UN Counter-Terrorism Committee reveals 320% increase in far-right attacks in last five years

A photo of the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate during a meeting.

A new report has revealed that there has been a substantial increase in far-right terrorism in the last five years. According to the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED), research shows a rise of 320% in attacks carried out by people connected to far-right movements and ideologies.

The CTED also pointed out that member states of the UN “face numerous challenges in addressing the surge”. 

An increased threat

In the report the CTED argues far-right terrorism “is not a new phenomenon”. Yet, it writes that “there has been a recent increase in its frequency and lethality”. On top of this some far-right groups and individuals are “pursuing transnational aims” and are “drawing on international  networks”. And the results of this have been the attacks in Christchurch, El Paso, Halle, and Hanau in the last 12 months. 

Overall, it noted “there has been a 320 per cent rise in attacks conducted by individuals affiliated” with far-right movements and beliefs in the last five years. It  also disclosed that

According to the European Union (EU) Terrorism Situation and Trend Report 2019, the number of arrests made in relation to extreme right-wing terrorism more than doubled between 2017 and 2018. There were 22 convictions for extreme-right wing terrorist offences in 2018, compared with 4 convictions in 2017.

And in the US, the number of attacks carried out by far-right groups and individuals between 2010 and 2017 “surpassed the number of attacks” carried out by ISIS or al-Qaeda.

Transnationalism

The CTED also drew attention to the increasingly “transnational” character of far-right groups and individuals. It divulged that the research “suggests that there has been a greater exchange of views between like-minded individuals, both online and offline”. This has allowed the far right to “solidify” their views and “broaden their global networks”. And it has enabled extremists to “improve their tactics” and “counter-intelligence techniques”. 

Part of this process has been the use of the Internet as a recruitment and radicalisation tool. As the report points out:

 Extreme right-wing terrorists have consistently adapted to new spaces and new tools and have often been “early adopters” of those tools.

And sometimes they have used the Internet to live-stream their attacks in an attempt “to maximize publicity and impact”. 

The Internet is also used by the far right to “actively collaborate” and ensure “that financial and operational support… is provided across national boundaries”. Support such as this helps to “fund a milieu” which can then be “accessed by those aspiring to carry out more violent acts”. 

Responding

Approaches to tackling far-right terrorism differs from state to state according to the CTED. In some states responding to the far right is “integrated” into their counter-terrorism policies. But in other countries they “have yet to indicate how it will be addressed”. And given that “different States classify the same act differently”, getting a comprehensive “scale of the threat” is “difficult”. 

Last year a UN committee called on the Irish government to do more to tackle hate speech and racism. It said it was concerned about “gaps in the existing anti-racial discrimination policy”. 

And a recent publication by the Irish Network Against Racism (INAR) noted an increase in racist incidents reported to it in 2019. Members of the public reported 530 episodes of racism to it, an increase of 140 from 2018.

Featured image via the Counter-Terrorism Committee