terrorist act. Skelton, who openly supported extreme right-wing ideology, researched and visited potential targets. He is scheduled to be sentenced on June 19. The case was investigated by Counter Terrorism Policing North East, with the support of Northumbria Police, in the United Kingdom (Counter Terrorism Policing, 2023b).
Man sentenced for spreading hate through podcasts
A 51-year-old man from Wales has been sentenced to two and a half years in prison for spreading hate through a series of over 2,000 podcasts on his website. James Allchurch, convicted of stirring up racial hatred, was charged in 2021 by Counter Terrorism Policing North East after his website featured racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, and anti-Islam material. Police emphasized their intolerance towards such actions and urged the public to report any concerning online content or activity (Counter Terrorism Policing, 2023a).
White supremacist jailed for 8 years and 6 months for terror offences
Update from previous reports: Vaughn Dolphin, a 20-year-old man from Walsall, has been jailed for eight years and six months for possessing explosive materials, distributing terrorist manuals, disseminating a terrorist publication, and possessing a firearm. He was found guilty based on evidence including his interest in right-wing extremist ideologies and downloading manifestos of far-right terrorists (Counter Terrorism Policing, 2023c).
Far-right extremists set fire to an asylum seeker camp
Far-right anti-immigrant extremists have claimed responsibility for setting fire to a makeshift camp housing asylum seeker in Dublin. The group, Real Message Eire, expressed anger towards the presence of the camp. One individual was arrested in connection with the incident. Ireland has witnessed an increase in anti-immigration demonstrations fueled by rising immigration numbers and a housing shortage. The incident has garnered attention from transnational far-right individuals and sparked racist and nationalist rhetoric online (Naughtie, 2023; Schiller, 2023).
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