Observatorio de violencia y terrorismo de extrema derecha: octubre 2021

Actividad yihadista en el Magreb y el Sahel, octubre 2021
White genocide: The conspiracy theory behind the Tree of Life shooting

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Key events:

  • Violence burst into the Anti-vaccination demonstrations in Italy.
  • Sentence to the shooter from the 2019 Poway terrorist attack.
  • Extremist demonstrations for Spain’s National Day.
  • Members of an extremist group planning a coup d’état arrested in France.
  • Two investigations on extreme right grounds towards members of the armed forces in Germany.



  1. Introduction

During October, a total number of ten events are registered, eight of them being related to arrests and sentences. The most relevant event this month was the violent demonstrations in Italy, which opened a debate on the extreme right situation in the country. In the ideological sense, white nationalism and Neo-Nazism were the most prevalent ideologies. Neo-Nazism has been the most frequent ideology this year, being the most relevant for quantifying the far-right phenomenon.[1]

  1. Europe

In Europe eight events are reported, six of them being arrests towards extremists. The detention of right-wing extremists has become a trend in Europe this year, as it has been constant every month. Likewise, extremist demonstrations have also become a tendency, as it is exposed this month in Spain and Italy. The main target of extremists this month was government offices, showing that the anti-establishment nature of the extreme right is common in most Western countries. This type of extremism is considered as the most dangerous in the extreme-right panorama.


2.1. France

In France, three events are reported: two arrests and one sentence. The first arrest was against a 19-year old boy planning to attack a mosque and a high school on April 20th. The date is a particular day for extremists because it commemorates Hitler’s birthday. It is relevant to expose that the individual portrayed himself as a white combatant and a nationalist: therefore, it is argued that his motivations are mainly attributed to white nationalism. However, the detainee claimed that he was a victim of school harassment: thus, besides his racist motivations, revenge can also be one of the factors contributing to his radical motivations. The young man was spotted by police officials when they got access to a telegram group where he was in contact with an 18-year-old girl indicted earlier this year.

The second arrest is related to twelve individuals that planned a coup d’état alongside other violent acts towards vaccination centres, journalists and leftist politicians. The detention occurred after a judge ordered an investigation towards the extremist group Honour and Nation (Honneur et Nation). Among the detainees there was Remy Dailley, a prominent far-right conspiracy theorist who was a local politician in the early 2000s. The group’s objectives show the increase in targeting State institutions, while the selection of vaccination centres exposes the current trend on the belief of anti-vaccination conspiracy theories.

Lastly, the final event is a sentence to members of the extremist group Secret Army Organization (Organisation Armée Secrète or OAS), whose aim was to attack foreigners to make them emigrate back to their countries. Likewise, they also targeted leftist politicians, in particular Jean-Luc Melenchon, leader of a prominent leftist party. This led to the prosecution of six of the members, including the founder. Again, a characteristic element of this group is the age range: according to reports, the members’ ages ranged from 23 to 33 years.

The organisation’s name replicates that of the Secret Army Organization of 1961, a paramilitary group famous for its repression against Algerians in France during the period of the Algerian Independence. Alongside the original OAS ideas, more modern ideological influences stand out, particularly Anders Breivik, thus explaining its willingness to attack leftist politicians.

The situation in France concerning the far-right is worrisome. There has been constant political polarisation on certain topics later this year and constant controversies, especially on the issue of immigration from Muslim-origin countries. Moreover, there has been a mainstreaming of extremist narratives and rhetoric from far-right groups and individuals. An example of this is the rise in support for the conspiracy theory “The Great Replacement”, openly shown on mainstream media and the political debate. Interviews conducted to both the author, Remard Camus, and presidential candidate, Eric Zemmour, have led to an increase in the expansion of this conspiracy theory, resurfacing extremist organisations such as Génération Identitaire, which was banned this year in march. The present situation suggests that if this rise is not dealt properly with government measures, the extremist situation in France will continue into the foreseeable future. Furthermore, this political polarisation may increase the possibility of conflict in the upcoming elections, as many far-right extremist groups might not recognise the result of the elections if their candidate does not win.


2.2 Germany

Similar to the case of France, three events are reported in Germany, two of them being investigations towards right-wing extremists in State forces. The first investigation is being carried out against a guard battalion of the military forces that welcomes heads of state and high-profile military events for connection to extremist groups. The suspects have been withdrawn and suspended from active service. According to a news report, several soldiers are being investigated. Alongside the connection to extremists, investigations of sexual and racial abuse are also being carried out. The group auto-designates itself as the “wolf pack” (Wolfsrudel), and it is estimated to have a militancy of six members. The leader of the group has allegedly posted pictures of himself with Nazi symbols and the white supremacist numerical code “88”, which stands for “Heil Hitler”. Such elements are forbidden by German law indeed.

In addition to members of this group, two more sergeants could be investigated, according to the on-going case. If confirmed, it would imply that it was not just a small group within the battalion but a more significant issue within the unit. The fact that this type of extremism has reached this battalion, which is considered one of the most important modules within the German military apparatus, implies a significant breach of extremist ideas in the German armed forces.

Similarly, the second investigation is related to military reservists officers who allegedly were planning to kill immigrants. The State authorities opened an investigation into a military group of nine former paratroopers and reservists joining or commanding an armed group. The group was led by a lieutenant colonel of the reserve who was in apparent contact with a Federal Ministry of Defence member who had access to critical security information. When a link arose between them, the member of the Ministry was prohibited from accessing to the internal department systems.

These two events follow a trend on internal investigations the German government has taken into action to fight extremism in its military forces. Early last year, the Military Counterintelligence Service (MAD) opened multiple investigations towards right-wing extremists in the military. As a result, according to the MAD Report 2020, the number rose from 363 in 2019 to 477 cases in 2020. Moreover, the Minister of Defence has substantially fought all forms of extremism, an initiative called the “Iron broom”. One of the most notorious examples in the frame of this initiative took place last year, when an elite wing of the armed forces was disbanded after the investigations showed links to right-wing extremists.

Lastly, the third investigation was carried out by the police towards an extremist group that called itself the “Berserker Clan”. The 15 suspects were planning an armed uprising against German institutions, which would have been carried out on “Day X”. Authorities conducted multiple raids and seized stockpiles of weapons and ammunition in 14 different premises, a planning which demonstrated its high degree of preparation and organisation. In addition, German security personnel also confiscated drugs and other substances. It is relevant to expose that the group had a connection with biker gangs, reason of which it is argued that they sold or held the substances to fund their activities. This case highlights the connection between criminal organisations and extremist groups, which increases the level of threat from these groups due to their possibility to have access to means that fund their activities, in this case stockpiling weapons and ammunition for an incoming attack towards the government. This type of narrative is common among extreme-right groups and movements, most notably those who adhere to the Qanon or the Boogaloo movements in the United States. Therefore, this type of group in Europe shows that the anti-establishment nature of the extreme right is common in most Western countries.

The extremist threat in Germany has risen steadily during the past years. Most notably, in 2020, 40% of the 33.000 far-right extremists were categorised as violence-oriented. Moreover, the crimes committed by far-right extremists rose to 1.023, an 10% increase compared to last year. Circumstances given, it is relevant to expose that the government is taking steps to deal with the extremist threat, even though the problem is far from over. The new administration, therefore, will have the task of keep improving the efforts to fight all forms of extremism.


2.3 Spain

Several extreme-right and far-right demonstrations in the wake of the Spanish National Day celebrations took place in the country throughout the month of October. The most relevant of them occurred in Barcelona when approximately 150 people marched to expose their extremist views, particularly those related to Catalonian independentism, a movement organised by the neo-Nazi party Democracia Nacional. During the course of the demonstration, several fascist and neo-Nazi symbols were shown. In the aftermath, the regional police forces Mossos d’esquadra opened an investigation into hate crimes on grounds of antisemitism.

Similar events occurred in Madrid during last year, setting a trend of extremist manifestations where neo-Nazi and Francoist marches tend to hinder the celebrations of Spain’s National Day. One of the conditions that might explain these manifestations is that the exaltation of such symbols is not a crime in Spanish law at present. However, efforts to penalise such activities have been intensified, although they have faced resistance and are yet to be successful. The counterargument to the petition to penalise the exaltation of fascism is based on the freedom of speech, exposing that the only form in which such activities can be penalised is if they make a call for action or humiliate the victims. Despite this situation, regions of the country have set the precedent of imposing fines on those who openly exalt fascism.


2.4. Italy

In Italy, the most relevant event of October took place in the form of a demonstration against the Covid-19 vaccine and the new measures mandating its use, a march that turned violent. In the aftermath of the events, twelve people, among them two far-right leaders, were arrested. It is estimated that the demonstration had over 10.000 people reuniting into several groups, most of them protesting against the Covid certificate of “Green pass”[2]. However, the protest turned violent when groups tried to reach the Prime Minister’s office, and another separate group stormed the offices of the Italian labour confederation. The reports expose that the neo-fascist group Forza Nuova was responsible for organising the attacks and that actions were part of a premeditated plan. In the mediation of the events, the police were forced to use water cannons and pepper spray to push back the participants of the demonstration.

By virtue of the foregoing, a proposal from leftist parties to outlaw Forza Nuova was presented to the Prime Minister. The document exposed that the organisation is of fascist nature, and in Italy it is illegal to re-organise in any fascist form under the 1952 Scelba Law. The law clearly states that any organisation that uses violence or threatens with its use must be forbidden. The same law also penalises the exaltation of fascism, with groups such as Ordine Nuovo and Avanguardia Nazionale being already proscribed under this law. The political parties Fratelli d’Italia, Lega Nord and Forza Italia, have refused to support the proposal.


  1. North America

In North America, two events are exposed and occurred exclusively in the United States, both of them judged on white supremacist grounds. The first verdict has been imposed on the terrorist that perpetuated the shooting on a synagogue in Poway, California, in 2019. The 22-year old has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The accused, moreover, is still awaiting a second ruling from the federal court, where he faces over 100 charges. The attacker pleaded guilty to all the accusations in order to avoid capital punishment. Besides the indictment from this event, he is also charged with arson related to an attack towards the Da-ul-Arqan Mosque in California, an incident happening one month prior to the shooting.

It is relevant to expose that he does not face any charges related to terrorism. The motivations behind the attack were based on the white supremacist ideology, in particular, the white genocide conspiracy theory. Records expose that the attacker claimed that he committed the shooting because he was “defending the United States from the Jewish people”, whom he stated were trying to destroy all white people. Likewise, it is exposed that the perpetrator was inspired by the Tree of Life and Christchurch attacks. Like the Christchurch terrorist, a manifesto was uploaded minutes earlier the attack, exposing the perpetrator’s extremist ideas. An essential element to this case is the age of the terrorist: at the time of the events, he was only 19, an element which has become a characteristic feature in right-wing extremists encompassing both lone actors and groups.

In regard to the second judgment, the sentence was held against two members of the Atomwaffen Division.[3] Both of the defendants were sentenced to nine years in prison. It is relevant to stress that the detainees had military backgrounds, one of them being a reservist from the Canadian army. Another relevant element presented is that neither of them was charged of violent crimes. Instead, the judge determined an enhancement based on terrorism offences and were labelled as domestic terrorists. The FBI arrested them alongside a third member of the group in January 2020, days before a pro-gun rally, where they were allegedly planning an attack at Richmond, Virginia. Likewise, four other men linked to The Base were arrested in 2020, and several others linked to Atomwaffen and Feuerkrieg Division have been accused in federal courts.


  1. Database


Date (MM/DD) Place Ideology Type of incident Objective Details Link
1 09/30 United States White supremacism Sentence Jewish community Sentence to the 2019 poway shooter. KPBS
2 10/01 Germany White nationalism Investigation Investigations towards reservists that were planning to kill immigrants. Spiegel
3 10/02 Havre, France White nationalism Arrest Mosque 19-year-old arrested for planning an attack to a mosque Républicain
4 10/08 Berlin, Germany Neo-Nazi Investigations Investigations towards Neo-Nazis in the armed forces. Spiegel
5 10/11 Roma, Italia Several ideologies: Neo-Nazi, anti-vaccination, fascism Violent demonstration Government Anti-Covid demonstration turns violent. ElPaís
6 10/12 Paris, France White nationalists Sentence Immigrants Members of extremist group are sentenced to prison. France24
7 10/12 Barcelona, Spain Neo-Nazis


Demonstration Independentism Extremist group marches on Spain national day Público
8 10/21 Germany Anti-Establishment Arrest Government Arrest of an extremist group that was planning an attack towards government offices. Vice
9 10/22 Paris, France Anti-Establishment Arrest Government Members of extremist group that were planning a coup d’état are arrested. France24
10 10/29 United States Neo-Nazi Sentence Government Two members of The Base are sentenced to prison BBC



[1] White supremacy is based on the notion that the white race is superior to others and must subjugate them, while white nationalism mainly aims for the creation of a white nation. Moreover, the main difference between white supremacists and Neo-Nazis is that the latter believe the Nazi model is the better State system, while white supremacists do not necessarily want this. Notably, it is important to clarify that all Neo-Nazis are white supremacists, but not all white supremacists are Nazis.

[2] A Green pass certificate is a document proving that the holder is fully vaccinated or recovered from coronavirus.

[3] The Atomwaffen Division was notorious because of their Hate Camps, where they had paramilitary training. Moreover, this group is classified as white supremacist and accelerationist.