By Bridget Johnson
Vows of expanded cyber warfare between white nationalist groups and Anonymous and other foes in the wake of the deadly Charlottesville rally could catch in the crossfire companies or individuals who have expressed views against white supremacists, as threatened in recent online postings that discuss broad targeting scopes. Meanwhile, hacktivists continue their operation to take down sites and social media accounts connected to white supremacists if tech companies aren’t responsive to crackdown requests.
The UK made several terror arrests this week in connection with the first far-right group there to be branded a terror organization, thus banning membership or material support. The accused men were serving in the British Army. The West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit announced via social media that on 06 Sept. a 22-year-old from Birmingham, a 32-year-old from Powys, a 24-year-old from Ipswich and a 24-year-old from Northampton were arrested “on suspicion of being concerned in the commission, preparation and instigation of acts of terrorism under Section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000.” Yesterday, a fifth man, 24, was reportedly arrested.
“A number of properties are being searched in connection with the arrests,” the police statement added. “The arrests were pre-planned and intelligence-led; there was no threat to the public’s safety.”
The men are accused of belonging to National Action, which was listed as a terrorist group in December 2016 – months after cheering the murder of Labour Party Member of Parliament Jo Cox, claiming she “would have filled Yorkshire with more subhumans,” and encouraging the slaying of more lawmakers.
“Its activities and propaganda materials are particularly aimed at recruiting young people. The group is virulently racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic. Its ideology promotes the idea that Britain will inevitably see a violent ‘race war,’ which the group claims it will be an active part of,” notes the UK guide. “…National Action’s online propaganda material, disseminated via social media, frequently features extremely violent imagery and language.” The neo-Nazi group also published material lauding Omar Mateen, the terrorist who massacred 49 patrons at the LGBT Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., in 2016 and pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.
The British authorities’ crackdown on National Action was observed with rapt interest by white supremacists in the United States, who often posted pieces detailing and praising the group’s activities in the UK. A year after National Action’s founding in 2013, the US white supremacist site Daily Stormer coordinated an anti-Semitic harassment campaign against Jewish MP Luciana Berger – a response to a man’s imprisonment for sending abusive messages to the lawmaker.
After hailing the slaying of Charlottesville counter-protester Heather Heyer last month, the Daily Stormer was banned by GoDaddy and then Google. Cloudflare announced they would no longer provide denial-of-service attack protection for the site and took “measures to ensure that they cannot sign up for Cloudflare’s services ever again.” The Daily Stormer has since resurfaced with a Tor onion.link domain, and their site was showing up in Google news results as of 08 Sept.
Daily Stormer founder Andrew Anglin has been directing site users to his Gab account, posting on the social networking site 06 Sept. that he wants “to create an interactive map of Jews” for tracking purposes and sought tech help in making that happen. “I already have Jew lists,” he added.
A left-wing media collective that monitors protests reported this week that white supremacists were using the gamer chat app Discord “to organize, plan, and recruit,” discuss “spear-phishing” with malicious email spoofs on perceived foes, and express “a keen interest in targeting reporters, with messages in the chat logs including ‘we need to make an example out of journalists’ and ‘we need to dox journalists.’”
The Anonymous campaign to take down white supremacist websites and social media accounts has continued under the hashtags #OpDomesticTerrorism, #OpAltRight and #OpKKK, with hackers cautioned to use Tor to hide their identity before doxxing or reporting suspect accounts. Hacktivists have swiped and posted user details purportedly from domains including Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi sites, along with conducting site and account takedowns.
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Bridget Johnson is a Senior Risk Analyst with Gate 15 and a veteran journalist whose news articles and analyses have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News.
Bridget is a Senior Fellow specializing in terrorism analysis at the Haym Salomon Center. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico, New York Daily News, The Jerusalem Post, The Hill, New York Observer, Washington Times, RealClearWorld and more, and has myriad television and radio credits. Bridget is Washington Bureau Chief for PJ Media. Follow Bridget on Twitter: @Bridget_PJM