The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) is issuing a FLASH ALERT to all Synagogues, Mosques, Temples, and Churches in the United States and Europe to increase security measures during all services and gatherings. The current CTG threat matrix indicates that an individual(s) attempting a hate crime, or an attack in the near future is PROBABLE. We base this assessment on the increased tempo of online interest in the Christchurch attack and attacker, proliferation of associated hateful images and rhetoric connected to the attack, and the enduring traction of conspiracy theory narratives that justify the need for pre-emptive violent action against so-called ‘white genocide.’
Since the March 15 terrorist attack on two Mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand that killed 50 worshipers, CTG has noted an increase in digital activity and rhetoric surrounding the ideology of White extremism, nationalism, supremacism, racism and the alt-right. Online support for the Christchurch attack includes praising the Christchurch and similar previous attackers (Anders Breivik - Norway Terrorist Attack, Dylan Roof - Emmanuel AME Church, Robert Bowers - Tree of Life Synagogue). These attacks continue to act as mobilizing incidents, with their perpetrators serving as martyrs to followers and sympathizers. This presents an enduring threat to religious establishments globally. It is CTG’s recommendation that all Synagogues, Mosques, Temples, and Churches increase or implement security measures at all worship services, prayer times, and during gatherings.
CTG notes an increase in online activity stemming from White Supremacist / Racist / Nationalist / Alt-Right entities which may indicate copy-cat attacks of the Christchurch attack in the future. Attempts to lionize and develop cults of personality around terrorists like Anders Brievik and Dylan Roof, and now Brendan Tarrant, detail the increasing threat from the extreme right wing. Tarrant is now being celebrated as a hero, saint, or martyr to many. The below detailed analysis outlines specific examples and contextualizes trends in online extremist activity.
On March 31, 2019 The Daily Stormer, an online publication well known to those in the White Supremacist / Racist / Nationalist / Alt-Right movements published an article by an unknown author called, A ChristChurch Retrospective, which said the following:
The growing cult-like obsession within the far-right milieu over terrorist actors like Brievik, Roof and now Tarrant highlights the increasing threat of inspired attacks stemming from these attacks and manifestos. Although The Daily Stormer post is recommending a different strategy rather than conducting a mass shooting it continues to raise up the shooter’s actions as a form of ‘bravery’ and ‘martyrdom.’ Other readers who responded to the article continued to speak about violence as a justified mechanism to addressing their ideological grievances with minorities and their perceived ‘enemy.’ Alarmingly, calls for additional violence are being seen:
Another reader responded threatening the media and echoing familiar anti-Semitic tropes:
The attack on the New Zealand Mosques was streamed on Facebook Live and there were almost 200 viewers on the video stream during the attack. In a press release on March 20, 2019 titled, A Further Update on New Zealand Terrorist Attack, Facebook says, “The video itself received fewer than 200 views when it was live, and was viewed about 4,000 times before being removed from Facebook.” Facebook, and other social media platforms, noted the difficulties their prevent strategies had in mitigating the spread of the video in the immediate aftermath of the attack. Platform users of 8chan utilized multiple tactics to spread the content, such as caching the video into a file-sharing site where it gained considerable traction. Additionally, users continued to upload the video and screenshots of the attack by slightly altering the image to avoid the Artificial Intelligence filtering measures.
Notably, Facebook designated the incident as a terror attack which would designate any “praise, support, or representation” as violating their Community Standards and be grounds for banishment from Facebook’s platform.
Facebook released stats from their first 24-hr response that outlined the removal of “more than 1.2 million videos of the attack at upload, which were therefore prevented from being seen on our services. Approximately 300,000 additional copies were removed after they were posted.”
The level of interest in the video is concerning as many snapshots taken of the attack video were turned into MEMES. The persistence of such MEMES guarantees the spread of hate, and cloaks its presence within internet ‘joke’ and ‘shitpost’ culture, deepening extremist violent rhetoric exposure to a susceptible audience.
Previous attacks driven by white supremacist and white nationalist ideology have also relied on internet spread hate-based rhetoric and conspiracy theories similar to the MEMEs that were used by Tarrant and have emerged following his attack.
So-called ‘martyrs’ from the far-right have become a tactic to emulate. This trend dramatically raises concerns that inspired individuals will plan or execute copycat attacks. This is not unusual based on past attacks. Many copycats emerged after Dylan Roof’s 2015 shooting at African American church (Mother Emmanuel AME Church). Anti-Defamation League researchers highlight four examples of individuals whom may have been inspired by Roof and were arrested before potentially executing an attack. Of those highlighted, one said he wanted to “pull a Dylann Roof” and “make the news some more and shoot some Jews.” Jeffrey Clark, a white supremacist from Washington, DC area, was arrested in November 2018 on weapons charges. Clark was heavily involved with Jason Kessler’s and Richard Spencer’s DC-area activism, including the Charlottesville Unite the Right rally in 2017, and had actively promoted a race war and engaged with Robert Bowers on Gab.
With the high number of individuals who are believers in the White Supremacist / Racist / Nationalist / Alt-Right movements who saw the video of this attack in New Zealand, some are now inspired to replicate this attack, or do their own in the near future. As seen in the comments for The Daily Stormer article above, many felt inspired and validated by the terrorist act. CTG has immediate and lasting concerns that the global viewing of the Christchurch attack video has inspired others to take lone wolf/lone attacker action and potentially carry out a deadly assault on a religious target within the minority communities of the United States and Europe.
RECENT ATTACKS & INDICATORS
Recent incidents at a Mosque in California and a Synagogue in Texas highlight the increased levels of brazen hate crimes towards American religious minority communities. On March 24, 2019 a Mosque in Escondido, CA was targeted in a suspected arson attack and a note referencing the New Zealand Attacks was found. According to the local NBC affiliate, Channel 7 San Diego, “The fire broke out at 3:15 a.m. at Dar-ul-Arqam in what authorities are investigating as arson and a hate crime.”
On March 26, 2019 the Congregation Shir Ami Synagogue in Cedar Park was targeted by a hate group who pasted hate propaganda on their building.
On March 29, 2019 the Highlander Research and Education Center a social justice center in New Market, Tennessee involved in the Civils Rights Movement, was destroyed in a fire and a "white power" symbol was found on the site, the center said.
CTG has noted a continuous proliferation of violence images and rhetoric focus on targeting and killing or harming people from various ethnic, cultural and faith groups.
Online conversations are currently being had about playing Angry Goy II, a game focused on shooting and killing people from diverse groups. The game encourages White Men to hunt down and kill individuals suspected of being from minority groups.
The game also focuses on killing various groups in order to save President Trump.
CTG assesses the current threat climate as PROBABLE. We base this assessment on the increased tempo of online interest in the Christchurch attack and attacker, hateful images and rhetoric proliferation, and the enduring traction of conspiracy theory narratives like the need for pre-emptive violent action against so-called ‘white genocide.’
Our analysis indicates that there is a moderately high probability of someone carrying out a hate crime, or attempting an attack in the near future.
It is CTG’s recommendation that all Synagogues, Mosques, Temples, and Churches increase or implement security measures at all worship services, prayer times, and during gatherings. Members of each faith based institution or group should be alerted to the seriousness of this threat in order to ensure that each person is aware of suspicious activity and persons and any type of danger.
If any faith based institution or group is interested in learning more about security measures to protect their facilities and members, please contact us.
The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) is a unit of the global risk consulting and security firm Paladin 7. CTG proactively searches for and analyzes the threat of terrorism that comes from International Terrorist Organizations, Domestic Terrorist Organizations, and Individuals determined to inflict terror upon societies, organizations and individuals. Our international and national security professionals set up protective measures to detect, deter, and prevent, discourage, and dissuade any terrorist organization or individual from carrying out an attack on organizations and individuals. We work to protect our clients from any terrorist threat or attack. We also work proactively with the proper authorities to find those in terrorist organizations and individuals who will cause harm and assist in bringing them to justice and mitigating the threat long-term.
Note: Certain pictures in this report were taken from Internet followers supporting the extreme right wing. Pictures of Angry Goy II come from Vocativ and its report on the game.