How many lone wolves do you need before you have a pack?

The conviction of racist terrorist Pavlo Lapshyn has got one murdering scumbag off the streets, but we should not delude ourselves that the problem of racist-inspired acts of terrorism has disappeared.

Lapshyn may have been acting alone, as has been claimed, but it is clear he was fuelled by prejudices and hatreds which have inspired many others to carry out terrorist campaigns. He is not an isolated case.

“Lone wolves”

A teenager from Loughborough, who was associated with the EDL’s Leicester Division, is currently on trial at the Old Bailey accused of “plotting a terrorist attack, having a terrorist manual, and possessing parts for an improvised explosive”. He kept a notebook of potential targets which included Loughborough mosque and had a Nazi flag above his bed.

This not a new development. In 2011, Searchlight Magazine published a report looking at “lone wolf” terrorists in the UK, which included “case studies of nearly 40 individuals holding  far-right political views who have been convicted for violence or terrorist offences” between the 1960s and the date of publication.

Fortunately, most of these wannabe-terrorists suffered from the same incompetence which has traditionally characterised the British far-right, but some managed to carry out their plans, inflicting harm on innocent victims. Perhaps the most famous example is the “Brixton bomber” David Copeland who killed three people, including a pregnant woman, and injured 139, four of whom lost limbs.

International problem

This is not a uniquely British problem. Recent years have seen Anders Breivik’s killing spree in Norway, the discovery of a neo-Nazi terrorist cell in Germany, the murder of two Senegalese street vendors in Italy by a right-wing extremist to name only three high-profile incidents.

Meanwhile, in the US, The National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) reported:

Between 1990 and 2010 there were 145 ideologically motivated homicide incidents committed by far-right extremists in the United States.

Including the Oklahoma City Bombing, which killed 168 individuals, far-right extremists killed 348 individuals during ideologically motivated homicide events between 1990 and 2010. Excluding that attack, far-right extremists killed 180 individuals between 1990 and 2010.

This isn’t meant to scare you. It isn’t like you’re going to trip over a fascist bomber everytime you leave the house. Nevertheless, it is clear that this is a big deal.

The state

It isn’t just us who think this issue needs to be taken seriously. It is something which is also beginning to be understood by state security forces.

Charles Farr, Director of the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism, recently warned:

The biggest weapons caches found in this country in the last five years have been connected with people sympathetic to extreme right-wing causes. More than 30 guns and about 50 explosive devices were found in the possession of Terence Gavan. In terms of sheer quantity, there have been no comparable seizures made in connected with militant Islamists.

Elsewhere, a report by the Department of Homeland Security warned about the issue of right-wing extremism in the US in 2009, but was later repudiated by the Department under pressure from American “conservatives”.

Corporate media

Given the reality of the threat, you might think that it was the kind of thing the mainstream/corporate media would be all over. Whatever their views on militant anti-fascism even the most-conservative rag ought to be able to see the danger posed by fascist terrorists. However, long-time fascist-watcher will be familiar with the contrast between the salacious reporting of supposed Islamist terror threats (many of which disappear once the media loses interest after the initial raids) and the limited or non-existent reporting of the arrest of their fascist counterparts.

In part this might be attributable to the demise of court reporting and serious journalism more widely, in some cases editors may be genuinely unaware of the stories. However, it is clear that in other cases a conscious editorial not to cover these stories. This appears to have happened during the Lapshyn case. Deputy Chief Constable of West Midlands Police David Thompson, writing on his blog, was very critical of the reporting of the police’s appeal for information:

Our circulation of the picture of alleged suspects in the Mosque attacks drew very little coverage; that was frustrating at a time we needed public help. I wonder if you picked another faith and said that there would be a series of bombings at places of worship during a major religious period and the police had a picture of the alleged attacker you might think it would get more coverage?

It is hard to imagine any other explanation for the lack of coverage than the racism Thompson implies.

What is to be done?

Many will look to the state to protect us from this threat and it is true that intervention by the Old Bill has curtailed the terroristic aspirations of many wannabe fascist terrorists. However, we’ve written previously about the dangers of anti-fascist relying on the state. In any case, simply nicking those bombers stupid enough to get caught does nothing to deal with the racist milieu from which they emerge.

Even the genuine “lone wolves” do not wake-up one day and decide to go out and bomb a mosque, they will have been indoctrinated in those ideas, either as part of the far-right (eg David Copeland) or through far-right websites (as appears to have happened with Lapshyn). The best way to prevent that indoctrination is to challenge those ideas and the organisation which disseminate them. In short: we need to build a serious, effective, international anti-fascist movement.


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