Right-wing terrorism

Right-wing terrorism is terrorism motivated by a variety of far right ideologies and beliefs, including anti-communism, neo-fascism, neo-Nazism, racism, xenophobia. This type of terrorism has been sporadic, with little or no international cooperation.[1] Modern right-wing terrorism first appeared in western Europe in the 1980s and in eastern Europe following the dissolution of the Soviet Union.[2]

Right-wing terrorists aim to overthrow governments and replace them with nationalist or fascist-oriented governments.[1] The core of this movement includes neo-fascist skinheads, far right hooligans, youth sympathisers and intellectual guides who believe that the state must rid itself of foreign elements in order to protect rightful citizens.[3] However, they usually lack a rigid ideology.[4]



During Brazilian military government rule period, some bombing attempts happened where some far right-wing military engaged in the repression were involved. Two are the most famous. The Riocentro 1981 May Day Attack was a bombing attempt which happened on the night of Apr 30th 1981 is the most known and investigated one, because of the severe casualties suffered by its own terrorists. While a show to fund raising a NGO fighting for democracy and free elections was being run by many popular Brazilian music artists, also celebrating the upcoming to the work day holiday on May 1, a bomb exploded at Riocentro parking area killing army seargent Guilherme Pereira do Rosário and severely wounded captain Wilson Dias Machado which survived the bomb explosion. The bomb exploded inside a car where both were preparing the artifact for explosion. Seargent Guilherme do Rosário died instantaneously as the bomb was on his legs when it exploded. Both were the only casualties of this event.

The second is known as the Para-SAR example [5][6] which became public in the year of 1968. It was not able to reach the execution phase as it was made public to the press by the Brazilian Air Force captain Sérgio Ribeiro Miranda de Carvalho after a meeting with his superior brigadier João Paulo Burnier and chief of Para-SAR unity. Burnier told at that meeting a secret plan of bombing an extremely dense traffic area of Rio de Janeiro known as "gasômetro" during the rush hour and latter claim communists as guilty of these bombings. He expected with it to be able to run a witch-hunt against the growing political military opposition. Burnier also mentioned his intentions on making the Para-SAR, a Brazilian Air Force rescue unity, a tool for eliminating some military government political oppositors throwing them to the sea at a wide distance of the coast. On both of these events, no military involved on these actions or planning was arrested, charged or faced retaliation from the Brazilian military government. The only exception is captain Sérgio de Carvalho which had to leave the air force for facing his superiors retaliation after whistleblowing brigadier Burnier's plan.


Colombian Paramilitary groups are known to be the parties responsible for most of the human rights violations in the latter half of the ongoing Colombian Armed Conflict.[7] The first paramilitary terrorist[8] groups were organized by U.S. military advisers who were sent during the Cold War to Colombia to combat the spread of leftist politicians, activists and guerrillas.[9][10]

According to several international human rights and governmental organizations, right-wing paramilitary groups have been responsible for at least 70 to 80% of political murders in Colombia per year.[7][11]

This groups are known to be financed and protected by elite landowners, drug traffickers, members of the security forces, right wing politicians and multinational corporations.[12][13][14][15]

Today's Paramilitary violence and terrorism is principally targeted towards peasants, unionists, indigenous people, human rights workers, teachers and left-wing political activists or their supporters.[16][17][18][19][20][21][22]

United States

Reconstruction era

The term "white terrorism" is used by scholars in relation to terrorism committed against African Americans during the Reconstruction era.[23] "White terrorism, systematic, organised and relentless, targeted the dream with deadly accuracy" is the way one researcher described it.[24]


According to political scientist George Michael at the University of Virginia's College at Wise, "right-wing terrorism and violence has a long history in America".[25]:114 Right-wing extremist incidents of violence began to outnumber Marxist-related incidents in the United States during the 1980s and 1990s.[26]:29 Michael observes the waning of left-wing terrorism as right-wing terrorism and violence takes its place, with a noticeable "convergence" of the goals of militant Islam with those of the extreme right. Islamic studies scholar Youssef M. Choueiri of the University of Manchester classifies Islamic fundamentalist movements involving revivalism, reformism, and radicalism within the scope of "right-wing politics".[27]:9

During the 1980s, more than 75 right-wing extremists were prosecuted in the United States for acts of terrorism, although they carried out only six attacks during the decade.[28] In 1983, Gordon Kahl, a Posse Comitatus activist, killed two federal marshals and was later killed by police. Also that year, the white nationalist revolutionary group The Order (also known as the Brüder Schweigen or Silent Brotherhood) robbed several banks and armored cars, as well as a sex shop;[29] bombed a theater and a synagogue; and murdered radio talk show host Alan Berg.[30][31]

The April 19, 1995 attack on the Murrah federal building in Oklahoma, by the right-wing extremists Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, killed 168 people and was the deadliest act of domestic terrorism in the history of the United States.[32] McVeigh stated that it was retaliation for the government's actions at Ruby Ridge and Waco.[33] McVeigh attended Michigan Militia gun shows.[34][35]

Eric Rudolph executed a series of terrorist attacks between 1996 and 1998. He carried out 1996 Centennial Olympic Park bombing—which claimed two lives and injured 111—with the aim of to cancelling the games, claiming they promoted global socialism.[36] Rudolph confessed to bombing an abortion clinic in Sandy Springs, an Atlanta suburb, on January 16, 1997; the Otherside Lounge, an Atlanta lesbian bar, on February 21, 1997, injuring five; and an abortion clinic in Birmingham, Alabama on January 29, 1998, killing Birmingham police officer and part-time clinic security guard Robert Sanderson, and critically injuring nurse Emily Lyons.


In June 2015, data collected by the New America Foundation showed that since the September 11 attacks (9/11), attacks in the United States committed by far-right extremists had claimed more lives (48) than attacks committed by jihadists (26).[37] Subsequently, however, a number of jihadist terrorist attacks (the 2015 San Bernardino shooting and the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting) resulted in the number of deaths caused by jihadists to outpace the number of deaths caused by far-right extremists; as of July 2016, the New America Foundation placed the number killed in jihadist attacks in the U.S. (since 9/11) at 94, and the number killed in far-right attacks in the U.S. as 48.[38]

New America's tally of shows 18 instances of right-wing terrorist attacks causing fatalities since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. These were the 2015 Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooting (3 killed), the 2015 Charleston church shooting (9 killed), the 2014 ambush attack on Las Vegas police officers (4 killed), the 2014 Overland Park Jewish Community Center shooting in Kansas (3 killed), the 2014 Pennsylvania State Police barracks attack in Blooming Grove, Pennsylvania (1 killed), a 2012 tri-state killing spree by white supremacists, David Pedersen and Holly Grigsby (4 killed), a 2012 ambush of St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana police (2 killed), the 2012 Wisconsin Sikh temple shooting (6 killed), the 2011 FEAR group attacks (3 killed); a murder in 2010 in Carlisle, Pennsylvania (1 killed), a 2010 suicide attack by airplane in Austin, Texas (1 killed), the 2009 shooting of Pittsburgh police officers (3 killed); the 2009 United States Holocaust Memorial Museum shooting (1 killed), the 2009 assassination of George Tiller (1 killed), the 2009 murders of Raul and Brisenia Flores in Pima County, Arizona (2 killed), the 2009 murders in Brockton, Massachusetts (2 killed), the 2008 Knoxville Unitarian Universalist church shooting (2 killed), and the 2004 bank robbery in Tulsa, Oklahoma.[38]

Some scholars, such as Anthea Butler of the University of Pennsylvania, contend that the word "terrorism" is disproportionately applied by the media in reference to crimes committed by Muslims (and that the word "thug" is similarly used to describe African Americans).[39] Juan Cole of the University of Michigan argues that the word "terrorism" is avoided by the media in cases involving crimes committed by white Americans identified with far right.[40]



Neo-Nazi members of the French and European Nationalist Party were responsible for a pair of anti-Muslim terror bombings in 1988. Sonacotra hostels in Cagnes-sur-Mer and Cannes were bombed, killing Romanian immigrant George Iordachescu and injuring 16 people, mostly Tunisians.

In an attempt to frame Jewish extremists for the Cagnes-sur-Mer bombing, the terrorists left leaflets bearing Stars of David and the name "Masada" at the scene of the crime, with the message "To destroy Israel, Islam has chosen the sword. For this choice, Islam will perish."[41]


In 1980, a right-wing terrorist attack in Munich, Germany killed the attacker and 14 other people, injuring 215. Fears of an ongoing campaign of major right-wing terrorist attacks did not materialize.[1]

In addition to several bank robberies, the German National Socialist Underground was responsible for the Bosphorus serial murders (2000–2006), the 2004 Cologne bombing and the murder of policewoman Michéle Kiesewetter in 2007. In November 2011, two members of the National Socialist Underground committed suicide after a bank robbery and a third member was arrested some days later.


In the August 1980 Bologna bombing, a group of right-wing terrorists exploded a bomb at a railroad station in Bologna, Italy, killing 85 people and injuring more than 180. According to the Italian police, the perpetrators were Valerio Fioravanti and Francesca Mambro, two members of the neo-fascist organization Nuclei Armati Rivoluzionari. Both of the accused denied any connection with the attacks.[42]

In December 2011, a far right sympathyzer took part in targeted shooting of Senegalese traders in Florence, killing two and injuring three.[43][44]


On July 22, 2011, Norwegian right-wing extremist with Nazi[45][46] and fascist[47] sympathies, Anders Behring Breivik, carried out the 2011 Norway attacks, the largest mass killing of people in Norway by a single person during peacetime, excluding use of bombs. First he bombed several government buildings in Oslo, killing eight people and injuring more than 30. After the bombings, he went to Utøya island in a fake police uniform and began firing on people attending a political youth camp for the Worker's Youth League (AUF), a left-wing political party, killing 68 and injuring more than 60.

United Kingdom

In April 1999, David Copeland, a neo-Nazi, planted a series of nail bombs over 13 days, causing explosions in Brixton, Brick Lane (in east London), and Soho (in central London). His attacks, which were aimed at London's black, Bangladeshi and gay communities, resulted in three people being killed and more than 100 being injured.[48] Copeland was a former member of two far right political groups, the British National Party (BNP) and the National Socialist Movement. Copeland told police, "My aim was political. It was to cause a racial war in this country. There'd be a backlash from the ethnic minorities, then all the white people will go out and vote BNP."[49]

In July 2007, Robert Cottage, a former BNP member, was convicted for possessing explosive chemicals in his home – described by police at the time of his arrest as the largest amount of chemical explosive of its type ever found in this country.[50] In June 2008, Martyn Gilleard, a British Nazi sympathizer, was jailed after police found nail bombs, bullets, swords, axes and knives in his flat.[51] Also in 2008, Nathan Worrell was found guilty of possession of material for terrorist purposes and racially aggravated harassment. He was described by anti-terror police as a "dangerous individual". The court heard that police found books and manuals containing "recipes" to make bombs and detonators using household items, such as weedkiller, at Worrell's flat.[52] In July 2009, Neil Lewington was planning on waging a terror campaign using weapons made from tennis balls and weedkiller against those he classified as "non British".[53]

In 2012, the British Home Affairs Committee warned of the threat of far right terrorism in the UK, claiming it had heard "persuasive evidence" about the potential danger and cited the growth of similar threats across Europe.[54]

Members of Combat 18 (C18), a neo-Nazi organisation based on the concept of "leaderless resistance", have been suspected in numerous deaths of immigrants, non-whites, and other C18 members.[55] Between 1998 and 2000, dozens of Combat 18 members in the UK were arrested on various charges during dawn raids by the police.[56][57] A group calling itself the Racial Volunteer Force split from C18 in 2002, although it has retained close links to its parent organization.[58] Some journalists believed that the White Wolves are a C18 splinter group, alleging that the group had been set up by Del O'Connor, the former second-in-command of C18 and member of Skrewdriver Security.[59] Racist attacks on immigrants continue from members of C18.[60] Weapons, ammunition and explosives have been seized by police in the UK and almost every country in which C18 is active.

In 2016, Jo Cox, a Member of Parliament (MP) for the Batley and Spen constituency was killed by Thomas Mair, who was claimed to yell "Britain First" before the killing of Cox. Britain First is the name of a far-right British political party.

Northern Ireland

British far-right activists supplied funds and weaponry to Loyalist terrorist groups in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.[61] Since the end of the conflict, some members of Loyalist groups have been orchestrating a series of racist attacks in Northern Ireland,[62][63][64] including pipe bomb and gun attacks on the homes of immigrants.[65][66][67][68][69] As a result, Northern Ireland has a higher proportion of racist attacks than other parts of the UK,[64][70] and has been branded the "race-hate capital of Europe".[71]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 Aubrey, p. 45
  2. Moghadam, p. 57
  3. Moghadam, pp. 57–58
  4. Moghadam, p. 58
  5. "Brasileiros magazine".
  6. "Fatos magazine" (PDF). June 1, 1985.
  7. 1 2 Constanza Vieira (August 27, 2008). "International Criminal Court Scrutinises Paramilitary Crimes". Inter Press Service.
  8. Rempe, Dennis M. (Winter 1995). "Guerrillas, Bandits, and Independent Republics: US Counter-insurgency Efforts in Colombia 1959–1965". Small Wars and Insurgencies. 6 (3): 304–27. doi:10.1080/09592319508423115. Archived from the original on March 30, 2010.
  9. Rempe, 1995 Archived March 30, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  10. Livingstone, 2004: p. 155
  11. HRW, 1996: "III: The Intelligence Reorganization"
  12. Schulte-Bockholt, Alfredo (2006). The Politics of Organized Crime and the Organized Crime of Politics: a study in criminal power. Lexington. p. 95.
  13. Marc Chernick (March–April 1998). "The paramilitarization of the war in Colombia". NACLA Report on the Americas. 31 (5): 28.
  14. Brittain, 2010: pp. 129–31
  15. Forrest Hylton (2006). Evil Hour in Colombia. Verso. pp. 68–69. ISBN 978-1-84467-551-7.
  16. Michael Taussig (2004). Law in a Lawless Land: Diary of limpieza in Colombia. New Press.
  17. Elizabeth F. Schwartz (Winter 1995–1996). "Getting Away with Murder: Social Cleansing in Colombia and the Role of the United States". The University of Miami Inter-American Law Review. 27 (2): 381–420.
  18. Lovisa Stannow (1996) "Social cleansing" in Colombia, MA Thesis, Simon Fraser University
  19. Alfredo Molano (2005). The Dispossessed: Chronicles of the desterrados of Colombia. Haymarket. p. 113.
  20. Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, "Colombia: Activities of a Colombian social cleansing group known as 'Jóvenes del Bien' and any state efforts to deal with it" , 2 April 2004
  21. Brittain, 2010: pp. 132–35
  22. William Avilés (May 2006). "Paramilitarism and Colombia's Low-Intensity Democracy". Journal of Latin American Studies. 38 (2): 380.
  23. Schenk, David H. (April 30, 2014). "Freedmen with Firearms: White Terrorism and Black Disarmament During Reconstruction". Gettysburg College Journal of the Civil War Era. 4.
  24. Butchart, Ronald E. "Black hope, white power: emancipation, reconstruction and the legacy of unequal schooling in the US South, 1861–1880." Paedagogica historica 46.1-2 (2010): 33–50.
  25. Michael, George. 2003. Confronting Right-Wing Extremism and Terrorism in the USA. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-31500-X.
  26. International Foundation for Protection Officers. 2003. The Protection Officer Training Manual. Butterworth-Heinemann. ISBN 0-750-67456-3.
  27. Choueiri, Youssef M. 2010. Islamic Fundamentalism: The Story of Islamist Movements. Continuum International Publishing Group. ISBN 0-826-49801-9.
  28. Smith, pp. 25–26
  29. "Free the Order Rally". Southern Poverty Law Center. Spring 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-17.
  30. "Death List Names Given to US Jury". New York Times. September 17, 1985. Retrieved 2007-08-25.
  31. Morris Dees and Steve Fiffer. Hate on Trial: The Case Against America's Most Dangerous Neo-Nazi. Villard Books, 1993. p. xiiv
  32. Michael, p. 107
  33. "McVeigh offers little remorse in letters". The Topeka Capital-Journal. Associated Press. June 10, 2001. Archived from the original on February 27, 2011.
  34. Marks, p. 103
  35. MacQuarrie, Brian (April 19, 2005). "Militias' era all but over, analysts say". The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on March 17, 2011.
  36. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4600480
  37. Joanna Plucinska (June 25, 2016). "Study: White Extremists More Dangerous Than Islamists Since 9/11". Time.
  38. 1 2 "Deadly Attacks Since 9/11". New America Foundation. July 21, 2016.
  39. Butler, Anthea. "Shooters of color are called 'terrorists' and 'thugs.' Why are white shooters called 'mentally ill'?". Washington Post. Retrieved 10 March 2016.
  40. Cole, Juan (January 15, 2011). "White Terrorism". JuanCole.com.
  41. Greenhouse, Steven (20 December 1988). "Immigrant Hostel Bombed in France". New York Times. Retrieved 20 October 2014.
  42. La storia d'Italia, Vol. 23, Dagli anni di piombo agli anni 80, Torino, 2005, p. 587
  43. "Viewpoint: Killer Breivik's links with far right". BBC News. August 27, 2012.
  44. Kington, Tom (December 23, 2011). "Ezra Pound's daughter aims to stop Italian fascist group using father's name". The Guardian. London.
  45. Leif Stang (18 April 2012). "Close to Nazism". Dagbladet (in Norwegian).
  46. Daniel Vergara (10 January 2014). "Breivik vill deportera "illojala judar"". Expo Idag (in Swedish).
  47. Eva-Therese Grøttum; Marianne Vikås (10 May 2013). "Breivik seeks to start the fascist party". VG Nett (in Norwegian).
  48. Buncombe, Andrew; Judd, Terri; and Bennett, Jason. "'Hate-filled' nailbomber is jailed for life", The Independent, 30 June 2000.
  49. "The Nailbomber", BBC Panorama, 30 June 2000.
  50. http://www.newstatesman.com/2009/07/mehdi-hasan-muslim-terrorism-white-british
  51. "Man guilty over nail bombs plot". BBC News. June 24, 2008.
  52. "Racist who had bomb kit jailed for campaign against couple". The Guardian. London. December 13, 2008.
  53. "Man 'on cusp' of bombing campaign". BBC News. June 29, 2009.
  54. "Home Affairs Committee warns of far-right terror threat". BBC News. February 6, 2012.
  55. "Ex-Combat 18 man speaks out". BBC News. 25 November 2001.
  56. "MI5 swoops on Army 'neo-Nazis'", Sunday Telegraph, 7 March 1999
  57. BNP Under the skin: Profile of Adrian Marsden, BBC News
  58. "Combat 18" at www.metareligion.com
  59. Stuart Millar, "Anti-terror police seek White Wolf racist over bombs"
  60. "Belfast racists threaten to cut Romanian baby's throat", Belfast Telegraph, 17 June 2009
  61. Goodrick-Clarke, Nicholas. Black Sun: Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism, and the Politics of Identity. NYU Press, 2003. pp.40–41, 45
  62. "UVF 'behind racist attacks in south and east Belfast'". Belfast Telegraph, 3 April 2014.
  63. Chrisafis, Angelique. "Racist war of the loyalist street gangs". The Guardian, 10 January 2004.
  64. 1 2 "Race hate on rise in NI". BBC News, 13 January 2004.
  65. "Two arrested over racist pipe bomb attacks in Londonderry". BBC News, 10 March 2014.
  66. "Loyalists hit out at racist attacks". BBC News, 3 July 2003.
  67. "Police probe after bomb attacks". BBC News, 2 June 2005.
  68. "Mother of South Belfast racist attack to leave home". Belfast Daily. 25 May 2013.
  69. "Gun attack: Family at home during 'hate crime' in west Belfast". BBC News, 24 April 2014.
  70. "Bitter tide of violent racial hate recalls the worst of the Troubles". Irish Independent, 8 August 2004.
  71. "Ulster 'is race hate capital of Europe'". BreakingNews.ie. 26 June 2006.


Further reading

  • Atkins, Stephen E. 2004. Encyclopedia of Modern Worldwide Extremists and Extremist Groups. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 0-313-32485-9.
  • Aubrey, Stefan M. The New Dimension of International Terrorism. Zurich: vdf Hochschulverlag AG, 2004. ISBN 3-7281-2949-6
  • Goldwag, Arthur. 2012. The New Hate: A History of Fear and Loathing on the Populist Right. Pantheon Books. ISBN 0-307-37969-8. OCLC 724650284
  • Jones, Mark; Johnstone, Peter. 2011. History of Criminal Justice. Elsevier. ISBN 1-437-73497-9.
  • Mahan, Sue; Griset, Pamala L. 2007. Terrorism in Perspective. SAGE. ISBN 1-412-95015-5.
  • Marks, Kathy. Faces of Right Wing Extremism. Boston: Branden Publishing, 2006. ISBN 978-0-8283-2016-0.
  • Martin, Gus. 2012. Understanding Terrorism: Challenges, Perspectives, and Issues. SAGE. ISBN 1-452-20582-5.
  • Michael, George. Confronting Right-wing Extremism and Terrorism in the USA. New York: Routledge, 2003 ISBN 0-415-31500-X
  • Michael, George. 2010. The Enemy of My Enemy: The Alarming Convergence of Militant Islam and the Extreme Right. University Press of Kansas. ISBN 0-700-61444-3. OCLC 62593627
  • Moghadam, Assaf. The Roots of Terrorism. New York: Infobase Publishing, 2006. ISBN 0-7910-8307-1
  • Smith, Brent L. Terrorism in America: Pipe Bombs and Pipe Dreams. Albany: SUNY Press, 1994 ISBN 0-7914-1760-3
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