Customer Logins

Obtain the data you need to make the most informed decisions by accessing our extensive portfolio of information, analytics, and expertise. Sign in to the product or service center of your choice.

Customer Logins

The threat from far-right extremism: rising, less predictable and hard to determine

22 March 2019 Chris Hawkins

The threat from far-right extremism: rising, less predictable and hard to determine

The 15 March attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand by a lone attacker has spotlighted a growing but unorganized international subculture of far-right extremism already emboldened by the electoral success of far-right political parties and politicians.Chris Hawkins, senior analyst at Jane's Terrorism and Insurgency Centre explores the international threat from far-right extremism…

  • The threat posed by far-right extremism in western Europe has risen sharply in recent years, but remains significantly smaller than that by Islamist terrorism. IHS Markit has recorded 64 counter-terrorism operations against right-wing extremists in western Europe during 2017 and 2018, a sharp increase from 22 in 2015-16. In comparison, 275 Islamist-related operations were recorded between 2017 and 2018. This data illustrates that right-wing extremism is becoming a key secondary consideration for security forces' resources. The absence of an organised structure or parent group comparable with the Islamic State also makes far-right extremism more difficult for security services - which are mostly focused on the larger threat of Islamist terrorism - to detect and disrupt.
  • In the United States, far-right extremism is emerging as a significant terrorism threat, with attack incident rates and casualty numbers likely to rise more quickly than those of Islamist terrorism. The US FBI's data indicates that in 2017 and 2018 there were more arrests of domestic terrorism suspects, including white supremacist and other far-right extremists, than those linked to international ideologies including jihadism.
  • Far right-inspired attacks are less predictable because perpetrators are unlikely to be affiliated with an organization with a persistent ideology and support network. Although New Zealand's police have stated that the Christchurch attacker acted alone, he is likely to have been radicalized by his activity online. This enables individuals to act anonymously online while keeping their beliefs from public view. His 'manifesto' contained common tropes of far-right discourse in Europe and North America. His livestreaming of the attack was intended to inspire others in this sub-culture and capture media attention. Over the weekend of 16-17 March several , instances of racially-motivated harassment referencing the Christchurch attacks were recorded in the UK, for example. Individuals' receptivity, however, will vary personally and is unlikely to be directed by an organized group like the Islamic State.
  • The international reach of far-right extremism online combined with the variability in individual receptiveness to its ideas means firearms legislation will be one of the only reliable determinants of risk. The Christchurch attacks showed that legal access to military-grade firearms (critically, those either capable of, or convertible to, firing bursts), coupled in this case with high-capacity magazines obtained by exploiting legal loopholes, determine the lethality of such attacks. European countries, then, face a lower intensity of risk than the United States, where firearm legislation is far looser. Current European legislation, however, is unlikely to deter motivated attackers, who can use lower-capability tactics such as crude IEDs, knives, or vehicles.

Jane's Terrorism and Insurgency Centre (JTIC) by IHS Markit uses open source data to build a global database of attacks by non-state armed groups in addition to counter-terrorism operations and key statements by state and non-state actors. The database enables users to search by location, target, group (active and dormant), tactics and casualty numbers in order to quickly obtain actionable intelligence and/or data. The database includes over 350,000 events since 2009 and tracks over 1,000 separate non-state armed groups worldwide. Get in touch to learn more about JTIC and other solutions from Jane's.

Posted 22 March 2019 by Chris Hawkins, Senior Analyst Country Risk – Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Centre (JTIC), Jane's by IHS Markit

Explore

Follow Us

Filter Sort