• PERSPECTIVE: Extremism

    Last month, when wildfires threatened rural Oregon communities, another unwelcome phenomenon accompanied them: armed vigilantes blocking entry to outsiders, based on false rumors that protesters had not only started the fires, but also were there to loot the evacuated homes. White supremacists represent the top and most lethal domestic terror threat to Americans, the Department of Homeland Security said Oct. 6, when it released its first-ever Homeland Threat Assessment. “I am particularly concerned about white supremacist violent extremists who have been exceptionally lethal in their abhorrent, targeted attacks in recent years,” wrote Chad Wolf, the acting homeland security secretary, in the introduction to the assessment.

  • Extremism

    Details are still emerging about the men arrested on federal and state charges related to an alleged plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Federal prosecutions can take months and even years, so it will be quite some time before a full analysis of this situation becomes possible. But as a scholar who has spent the last 12 years studying the U.S. domestic militia movement, including three years of fieldwork embedded with militias in Michigan, I believe several themes will remain important, wherever the details lead.

  • Cybersecurity

    An essential step to protecting mobile and embedded devices from cyberattacks is ensuring that software is not vulnerable to malicious attacks. More than 12,000 new common vulnerabilities were identified in 2019 alone. Verifying that devices are secure is a daunting challenge, as thousands of apps and driver updates are released each year and many will contain vulnerabilities that have not yet been discovered. Thanks to the newly-developed Trusted Mobile System (TrustMS), it is now possible to secure app software by preventing attackers from taking advantage of these vulnerabilities.

  • Extremism

    Researchers from Macquarie and Victoria Universities have published the first study mapping the online activity of right-wing extremists in New South Wales, Australia. Their study has revealed a network of highly active, social, and complex communities that is difficult to monitor for potential offline violence and is highly successful in radicalizing at-risk individuals and introducing hateful and extreme rhetoric into Australian political discussions. The report highlighted the strong influence of American populist politics on right-wing extremism in Australia.

  • Extremism

    After a five-year-long trial, the Greek court on Wednesday found members of the neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn guilty of murder and assault. The neo-Nazi group’s leader was convicted of running a criminal organization. The 68 members of Golden Dawn, including 18 former lawmakers, faced many charges, including the murder of Greek rapper Pavlos Fyssas, assaulting migrant fishermen, attacks on left-wing activists, and constituting a criminal organization.

  • PERSPECTIVE: Toxic media

    More and more, far-right extremist violence is preceded by online declarations on social media. Craig Timberg and Isaac Stanley-Becker write that “such online declarations, brimming with anger and potentially violent intent, have become staples of extremism-fueled crime news in recent years,” and that “Before [such crimes] become real, [discussions of them] percolate online, courtesy of a social media ecosystem that is ubiquitous, barely moderated and well suited to helping aggrieved people find each other.” The plot by extremist Michigan militias to abduct Governor Gretchen Whitmer was no exception.

  • Domestic terrorism

    Six members of the Wolverine Watchmen, an armed, far-right Michigan militia, and seven other men associated with another militia group, were arrested Thursday for plotting to abduct Michigan’s Democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer a week before the 3 November election. The plotters planned to try Whitmer for “treason.” The FBI began monitoring the plotters in March.

  • Domestic terrorism

    The country is deeply divided. The political system is polarized. Bizarre conspiracy theories have entered mainstream political discourse. There seem to be messaging efforts designed to delegitimize next month’s elections. The president refuses to say that he will abide by the results. One official talked on social media about buying ammunition and preparing for violence. Some pundits are warning of civil war. The nation’s anxiety is palpable and understandable. Older Americans have a slight advantage in avoiding alarm. They personally recall the turbulent late ’60s and early ’70s with the country at war abroad and at war with itself at home. American institutions held then, but can they do so again now? What are the prospects for domestic terrorism in the context of U.S. elections?

  • BOOKSHELF: U.S. Security Requirements

    The year 2020 has featured an array of safety and security concerns for ordinary Americans, including disease and natural disasters. How can the U.S. government best protect its citizens? That is the focus of a new scholarly book with practical aims, Beyond 9/11: Homeland Security for the Twenty-First Century, The volume features chapters written by 19 security experts, and closely examines the role of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which was created after the September 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S.

  • PERSPECTIVE: Rural insurgency

    The intrusions of white supremacist militias into cities to intimidate, and at times attack, protestors from the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement highlights the possibility of rural insurgency, Vasabjit Banerjee writes. Does the United States face a rural insurgency? Mao Zedong allegedly remarked that rebels should inhabit their environment as fish in the sea, which was the case in mid-20th Century China with its rural hinterland where the vast majority of the population resided.Banerjee notes that the political geography of the United States — withless than 2 percent of the American population living in 100 percent rural countries – means that the “sea” for rural rebels is small. But the grievances, resources, and opportunities which typically undergird rural insurgencies are present. “Consequently, militia groups deserve more scrutiny from security forces and a unified political consensus to deter and suppress them in order to maintain peace and stability.”

  • Extremism

    Foreigners are still networking, training and fighting on both sides of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, cultivating skills and connections that strengthen the transnational white-supremacy extremist networks of today—which, though far from monolithic, are more violent, more organized and more capable than even five years ago.

  • PERSPECTIVE: Catastrophes

    The United States now counts over 200,000 dead in direct connection with the novel coronavirus. Elizabeth Hunt Brockway writes that to grasp the enormity of this figure, we need to see how this massive number stacks up to Pearl Harbor, 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and other iconic events of mass death, suffering, and pain seared into the American collective conscience.

  • Terrorism

    A new report by RAND’s Brian Michael Jenkins answers the following questions:1) What is the collective profile of Americans traveling or attempting to travel abroad to join jihadist groups? 2) Among Americans associated with terrorism or terrorist organizations, are there significant differences in the demographics or backgrounds that propelled some to go abroad and some to instead join the jihadist movement at home? 3) What can the collective profile of America’s jihadists reveal about the dimensions and nature of the terrorist threat, the statistical profile of those who respond to jihadist recruiting appeals, the effectiveness of the U.S. response to the threat, and the results of that response?

  • Infrastructure protection

    The EU-funded RESIST project aims to provide a methodology as well as tools for risk analysis and management for critical highway structures (in the case of bridges and tunnels) that will be applicable to all extreme natural and man-made events, or cyber-attacks to the associated information systems. Its goal is to increase the resilience of seamless transport operation and protect the users and operators of the European transport infrastructure by providing them optimal information.

  • PERSPECTIVE: Threats to the Homeland

    The 17 September hearing on “Worldwide Threats to the Homeland,” as its title suggests, does not make for happy watching. Daniel Byman and Seamus Hughes write that, indeed, statements by FBI Director Christopher Wray and National Counterterrorism Center Director Christopher Miller duly assess an array of dangers related to national security, including election interference, a more aggressive Russia and China, and emergent technologies. Most of their remarks, however, focused on terrorist groups and networks and the threats they pose. “The biggest danger the directors warned about is from lone actors who self-radicalize and act on their own.” Byman and Hughes write. “Wray warned that the most recent uptick is from anti-government violent extremists, some of whom have white supremacist views but many of whom, like the Three Percenters and boogaloos, see themselves as patriots fighting government ‘tyranny’.”

  • Extremism

    Far-right groups in America such as the anti-government Boogaloo Boys have long used a host of tactics and platforms to incite violence, including dehumanizing memes, online forums and organized militias. Now, left-wing groups are employing many of the same tactics against police and other targets during the social justice protests since the death of George Floyd, according to a new report.

  • Extremism

    The Network Contagion Research Institute (NCRI), a non-partisan organization, developed a tool to analyze extremist discourse on social media, and earlier this year used it to analyze the growing threat posed by the far-right, anti-government Boogaloo Bois movement. NCRI has now released a study of the increasingly more extreme social media discourse by leftist extremists.

  • Extremism

    The U.S. reached a deadly moment in protests over racial injustice, as back-to-back shootings in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and Portland, Oregon, on 25 August and 29 took the lives of three people and seriously injured another. It was tragic – but not surprising. The shooters and victims in Kenosha and Portland reflect an escalating risk of spontaneous violence as heavily armed citizen vigilantes and individuals mobilize at demonstrations and protests.

  • Brief Takes // By Ben Frankel

    The increasingly militant social media discourse by anarcho-socialist extremists is worrisome, even if far-left extremists are not viewed by security experts inside and outside government as posing as much of a domestic terrorism threat as do far-right extremists and Islamist jihadists — at least not yet. A new report by the Network Contagion Research Institute (NCRI) – a sequel to an earlier report on Boogaloo Bois — analyzes the increasingly militant languages of social media postings by anarcho-socialists, noting that on the far-right violent words preceded violent actions. It may be the case on the far-left as well.

  • Extremism

    Government efforts to counter the propaganda and radicalization that lead to violent extremism are becoming more common around the world, but there’s little research on whether such programs work. RAND conducted three randomized controlled trials of what are called countering violent extremism (CVE) interventions. The results were mixed, but one conclusion was inescapable: countering violent extremism is not an easy task, and programmers should not always assume their content will be successful.