Almost two decades ago, I wrote about home grown terrorism in the USA. The context was the continued barrage of media focus on 'Islamic terrorism', and ignoring domestic home grown threats.
You can see how many naive and/or biased Americans have commented on the above article at the time ...
Fast forward by almost two decades, and you see that things are starting to change ...
Right wing violence in the USA has been on the rise since at least the 1990s. But later in that decade, it was overshadowed/overlooked/sidelined because of Bin Laden's attacks on 9/11 and their aftermath (invasion of Afghanistan, then invasion of Iraq, draconian laws in the USA, and so on). For a decade and a half, the focus shifted away from domestic home grown acts of terrorism, to Muslim inspired terrorism. The toxic home brew of right wing violence that is simmering under the surface was basically ignored.
Trump's Rise Emboldened Right Wing Ideologies
When Trump ran for president, and subsequently got elected, much of that ideology, hate and violence came to the surface.
- Chants of "Jews shall not replace us" in Charlottesville, with Trump later praising 'both sides'
- Attacks on synagogues (Pittsburgh, Poway California)
- Sikh temple
- Black neighbourhoods (Buffalo massacre)
- Hispanics (Walmart in El Paso, Texas)
Black churches (Dylan Roof)
All the above then culminated with the attack on the US Capitol itself.
Detailed Reports On Right Wing Violence
Here are some detailed readings on the topic from various sources:
Secret FBI Report from 2005 on domestic terrorism, mostly white supremacist, Nazi, and right wing in general.
In 1986, the US Department of Justice published a Comparative Analysis of Violent Left-and Right-Wing Extremist Groups in the United States.
The report concludes:
Leftists usually have urban backgrounds, are highly educated, and include blacks.
Extreme right-wing groups consist entirely of white Christians and are often blue-collar and poorly educated.
Both types of groups exploit legitimate political issues to attract members. [...] Their criminal offenses are similar and include bombings, murder of law enforcement officers, and attacks on government installations. Both types of groups pose a danger to the United States and need to be monitored. However, right-wing groups have greater potential for mounting a significant effort because they espouse traditional American values.
Further USA Department Of Justice Reports: 1987 Right-Wing Terrorism In The United States, and 1997 report on right wing terrorism's renewed threat in the US.
The ADL, a Jewish advocacy group, has a report on Dark Constant Rage: 25 Years Of Right Wing Terrorism in the US, from 1993 to 2017.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) published a brief in 2018 on the Rise of Far-Right Extremism in the United States.
Right-wing extremism in the United States appears to be growing. The number of terrorist attacks by far-right perpetrators rose over the past decade, more than quadrupling between 2016 and 2017. The recent pipe bombs and the October 27, 2018, synagogue attack in Pittsburgh are symptomatic of this trend. U.S. federal and local agencies need to quickly double down to counter this threat. There has also been a rise in far-right attacks in Europe, jumping 43 percent between 2016 and 2017.
The Brookings Institute has an in-depth article on Assessing the right-wing terror threat in the United States a year after the January 6 insurrection.
New York Times: The Right's Violence Problem.
And in early 2023, the US intelligence community, in testimony to the Congress, said: "Trans-national racially and ethnically motivated violent extremism pose the most lethal threat to the United States". It is even more dangerous than ISIS, Al-Qaeda or Hezbollah.
And far-right groups are plotting to attack the power grid in the USA.
Comparative Study on Right Wing vs. Antifa Violence: Right-wing extremists have killed 329 victims in the last 25 years, while antifa members haven't killed any.
Researchers published a paper in the Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) which is a comparison of political violence by left-wing, right-wing, and Islamist extremists in the United States and the world. In that paper they find that leftist violence tend to be the lesser of the three studied types. Of the two remaining types: right wing and Islamist violence, there is really no difference when comparing incidents in the USA. Only when comparing globally does it become apparent that Islamist attacks by Al-Qaeda and ISIS are more deadly.
To me, this is not really a surprise since those attacks tend to happen in unstable countries in general (Iraq and Afghanistan after the US invasion, and after the withdrawal, as well as Syria during the civil war and the establishment of ISIS as a de-facto state for several years). The power vacuum makes it easier to smuggle and assemble improvised bombs.
Problem For The West In General
And the problem is not limited to the USA, far right extremism spread in other Western industrialized democracies in Europe, Canada, and as far away as New Zealand.
For example Anders Behring Breivik in Norway killed tens of youth in a camp, inspired by white supremacist propaganda that portray Europeans are under attack by immigration.
The Breivik manifesto and other right wing extremist ideologies inspired Brenton Tarrant, an Australian, to attack two mosques in New Zealand killing over 50 people, and streaming his attack online.
In recent years, two lone wolf attackers in Canada inspired by white supremacist propaganda killed people, including the Quebec City mosque shooting, and the London Ontario fatal attack on a Muslim family out for a walk.
In Germany, there has been attacks in Halle on a synagogue, and later in Hanau on individuals of foreign ethnic origins.
And, later, the attempted attack on migrants, and then the killing of Kurds in Paris. The 69-year old attacker admitted 'pathological hatred for migrants', and planned to kill 'non-European foreigners'.
Georgetown University's Walsh School of Foreign Service published an article on Right-Wing Violence in the West in general.
The article's summary is:
Violence carried out on behalf of white supremacist and xenophobic causes has resurfaced throughout much of the West. Unlike earlier episodes of right-wing violence, the current surge reflects the appearance of a Euro-American network of groups stitched together by social media and common fears.