The Similarities Are Not Unlikely, the Connections Have Existed for Years, the Idea Held In Common Is Anti-Semitism, and the Facilitating Link is the Internet

On Saturday The BBC published an article entitled The Unlikely Similarities Between the Far Right and IS. The article begins with:

Far-right extremists in Britain have been accessing terrorism material published online by the Islamic State group, counter-terrorism experts have told the BBC.

They say neo-Nazis and other right-wing extremists have been studying methods of attack shared by jihadists with their followers on the internet.

But we should not be surprised that they do share some similarities.

The author then seeks to provide the answers:

Counter-terrorism officers have been using a range of methods, including phone taps, to gather intelligence on what the most violent individuals have been planning or aspiring to do.

In some cases, arrests have been made after suspects have been caught downloading child pornography. But officials say that neo-Nazis and other extremists have also been accessing material to plan attacks published by their ideological enemies, Islamic State.

This may seem strange, but it should not come as a surprise.

Their ideologies may be diametrically opposed to each other but there are some disturbing similarities between them, some of which are obvious, others less so.

He goes on to tick off a list of similarities from intolerance of anyone else’s views first among them. Nado Bakos, more popularly known by the title to her forthcoming book as The Targeter, tweeted out the article without comment:

Marcy Wheeler, more popularly known by the name of her blog EmptyWheel made an interesting reply:

What Wheeler has zeroed in on, and correctly so, is what is missing from the article: historical context about connections between these groups and what facilitated and enabled that connection. Specifically the historical context that can be provided by someone who has been doing comparative research into violent extremists and terrorists since the early 1990s. And that’s where I come in. One of the oldest, and now apparently no longer available, white supremacist websites was named Be Wise as Serpents. You can see a reference to it with a link that does nothing at this page cataloguing these sites at GWU. Be Wise as Serpents was one of the primary websites for the Aryan Nations, which was, at one time, the most active of the Christian Identity groups. It spun off two active terrorist groups: the original The Order and a subsequent group of the same name.  The sites name is derived from Matthew 10:16 and, in addition to having the standard Aryan Nations and Christian Identity information,  conspiracy theories, etc, it also linked to the website of an expatriate Algerian army officer who had fled to Sweden seeking asylum to avoid prosecution for his adherence to an extremist version of Islam. This individual’s website hosted The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, as well as just about every other anti-Semitic conspiracy theory known in the early to mid 90s. He also linked back to the Aryan Nations’ site.

Both of these sites are now defunct, but back when I was still an academic and teaching courses on terrorism and extremism, I would use them as examples in my classroom – first at UF, then at Temple, and then at UCA. The commonality that led these two disparate groups of extremists – white supremacists adhering to a racialized version of Pentacostalism in the US and an Islamic extremist asylee in Sweden – was anti-Semitism, specifically the conspiracy theory that Jews have always and were continuing to manipulate politics, economics, global events, and even non-Jewish religions to their own benefit. What allowed them to link up into a loose and informal network was the Internet.

As Wheeler’s commentary by tweet so accurately points out, this is not unlikely at all and the reporter downplays the likelihood/possibility of coordination even though that is not an accurate assessment. That’s because the coordination, even as innocuous as being able to easily and quickly access information to both confirm and further one’s own extremist views, has been going on for a very, very long time.  The coordination is really all about the sharing of ideas. The Be Wise as Serpents site eventually went defunct as the Aryan Nations came apart from both the lawsuits filed against it by The Southern Poverty Law Center, the death of its longtime leader Richard Gurnt Butler after a period of scandal*, and the fighting by those claiming to be his successors. I have no idea what happened to the guy in Sweden. But these connections, and the directions of influence, go back to the earliest days of the Internet, which facilitated linkages between individuals and groups that would otherwise be considered strange bedfellows. Because as different as white supremacy and racialized Christianity may be from the various extremist versions of Islam, they do have one commonality in their extremism and conspiracism: the anti-Semitic belief that the Jews are manipulating politics, the economy, global events, even other religions for the sinister benefits of the Jews. And, perhaps more importantly, these connections and the influence they facilitate among extremists of different backgrounds, are going strong in 2019.

Open thread!

* Butler, in his final years of life, got involved with and, according to some reports had married, Wendy Iwanow, who was describing herself at the time as an Aryan Princess and tattoo artist. Iwanow was better known by her professional name Bianca Trump, The Latin Princess of Porn, who had starred in such classics as Brassiere to Eternity.

Monday Morning Open Thread: Due Warning

I never could see the point to April Fool jokes — if it’s practical, it ain’t a joke — but really: In the time of the Squatter-in-Chief, how the fvck can you tell whether something ridiculous / outrageous is a joke, or just another Monday?

The following chyron, for instance, appeared on Sunday, March 31. *Not* an April Fool’s joke, although I wouldn’t put it past Faux News to try pretending it was:

Saturday Morning Quick Hits Open Thread

So many important / amazing stories that I want to share and don’t, because there’s never a good time in the rush of events. Here’s a few from this week:

Heather Heyer’s killer has spared the people who loved her some further portion of horror reliving the event. Per the Washington Post, “Neo-Nazi sympathizer pleads guilty to federal hate crimes for plowing car into protesters at Charlottesville rally”:

James Alex Fields Jr., 21, of Ohio admitted guilt to 29 of 30 counts in a federal indictment as part of a deal with prosecutors, who agreed they would not seek the death penalty in a case that has come to symbolize the violent resurgence of white supremacism in the United States. Fields is set to be sentenced July 3.

Late last year, Fields was convicted in state court of first-degree murder and other charges for killing Heather D. Heyer, 32, and injuring dozens at the chaotic Unite the Right rally on Aug. 12, 2017. The jury in that case recommended a life sentence, and a state judge is scheduled to formally impose it in mid-July…

Susan Bro, Heyer’s mother, said after the hearing she was satisfied with the result.

“There’s no point in killing him. It would not bring back Heather,” Bro said.

“It’s a relief to think we don’t have to go through another trial. It was exhausting the first time. I can get on with my life, and the other victims can, too.”…



Jamelle Bouie is now working for the NYTimes. I second his thesis here — “Oliver North Showed Republicans the Way Out. Belligerence, shamelessness and partisanship can take you far.”:

The particular twists and turns of Iran-contra don’t mirror the Russia scandal’s. The politics, however, do. As with Trump and Russia, the White House itself was defiant. “Admiral Poindexter and Colonel North put their careers on the line to protect our country,” Pat Buchanan, then serving as White House communications director, said at a rally in Miami in December 1986. “If Colonel North broke any rules, he will stand up and take it as the Marine he is. But I say, if Colonel North ripped off the ayatollah and took some $30 million to give to the contras, God bless Colonel North.”
Read more

GOP Stupidity Open Thread: Botching the Mueller Report Rollout

Read more

Another Day in the Third Year After the End of the American Century

I’m sure Stephen Miller’s and Kirstjen Nielsen’s parents are so proud…

Open thread!