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Germany Identifies Extremists and Peyton Gendron Shooting and New Strain of Avian Flu in US

May 12 - 18, 2022 | Issue 8 - Extremism

Lydia Baccino, Daniel D’Menzie, Asya Kocheva, Extremism Team

Manja Vitasovic, Editor; Demetrios Giannakaris, Senior Editor


German Flag[1]


Date: May 13, 2022

Location: Berlin, Germany

Parties involved: German security services; the Federal Minister of the Interior and Community, Nancy Faeser; former Army lieutenant Franco A

The event: The Federal Minister of the Interior and Community, Nancy Faeser, issued a report identifying 327 far-right extremists working for the German security services. Earlier this year, Faeser presented a ten-point program to fight far-right extremism. Faeser asserted that 138 extremists were employed in federal institutions, like the military, federal police, and intelligence agencies, and 189 in local police and public institutions. Extremists communicated through group chats, and the group included a police sniper convicted of the illegal weapons possession and a former Army lieutenant, identified as Franco A, who plotted the assassination of a politician.[2]

Analysis & Implications:

  • German security services’ employees with far-right beliefs will likely exploit their positions to facilitate far-right movement operations, likely relaying sensitive information to group members and utilizing their security and military knowledge to plan attacks. Leaked information will likely include physical vulnerabilities of surrounding security checkpoints and IT systems, likely making them targets for extremist attacks. Extremists will likely use the divulged information for blackmail, which will likely become a new tactic for German extremists.

  • Identifying far-right extremists employed in the police and intelligence agencies will very likely compromise trust in their counter-extremism operations. Extremist chat groups among the security services could very likely foster acceptance of far-right beliefs, likely resulting in operational bias. Extremists working within security forces will likely exploit intelligence gaps to plan future attacks, likely hindering the investigation process.

Date: May 15, 2022

Location: Buffalo, New York, USA

Parties involved: USA; US Government; Payton Gendron; Brenton Tarrant; Anders Breivik; ethnic minorities; social media companies

The event: Payton Gendron, the Buffalo supermarket mass shooter, published a manifesto online before the attack, declaring his support for white supremacist ideologies. His manifesto identified Buffalo as the ideal attack location because it is a town with the largest population of African Americans in his proximity. In the 180-page manifesto, Gendron repeatedly referenced Brenton Tarrant, the self-proclaimed fascist who killed 51 people in Christchurch, New Zealand, as a muse. He also endorsed the Great Replacement Theory, a white supremacist theory arguing that ethnic minorities are diminishing the white race culturally and demographically through interracial marriages, immigration, and high birth rates. Like Tarrant, Gendron’s attack was live-streamed to a global audience, amassing thousands of views through social media.[3]

Analysis & Implications:

  • Imitative extremist violence and far-right hate crimes will likely increase in North America in the coming months, with radicalized members likely feeling vindicated by the attack. Extremists will likely share the attack footage and study Gendron’s manifesto to adapt his tactics, likely maximizing deaths, impact, and media outreach. The government and social media companies will likely revise their publishing laws to attempt to prevent attack livestreams and footage distribution. Far-right extremists will likely try to stay anonymous by sharing the encrypted attack footage on the dark web or fringe digital spaces like 4Chan.

  • Media attention to Gendron’s manifesto will very likely introduce new audiences to the Great Replacement Theory. Some audiences will likely resonate with the ideas and will likely seek additional online sources. These will likely include the manifestos of white supremacists like Anders Breivik and Brenton Tarrant. Manifestos are likely to facilitate radicalization and will likely serve as an instruction manual for extremists, likely increasing the prevalence of violence against ethnic minorities highlighted in the theory.

Date: May 17, 2022

Location: USA

Parties involved: The US Department of Agriculture (USDA); farmers; meat-eaters; social media; internet users; conspiracy theorists US medical community

The event: The new strain of avian flu in the USA caused misinformation and conspiracy theories to spread on social media. Claims that the flu spread is fake or a hoax to justify the rise in food prices circulated on Facebook and Twitter. Other information suggests that the flu is a bioweapon or is used to force meat-eaters into vegetarianism. Since February, when federal and state agencies confirmed the new avian flu outbreak, farmers from Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota euthanized millions of birds to prevent the flu from spreading.[4]

Analysis & Implications:

  • The mainstreaming of avian flu conspiracy theories will likely attract local anti-vaxxers, who will likely combine these theories with COVID-19 misinformation. Anti-vaxxers will likely spread avian flu conspiracies online, very likely to maximize circulation. Conspiracy theorists will likely attack politicians and medical staff who deny their claims, likely prompting increased security in medical settings. Conspiracy theorists will likely target politicians’ and medical staff’s homes and vehicles to avoid security, very likely threatening their families’ and neighbors' safety.

  • Avian flu conspiracy theories will almost certainly increase distrust in scientists and veterinarians, very likely contributing to the spread of science-related misinformation. Anti-scientific conspiracy theories will very likely spread online and attract broad audiences, very likely creating echo chambers and promoting further violence. Supporters will likely consolidate their positions by launching anti-scientific movements, which will very likely improve their capacity to recruit people and organize protests.

 

The Counterterrorism Group (CTG)


[1]German Flag” by marabuchi licensed under Creative Commons

[2] Germany Identifies Far-Right Extremists Working in Security Services, The New York Times, May 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/13/world/europe/germany-right-extremists-security-services.html

[3] The Buffalo supermarket shooting suspect allegedly posted an apparent manifesto repeatedly citing ”great replacement” theory, NBC News, May 2022, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/buffalo-supermarket-shooting-suspect-posted-apparent-manifesto-repeate-rcna28889

[4] Conspiracy theorists flock to bird flu, spreading falsehoods, Associated Press, May 2022, https://apnews.com/article/covid-science-health-c24347e917b2ef3bd8389c42bd118136

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