Tue, Mar 26, 2019 - Page 8 News List

Lone wolves are as bad as jihadists

By Lin Tai-ho 林泰和

On March 15, the New Zealand city of Christchurch witnessed the most serious terrorist attack in the nation’s history as Australian Brenton Tarrant shot and killed 50 people at two mosques. The attacker planned and acted on his own, and not on the orders of any organization, so it was a “lone wolf” attack.

The main motive was to stop non-European Muslims from “invading” Australia and New Zealand. This far-right terrorist attack must not be regarded as a regional incident isolated to New Zealand, but as part of a global phenomenon.

A few hours before the attack, Tarrant posted a manifesto, titled “The Great Replacement,” detailing his plan for the massacre, to a global audience on Twitter and the Internet forum 8chan. In the 8chan post, he also shared his Facebook page and said that he would livestream the attack. The 17-minute slaughter was subsequently livestreamed to a global audience on Facebook.

Using the manifesto, the attacker clearly sought the attention and response of a global audience rather than only New Zealand, a small, quiet, peaceful country in the western Pacific.

Through Internet platforms such as Gab and Stormfront, the suspect could connect to like-minded people all over the world to exchange information and grow stronger. The situation in New Zealand was of no importance in this case, it was randomly chosen by the attacker. There are so many targets to choose from, such as places of worship, where an attacker can kill large numbers of “Muslim invaders,” just as jihadists in the West target Christmas markets because they can kill many “infidels” at them.

The “great replacement” has been a favorite slogan of the European new right in the past few years and it has been widely used by the extreme right. It implies that the white population in Europe is being systematically replaced with Muslims through mass migration.

In his manifesto, Tarrant praised the three terrorist attacks that were carried out between 2015 and last year in the US, the UK and Italy by far-right terrorists against African-Americans, mosques and African immigrants.

Tarrant said that the Christchurch attack had received the “blessings” of Norwegian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik.

He also said that his political views were close to China’s, and he denounced Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, London’s Muslim Mayor Sadiq Khan and German Chancellor Angela Merkel — calling her “the mother of all things anti-white and anti-Germanic” — for executing the “great replacement” plan.

He praised US President Donald Trump as a symbol of “white identity.”

The Christchurch attack is a reminder that Internet platforms and social media have become enablers of lone-wolf attacks, as they allow terrorists to connect globally while operating locally.

The terrorist threat posed by white nationalism is in no way smaller than the threat posed by Islamic jihadist terrorism. The research on the former deserves more attention and national security resources. After all, with the terrorist attacks on the Oklahoma FBI building in 1995 and in Norway in 2011, people do not need to look far for a bloody lesson.

Lin Tai-ho is an associate professor at National Chung Cheng University’s Institute of Strategic and International Affairs.

Translated by Lin Lee-kai

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