When it comes to domestic terrorism – white extremist terrorism in particular – policymakers, law enforcement, and the general public have been shown to have a serious blind spot: the fact that US-originated domestic terrorism in states United is deeply intertwined with a global network of white supremacists. terrorist activity. And much of it is laced with anti-Semitism, sexism, racism and deep-seated hatred.
This reality is the product of a hyper-connected world and the sad flip side of American cultural and political influence. And if we are to effectively contain this violent threat, we must stop mislabeling extremist white supremacist terrorism in the United States as merely a national problem and call it what it is: a transnational problem.
The difference is not only semantic. It is crucial and potentially life-saving. There is well-documented evidence of a global network of violent white supremacist organizations that originated in the United States and now fuel radical ideologies in Russia, Australia, Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, in South Africa and elsewhere. According to a Soufan Center report, white supremacist extremists “enhance transnational networks and even emulate the tactics, techniques and procedures of groups like Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.” These networks share an approach to recruitment, funding and propaganda, according to the Soufan Center report, as they target Jewish, Black, Asian, LGBTQ and other communities around the world.
US-based white supremacist groups are also inspired by foreign terrorist groups. It’s no coincidence that the US-based white supremacist organization “The Base” is a direct English translation of al-Qaeda, or that the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville brought together extremists who wore German Nazi flags and carried Hezbollah t-shirts.
Many US-based organizations within this network, including the Base and the Proud Boys, have already been designated as terrorist organizations by allies such as Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. Australian Home Secretary Karen Andrews said in 2021 that The Base was “known to security agencies to plan and plot terrorist attacks” against Australia, despite being based in the United States. The head of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization warned that a terrorist attack on Australia by offshoots of the group was “likely” and noted disturbing evidence that the group was recruiting members as young as 13 to join a ” race war”.
The Biden administration should build on the leadership of Canada and the United Kingdom and designate U.S.-based white supremacist extremist groups active globally as foreign terrorist organizations. We lag woefully behind our peers, and our ability to track, mitigate, and punish potential attacks is inexcusably hampered.
For example, the US-based neo-Nazi organization Atomwaffen has carried out attacks in North America and Europe since its violent actions at the 2017 Unite the Right rally, and continues to establish affiliates across Europe, in particular in the United Kingdom, in Germany, in Russia. , Ukraine and the Baltic States.
The Nordic Resistance Movement, a transnational neo-Nazi group from Sweden, was cited by the US White House National Counterterrorism Strategy October 2018, which reported that “the use of the group’s violence and intent to destabilize societies often places Americans’ lives in danger.”
The international neo-Nazi network Blood and Honor and its armed wing Combat 18, banned by the German and Canadian governments, have carried out attacks in North America and Europe.
These groups represent just a sample of a growing list of U.S.-based organizations and affiliates that meet all of the criteria of Executive Order 13224, which establishes the grounds for being designated an FTO, as recently documented. the MEMRI Domestic Terrorism Threat Monitor project.
The United States Department of State and Treasury consistently designates white supremacist extremist transnational organizations as FTO would instantly unlock critical tools in the fight against domestic terrorism. The designations would impede terrorist travel to the United States, criminalize support for designated groups, block the movement of assets to designated groups, and allow the US Department of Justice to prosecute individuals for providing material support to designated groups. .
There is no longer an easy dividing line between foreign and domestic terrorism. It’s a sad feature of our world that the worst among us inspire and support each other. To cut the head off a serpent coiled around the necks of minorities at home and abroad, we must reframe and designate globally active white supremacist groups as foreign terrorist threats.
Max Rose is a former congressman from New York. Jack Rosen is president of the American Jewish Congress. They are both members of the Advisory Council to Counter White Supremacy and Domestic Terrorism.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors.