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Right Wing Terrorism

Adrian Rojas
December 2, 2018

1 Introduction
As aforementioned, mainstream politics are generally focused on the increase of Islamic
terrorism both foreign and domestic while turning a seemingly blind eye to other extremist
ideologies. The threat of right wing terrorism is becoming ever present due to the sharp
increase of economic grievance following the 2007 great recession. While the vast majority
of radical sentiment holders do not manifest themselves as terror attacks, the possibility
can not be ignored, especially since the number of right wing attacks seem to be increasing.
Radical right-wing terror groups are on the rise and are largely responsible for the majority
of the terrorist attacks in the United States and a large part of the attacks perpetrated
within European nations. Yet, as stated earlier, differing definitions of terrorism with the
United States and Europe do not allow the threat to be properly addressed. Exploring the
causes, motivations, and methods of right wing terrorism will be study to gauge its threat
and assess possible counter terrorism strategies.

2 Right-Wing Ideologies and Motivations


2.1 Aryan Supremacy
The United States and Europe has faced sentiments of white supremacy for centuries, largely
sensationalized by the Klu Klux Klan and the German Third Reich. The core principles
focus on not only the color of the skin but the physical and mentally attributes as well as
demonstrated by the writings of Arthur De Gobineau in 1853. De Gobineau’s essay on the
inequality of the human races categorizes people into three categories; black, yellow and
white. In This categorization, De Gobineau compares the anatomy of “the negroid variety”
with that of animals, refering to pelvic and skull shapes, while making remarks in relation to
culture and intelligence likening “the blacks” slightly above animals. In comparison, when
describing “the whites”, De Gobineau’s highlights the immense differences in intellect, critical
thinking and reasoning (Gobineau, 1853). Pseudo-scientific essays such as De Gobineau serve
as the underlining rationality of those advocating for Aryan supremacy (Berlet & Vysotsky,
2006). More radical ideas came from Adolf Hitler in his book Mein Kampf in 1929, in
said book Hitler exhibited a large amount of anti-semintism but expresses the need to keep
the aryan blood pure by removing interracial breeding. By extension, Hilter also equated

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western imperalism and western tribes capabilities to modernize “inferior” tribes with aryan
supremacy (Hitler & Murphy, 1939).

2.2 Anti-Government and Religious Fanaticism


The United States leads in anti-government sentiment as it is how the country was born,
disdain over the rule of the British Monarchy under the rule of King George III. Over the
course of the county’s 242 years, citizens have toterated the government rather than support
it unconditionally (King, Stivers, & Box, 1990). Yet, a spread to Europe has been observed
in recent years due to displeasure with over arching government authority and anti-globalist
beliefs. Anti-government sentiments and religious fanaticism are often intertwined with one
another but they are by no means exclusive to one other and can exist freely. While this
paper delves into religious motivations, by no means is the implication being made that
religious entities or groups condone or support terrorist actions. Likewise, religious is used
as the justification by most groups: for Christianity and Islam, terrorist are simply doing
the lords work or atleast what they interpret it to be (Bartlett & Miller, 2010; White, 2001).
To begin with, the most common cause for anti-government sentiments is economic
grievance, that is inability to find and maintain proper employment or the loss of a pre-
viously held well paying position (Piazza, 2017). Within the United States the most affected
industries are those of manufacturing where automation has made human labor obsolete,
although not completely as seen with Tesla’s automated gigafactory. As such this loss of
employment and economic instability leads to populism and extreme anti-government senti-
ment as those affected tend to feel that the government failed them. By extension, increases
in female workforce percentages also tends to influence increases in right wing terrorist at-
tacks, including higher workforce percentages among non-white and immigrant coherts. This
phenomenion is due to the feeling of exclusion or the feeling of being replaced by those which
may or may not get paid less thus leading to extreme resentment(Piazza, 2017).
Another international threat comes from those who are violently opposed to abortion,
usually grounded in the christian, evangelical or protestant ideology. The most prominent
group of anti-abortion activist is The Army of God, which actively advocates violence against
those who support abortion and against facilitles which perform the procedure (Bowman-
Grieve, 2009). Anti-abortion terrorism is a bit different than other forms of motivations
being that its more politically partisan than other issues. As a result, terrorist who are
perpetrating attacks in the name of abortion are subject to the nature of the times. As an
example, during the 1980’s attacks toward abortion clinics, the conservative leaning Reagan
and H.W Bush adminstrations did not label attacks against abortion terrorism likely due
to political pressure from their base who would support these attacks due to their christan
idenitity. An ideological shift during the Clinton administration to more liberal stance in
1992 caused this type of violence to be justly labeled terrorism (Jenkins, 1999; Pan & Kosicki,
1993). This phenomenon stresses the importance of a concrete definition of terrorism.
Militias are militant groups which take up arms to achieve a certain goal; some for ethnic
cleansing, others for state sovereignty. Groups such as Hamas and the Taliban fight for (1)
control of their respective areas and (2) the eradication of the state of Israel. While in the
United States private militias such as the 3% percenters seek to train in the event that the
United States government over reaches in its authority. Militias in the United States tend

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to believe in a static Constitution, meaning the original wording of the founding fathers. In
some cases militias aim to create autonomous colony within their respective borders, typically
reject any government service or assistance, however, this is different in the middle east with
militias receive a form of government support to do the government’s dirty work should
they share a common target (Carey, Mitchell, & Lowe, 2013; Berman, 2003). By extension,
sovereign citizens are those who are violently opposed to any form of government (Loeser,
2014). The beliefs of sovereign citizens are generally the same as those held by militia
groups in which they claim the government is illegitimate and holds no bearing on their
individual lives. Sovereign citizens generally do not commit large indiscriminate terrorist
attacks, rather the main target is police officers and most incidents occur at standard traffic
stops. The frequency of soveign citizens encounters in the legal system has increased over
the past ten years, meaning the movement has gained traction among the popualtion(Slater,
2016; Loeser, 2014).

3 History of Right-Wing Terrorism


3.1 Europe
Within Europe, history with extremist right-wing movements is scared with terrible out-
comes and atrocities. The rise of the third Reich in Germany prior to the start of World
War 2 was a major development in the modern history of Europe. Adolf Hitler and the
National Socialist German Worker’s Party (NAZI) pioneered the newest form of right-wing
extremism by instilling a government which stood on the beliefs of Aryan supremacy, pri-
marily by targeting the Jewish minority which resided within Germany. While this type of
terrorism (state terrorism or terrorism from above) does not fit most definitions of terror-
ism, the existence and the profound influence the third Reich had among its supporters and
sympathizers which would lead the ideology into dominance within counter culture to this
very day. The sense of ultra-nationalism would remain in the minds of hard liners and of
those who sought to rebuild the regime to establish Aryan Supremacy. Prior to the new
millennia numerous political parties had sprung up to rival the communist and socialist ide-
ologies which had plagued the majority of Eastern Europe following the take over by the
Soviet Union. France, Austria, Hungary, Germany and several other nations had seen the
rise of populist and nationalistic parties and sentiments which would manifest into the form
of political parties. Created in 1972 by Jean-Marie Le Pen, the National Front in France had
based its ideals in anti-immigration, holocaust denial and white supremacy. Similarly, the
Freedom Party in Austria focuses on those very beliefs, while the founders of the party An-
ton Reinthaller had previously been a high-ranking member of the NAZI party prior to the
establishment of the party in 1956. These parties while may not be explicitly engaged in ter-
rorist activities are integral to promoting the ideology that most radical right-wing terrorist
spawn today, spanning several different nations. Unlike the United States, most European
countries, thanks to their history, find hate crimes to be on equal footing as terrorism and
label perpetrators as such.
In Europe the sentiments within the right-wing groups are different than those in the
UNited States but focus on similar aspects, being; immigration, preservation of the white

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race and nationalism which can also be seen as anti-globalism. While economic wellbeing is
attributed to the increase of right-wing terrorism in the United States, the effect is not as
substantial as in the Europe due to the increased threat of migrant immigration which has
been the main motivator for right-wing movements in most, if not all, European nations.
Increased presence of Islamic terror in France, Germany and the United Kingdom has led to
an anti-immigration campaign which aims to exclude any and all Muslims, who are escaping
war in the middle east from the Arab Springs in Syria and Iraq, from entering European
nations. Poland, Hungary and Austria have been particular effective at preventing entrance
of asylum seekers. Groups have sprung up in major European nations to combat the influx of
immigrants by forming political parties to directly influence their political goals. Some of the
political parties formed are the Alternative for Germany, National Front, Party for Freedom
(of the Netherlands), Golden Dawn (Greece), Jobbik (Hungary), Sweden Democrats, and the
Freedom Party. The majority of these parties have won seats with the parliament and have
the power to for coalitions giving them a large amount of influence. While the political parties
themselves may not be directly involved with terrorism acts perpetrated by radical right-
wing terrorist, their sentiment is a radicalizing force within the population of their respective
countries. As such, since none of the parties or their leaders are directly involved with attacks,
some of the countries which host these parties have convicted of Hate Speech, such as Geert
Wilders of the Netherlands. Other motivators of right-wing terror is nationalism another
aspect that most of these parties share, largely in part due to the membership of the European
Union, these groups tend to think their individual sovereignty and their respective cultures
are being threatened by globalism. The feeling of being cheated (or being taken advantage
of) by the international community, this was particularly strong with in the United Kingdom
with the surprise Brexit vote which prompted the United Kingdom to enact article 50 of
the Treaty of Lisbon to leave the European Union. Similar movements have sprung up in
neighboring counties under similar names to leave the European Union to become a truly
sovereign nation, while most of the other movements in Sweden, France, Spain and Denmark
will likely not amount to any substantive changes but these movements challenge the future
of the European Union. Also, among the ideologies of most of the right-wing political
parties within Europe is the increased demand for rights for the Aryan race who feel they
are being sidelined for an effort of multiculturalism and diversity by the European union
and their respective governments. Although not a major component, religious motivation
is also among the motivations for the shift to right-wing terror, within Italy Catholic are
afraid of the Islamic threat as they seem to find the differing religions to be incompatible
with one another. Matteo Vergani and Enrico Tacchi (2016) find moderate voters in Italy
(and several similar nations) are turning to the right wing as they feel their in-group (the
catholic religion) is being threatened by the out group (Islamic terrorism) (Vergani & Tacchi,
2016). European parties are also plagued with a sentiment much more difficult to counter,
while the United States maintains a majority two party system, Europe largely operates on a
parliamentary system with the combination of proportional representation. As such many of
the disenfranchised voters find themselves rejecting all the current parties which are on the
books, this hatred for the current political parties leads the charge in the creation of a new
party which is more radical than the rest of them, the greatest example is the Alternative
for Germany which was created in 2013.

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3.2 United States
The United States faces right-wing terrorism thanks to its history with slavery involving
African American slaves. Following the American Civil War, the Emancipation Proclama-
tion, 13th, 14th and 15th amendments the practice of slavery was established to be an illegal
and all the previously held slaves were to be integrated into American society, even in re-
gions which were adamantly opposed to the freeing of slaves. Generally in the deep southern
portion of the United States, the white population saw their black counterparts as inferior.
Hence, numerous groups began to form as white supremacy and radical religious extremist
typically using the Christian religion as rational for carrying out much of their deeds. The
main group formed during this time period which still exist to this day is the Klu Klux Klan
(KKK). The KKK, along with most of the smaller groups who fight under the same mantra
and banner (the Confederate States of America flag or the Northern Virginia battle flag),
are for Aryan (White) supremacy, preservation of the Christian faith and the promotion of
common law. These groups largely formed and are firmly against US foreign policy (largely
isolationist), against the US Constitution and are against the US government in favor of
extremely limited or no government. This extreme hatred lingered from the civil war to its
initial demise in the 1960’s and 1970’s after all the civil rights movement enacted during the
time. Rampage alleged bombings had also led to dwindling support among the people of
the regions they were operating in, this is a trend most groups face when employing more
ambitious new terrorism tactics. The KKK and other right-wing movements have never
been classified as terrorist organizations due to the United States placing higher importance
on the First Amendment of the US Constitution and specifically the freedom of speech, as
such the majority of the crimes (mostly incitement) are labeled as hate speech or criminal
motivations. This stance was solidified by the landmark case National Socialist Movement vs
Village of Skokie where the United States Supreme Court declared that the State of Illinois
could not block demonstrations or marches regardless of their display of obsecene material
under the first amendment (National Socialist Party of America v. Skokie, 1977). However,
under the definition of terrorism previously established and the KKK’s history of brutally
killing African Americans in its peak leads to this movement being classified as a terrorist
group.
The New Terrorist groups which have rose to prominence in the new millennia have in-
troduced a multitude of new questions which aim to explain why there is a resurgence within
the United States and Europe. In the case of the United States many of the groups have
taken a stance regarding the downturn the economy has taken in the 2007 Great Recession
which disenfranchised many workers within the United States and limited their ability to
make a proper living within the US, the election of the first African American president,
Barack H. Obama, and the election of, which includes the normalization of the extreme
right-wing ideology by, President Donald J. Trump. The societal, political and economic
changes associated with the rise of right-wing terrorism is a general trend within the history
of the United States. One of the major propellants of the anti-immigrant/ anti-Muslim/anti-
arab is attributed to the attacks on September 11, 2001 on the World Trade Center and the
Pentagon which was perpetrated by members of the terrorist group named Al-Qaeda. As a
result, the government passed numerous bills, such as the Patriot Act in 2001, which limited
the relative freedom of the citizens and their ability to have privacy, as the Department of

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Homeland Security and the expanded data collection campaigns by the National Security
Agency led to a sentiment of distrust of government. This distrust of government led to the
increased creation of right-wing militia groups, such as the Oregon Militia, the 3 Percenters
Militia and other paramilitary groups which aimed to defend themselves from the US gov-
ernment through violent means. Societal changes are also attributed to the rise of right-wing
extremism such as the belief of reduced standing of the Aryan (white) race and its reduction
of white male privilege. According to James Piazza, as the number of non-white members
increases the number of right wing terrorist attacks increase, this varies by state and by city
(Piazza, 2017). This finding is also constant for increase in the female workforce percentages.
Lastly economic grievance is a major motivator for the rise of right-wing terrorism within the
United States, the inability to find a decent paying occupation and the loss of a previously
held position. The increased economic instability increases resentment within those who lost
their positions leads a populist movement which aims to restore what has been lost despite,
economically, the jobs being lost forever.

4 Right-Wing Terrorist Attacks


4.1 Europe
In Europe, the access to firearms is more restricted to which they do not face much of the same
problems as the United States in terms of mass shootings. Usually within modern Europe
the attacks are minimal and target certain individuals with a certain ethnic background
or association. Attacks in Germany are usually directed towards the refugees given access
to the country by the central government, attacks are carried out by members of certain
terrorist organizations such as the Freital Group which operate in Saxony, Germany and
are responsible for the murder or attempted murder of migrants and bombing attacks on
migrant centers. Most of the common attacks in both regions tend to be low technology with
low fatality rates. As stated by Daniel Koehler (2016) right wing terrorist groups operate
“using very small groups, cells and lone-actors to target mainly government representatives
and minorities with explosives and targeted assassinations” (Koehler, 2016).
In Europe a similar high scale attack was perpetrated by Anders Behring Breivik in
Norway in 2011. Using similar methods, Breivik set up a truck bomb outside the federal
quarter in Oslo near the Prime Ministers office, as a way to target the ruling party, the
Labour Party. The explosion was not as effective as McVeigh’s attack however as the bomb
killed 8 people and injured more than 200 people. Different to McVeigh’s attack, Breivik’s
attack was not complete, about 2 hours later, dressed as a police officer and armed with a
Ruger Mini 14 and Glock 34, Breivik traveled to an island in Tyrifjorden, Buskerud which
was harboring a camp hosted by the AUF which were associated with the Labour Party
which Breivik had targeted earlier in the bombing. Due to his cover as a police officers,
Breivik faced no opposition in getting to the island, while on the island Breivik would go on
to slaughter 68 people, many of which were children, and injured more than 110 more. In
total the attacks had claimed the lives of 77 people. Breivik had wanted to be caught and
executed as his goal was to become a martyr for the movement against Muslim immigration
and the demise of the white race (Jacobsen & Maier-Katkin, 2015). Following Breivik’s

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attacks there were numerous attempted attacks of similar portions in Poland and the Czech
Republic. These two attacks highlight the devastating nature by which right-wing terrorist
are able stretch to reach their political and social goals. These attacks also show radical
right-wing terrorism’s ability to match attacks perpetrated by Islamic actors, who seem to
steal the spotlight in most contemporary political environments.

Table 1: Right Wing Terrorist Attacks in Europe.


Date Country Name Fatalities Non-fatal Suicide Sponsor
Injuries
1980 West Oktoberfest 13 211 Yes N/A
Germany Bombing
1980 Italy Bologna 85 200+ No Armed
massacre Revolu-
tionary
Nuclei
1988 France Cannes 1 16 No French and
and Nice European
attacks Nationalist
Party
1999 England London 3 140 No Lone Wolf
Nail
Bomb-
ings
2004 Germany Cologne 0 22 No National
bombing Socialist
Under-
ground
2006 Russia Moscow 13 47 No The Savior
Market
Bombing
2009–10 Sweden Malmö 2 13 No N/A
Shootings
2011 Norway Norway 77 319 No Lone Wolf
Attack
2015 Sweden Trollhättan 4 1 Yes Lone Wolf
School At-
tack
2016 Germany Munich 10 36 Yes Lone Wolf
Shooting

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4.2 United States
Within the United States the second amendment guarantees access to firearms of varying
calibers and configurations which are used to carry out lone wolf terrorist attacks, such as
the Charleston Church Shooting committed by Dylan Roof which resulted in 9 fatalities.
The threat of violence is a tactic used by most radical right-wing protestors, who often
brandish firearms and gang up on those on the opposing side. An example of the brutal use
of force by the far right is shown by the protest in Charlottesville, Virginia which resulted
in numerous injuries on both sides and one women killed when a far-right protestor rammed
his car into the crowd. The Charlottesville protest is thought to be the largest gathering of
white supremacist in decades, these events provides highlights for the rise brought about by
the current administration who refused to disavow their atrocities acts.
In the United States the attack perpetrated by Timothy McVeigh in Oklahoma City,
Oklahoma is the largest right-wing terrorist attack in American history. Carried out in 1995
and motivated by massive anti-government sentiment, the Army trained McVeigh placed
a truck bomb in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building aimed to cause as much
destruction as possible. The result was 168 fatalities with more than 600 others injured by
the blast and damage ranging from more than half a billion dollars. Upon being discovered
and arrested McVeigh was sentenced to death by lethal injection in 2001, scholars believe
McVeigh’s execution placed him as a martyr for subsequent attacks by right-wing terrorist
groups (Jaworski, Fitzgerald, & Morris, 2003).
Yet, unlike Europe, most of the attacks perpetrated in the United States are lone wolf
attacks. While most right wing terrorism tend to follow a set radical ideology, they do not
seem to gather the support from an establish terrorist network, which there are a few, such
as the National Socialist Movement, Army of God, Aryan Nations, Ku Klux Klan, and ’The
Covenant, The Sword, and the Arm of the Lord’. Such as with the 2017 Las Vegas Shooting,
shooter Steven Paddock had no ties to any established groups thus leaving authorities with
no real motive to be able to classify the attack as terrorism. However, according to the
Global Terrorism Database, Steven Paddock had been heard expressing his discontent with
the United States Government over the standoffs in Waco and Ruby Ridge and discontent
with the possibility gun confiscation.

5 Summary
Right wing terrorism generally revolves around a theological ideology which is used as jus-
tification for their actions. Serving as workers of “god”, extremist aim to preserve white
race due to a perceived decline of status, preserve the lives of unborn children, and deny the
legitimacy of the ruling government. Right wing extremist are willing to utilize violence to
achieve these goals because of their belief in afterlife and doing the work of the lord. Just
like with any religion however, this is a small minority within the overall religion but is often
ignored due to the popularity of support for those who commit these attacks not only in the
populous but in government as well. Should this sub-sect not be addressed it could become
an issue in the future.

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Table 2: Right Wing Terrorist Attacks in the United States.
Date State Name Fatalities Non-fatal Suicide Motivation
Injuries
1978-95 Multiple Unabomber 3 23 No Anti-
Government
1995 Oklahoma Oklahoma 168 680 Yes but by Anti-
City Bomb- execution Government
ing
2009 Pennsylvania Shooting 3 3 No N/A
of Pitts-
burgh Police
Officers
2010 Texas Austin Sui- 2 13 Yes Anger to IRS
cide Attack
2012 Wisconsin Wisconsin 7 4 Yes Racial Ha-
Sikh Temple tred
Shooting
2013 California Los Angeles 1 7 No Anger to
International TSA
Airport
Shooting
2014 Pennsylvania Police Bar- 1 1 No Start a Rev-
racks Attack olution
2015 Colorado Colorado 3 9 No Anti-
Springs abortion
Planned
Parenthood
Shooting
2015 South Car- Charleston 9 1 No White
olina Church Supremacy
Shooting
2017 Virginia Charlottesville 1 28 No White
incident Supremacy
2017 Oregon Portland 2 1 No White
Train Attack Supremacy
2017 Nevada Las Vegas 59 851 Yes Anti-
Shooting Government
2018 California Murder 1 0 No Antisemitism
of Blaze
Bernstein
2018 Pennsylvania Pittsburgh 7 11 No Antisemitism
Synagogue
Shooting

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