Week of 12/21/2020 | Issue 1
Krystel von Kumberg
Parties involved: White Supremacists
The event: White supremacists plotted to attack power stations in the southeastern United States, and an Ohio teenager who allegedly shared the plan said he wanted the group to be “operational” on a fast-tracked timeline if President Donald Trump were to lose his re-election bid, the FBI alleges in an affidavit that was mistakenly unsealed. The teen was in a messaging group with more than a dozen people in the fall of 2019 when he introduced the idea of saving money to buy a ranch where they could participate in militant training, according to the affidavit, which was filed under seal along with a search warrant application in Wisconsin’s Eastern U.S. District Court in March. The documents were inadvertently unsealed last week before the mistake was discovered and were consequently resealed. The Ohio teen, who was 17 at the time, also shared plans with a smaller group about a plot to create a power outage by shooting rifle rounds into power stations in the southeast. The plot was coined “Light's Out” and there were plans to carry it out in the summer of 2021, the affidavit states. A man from Oshkosh, Wisconsin, allegedly told the Ohio teen: “I can say with absolute certainty that I will die for this effort. I swear it on my life.” The teen replied: “I can say the same.” According to the affidavit, the Wisconsin man also told an undercover FBI employee in February that the group was interested in taking “direct action” against the system and said, “If you truly want a fascist society I will put in the effort to work with you but recruitment is long and not going to be easy." He then outlined a “radicalization” process to instill a “revolutionary mindset” which ended with recruits proving they are more than just talk. The affidavit says the Ohio teen also spoke about creating Nazi militant cells around the country like those of the neo-Nazi network the Atomwaffen Division. This investigation apparently began after a fourth man, from Canada, was stopped while trying to enter the United States.
Lonely young people could be drawn to terrorism during the pandemic, as the amount of extreme right-wing material flagged to investigators rose more than 40%. So far this year a total of 3,000 pieces of suspected terrorist content was flagged to the Counter-Terrorism Internet Referral Unit (CTIRU) compared to 2,796 in 2019; a rise of around 7%. However, the number of referrals of right-wing content went from 134 in 2019, to 192 between January 1 and November 20 this year, a rise of 43%. This would suggest that it is certain that because of the COVID-19 pandemic and self-isolation young people are more exposed to extremist material and as a result are more likely to be susceptible to being radicalized online. The public at large should be made aware of these statistics in order to curtail the radicalization process when necessary. Spotting these signs of radicalization early on is key.
The increasingly transnational and growing threat posed by the extreme far-right is a worrying trend that will follow us into 2021 and beyond. The milieu of different individuals, groups, and movements worldwide that share counterculture and fringe ideas are becoming more mainstream within societies and attracting younger recruits.
Particularly, the notion of using remote ranches to train recruits and store weapons is a dangerous idea that has historic roots; reminiscent of the early 1990s with the stand-offs at Ruby Ridge and Waco. It is likely that the use of such remote locations to train militants and prepare for attacks will continue to be a threat in 2021.
 Police warn isolation during the pandemic could push young people to extremism, LBC, 21 December 2020, https://www.lbc.co.uk/news/police-warn-isolation-pandemic-young-people-extremism/