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UNPRECEDENTED SURGE OF ONLINE EXTREMISM AFTER CHRISTCHURCH

The Christchurch terrorist attack has prompted an unprecedented surge in online activity by white supremacists as well as a call by a group within Islamic State for attacks on Australians travelling in Indonesia, according to Rita Katz, the director of the SITE Intelligence Group.  Katz said the wave of online support that the Christchurch attack is attracting is unlike the response to any other right-wing attack. “Attacks always spark reactions from different extremist groups, but there has never been a response like that to the Christchurch attack,” she said.  “His target, deadly execution, and his live streaming of the event fuelled these communities’ unprecedented response.

The reactions are like nothing we’ve seen thus far from the far-right across the globe,” she said.  “If you compared it to jihadist attacks, it was like the 9-11 of far-right terrorists.  Even the horrific Norway attacks by Anders Breivik didn’t amass this level of universal approval by the far-right.”  She said SITE, which monitors online extremism for corporate and government clients, is monitoring a surge in calls for similar attacks by far right extremists, many of who are calling for further similar attacks. “A month after his attack, those in the far-right still talk online about their desire to ‘Make Brenton Proud’ by committing acts of violence and share endearing artwork of him.

Many of the posts incite violence against Muslims. Ms Katz said white supremacists have discussed the “lesson of Christchurch” as being that “accelerationism works”.  Accelerationism meaning violent, retaliation-sparking attacks like Tarrant’s, she said.  SITE has also collected calls for white supremacists in New Zealand to steal guns in the wake of newly implemented gun control measures.  Similarly SITE has detected calls for revenge attacks against Australians by Muslim extremists.  One message called on IS supporters to “sharpen your knife” and attack Australians in Indonesia.  “If you find kuffar travellers from the land of Australia, then stab him!” it said in part.

She said the recruitment and radicalisation activities of white supremacist and jihadist groups in the wake of the attacks mirrored one another.  Writing in the Daily Beast earlier this month Ms Katz noted that while right-wing extremists sought to exploit the Christchurch attack in online venues ranging from community-specific forums like Stormfront and Vanguard News Network (VNN) to alternative, free-speech-purposed social media platforms like Gab and Minds, jihadists were doing the same thing on platforms like Telegram messenger and Facebook.

“These parallel incitements by both jihadists and far-right extremists strip both movements of their ideological veils, leaving behind a much barer look at extremism itself,” she wrote.  “For these violent groups and communities, such tragedies are mutually beneficial events.  An attack like that in Christchurch should not be seen simply as a tragedy in and of itself; it is a link in a longer chain of attacks. “From jihadists’ attacks on Charlie Hebdo in France and Pulse nightclub in Orlando, to white nationalists’ attacks on the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City and now in Christchurch, these events adds fuel to extremists’ delusions of ‘Crusades’ and ethnic ‘invasions.’”

Source: Sydney Morning Herald