White Supremacy is Being Internationalized and Weaponized Like Never Before, Says New ADL Report

New York, NY, September 18, 2019 … A new report from ADL (the Anti-Defamation League) provides an in-depth analysis of the international spread of white supremacy. Hate Beyond Borders: The Internationalization of White Supremacy shows how American white supremacists are attempting to export their message and activities and are finding a receptive audience among likeminded bigots overseas.

Produced by ADL’s Center on Extremism in collaboration with extremism researchers from anti-hate organizations in five European countries, the report exposes the shared influences of white supremacists in North America and Europe and explains how these newfound connections are dangerous at a time of rising hate crimes and mass shootings from Pittsburgh to Christchurch and beyond. It also chronicles the degree to which American white supremacists are coordinating with foreign counterparts – meeting both online and in person, sharing ideas and tactics, and recruiting new followers to their cause.

“As white supremacy grows and connects across borders, it has become essential to understand how followers are growing their networks and recruiting new members,” said Sharon Nazarian, ADL Senior VP for International Affairs. “On both sides of the Atlantic, racist and xenophobic views are seeping into mainstream social discourse. This growing network of hate has emboldened white supremacists who see themselves as part of a global movement to ‘save the white race.’”

Nazarian is scheduled to testify today before the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Intelligence and Counterterrorism hearing on “Meeting the Challenge of White Nationalist Terrorism at Home and Abroad,” where she will share some of the ADL’s latest intelligence on international white supremacist activity and trends.

Over the past decade there has been a marked surge in violence in the U.S. and Europe motivated by right-wing extremism, leading to mass killings in Norway and, more recently, in Pittsburgh, El Paso, Poway, Christchurch and elsewhere. According to researchers, all of this violent activity is no coincidence, considering how U.S.-based white supremacists have dramatically increased their coordination and information sharing with likeminded bigots abroad in recent years.

According to ADL’s report, American and foreign white supremacists are increasingly coordinating their activities and messaging, and this newfound collaboration has led to a cross-pollinating of ideas, jointly holding events and conferences, and building a global network of followers both online and off. Global white supremacist ideology is easily disseminated across borders on various social media platforms, and noxious anti-immigrant and pro-white rhetoric are finding their way into mainstream politics and society.

This activity has fueled a rise in hate crimes and anti-Semitism in both the U.S. and in Europe as minority communities – particularly Jews, Muslims and immigrants – are increasingly threatened with racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia and nativism.

Hate Beyond Borders identifies and assesses the growing ties between extremists in the U.S. and the United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden, France and Poland. It profiles 18 European influencers and nearly a dozen white supremacist leaders from the U.S. and Canada who are having a profound effect on one another and on the white supremacy movement internationally. The report is a collaboration between ADL and extremism researchers at the Amadeu Antonio Foundation (Germany), Community Security Trust (UK), Expo Foundation (Sweden), Observatoire des Radicalités Poltiques, Fondation Jean Jaurès, (France) and Never Again Association (Poland). 

“It shouldn’t be lost on anyone that the white supremacist shooter in El Paso venerated the shooter in Christchurch who in turn celebrated the actions of prior white supremacist killers,” said ADL CEO and National Director Jonathan Greenblatt. “These violent actions were aided and abetted by this increasingly global network of white supremacist followers. White supremacy is a global terror threat, and we need to devote more federal resources to tracking this phenomenon.”

The report points to several factors that have aided the internationalization of white supremacy:

  • Conferences attracting foreign extremists in the U.S. and Europe have allowed white supremacists to build an international community that networks both locally and globally. In the last six years, international far-right meetings that included white supremacists were held in Sweden, Finland and Norway. Between 2013 and 2019, American white supremacists were speakers at about a dozen conferences held by far-right white supremacist organizations in these Nordic countries. American far-right extremists have likewise appeared at conferences in Russia, Greece, the U.K., Lithuania and Estonia.
  • The rise of far-right political parties in Europe, including those with direct ties to neo-Nazis, has emboldened white supremacists in the U.S., who have both publicly applauded the rise of these parties and have actually met with or spoken at events hosted by these parties.
  • Identitarianism, a right-wing anti-globalist European movement that opposes non-white and Muslim immigration into Europe, has spread across Europe. This has had an impact on American white supremacists, who have adopted those views and rhetoric and have invited speakers from Europe to appear in America.
  • American white supremacists are increasingly interacting with their foreign counterparts. Some organized white supremacist groups including the Atomwaffen Division, have inspired neo-Nazis in Europe to establish similar groups. The U.S.-based Women for Aryan Unity has chapters in Europe. Short-lived Klan groups have also emerged in the U.K. and Germany.
  • The white power music scene provides an important vehicle for American and European white supremacists to forge ties. International skinhead organizations like the Hammerskins and Blood and Honor hold concerts in the U.S. and in Europe. And for years, Hammerskins from Sweden, Switzerland and Germany have attended events put on by their American counterparts.
  • White supremacists communicate with each other on a regular basis via social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Gab, and VK, a Russian site. The internet allows them to influence and inspire each other on a daily basis as they network and plan events.

Legislators and politicians, the tech industry, and leaders of civil society all have a role to play in countering the rise of international white supremacy. Among the report’s policy recommendations for governments and social media platforms are: 

  • Leaders must speak out strongly against white supremacy and all forms of hate.
  • Hate crime laws should be enacted and enforced – and law enforcement officials must be trained to identify, report and respond to hate violence. 
  • Government must resource to the increased threat of white supremacy – including legislation to increase coordination, accountability, and transparency in understanding, detecting, deterring, and investigating acts of domestic terrorism.
  • The State Department should examine whether certain white supremacist groups operating abroad meet the specific criteria to be subject to sanctions under its Designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) authority.  Designating foreign white supremacist groups could make knowingly providing material support or resources to them a crime – extending authority for law enforcement officials to investigate whether criminal activity is being planned or is occurring.
  • Technology companies must have clear terms of service and they must enforce them.  They should commit to regularly scheduled external, independent audits so that the public knows the extent of hate and harassment on a given platform.

ADL is the world’s leading anti-hate organization. Founded in 1913 in response to an escalating climate of anti-Semitism and bigotry, its timeless mission is to protect the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all. Today, ADL continues to fight all forms of hate with the same vigor and passion. A global leader in exposing extremism, delivering anti-bias education, and fighting hate online, ADL is the first call when acts of anti-Semitism occur. ADL’s ultimate goal is a world in which no group or individual suffers from bias, discrimination or hate.