• Not Your Father’s Extremists

    Two studies of the demographic characteristics of the rioters who stormed the Capitol on 6 January found a surprising, and disturbing, fact: The majority of those arrested for storming the Capitol were middle class, middle-aged, employed, earning more than the average household income, mostly college-educated, and had no ties with the extremist groups. One study says that the finding suggests that there is “a new kind of violent mass movement in which more ‘normal’ Trump supporters—middle-class and, in many cases, middle-aged people without obvious ties to the far right—joined with extremists in an attempt to overturn a presidential election.” The second study says its findings suggest the emergence of “a new breed of extremist, one foundationally animated by devotion to President Trump, placing him over party or country.”

  • Extremists, Old and New, Face Uncertain Future Following 6 January Insurrection

    An examination of the records of 212 of the more than 250 people arrested by the police for taking part in the 6 January 2021 attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters, shows that only 25 percent of those arrested were affiliated with extremist groups such as Proud Boys or Oath Keepers. The other 75 percent appear to be the product years of lies and repeated conspiracy theories being circulated and amplified within a nearly hermetically sealed ecosphere of disinformation, fertilized by conspiratorial radio personalities, TV channels competing with each other in their support for Donald Trump, and Trump’s own unrelenting torrent of falsehoods with which he has fed his followers. We may be seeing a new breed of extremists, foundationally animated more by a devotion to Trump than a commitment to a specific ideology or party.

  • Congress Repeats Calls for Independent Commission to Probe U.S. Capitol Attack

    U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has called for a commission to investigate the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, the latest in a long line of independent panels appointed by lawmakers and U.S. presidents to examine moments of national crisis as well as policy issues.

  • How the Federal Government Investigates and Prosecutes Domestic Terrorism

    In the aftermath of the 6 January riot at the U.S. Capitol, many politicians, including President Biden, and public commentators called for renewed efforts by the federal government to combat domestic terrorism. Eric Halliday and Rachael Hanna write that that reaction followed a pattern over recent years in which mass shootings and other violent attacks have spurred demands for an increased federal focus on domestic terrorism. “[I]t is important to understand exactly what powers the federal government can and cannot use when pursuing domestic terrorists. This is particularly relevant because domestic terrorism occupies a gray area in federal criminal law between international terrorism and nonterrorism criminal offenses,” they write.

  • Pelosi Announces 9/11-Style Independent Probe of 6 January Attack on the Capitol

    House speaker Nancy Pelosi has announced a probe into the breach of the U.S. Capitol by former President Donald Trump’s supporters on 6 January. Some Republicans have also expressed support for the idea.

  • Biden Aims to Shut Down Guantanamo Prison before He Leaves Office

    The Biden administration announced on Friday that it was launching a formal review of the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo in Cuba, as the president has indicated his aim is to shut down the facility before leaving office.

  • The Capitol Rioters Aren’t Like Other Extremists

    Following the 6 January storming of the Capitol by Trump supporters who were incited by him to attack Congress in order to prevent the certification of Joe Biden as the winner of the 3 November election, many were quick to assert that the rioters were members of extremist groups such as Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, and Boogaloo Boys, or white supremacists. Robert Pape and Keven Ruby, both from the University of Chicago Project on Security and Threats (CPOST), write that the demographic, educational, and socio-economic profile of the rioters is much more disturbing: a close analysis of those arrested by the police “suggests a different and potentially far more dangerous problem: a new kind of violent mass movement in which more ‘normal’ Trump supporters—middle-class and, in many cases, middle-aged people without obvious ties to the far right—joined with extremists in an attempt to overturn a presidential election.” They add: “What’s clear is that the Capitol riot revealed a new force in American politics—not merely a mix of right-wing organizations, but a broader mass political movement that has violence at its core and draws strength even from places where Trump supporters are in the minority.”

  • Biden Administration ‘Going after Violence’ in Crackdown on Domestic Terrorism

    White House and Pentagon officials are defending decisions to conduct in-depth reviews of the dangers posed by domestic extremists in the United States, pushing back against criticism that the measures will result in a so-called political litmus test. Nascent anger over the new efforts to look at domestic extremism in the wake of the Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol building has been growing in recent days, touched off by a decision by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to order a military-wide stand-down to determine the scope of the problem.

  • Germany: Hate Speech, Threats against Politicians Rise

    Three weeks after a neo-Nazi was convicted of murdering regional governor Walter Lübcke. In answer to a parliamentary information request from the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, the Interior Ministry reported that 1,534 crimes against politicians, party members or party property had been reported in 2020, a 9 percent increase on the year before.

  • Austin Orders Military Stand Down to Address Challenge of Extremism in the Ranks

    Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin has ordered a DOD-wide stand down to discuss the problem of extremism in the ranks. The stand down will occur over the next sixty days, Kirby said. This is so “each service, each command and each unit can take the time out to have these needed discussions with the men and women of the force,” Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said. Austin said in the meeting with military leaders that while the numbers may be small, they are not as small as anyone would like.

  • How Telegram Disruption Impacts Jihadist Platform Migration

    In October 2018 and November 2019, Europol conducted two Action Days geared toward meaningfully disrupting jihadist networks on Telegram – a social media platform favored by groups like Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda. A new report aims to understand the impact of the 2018 and 2019 Europol Action Days – first, what they meant for the health and size of the jihadist networks on Telegram and second, how they impacted on the phenomenon of migration to other platforms.

  • Trump Impeachment Trial: Decades of Research Show Language Can Incite Violence

    The claim that Donald Trump’s words led to the riotous insurrection on 6 January is complicated. Rather than wage direct war against sitting U.S. representatives, Trump is accused of using language to motivate others to do so. Some have countered that the connection between President Trump’s words and the violence of Jan. 6 is too tenuous, too abstract, too indirect to be considered viable. However, decades of research on social influence, persuasion and psychology show that the messages that people encounter heavily influence their decisions to engage in certain behaviors.

  • Bracing for Trouble

    Security and police forces are bracing for violence by the more violent among Trump supporters and an assortment of other extremists, on two dates: The first is 9 February, which is the first day of Trump’s second Senate impeachment trial. The second is 4 March, which was the U.S. original inauguration date until it was moved to 20 January in 1937 (there were five exceptions: George Washington was sworn in on 20 April, and on four occasions, 4 March was a Sunday, so the inauguration was moved to 5 March). QAnon, still reeling from Trump’s loss on 3 November, has been feeding its gullible followers the fantasy that Trump has not really lost the election – but, rather, that he had won, but that he has chosen to be sworn in as president on 4 March, the original inauguration date.

  • U.S. Police, Security Forces Brace for Trump Impeachment Trial

    Security and police forces in and around Washington will be operating at what they describe as “a high-level of readiness” as the impeachment trial for former President Donald Trump gets underway next week, worried the event could serve as a flashpoint for American extremists still angry over the outcome of the presidential election. Officials have been hesitant to share specifics about the intelligence, some of which has been described as disturbing chatter on social media platforms.

  • Extremist-Related Shootouts with Police Soar in 2020

    During the 6 January 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol, violent Trump supporters—reinforced by a broad coalition of right-wing extremists—attacked police, who appeared to be caught unprepared for a violent encounter with a crowd which has been loudly and consistently supportive of law enforcement. In 2020, there were 16 incidents in which police and extremists exchanged gunfire, an increase from the 11-year average of nine per year.