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In this blog, Jack, a Tradecraft Advisor at Fivecast in the UK, shares his expertise on the terrorism landscape in the UK and Europe and how efforts to monitor risks online are assisted with open-source intelligence.  

Europe and the UK have been facing a resurgence in Right-Wing Terrorism (RWT) in recent years, with an eruption in white supremacism, anti-immigration and anti-government violence as well as attacks on ethnic minorities and the LGBTQ+ community. As attacks have increased over the last decade, RWT has become one of the greatest threats to Western democracies.

THE RISE OF ONLINE EXTREMISM

This century’s rise of the extreme right has been fuelled by a range of factors, including strident nationalism, Euroscepticism, resistance to changes in demographics and a surge in conspiracy following. The prolific usage of social media has further fanned the flames, providing a platform for the proliferation and dissemination of extremist propaganda and misinformation. These online channels have enabled RWT groups to connect globally and infiltrate mainstream society. Social isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic and more time spent online has also led to a wider audience of terrorist content, especially amongst the younger generation.

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In the UK, Head of Counter-Terrorism policing, Neal Basu described RWT as being “the fastest growing threat” with nearly a third of all terror plots foiled by law enforcement between 2017 and 2020 being related to RWT. In 2020 alone, three RWT groups were proscribed by UK police and in Germany, crimes committed by RWT groups rose by ten percent from 2019 to 2020, accounting for more than half of all politically motivated crimes.

TRACKING ONLINE EXTREMIST GROUPS

One such extremist group that has made the headlines recently is the Reichsbürger movement, a far-right, anti-government group based in Germany. Translating to “Citizens of the Reich”, the Reichsbürger reject the legitimacy of the Federal Republic of Germany and consider themselves to be the true government of the country. They advocate a variety of conspiracy theories and extremist ideologies, including antisemitism and the return of the German Empire. German intelligence began tracking the group in 2016 after one of its members killed a police officer during an attempt to seize the attacker’s arsenal of weapons. In December 2022, law enforcement carried out raids in Austria, Germany and Italy in which 25 people were arrested on suspicion of plotting to overthrow the German government.

OSINT FOR COUNTER-TERRORISM

Given the dangerous and inflammatory nature of the Reichsbürger movement and its apparent radicalisation through social media, it is important for law enforcement and security professionals to monitor and collect information about this group and other groups like it. Fivecast ONYX can carry out automated OSINT collection which can be an effective tool in counter-terrorism efforts, as it enables rapid and efficient gathering of data across a wide range of social media platforms.

One of the key benefits of the targeted and automated data collection provided by Fivecast ONYX is the ability to quickly and accurately gather large amounts of publicly available information on social media. By using advanced data collection combined with AI-enabled risk analysis, Fivecast ONYX automates complex intelligence tasks, helping analysts to sift through vast amounts of data and identify relevant information in a matter of seconds. This is particularly useful when dealing with RWT groups, which have large online presences generating a significant amount of content.

To find out more about how Fivecast helps national security and law enforcement progress their counter-terrorism missions, request a demo from our intelligence trained Tradecraft team.