For years US terror warnings have focused on groups like Al Qaeda or Daesh, but the latest warnings from US law enforcement agencies point to homegrown terrorists as the most immediate danger.
The United States has been in a permanent state of war since the attacks of September 11, 2001, finding itself voluntarily involved in military operations and theatres that span multiple continents. A war-weary American public has become accustomed to the routine terror warnings issued by law enforcement agencies in advance of national holidays and major sporting events.
The coming 4th of July festivities to celebrate the country’s independence from Britain, however, marks a new reality in its never-ending and self-defeating “War on Terror.”
Previous terror warnings issued by federal authorities over nearly two decades have focused on the threat posed by groups and individuals inspired or associated with overseas groups, such as ISIS (Daesh) and Al Qaeda.
This year, a joint intelligence bulletin issued by the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and National Counterterrorism Center warns that domestic terrorists who have been radicalised by white supremacy and opposition to abortion could look to attack Independence Day revellers.
Essentially, the US now finds itself standing face-to-face with a white domestic terrorism crisis, a psychosis that can only be brought upon by a permanent state of war.
Professor David C. Rapoport, an internationally acclaimed terrorism scholar, described what has become known as the “Four Waves of Modern Terrorism.” These waves are marked by his identification of the primary global terror threat from the end of the 19th century until today, with anarchists identified as such at the beginning of the 20th century; anti-colonialists during the post-Second World War period; the New Left during the 1970s; and religious extremists from 1979 until now.
Essentially, what Rapoport is describing is how terrorism threats exist within their own life cycle, spurred on by global socio-economic-political realities, and with cataclysmic political events in the Middle East and the negative consequences of globalisation blamed for the rise of global violent “jihadist” movements.
The threat of religious extremism is forecasted to dissipate by 2025, based on the assumption that the generational life cycle for each wave remains constant, but it appears self-evident the fifth wave is already upon us – that being the threat of white domestic terrorists.
From Pittsburgh to San Diego; from Charleston to Quebec City; from London to Christchurch, violent right-wing extremists are shooting up mosques, synagogues, and black churches at the same time hate crimes against Muslims, Jews, and immigrants are spiking upwards.
If this reality needs further emphasis, then consider that right-wing extremists are responsible for 100 percent of all acts of terrorism in the US since the end of 2017, a statistic that doesn’t include the ever-increasing number of foiled far-right terror plots.
The terror warning issued for July 4 celebrations by Federal authorities mentioned the case of James Field, the white supremacist who ploughed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, which left one woman dead and dozens injured.
Last month, the FBI announced that it’s currently tracking 850 possible domestic terrorists within the US, adding that the number of cases targeting white nationalists and other racially motivated extremists has jumped in the past six months.
“In fact, there have been more arrests and deaths in the United States caused by domestic terrorists than international terrorists in recent years,” Assistant Director Michael McGarrity, the head of the FBI’s counterterrorism division, told a Congressional House panel in May.
He added that “mobilisation to violence is much quicker” today because the hatred and extremist ideologies are spreading more widely and rapidly online.
More alarming is the fact that the Christchurch mosque terrorist attack, which left 51 Muslim worshippers dead, has become the “blue ribbon” event for right-wing extremists in the same way 9/11 became Muslim extremists, insofar as the ability of both to inspire copy cat attacks and draw recruits.
“Attacks always spark reactions from different extremist communities, but when it comes to the far right, there was never anything like the response to the Christchurch attack,” Rita Katz, director of SITE Intelligence Group, told The Sun-Herald, adding that the gunman’s targeting of Muslims, coupled with his “deadly execution” and live streaming of the attack has generated an “unprecedented response.”
“It’s like nothing we’ve ever seen thus far from the far-right across the globe,” he said.
The predominant conspiracy theory at the core of right-wing extremism is one that contends there’s a Jewish plot to overrun Western countries with immigrants, particularly Muslims, so that liberal and multicultural “globalist” elites may rule over the democratic political world.
Dangerously, the current President of the United States perpetuates this racist conspiracy by routinely portraying the US to be under attack from Muslims and immigrants, while at the same time of boasting of being a “nationalist.”
Trump’s ban on Muslim immigrants and proposed wall along the US-Mexico border are served up as political rewards for far-right extremists, who constitute his political base.
When you consider how Robert Bowers, the right-wing extremist who killed eleven Jewish worshipers at a synagogue in Pittsburgh last year, blamed a Jewish refugee organisation (“Evil Jews”) for “bringing in the (sic) Filthy EVIL Muslims into the country,” you can see how the political demonisation of religious minorities and immigrants manifests into violence in the streets.
Ultimately, as it’s been observed many times, the violence you reap abroad is the violence you eventually sow at home.
For the nearly eighteen years now, the US has waged military operations in eighty countries, and in doing so has unleashed and fueled violent insurgencies in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia and elsewhere.
It appears now the US has unleashed one at home.
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CJ Werleman is a journalist, author, and analyst on conflict and terrorism.