February 14, 2021

Right-wing terrorist online subcultures - Analyzes and recommendations for action

Parents or educators often prefer not to admit that, but some young people, including very young ones, look for and find connection to and confirmation through right-wing terrorist networks on the Internet. They become part of the online communication of people who not only share right-wing extremist ideology, but also fantasies about assassination and annihilation, which often turn into concrete plans. Right-wing terrorist online networks exist across platforms and include messenger services, image boards, forums, social networks as well as video and gaming platforms. Right-wing terrorism is glorified in these networks, potential imitators are instigated to act and instructions for planning attacks are provided.

“By adapting elements of pop culture, a special aesthetic of violence has emerged, which can be seen in its own images, language and cultural codes. This subculture therefore particularly appeals to young people. Outsiders do not understand the codes, the young people celebrate excesses of violence and right-wing terrorists online until they are ready to allow themselves to be venerated as “saints” in their own community - through an assassination attempt. It starts like a game, but attacks like Christchurch and Halle show how deadly this radicalization can end, explains Thilo Manemann, author of the publication and monitoring employee of the Hate project at the Amadeu Antonio Foundation. In addition to insider terms and memes, this subculture also has its own aesthetic,

Right-wing terrorism is becoming an entertainment culture

But the trendy presentation cannot hide the fact that right-wing terrorist online communities are primarily about murder fantasies for racist, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic or misogynous reasons. “Right-wing terrorists collect points and are included in leaderboards, their written statements are distributed worldwide, their attacks are broadcast live and followed by thousands. The terrorists are stylized as heroes. Your acts of terrorism are perceived as an entertainment culture, ”explains Manemann. It is not easy to draw the line as to when such online activities become real hazards, which makes handling even more difficult.

“Right-wing terrorist online subcultures are on the rise - and they are becoming more and more dangerous. Although they act largely anonymously, the online communities succeed in giving the often disaffected, sometimes underage members of the community the feeling that they can become heroes - if they commit a right-wing terrorist act, ”explains Timo Reinfrank, Managing Director of the Amadeu Antonio Foundation . “Even while copycats are being incited by livestream murders, the right-wing extremists assert that the inhuman memes and pop-cultural elements of the subculture are just a special form of humor. The security authorities fall for the trivialization far too often. "With their autonomous action and the autonomous organization they pursue the strategy of 'leaderless resistance',

Terror prevention must look at online subcultures

But these right-wing terrorist networks are not only a case for security authorities, but also for civil society and educational prevention - especially when it comes to young people. Because changes in (online) behavior are still most noticeable in the direct environment - if the corresponding signs are recognized. But what should be done if such interests are noticed in young people at school, among friends or in the family?

With its new handout, the Amadeu Antonio Foundation would like to support you in identifying right-wing terrorist tendencies in your own online environment. It gives an overview of the phenomenon and the functioning of right-wing terrorist online subcultures and uses practical examples to explain how educators can deal with young people who they suspect or find corresponding affinities.