Fighting Back: The Atomwaffen Division, Countering Violent Extremism, and the Evolving Crackdown on Far-Right Terrorism in America
Keywords:Atomwaffen Division, Countering Violent Extremism, United States, Far-Right Terrorism
The early months of 2020 brought an intense and persistent crackdown on neo-Nazi terrorist groups in the United States, with both traditional arrests and new legislations increasing the pressure on a range of organizations, primarily the Atomwaffen Division and the Base. This article assesses the effectiveness of these measures, analyses remaining gaps, and concludes by arguing that the enduring focus on terrorist “organizations” will miss the lone actors that typically perpetrate attacks, and that effective and sustained counterterrorism success moving forward will therefore require longer-term, better-funded, whole-of-society deradicalization and countering violent extremism programming, which so far has been largely ignored in America’s countering far-right terrorism toolkit. The American far-right’s ideology exists largely due to conspiracy theories demonizing Jews, Muslims, African Americans, and liberals; deterring terrorism in our synagogues, mosques, churches, and supermarkets will require a new approach, founded on breaking down those conspiracy theories and ensuring that vulnerable individuals are no longer drawn in by hateful and pernicious ideologies.
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