April 14-20, 2022 | Issue 4 - Extremism Team
Lydia Baccino, Daniel D’Menzie, Asya Kocheva, Extremism Team
Hannah Norton, Editor; Jennifer Loy, Chief of Staff
Date: April 14, 2022
Parties involved: German government; German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach; State Premier of Saxony, Michael Kretschme; far-right actors; "Reichsbuerger" movement; Neo-Nazi Telegram chat group “Vereinte Patrioten” (United Patriots); citizens protesting against COVID-19 restrictions
The event: German police forces prevented anti-vaccination protesters and members of the far-right "Reichsbuerger" movement from attacking German power infrastructure and kidnapping Lauterbach. Perpetrators organized themselves through a Telegram chat group "Vereinte Patrioten." Police seized weapons, money, and forged COVID-19 vaccination certificates connected to the group. Lauterbach stated that these actors used the plot to damage Germany's democratic system and further the social divide in Germany surrounding vaccination mandates. In December 2021, police foiled another plot led by anti-vaccination protesters planning to murder the state premier of Saxony, Michael Kretschmer.
Analysis & Implications:
Far-right actors will very likely continue their attempts to destabilize Germany's democracy if further COVID-19 restrictions are instituted. Due to failures in attacking public figures, far-right actors will likely target critical infrastructure instead, as this will very likely cause more damage and outrage among Germans. It is likely that they will target those with access to critical infrastructure for recruitment, likely either as information sources or implicit actors in future plans.
The Telegram chat group “Vereinte Patrioten” will likely become more organized, likely аcumulating funds and attracting members to strengthen their capacity. Police will very likely find it difficult to monitor and expose Vereinte Patrioten’s activities due to the encryption that Telegram uses. Vereinte Patrioten will likely merge the far-right ideas of different movements, likely exposing COVID-19 anti-vaxxers to other far-right discourses such as racism, anti-Semitism, or rejecting the legitimacy of the modern German state.
Germany's far-right movements almost certainly demonstrate an increase in their capabilities, given the number of weapons and money that the police seized. This will very likely motivate far-right groups to get involved in more serious illegal activities, very likely ensuring their self-sustainment. Regular income will very likely allow them to boost the quality and quantity of their propaganda and expand their international network. Connecting with far-right groups from abroad will likely increase the possibility of organizing synchronized events across Europe, which will almost certainly threaten the security of the affected states.
Date: April 17, 2022
Location: East Jerusalem, Israel
Parties involved: Israeli police; Israeli authorities; worshipers of Al-Aqsa Mosque; Palestinians; Palestinian authorities; far-right Jewish group, Lehava; US government
The event: Israeli police entered Al-Aqsa Mosque located in occupied East Jerusalem as worshippers gathered for morning prayers. Hundreds of worshipers were detained during a raid in the mosque days prior. Israeli authorities state the raids are in conjunction with routine visits by Lehava to the holy site where Palestinians had set up barricades using stones. Other threats towards Palestinian worshippers have included the sacrificing of a goat within the mosque, a traditionally Jewish ritual, in their attempt to Judaize Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Analysis & Implications:
In the event of continued attacks on Islamic holy sites by far-right Jewish groups such as Lehava, it is very likely some Muslim Palestinians will gravitate towards extremist groups, such as Hamas and Hezbollah, as a means to protect these sacred religious spaces and exact revenge on their Zionist opponents. It is likely these radical Islamist forces will reciprocate with their own violent attacks on important Jewish sites, such as the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, which will almost certainly further deteriorate relations between Israeli and Palestinian populations nationwide. Due to the sanctity of these religious spaces, it is almost certain global actors, such as media outlets, non-governmental organizations, and religious leaders will address these events which will very likely raise serious discussion on the role of religion fueling conflict in Israel. This heightened media coverage and global discourse will very likely export tension between Jews and Muslims worldwide, and will likely result in holy sites, such as Mecca in Saudi Arabia, being targeted by radicalized local forces seeking to display solidarity with their respective religious counterparts in Israel.
The US government’s strong diplomatic relationship and NATO alliance with Israel will very likely draw them into the conflict and likely increase their engagement with the events in the region. Due to expected US support, it is likely that Israel may have been misleading about their true intentions of the raids. As the raids took place during the period of Ramadan, a significant time in the Islamic calendar, this will very likely be seen as a direct attack on their religion and culture by the worshipers of this mosque. The apparent lack of respect for their practices and inaction by the US to prevent violence from dominating the region will very likely spur resentment within Palestinian populations, likely intensifying anti-Western sentiment. This will likely result in pro-Palestinian extremist groups, such as HAMAS, targeting U.S embassies, diplomats and journalists in Israel, or an attack in the U.S.A itself.
Date: April 19, 2022
Parties involved: Sweden; Swedish government; Swedish police; Swedish Muslims; Swedish far-right groups; Stram Kurs (Hard Line); Ramsus Paludan; counter-protesters; Swedish Social Democratic Party; Swedish Democrats (SDs); Saudi Arabia; Iran; Iraq; jihadi lone-wolf extremists
The event: Several people were injured, three by police bullets, during clashes between police, far-right protesters, and counter-protesters in southern Sweden. The unrest began on Thursday with protests against the arrival of Danish-Swedish politician Paludan and his anti-Islam political party, Stram Kurs, who planned to publicly burn copies of the Qur’an while touring Sweden. By Sunday, protests turned violent. Paludan is a prominent far-right political figure known for his Islamophobic rhetoric and antics posted on his Youtube page, which often involves defacing the Qur’an. Responses to the protests have been mixed; representatives from Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Iraq denounce Paludan’s actions, calling for his arrest, while others argue that Paludan is protecting Europe’s freedom of speech.
Analysis & Implications:
Paludan’s public destruction of the Qur’an will likely provoke violent retaliation from European lone-wolf jihadists, who will very likely feel compelled to carry out an attack due to the high-profile nature of the protests. Due to Paludan’s history of Islamophobia and his political ambitions to deport Muslims from Sweden, jihadists will very likely perceive an assassination attempt on his life as a necessary act of martyrdom. A successful attack on Paludan or associates of the Stram Kurs party will almost certainly reignite tense political discussion surrounding Islam and freedom of speech in Europe.
It is very likely that Paludan will continue to burn copies of the Qur’an as he tours Europe to capitalize on the controversy surrounding his role in Sweden’s protests. Paludan will likely livestream future antics on his Youtube page to capitalize on the media coverage and cultivate a digital following. The transnational nature of social media will likely expose new domestic and international audiences to Paludan’s politics, where he will likely gain new followers drawn toward his stances on free speech, anti-immigration views, or his eccentric character. This increased following will likely result in Stram Kurs recruiting new members and receiving financing from far-right actors and nationalists worldwide, which will almost certainly benefit their efforts to obtain the required signatures to run in the upcoming September elections.
________________________________________________________________________ The Counterterrorism Group (CTG)
 German health minister says would-be kidnappers aimed to destabilise state, Reuters, April 2022 https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/police-foil-plot-kidnap-germanys-health-minister-2022-04-14/
 Tensions flare as Israeli police enter Al-Aqsa Mosque again, Al Jazeera, April 2022, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/4/17/israel-police-enter-al-aqsa-mosque-arrest-two