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5th Jun 2020

Internal EU report: Far-right terrorist attacks rise

  • Attacks by far-right terrorists is increasing in some EU states. (Photo: Medien AG // Anarchistische Gruppe Freiburg)

Right-wing terror threats and their online hate ideology is rising in some EU states, according to an internal EU document.

"Activities from right-wing violent extremists are on the rise," notes the 4 May document, addressed to national delegations, and seen by EUobserver.

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The 12-page paper drafted by the EU presidency under Croatia provides a broad overview of terror threats emanating from returning foreign terrorist fighters, right-wing terrorists and - to a much lower extent - the far-left.

Broadly speaking, the overall terror threat in the EU remains elevated and unchanged, it says.

But the document still singles out right-wing extremists while highlighting fears Islamic militants may leave the camps in Northern Syria and mount attacks elsewhere.

"Lone actor attacks are predominant both in Islamist terrorism and in right-wing violent extremism," it says.

As for what it describes as left-wing extremism, the threat "is considered stable and low."

The document follows a slew of recent attacks by white nationalists against refugees and migrants in the Greek islands. Earlier this year, a far-right gunman shot dead nine Kurdish people in the German town of Hanau.

It also comes amid what the United Nation's chief described late last week as a "tsunami of hate and xenophobia" unleashed by the pandemic caused by Covid-19.

EU home affairs commissioner Ylva Johansson recently issued her own warnings.

"Let's hope that these terrorists have not been inspired by the virus to use even more, the biological weapons," she told MEPs.

Target algorithms

The document aims to shape policy responses partly based on input from the EU's police agency Europol and IntCen, the EU's intelligence-sharing bureau.

Those inputs were made prior to the coronavirus outbreak - meaning the threat risks linked to the pandemic have yet to be fully understood.

Meanwhile, the document has put forward a number of policy recommendations amid suggestions social media giants tweak their algorithms.

"The impact of algorithms and their contribution to polarisation in society and violent radicalisation leading to violent extremism and terrorism, including the spread of right-wing violent extremist ideology also needs to be addressed," it states.

It also demands that the special internet unit inside the EU's police agency, Europol, starts flagging violent right-wing extremist content online.

For its part, the European Commission has circulated a questionnaire to the EU states mapping out how they tackle right-wing extremism.

Those responses will then feed into an overview to be presented to the EU Council before the end of the year.

The commission also wants to shore up anti-terror rules by expanding the protection of critical infrastructures.

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