Far-Right Terrorism: Analyzing Roots and Motivations

Black automatic assault rifle against a colorful background riddled with bullet holes while the red section of the background "bleeds"The Centre on Radicalisation and Terrorism at the Henry Jackson Society released a new report analyzing the nature of contemporary far-right terrorism. Significantly, this type of extremism appears to be on the rise with a significant increase in far-right terrorist attacks across the Western world since 2016-17. Furthermore, as the authors suggest, the “global, ideologically diverse, and unpredictable” nature of far-right extremist movements presents numerous challenges to counter-terrorism efforts.

The report, Far-Right Terrorist Manifestos: A Critical Analysis, focuses primarily on reviewing material produced by would-be perpetrators of mass attacks. Online publication of pre-attack manifestos is becoming common among individuals seeking to commit violence. Each manifesto contains a variation of the author’s justification for the planned attack, as well as a personal interpretation of the world’s problems. As such, the report provides a qualitative analysis of theoretical motivations behind this violence.

Each document therefore seeks to offer an explanation – albeit an unpalatable one – for not just its author’s own actions, but also the rapid demographic changes occurring in many Western societies. Replacement theories on the far right clearly matter.

In addressing the urgent need to stem the growth of far-right extreme ideologies worldwide, the report provides a list of policy recommendations, including:

  • Expand prevention efforts by developing an effective community relations strategy with an emphasis on social cohesion;
  • Public authorities and law enforcement must engage with white working-class communities;
  • Develop a more inclusive economy by focusing on comprehensive public investment in skills development and job placement;
  • Elevate international focus on white far-right terrorism to the United Nations and require a co-ordinated international response;
  • Politicians need to recognize the contemporary demographic changes in some Western countries; and
  • Methods of publicising or justifying violent extremism might change as technology advances and the counter-measures come info effect.

For more information on the topics addressed, visit the HSDL Featured Topics on Domestic (U.S.) TerrorismSuicide Bombers, and Lone Wolf Terrorism. Please note that an HSDL login is required to view some of these resources.

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