Changing nature of terrorism

This piece was triggerd by a report in the New York Times. The NYT piece was in the context of a political murder by a far right activist in Germany. It went onto say, “Today, Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, known as the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution estimates that there are 24,100 known far-right extremists in Germany, 12,700 of them potentially violent. And there are nearly 500 outstanding arrest warrants for far-right extremists”. When you consider the havoc caused by eight persons in April, the thought of keeping a tab on 12,700 violent extremists is mind boggling!

It’s a wake -up call to the nature of the problem globally.

Dr. Kumar Ramakrishna, Associate Professor, Head of Policy Studies and Head of National Security Studies Programme, Education S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) at a recently concluded conference on Cohesive Societies made incisive observations on the nature of far right terrorism.

Idelogical basis of far right extremist identitarianism

In earlier revoulutionary waves of terrorism the terrorists wanted “a lot of people watching, not a lot of people dead”. In the current era of reliously–motivated terrorism, it seems to be seen as a form of divine punishment as well. Religiously motivated terrorists want a lot of people of watching and lot of people dead. Focus is on extremist Islamist and extremist identitarian terrorism.

Idelogical mirror image of Extremist Islamism, broad movement, encompassing extremist elements of White Nationalism,White Supremacism, neo-Nazism, Christian identity, Christian Reconstructionism, Identitarianism.

A major theme is the portrayal of Judeo Christian European Nations as under threat by non –white immigration –especially Muslims-Christchurch Breton Tarrant talked about “White Genocide”. Supposed “Reborn Kinghts Templar” and European networks like so-called Azov battalion in the Ukraine and similar affliates worldwide are defending White nations against global Muslim invasion-Internet empowered form of “leaderless resistance” with many decentralised cells gloablly(Brevik).

Western political elites who promote multiculturalism are accused of aiding and abetting White genocide and can be targeted as well as non-White “invaders” who are overwhelming White populations and their social systems through greater fertility rates – “the Great Replacement” discourse.

Does Germany have a Right Wing terrorism epidemic?

The Foreign Policy Journal ran a story this month on issues related to Right Wing terrorism in Germany. When the German politician Walter Lubcke was found shot in the head outside of his home near Kassel on June 2, commentators were quick to assert that a Right-Wing extremist was the most likely culprit. The unanimity of the official response was forthright. It was also national admission of negligence.

Lubcke, a member of the Center-Right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) Party, served as Kassel district president from 2009 until his death and had long been a figure of regional importance. In 2015, however, he became a favourite target of Right-Wingers throughout Germany when, in the midst of the refugee crisis, he told an assembly gathered in the West German city of Lohfelden about the planned construction of a refugee camp, and he brushed away dissent by saying that Germany is a country based on Christian values, including charity, and “anyone who doesn’t share these values, anyone who doesn’t agree, is welcome to leave the country at any time. Every German has that freedom.”

Lubcke received more than 350 emails immediately following the event, including numerous death threats. He was placed under police protection, but Right-Wing extremists ensured that outrage about Lubcke’s statement remained fresh. A few days after the event, the German Turkish author Akif Pirincci, speaking at a Far-Right rally, said that Lubcke had only suggested that ethnic Germans leave the country because the concentration camps had long been closed, implying that Lubcke’s preferred solution would have been the mass execution of his political opponents. Pirincci’s speech ensured Lubcke’s infamy in Far-Right circles. Erika Steinbach, a politician formerly with the Right Wing of the CDU, shared the video of Lubcke’s statement at the assembly to her 120,000 followers on social media three times, most recently in February of this year, while Right-Wing websites such as PI-News ran pieces about Lubcke on a regular basis.

It surprised no one when news broke that Stephan Ernst, the suspect in Lubcke’s murder, had a history of racist violence and ties to Far-Right groups.

The killing has provoked widespread condemnations of the ascendancy of Right-Wing terrorism in Germany; even traditionally conservative leaders such as Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer are now saying that they need to play catch-up in the fight against the Far-Right and have promised to devote increased resources to policing Right-Wing terrorists.

Tanjev Schultz, a Professor of Journalism at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz and the author of a prizewinning book about Right-Wing terrorism in Germany, says that in Germany’s public imagination terrorism tends to be associated with the left. Memories of the Red Army Faction and the series of political assassinations it undertook are still in the foreground of many Germans’ minds. Meanwhile, neofascistic terrorist attacks like the bombing of a Munich beer garden in 1980 have been largely forgotten.

This blindness to right-wing terrorism is one of the reasons, Schultz told the writer of the piece in the Foreign Policy journal, that it took authorities so long to recognize that the 10 murders carried out by the National Socialist Underground (NSU) beginning in 2000 were the work of a terrorist organisation. Jacob Kushner has documented in Foreign Policy, authorities largely tried to restrict the investigation into the group’s three core members, Uwe Mundlos, Uwe Bohnhardt, and Beate Zschape, despite the fact that there was strong evidence that they had substantial support from other Right-Wing extremists, as well as some indication that some of that support may have come from within the government.

That impression has been reinforced by separate investigations that have recently revealed Right-Wing networks within German police forces: In December 2018, an investigation into Frankfurt’s Police Force revealed a group chat that regularly employed Nazi iconography. On June 26, police searched the apartment of a member of the group chat, who has been accused of sending racist faxes to one of the lawyers who represented a victim of the NSU—one of them threatened to butcher the lawyer’s young daughter. They were signed “NSU 2.0.”

On June 28, news broke that an organization called Nordkreuz had used police records to compile a “death list” of almost 25,000 liberal and left-leaning politicians—it had also stockpiled weapons, body bags, and quicklime. Hope that federal authorities would intervene where local authorities had failed to act are also dim given that the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Germany’s answer to the NSA, has often been accused of complicity in right-wing activity. This is seen most drastically, as Kushner documents in his Foreign Policy story, in the office’s failure to make proper use of informants during the investigation in the NSU. More recently, the former head of the organization, Hans-Georg Maaßen, drew criticism for his baseless claims that videos of right-wing violence during an August 2018 riot in Chemnitz were doctored.

Though Lubcke’s death is a milestone, similar attacks have proliferated in recent years. In 2015 and 2017, respectively, the mayor of Cologne, Henriette Reker, and Andreas Hollstein, the mayor of the West German town of Altena, suffered politically- oriented knife attacks. Reker was severely wounded, as were several of her companions. Hollstein escaped with minor injuries after employees of the Turkish restaurant where he was eating disarmed the perpetrator. Leipzig Mayor Burkhard Jung recently told the DPA press agency that there were about three politically motivated crimes against politicians in Germany on a daily basis, with local politicians being especially vulnerable.

The German state has long had difficulties preventing Right-Wing violence and apprehending its perpetrators because there’s substantial sympathy for neofascistic causes within the German government.

But the situation is also more complicated—the diffuse structures of Right-Wing organisations make it legitimately difficult to differentiate between lone wolves and members of criminal conspiracies, and the ubiquity of online expression of rage makes it hard to differentiate serious threats from idle fantasies. Though some activists are calling for a widespread crackdown on all forms of Right-Wing activity, others fear that broad approaches could serve to further radicalize Right-Wingers. Schultz, the journalism professor, suggests a series of re-education programmes might be a positive step but feared that they would end up reaching the wrong people.

Lessons for Sri Lanka

A scientist is not required to see some parallels in Sri Lanka on new types of terrorism and the manner in which we have some of it already copied here. Cyber space offers a porous border. The context could be different but the virus is global. Sections of our media have been messengers. Social media has learnt late of this menace. It’s clear some of our abominable miscreants have been copying methods of extremist disruptions from overseas and applied it on our country over a few preceding years. The enormous challenge of policing with intelligence, the types of extremism out there in the market place dueling with mirror images of each other, the acute danger it poses and the manner in which it can corrosively creep institutionally and within societies shown in this piece is a warning to us of the need to intelligently and ceaselessly apply our minds within our own contexts. 

from daily news

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post