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World America's White Supremacist Problem Risks Feeding Next Global Terrorism Wave

06:08  26 february  2021
06:08  26 february  2021 Source:   newsweek.com

Biden looks to FEMA to help combat domestic terrorism in wake of Capitol attack

  Biden looks to FEMA to help combat domestic terrorism in wake of Capitol attack The Biden administration is leaning on the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help state and local authorities combat domestic extremism in the United States. © PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images The Department of Homeland Security logo is seen at the new ICE Cyber Crimes Center expanded facilities in Fairfax, Virginia July 22, 2015. The forensic lab combats cybercrime cases involving underground online marketplaces, child exploitation, intellectual property theft and other computer and online crimes. AFP HOTO/Paul J. Richards (Photo credit should read PAUL J.

Racially and ethnically motivated terrorism —especially from white supremacists —is “on the rise and spreading geographically,” the U. S . State Department said in a new report, as white terrorist threats continue to come to light across the United States. People mourn victims of a 2019 mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, that left dozens dead and is [+] believed to be the deadliest attack on Latinos in modern American history. The annual report emphasized the threat white supremacist terror groups posed to security in 2019, as reports of racially or ethnically motivated attacks have increased since 2015.

Deadly attacks by white supremacists are on the rise, but in most cases their acts are not considered terrorism . Experts say that must change, even if it' s hard for some Americans .

The United States' international "War on Terror" against extremism is in its 20th year, but experts and former officials warned Newsweek that it was the U.S. itself that may feed the next wave of global terrorism should hateful ideologies like white supremacy continue to flourish within its borders.

a group of people in uniform: A member of the Proud Boys is arrested by police during an Invasion Day rally on January 26, in Melbourne, Australia. Australia Day, formerly known as Foundation Day, is the official national day of Australia and is celebrated annually on January 26 to commemorate the arrival of the First Fleet to Sydney in 1788, but Indigenous Australians refer to the day as © Diego Fedele/Getty Images A member of the Proud Boys is arrested by police during an Invasion Day rally on January 26, in Melbourne, Australia. Australia Day, formerly known as Foundation Day, is the official national day of Australia and is celebrated annually on January 26 to commemorate the arrival of the First Fleet to Sydney in 1788, but Indigenous Australians refer to the day as "Invasion Day"—a trend condemned by far-right and white nationalist groups, some of whom have roots in the United States.

Former CIA officer and FBI Special Agent Tracy Walder says groups and individuals brandishing dangerous far-right dogmas at home are infiltrating abroad.

Make domestic terrorism a federal crime: FBI Agents Association

  Make domestic terrorism a federal crime: FBI Agents Association Opposing View: Target acts of violence that have no place in the political discourse secured by our Constitution and Bill of Rights. Law enforcement agencies are already authorized to investigate allegations and incidents of domestic terrorism. However, prosecutors can’t charge domestic terrorism the same way they’d charge kidnapping or bank robbery, because there is no penalty. Prosecutors are left searching for related violations where penalties exist, like weapons or narcotics violations. Calling out domestic terrorism for what it is promotes deterrence.

As a result, protecting America from foreign terrorism stands as one of the Bush Administration’ s greatest achievements. Prevention requires political leaders–not just police and prosecutors–to think holistically about what causes white - supremacist ideologies to fester and foment violence. People are not predisposed at birth to buy high-powered guns and fire them at strangers. By studying common attributes and experiences of terrorists around the world, we can learn how to dissuade others from following the same path.

The “ white supremacist and nativist movements and individuals increasingly target immigrants; Jewish, Muslim, and other religious minorities; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or intersex (LGBTI) individuals; governments; and other perceived enemies,” according to the report, published by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “We’re particularly concerned about white supremacist terrorism , and this administration is doing things that no previous administration has done to counter this threat,” he said.

"They already have begun exporting their hate," Walder told Newsweek.

Walder, whose foreign intelligence work earned her a number of accolades, pointed to the international influence of groups such as the Proud Boys, a far-right, self-described "Western chauvinist" organization that closely aligned itself with former President Donald Trump and participated in last months' deadly Capitol riots.

The group has witnessed a sharp rise in international recruitment across U.S. allies abroad, including Australia, Germany and the United Kingdom. Canada declared the U.S.-based Proud Boys a terrorist organization earlier this month.

"I think it is only a matter of time until their influence grows even more throughout Europe, Russia, and other countries," she said. "Much like foreign terrorist networks, they find recruits overseas, primarily through the internet, and it is very easy to virtually radicalize them."

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White supremacists will remain the most "persistent and lethal threat" in the United States through 2021, according to Department of Homeland Security draft documents. Then-acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan said last year White supremacist extremism is one of the most "potent ideologies" driving acts violence in the US, when he released the department' s counterterrorism strategy , outlining the ongoing threats from foreign terrorism and focusing on domestic terror threats, particularly white supremacism .

After an upsurge in racially motivated attacks around the world, other countries are beginning to regard the United States as an exporter of white supremacism , a senior U. S . counterterrorism official said Friday. “For almost two decades, the United States has pointed abroad at countries who are exporters of extreme Islamist ideology,” Russell Travers, acting director of the National Counterterrorism Center, told an audience in Washington, D.C. “We are now being seen as the exporter of white supremacist ideology.

Walder said not only U.S. intelligence agencies but also U.S. law enforcement agencies need to crack down on this type of extremism before it's too late.

A former senior counterterrorism official who requested anonymity described the issue as a "Pandora's Box."

The former official agreed with Walder's call for greater law enforcement action, and said the FBI would need to walk a fine line between respecting freedom of speech and political expression while at the same time addressing any ties to international terrorism.

"Agency lawyers maybe would stroke at the lines between free speech, political activity, and the international terrorism activity," the former official told Newsweek. "If these guys are meeting with foreign intel operatives then they would be swept up in collection, but these clowns are meeting with far-right parties in Europe."

With those fine lines in mind, the former official noted U.S. intelligence agencies tasked with monitoring and intercepting far-right threats would be faced with a unique threat: "Insider threat issues, no different than some countries had during the Al-Qaeda and ISIS wars," the former official said.

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Federal law enforcement warned that white supremacist terrorists had considered weaponising coronavirus through saliva-filled spray bottles and contaminating non- white neighbourhoods with the virus, according to intelligence briefings. The memo follows warnings from the FBI about the increased threat of racially and ethnically motivated extremists, following a record high in hate-motivated attacks and the rise of neo-Nazi and white supremacist violence.

White supremacy , like nearly everything else, has been fundamentally altered by globalization. Charlottesville -- actually, the entire United States -- is just one battleground in a far larger war. Unless America understands the full scope of this conflict globally , we will remain vulnerable to white supremacist ideology spreading within our borders. In the 21st century, no ideology exists in a vacuum. The Nazis and Nazi sympathizers of old were often constrained by nationalism: "Deutschland Uber Alles" for the Third Reich, " America First" for US isolationists in 1940.

Newsweek has previously reported on the extent to which extremism has permeated both active duty and veteran military and law enforcement communities.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin declared a 60-day stand-down earlier this month specifically to address the need to rout out radicals among the ranks of the U.S. armed forces in the wake of reports detailing the scope of veteran involvement in the Capitol riots. Other federal agencies have also begun to sound the alarm.

"I don't think it's debatable that it is or it isn't an issue," Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby told reporters on Monday. "What we don't know is the extent of it, and what we don't know is exactly and how best to go about eradicating that and the behavior that it inspires. That's the problem."

As Washington continues to reel from the events of January 6, it has become apparent that the already iconic day came as a wake-up call for public officials not only in the U.S. but across the globe.

"[The Capitol riot] was a shock for everyone, for the American audience, of course, but it was a shock for the whole world," one European official who spoke on the condition of anonymity told Newsweek. "Have in mind that all the 24/7 news TV in France, the U.K., Germany or more generally in Europe were live."

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The European official emphasized the nuances of white nationalism as it exists in the U.S. versus in Europe and other parts of the world, where collusion is hindered due to opposing strains of ideology, while noting that leaders such as French President Emmanuel Macron have spoken out on the issue.

"White supremacist violent movements are less important in Europe than in the U.S., and the internationalization of such movements is always hard because they heavily rely on strong national issues," the European official said. "But they are monitored very closely and actions are being taken, such as the Christchurch call between President Macron and PM Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand, to curb such speeches on social platforms."

a group of people performing on a stage: Members of the National Socialist Movement, one of the largest neo-Nazi groups in the U.S., hold a swastika burning after a rally on April 21, 2018 in Draketown, Georgia. The U.S. has a long history of racial violence and oppression, and many radical views still manifest themselves in present day movements. Spencer Platt/Getty Images © Spencer Platt/Getty Images Members of the National Socialist Movement, one of the largest neo-Nazi groups in the U.S., hold a swastika burning after a rally on April 21, 2018 in Draketown, Georgia. The U.S. has a long history of racial violence and oppression, and many radical views still manifest themselves in present day movements. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The Christchurch massacre of March 2019 saw a lone gunman espousing white supremacist views kill some 51 people across two mosques in one of New Zealand's largest cities. If it occurred in the U.S., it would have been the second-deadliest mass shooting in national history, topping the Orlando nightclub shootings June 2016 and coming up just short of the Las Vegas shooting rampage that occurred in October of the following year.

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As the number of violent far-right-linked acts in the U.S. rises, the European official emphasized that, "as of now, there is a very good and very strong anti-terrorism cooperation by the United States with France."

Efforts to curb such organized beliefs, from within and without, extend to other U.S. allies in Europe as well.

A German official told Newsweek that Germany has numerous prevention programs in place, including in schools, on local levels, on state levels and on the federal level, and that these programs "also address threats from abroad, which is not totally new, since extremist ideologies spread via the internet."

From New Zealand to Norway to Texas, violent white supremacist beliefs have demonstrated an ability to cross international borders through online platforms.

"Over the past decade, we have seen surging violence in the United States, Europe and beyond motivated by elements of white supremacy," Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt told Newsweek. "These violent extremists influence and inspire one another."

He argued the first steps toward combating this trend was to expose those behind it and to gain an understanding of how they interact.

ADL's research has identified U.S. influencers of such beliefs abroad, accusing individuals like former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard and Louisiana state representative David Duke of disseminating harmful ideologies through his travels to Europe.

Others spreading exporting their controversial creed include white nationalist Counter Currents editor-in-chief Greg Johnson, Occidental Observer editor Kevin MacDonald, alt-right leader Richard Spencer and European New Right proponent Tomislav Sunić, according to the ADL.

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  Why labeling domestic extremists 'terrorists' could backfire It is not clear that an official designation of domestic extremists as terrorists would confer additional benefits that would outweigh potential risks to U.S. civil liberties. Rather, it could exacerbate existing group tensions and grievances. Alternatively, a combined government effort that facilitates mitigation strategies to preempt violence by hate-groups, while also actively stemming the flow of online disinformation, may be a good first step in reducing homegrown extremism.David Stebbins is a senior policy analyst focusing on national security issues at the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation.

"Global access to white supremacist ideology, and its easy dissemination across borders via various social media platforms," Greenblatt said, "means many of the ideas promoted by the white supremacist movement—curtailing of non-white immigration, attacks on globalization and the accompanying conspiracies about elitist globalists—are increasingly part of mainstream political and social rhetoric."

Some of these positions have been espoused by officeholders in the U.S., who have found them useful in attracting voters.

a man that is on fire: Members of National Voluntary Squads, a Ukrainian far-right organization, hold torches and ritual dirks in Kiev on February 29, 2020 during the ceremony marking the third anniversary of their foundation. Such groups have participated in the country's U.S.-backed fight against pro-Russia rebels in theast. SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images © SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images Members of National Voluntary Squads, a Ukrainian far-right organization, hold torches and ritual dirks in Kiev on February 29, 2020 during the ceremony marking the third anniversary of their foundation. Such groups have participated in the country's U.S.-backed fight against pro-Russia rebels in theast. SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images

Acts of violence associated with far-right ideologies have killed more people in the U.S. than all attacks linked to foreign groups like Al-Qaeda and ISIS since 9/11. Ali Soufan, a former FBI special agent who serves as CEO of The Soufan Group, told Newsweek that this type of attack is often dismissed as an isolated incident, and links are not sought or established to a larger movement across the country and beyond.

Soufan dedicated much of his career to diagnosing the threat that jihadi forces posed to the U.S., and today he's sounding the alarm on how homegrown groups are a danger not only to this country but others as well.

"For years, my team and I have been warning about the growing connections between U.S.-based extremists and white supremacists operating abroad," Soufan told Newsweek.

While he said high-profile attacks such as those in Norway and New Zealand "invited closer scrutiny on global white supremacy extremism," he said that such scrutiny "reveals that, like the global jihadist movement, violent white supremacists and far-right actors maintain international linkages and continue to forge global networks with ideologues radicalizing individuals across the globe."

He compared jihadi hubs like Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria to white nationalist recruitment hotspots like Ukraine, where far-right militias are involved on both sides of a U.S.-supported war against rebels aligned with Russia, whose own ultranationalist Russian Imperial Movement became the first white nationalist group to be designated by the State Department as a foreign terrorist organization earlier this month.

"One of the most dangerous aspects of this threat is the transnational dimension," Soufan said. "We tend to use language like 'domestic' terrorism when talking about white supremacy extremist groups, which leads people to believe this threat is strictly a national issue. This is not the case."

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