ExtremismUN Report Highlights Threat of Extreme Right-Wing Terrorism

Published 2 April 2020

The UN Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) has just issued a new report on the dangers posed by the rise of right-wing terrorism. The report cites experts who have identified extreme right-wing terrorism as a unique form of political violence with often fluid boundaries between hate crime and organized terrorism. It is a not a coherent or easily defined movement, but rather a shifting, complex and overlapping milieu of individuals, groups and movements (online and offline) espousing different but related ideologies, often linked by hatred and racism toward minorities, xenophobia, islamophobia or anti-Semitism.

The United Nations Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) has just issued a new report – the report is part of CTED’s Trends Alert series — titled “Member States Concerned By The Growing and Increasingly Transnational Threat of Extreme Right-Wing Terrorism.”

CTED says that member states have alerted CTED to their increasing concern at the growing and increasingly transnational threat posed by extreme right-wing terrorism. With research indicating a 320 percent rise in terrorist attacks by groups or individuals affiliated with such movements and ideologies over the last five years, CTED’s latest Trends Alert explores the key challenges, current approaches to address this threat, and existing guidance.

Experts have identified extreme right-wing terrorism – also referred to as far-right or racially and ethnically motivated terrorism – as a unique form of political violence with often fluid boundaries between hate crime and organized terrorism. It is a not a coherent or easily defined movement, but rather a shifting, complex and overlapping milieu of individuals, groups and movements (online and offline) espousing different but related ideologies, often linked by hatred and racism toward minorities, xenophobia, islamophobia or anti-Semitism.

CTED notes that although extreme right-wing terrorism is not a new phenomenon, there has been a recent increase in its frequency and lethality, with some individuals, groups and movements pursuing transnational aims in a national context, drawing on international networks, ideas and personalities and seeking to mobilize others, often using the Internet. This has led to multiple large-scale terrorist attacks targeting minorities, including in Christchurch, New Zealand (March 2019), El Paso, United States (August 2019), and Halle (October 2019) and Hanau (February 2020) in Germany. Member States have also foiled several attack plots  and face numerous challenges in addressing the surge in this form of terrorist violence.

As the threat has increased, extreme right-wing terrorist groups and individuals are becoming more transnational. Research has long recognized the potential for extreme right-wing groups to forge strong transnational links and build networks. Recent evidence suggests that there has been a greater exchange of views between like-minded individuals, both online and offline. These connections allow extreme right-wing groups to improve their tactics, develop better counter-intelligence techniques, solidify their violent extremist views and broaden their global networks. Extreme right-wing terrorist movements also continue to employ a number of tactics to magnify and amplify their messaging, outreach and recruitment.

The report was prepared by CTED in accordance with Security Council resolution 2395 (2017).

CTED says that its Trends Alerts are designed to increase awareness, both within the Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) and among United Nations agencies and policymakers, of emerging trends in terrorism and counterterrorism. The Alerts also include relevant evidence-based research conducted by members of the CTED Global Research Network (GRN) and other researchers.

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