• DOJ Adding New Unit Dedicated to Combatting Domestic Terrorism

    The Justice Department’s National Security Division is adding a new unit, dedicated to combatting domestic terrorism, as attacks, threats, and associated cases continue to grow. The FBI tells lawmakers that the greatest threat of mass casualty attacks against civilians in the United States comes from racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists.

  • Radicalization Pipelines: How Targeted Advertising on Social Media Drives People to Extremes

    Behind-the-scenes mechanisms feed an item you search for on Google, “like” on social media, or come across while browsing into custom advertising on social media. Those mechanisms are increasingly being used for more nefarious purposes than aggressive advertising. The threat is in how this targeted advertising interacts with today’s extremely divisive political landscape. As a social media researcher, I see how people seeking to radicalize others use targeted advertising to readily move people to extreme views.

  • We Don’t Need a Civil War to Be in Serious Trouble

    With extremist movements and rhetoric on the rise, a growing number of people, including some historians and many opinion writers, believe the U.S. is on the brink of disaster. “There are so many bad things that can happen well short of civil war that I wish we, as a country, were talking more about,” says Harvard University’s Jay Ulfelder, a political scientist who studies civil wars.

  • The Metaverse Offers a Future Full of Potential – for Terrorists and Extremists, Too

    The metaverse is an immersive virtual reality version of the internet where people can interact with digital objects and digital representations of themselves and others, and can move more or less freely from one virtual environment to another. As terrorism researchers, we see a potential dark side to the metaverse. Although it is still under construction, its evolution promises new ways for extremists to exert influence through fear, threat and coercion. Considering our research on malevolent creativity and innovation, there is potential for the metaverse to become a new domain for terrorist activity.

  • What Prevention and Treatment of Substance Dependence Can Tell Us About Addressing Violent Extremism

    Hate, violence, and their co-occurrence—violent extremism—represent increasing threats to society. Experts say that in order to deal effectively with extremism, there is a need for new approaches and frameworks that go beyond the counterterrorism approach that has dominated the battle against global jihadism. They suggest is applying a public health model to understand and counter violent extremism. Specifically, research shows that there is a striking resemblance between attachment to violent extremism and addiction.

  • A Year After January 6, Is Accelerationism the New Terrorist Threat?

    Far-right extremists are attempting to incite an insurrection to hasten the downfall of what they see as a deeply corrupt U.S. government. Some could resort to deadly acts of terrorism.

  • The “Sore Loser Effect”: Rejecting Election Results Can Destabilize Democracy and Drive Terrorism

    Acceptance of electoral defeat, something political scientists call “loser’s consent,” is essential for stability and order in democracies. The refusal by a candidate or a party to accept defeat a potentially dangerous situation for the United States. New research shows that when politicians refuse to accept a free and fair democratic election’s outcome, and instead choose to promote a popular narrative of a stolen or dirty election, they place their people in physical danger. Popular tolerance for terrorism grows, and so does terrorist activity itself.

  • Mass Shooting in Denver

    Lyndon McLeod, who killed five people in Denver on 27 December, subscribed to a variety of right-wing beliefs, but remarks in his social media posts, novels and interviews signal his place in the broader misogynistic ecosystem — the “manosphere.” McLeod adhered to a smaller subset of the manosphere that focuses on hyper-masculinity. Typically, advocates of hypermasculinity believe themselves to be “alpha males” and are frustrated they are not given the respect, deference or position in society they believe they are due. Adherents believe a degeneration of modern society has allowed weak “beta males” and women to usurp power from the “alphas.”

  • Examining the Denver Shooter’s Ideological Views

    On 27 December 2021, Lyndon McLeod shot and killed five individuals in Denver, Colorado before being shot and killed by a Denver police officer. Matthew Kriner, H. E. Upchurch and W. Aaron write that “Evidence suggests McLeod was deeply influenced by the misogynistic pro-masculinity culture which pervades the alt-right’s so-called manosphere.” Describing himself and his fellow extremists on his social media blog, McLeod wrote: “There are certain men who maybe only represent[s] a small percentage of men – maybe only 10-15% – but who have a disproportionate impact on the world when they get even with their enemies.”

  • Follow the Money: Bringing IS Extremists to Justice

    Financing terror, chemical weapons, forensics and digital archives: The ex-German prosecutor now heading the UN’s special team on crimes of the “Islamic State” explains where the search for justice will focus.

  • DOD Releases Report on Countering Extremist Activities

    DOD last week issued a report on addressing the challenge of extremist activities in the ranks. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said that “We believe only a very few violate this oath by participating in extremist activities, but even the actions of a few can have an outsized impact on unit cohesion, morale and readiness - and the physical harm some of these activities can engender can undermine the safety of our people.”

  • Blurry Ideologies and Strange Coalitions: The Evolving Landscape of Domestic Extremism

    Students of extremism and domestic terrorism have noticed an intriguing phenomenon: the convergence of far right and far left extremists and the breakdown of old ideological walls. Far-right extremists have valorized the Unabomber and praised the Taliban; a re-launched white supremacist group announced a new “Bolshevik focus” calling for the liquidation of the capitalist class; a growing ecofascist youth subculture joins with extreme racists in a call for the creation of a white ethnostate. “These trends highlight the strange and unanticipated ways in which domestic violent extremism scenes in the United States are fragmenting and reassembling,” they write.

  • Moral Echo Chambers on Social Media May Boost Radicalization: Study

    As Congress continues to investigate the storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, psychologists are examining how online communities can foster radical thoughts and intentions. A new study finds that that social media echo chambers can create a strong bond and increase the likelihood of radicalization.

  • Train Engineer Inspired by Covid-19 Conspiracy Theory to Intentionally Derail Locomotive

    A train engineer at the Port of Los Angeles pleaded guilty last week to a federal terrorism charge for intentionally running a locomotive at full speed off the end of railroad to “wake people up” to a government plot to use Covid-19 as a pretext to “take over” the country.

  • Problems in Regulating Social Media Companies’ Extremist, Terrorist Content Removal Policies

    The U.S. government’s ability to meaningfully regulate major social media companies’ terrorist and extremist content removal policies is limited.