From the Web to Real LifeThe Growing Threat of Online-Bred Right-Wing Extremism
The gunman who killed 50 people in Christchurch, New Zealand is being celebrated by right-wing extremists around the world, including in Germany. It is a sign of how the internet has forged a new kind of terrorist threat, and an increasingly emboldened network of radicals.
The article you are reading originally appeared in German in issue 13/2019 (March 23rd, 2019) of DER SPIEGEL.
Here my statements:
Florian Hartleb, an expert on right-wing extremism, has no doubt that “such an act of violence could have happened in Germany, Austria or Sweden.” Hartleb believes there is a lack of awareness of this phenomenon in Germany, including among the authorities: “While ideology is seen as a central motivating factor for Islamist perpetrators, it’s often dismissed as secondary when it comes to the far right.”
Take David Sonboly, for instance, the Munich shooter. At first, police concluded that the psychologically disturbed 18-year-old was driven by revenge for having been bullied in school. Only later did several experts commissioned by the city of Munich declare the shooting rampage a hate crime. Hartleb was one of those experts. On Steam, the gaming platform, Sonboly frequented forums in which users regularly glorified mass shooters and terrorists and agitated against the “mass invasion” of Muslim refugees to Europe. One racist user from the U.S. state of New Mexico with whom Sonboly chatted nicknamed him the “kebab removalist” after his attack. In late 2017, the user himself shot up a high school and killed two Latin American students. At the apartment of another one of Sonboly’s chat partners, the police found instructions for how to build pipe bombs and large quantities of small-caliber ammunition.
Hartleb, the extremism researcher, first discovered the link between the Munich and New Mexico shooters. He speaks of “virtual, global terrorist networks.”
Link and full version: