What do networks tell us about white extremist terrorism? 

In analysis published in The New York Times last week they presented evidence of a growing network of white extremist terrorists. The article said: 

In a manifesto posted online before his attack, the gunman who killed 50 last month in a rampage at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, said he drew inspiration from white extremist terrorism attacks in Norway, the United States, Italy, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

His references to those attacks placed him in an informal global network of white extremists whose violent attacks are occurring with greater frequency in the West.

An analysis by The New York Times of recent terrorism attacks found that at least a third of white extremist killers since 2011 were inspired by others who perpetrated similar attacks, professed a reverence for them or showed an interest in their tactics.

In a great infographic the New York Times then examined the links between white terrorists, in particular showing who more recent terrorists have stated they were influenced by.

One thing stuck out to me however: these very rarely actually spoke to each other. The Times only presented evidence of two terrorists who actually spoke, where “a school shooter in New Mexico corresponded with a gunman who attacked a mall in Munich.” As the Times notes, together these two shooters killed eleven people. Apart from this however all the links presented are ones of influence. The connections are created based of readings of texts and manifestos, with terrorists citing influence from those who went before them, but not citing actual meetings, discussions or organising (one potential exception not noted in the article is the Christchurch shooter, who says in his manifesto that he got a blessing for his attack from Anders Breivik. However, as far as I’m aware, we still do not have physical evidence this occurred).  

So reading this piece I was left wondering: does this actually represent a network? If it does, what does this network tell us about white terrorist extremism today? 

Continue reading What do networks tell us about white extremist terrorism? 

On Christchurch, lone wolves, and the threat of fascism

Following the horrendous attack on two mosques in Christchurch two weeks ago, debate has turned toward the nature of the fascist threat in Western countries. Many have argued that we have ignored the threat of a growing fascist movement for too long, and that this attack highlights the consequences of this.

This blog post is designed to provide some thoughts on these issues. Some of these thoughts are more developed than others, while others are still in progress. All are up for discussion and debate and I hope to get feedback on these ideas to further important thinking in this area.

Continue reading On Christchurch, lone wolves, and the threat of fascism

Be Wary of Blunt Technological Solutions to Extremism

In the wake of the Christchurch attacks, there’s naturally been a focus on the role of social media in spreading extremism.
I think it’s good that we talk directly about the impact that social media has in events such as this. Yet, I am worried about the use of blunt technical solutions — particularly the banning of users/groups — as a way to deal with this issue.

Continue reading Be Wary of Blunt Technological Solutions to Extremism