Right-wing and Racial Terrorism

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 Right-wing and Racist Terrorism
Tore Bj0rgo
The Norwegian Institute of International Affairs
(References and Citations omitted)

During the last couple of decades, terrorism from racist and right-wing groups has emerged as an increasing threat. This has been particularly noticeable in North America and Europe. Some of these forms of terrorism have long traditions: violence against ethnic, racial, sexual and political minorities has been going on for decades, and even centuries, in some countries. Lynchings of blacks in the USA, and violence against gypsies, refugees, and labour migrants in several European countries are almost part of the local lore. However, recent waves of immigration and asylum seekers have been met by alarming amounts of violence in some countries, prompting the political system and the public to respond — although sometimes rather hesitantly.

However, the public was mentally unprepared for a new form of right-wing terrorism that virtually exploded with the car bombing of the Federal office building in Oklahoma City in April 1995, killing 169 persons and wounding more than 400. In peaceful Sweden, neo-Nazis in 1999 murdered two police officers, assassinated a labour union activist, bombed a journalist and his son in their car and, in 1998, Nazis also sent a letter-bomb to the Swedish Minister of Justice.

This shift in targets of hatred and violence from the extreme right towards representatives of the government and the political establishment was a trend that had been noticeable for years to observers following the ideological writings and behaviour of the far-right scene. American racial militants have gradually transformed old anti-Semitic ideas into a terrorist doctrine about the ‘racial war* against ‘Zionist Occupation Government* (ZOG), and the ‘racial traitors* or the ‘ZOG agents*.

European traditions of fascism have sometimes used terrorism with the aim of instigating a demand for a stronger state. This new form of terror, however, identified the state apparatus itself as the enemy, and a main target for terrorist attacks.


Ideological Developments

These ideas gained increasing popularity not only among parts of the American far right, but were also increasingly adopted by neo-Nazis and other racial revolutionary groups in Europe. This ideological transfer took place in the late 1 980s and even more so during the I 990s. At first, it appeared to be mere hate speech. However, some of these activists went from violent rhetoric to terrorist action.

An important and — in racist circles — highly influential representation of the ZOG ideology is presented in literary form through the novel The Turner Diaries, written by the US racist leader William Pierce under the pseudonym Andrew Macdonald (1980). The novel describes — in blood-dripping detail — the apocalyptic revenge taken on the so-called racial traitors after the white resistance movement has seized power in a coup. A subsequent novel by the same author, Hunter (1989) describes how an individual white man, the ‘lone hunter*, can wage his private war against powerful Jews, media people, politicians and others considered ZOG lackeys and racial traitors. The sinister thing about these novels is that they can serve in many capacities: as exciting entertainment, as propaganda for a racist woridview, as ideological instruction, as handbooks of terrorism, and as models of action for young activists in the militant neo-Nazi and racist sub-cultures.* One of the scenarios from The Turner Diaries served as the exact blueprint for the Oklahoma City bombing. Swedish neo-Nazis have also modelled some of their actions on these novels, and on the real-life US terrorist organisation during the mid-1980s, the ‘Bruders Schweigen*, also called ‘The Order* after the Turner Diary models.

Within the framework of the ZOG ideology, immigration is presented as a strategic weapon in the hands of the Jews in their ongoing race war against the Aryans. Through their ‘malicious scheme of racial mixing* — and with the help of their Liberal lackeys — ZOG disseminates perverting humanistic ideas of ‘a common human race*, tolerance and multi-cultural societies. This idea — that it is really the Jews who are behind the immigration problem and the wave of refugees — is fundamental to the way most neo-Nazis perceive the issue of immigration. These racial revolutionaries therefore claim that in the race war it is more important to fight the Jews and their obedient servants within politics, the bureaucracy and the media than going after individual immigrants, who are seen as mere small pawns in a large game. Back in 1992, the Swedish Nazi cell Werwolf declared in its magazine:

Let us once and for all state clearly that the primary targets of the national revolution are not refugee camps or individual niggers. Attacks on these are generally a waste of our resources. Attacks must be aimed at newspapers, politicians, journalists and the police/prosecuting authorities. They are the ones who constitute a great but not insurmountable obstacle in our fight for freedom. Far too long have these traitors escaped unpunished, despite their misadministratiori of Sweden, with mass immigration, increasing homosexuality, assaults on minors, giving Sweden away to the EU, etc.

After every article harassing national movements, heavy attacks must be aimed at the newspapers and journalists who are responsible. Everything from bomb threats to grievous bodily harm and murder. For every national soldier who is sentenced to imprisonment we shall extract bitter revenge. We shall attack judges, jurors, prosecutors, witnesses and policemen.2

Some years later, this scenario is gradually turning into reality in Sweden. Journalists have been bombed along with their children; political opponents were assassinated; and police officers killed by Nazis. A survey conducted jointly by Sweden*s four largest newspapers.3 showed that in a number of cases, threats caused police officers, prosecutors, jurors and witnesses to withdraw from investigations and court-cases. As a result, criminal cases sometimes had to be dropped. Several journalists and politicians were intimidated into silence. Although the threats from the neo-Nazis and the MC gangs do not represent a threat to the stability of democracy in Sweden, these threats are certainly undermining several important aspects of the democratic process.


New Tactical Doctrines of Terrorism

The Turner Diaries promoted the idea of a large terrorist organisation fighting a racial war against ZOG. This was also the model of action followed by the US terrorist organisation known as ‘The Order*, or ‘Bruders Schweigen* as they called themselves. This group carried out an extensive terrorist campaign in 1983-84, but was soon uncovered by the FBI, which had managed to infiltrate the organisation. More than 100 of its members were arrested, several jailed for life. Leading members, like David Lane and Richard Scutari, later concluded that their main error was that too many knew too much: ‘If ‘The Order* had functioned as small, autonomous units, preferably one-man units, they would still have been in action ‘~ This was also the tactical doctrine espoused in a later ideological novel by MacdonaldlPierce, Hunter (1989). Another leading American militant, Louis R. Beam, promoted the principle of ‘leaderless resistance* in the struggle against ‘state tyranny*, and argued strongly against any form of structured organisation which has been shown to be easy to penetrate by state agencies. The demise of ‘The Order* in the mid-l 980s demonstrated to American militants the vulnerability of such large organisational structures. Beam*s doctrine boils down to saying: ‘You know who the enemy is, you know what you are against, so get out and start attacking. Act alone or in very small groups, without any central organisational structure that the authorities could uncover.

This was the doctrine followed by the British Nazi who bombed gay bars and multicultural communities in London, April 1999, in a campaign that killed three people and injured more than 100. The perpetrator seems to have acted alone, but he had a background from neo-Nazi circles, and was strongly influenced by both Nazi ideology and American racism, including the Turner Diaries.6

Racist Violence from Youth Gangs

These more spectacular acts of racist terrorism were committed by persons and groups guided by a racial ideology. However, most of the violent acts against immigrants and ethnic minorities have been carried out by teenagers — frequently belonging to skinhead gangs or informal groups of friends without much organisation, and only a skin-deep ideology. However, their mode of expression is often blatantly racist, even if what drives them may be a mixture of other motives — often a need to show off to their peers, a search for excitement and attention, and sometimes a wish to revenge negative experiences with immigrants or other enemies

Cases of anti-immigrant bombings and arson have revealed strikingly similar patterns in the events leading up to the attack: a discussion among a group of friends during which hostile feelings against immigrants or asylum-seekers are expressed, an implicit contest among the participants to outdo each other in reckless proposals, a wish to ‘show off, plus a good measure of alcohol to quell second thoughts. During the 1 990s, one new element has been added to the situation commonly preceding violent sprees: listening to aggressive White Power music.

Violent actions may not just give prestige to individual perpetrators in relation to the rest of the group. When criminal youth gangs turn their violence and harassment towards unpopular groups of ‘foreigners*, the group as a whole often experiences a dramatic change in social status in the eyes of the community. From being a bunch of nobodies, the group members become somebodies: dangerous racists and neo-Nazis in the eyes of some, local heroes and patriots in the eyes of others.

There are many varieties of such racist youth gangs, both in terms of style, ideology, origin, and composition. Let me briefly describe two common types:

Adolescent gangs are predominantly composed of youths aged about 13 to 18, in other words mainly school kids. Their main concerns typically focus on belonging to a group of mates, on status and identity, and on being protected from bullies, rival gangs and others who might be ‘out to get them*. They may come from a varied social background, including well-off middle-class families. However, many of them suffer from various types of problems in relation to school, parents, or mates. Various psycho-social problems are common among members of some of these adolescent gangs. Some of the youths have been victims of bullying, or have themselves bullied others. Loneliness and social vulnerability have motivated many of these youths to seek community and protection in a racist gang.The concerns of these adolescents are obviously quite different from those belonging to another main type of gang, consisting predominantly of older youths between the age of 17 and 25, or even older. Their problems are mainly socioeconomic rather than psycho-social. In these gangs, the unemployment rate is high, and their educational level is low. The members usually come from a working-class background. Many of these gang members have acquired substantial criminal records. These young adults may be characterised in a socio-economic sense as marginalised individuals. Economic recessions tend to hit them hard. They see immigrants as competitors in the struggle over scarce economic resources, in contrast to the adolescent gangs described above, who mainly relate to immigrants as rival gangs or as physical threats to their security.

Usually, both types of racist youth groups consist of various mixtures of individual types with different orientations and motives. Typically, there is one or a few persons in the core with an ideological orientation. Others are in the group because they like to fight; still others want to belong to a group with a dangerous and intimidating image for their own protection; and some are mainly there because the group provides friends and identity.

These racist or xenophobic youth gangs are important for several reasons: they commit a large amount of violence against minorities and rival youth groups. Many of these xenophobic youth gangs tend to get in contact with the more ideological neoNazi scene and gradually become more ideologically oriented. This development also takes place on the individual level: although most new recruits do not join racist groups because they are racists to begin with, they often become militant racists by gradually adopting the world-views and violent patterns of behaviour from the group. These youth gangs also represent an important pool of recruitment for more ideological Nazi groups, as well as for right-wing political parties. Reducing the size of these youth groups is therefore of great importance.

Most of those who have joined the racist scene do disengage sooner or later. Our goal should be that they quit sooner rather than later: before they hurt others; before they have intemalised a racist worldview and a violent pattern of behaviour; and before they have ruined their own future by getting a criminal record and a Nazi stigma.

Policy Approaches

Strategies for reducing such racist groups and their violent activities should not be based on one approach only, but rather consist of a combination of methods and approaches:

!Repression of illegal activities through police intelligence, investigation, arrest, and punishment, (Is legislation and police training adequate?);


Protecting victims of violence and racism

!Addressing factors that lead youths to join racist gangs (e.g. social or economic marginalisation, fear of other youth gangs and bullies — interventions must be ased on analysis of what the local problems are!);

!Reducing conflicts and spirals of violence between rival youth groups;

!Promoting individual disengagement from racist youth groups by reinforcing motivations and reducing obstacles to leaving;

!Provide attractive alternatives to a continued life within the racist scene (The carrot-and-stick approach); and

!Breaking up gangs by reinforcing inherent tendencies of group dissolution (e.g. undermine status and authority of leaders, and isolate them from followers, reduce the gang*s cohesiveness and attraction value, promote splits and internal conflicts).

By combining several such approaches to reduce these extremist youth groups, the total effect will be much greater than the effect of each method separately. I have seen it work.