Washington Must Treat White Supremacist Terrorism as a Transnational ThreatBreaking News
tags: terrorism, White Supremacy, Capitol Riot
The explosion of white supremacist violence displayed at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 was not an isolated event. Before Donald Trump and the QAnon-inspired crowd of seditious conspiracy theorists that backs him arrived, there was the so-called Michigan Militia, which in the mid-1990s inspired Timothy McVeigh to murder 168 people by blowing up the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. And before that, for nearly a century, Southern white supremacists, organized into terrorist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, murdered and terrorized Black Americans. This happened because, in an eerie echo of today’s events, the legitimate results of the 1876 presidential election were overturned, prematurely ending Reconstruction and advancing white power while betraying the promise of equality for Black Americans.
White supremacist terrorism has been a feature, not an outlier, of American life.
And as the national security community is well aware, terrorism is multidimensional in nature. It therefore requires a multidimensional response, one that does not yet exist in the fight against white supremacist terrorism.
One needs to look no further than QAnon, the violent, anti-Semitic conspiratorial movement that has metastasized in dozens of countries. It is a hydra-headed beast whose inspiration is Trump, a man believed to be the savior of white people everywhere.
Despite this history, and despite the fact that Trump has been pouring gasoline on the still burning embers of white supremacy in the United States, the U.S. government is not properly equipped to counter the threat. Something structural needs to urgently change in the national security bureaucracy to deal with right-wing violence.
Washington therefore needs to treat white supremacist violence as the transnational threat that it is. This means officially designating it as terrorism and restructuring the government’s counterterrorism agencies to comprehensively counter it as a transnational threat.
In a recent report produced by my organization, the American Jewish Congress, we identified the links between white supremacist terrorism and the Capitol insurrectionists, highlighting their online mobilization against the U.S. government and efforts to subvert a democratic election. In an analysis of 24,000 right-wing Twitter accounts on the day of and day after the Capitol invasion, we found that 6 percent were engaged in insurrectionist discussion and 40 percent of those accounts were associated with QAnon.
Because QAnon knows no national boundaries, it’s clear that Washington has an international terrorist problem on its hands. White supremacist terrorist attacks that have occurred abroad in recent years, such as the Christchurch mosque shootings, have been globally inspired by attacks in Norway, the United States, Italy, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. There is no doubt that such inspiration across national boundaries can only accelerate in the age of social media.
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