The Christchurch mosque shooting took the world by surprise in March of 2019. Fifty-one people were killed, and forty-nine were injured during the shooting which lasted for less than an hour, making it the deadliest in New Zealand history. National security professionals and lawmakers now have the responsibility to examine the ideology behind the attack, as well as its evolution and the threat it represents, in order to act to preempt similar attacks in their own jurisdiction.
This type of attack—using a
composite ideology and aiming at a global audience— was unprecedented in New Zealand. The last
two mass shootings, in Aramoano (1990)1,
and Raumiru (1997)2, were caused
by a fight between two
neighbors turned into a shooting spree, and a violent outburst by a
schizophrenic patient, respectively. The planned
attack in Christchurch,
National security professionals and lawmakers now have the responsibility to examine the ideology behind the attack, as well as its evolution and the threat it represents, in order to act to preempt similar attacks in their own jurisdiction.
perpetrated by a young man who
spent six months designing a calculated, meticulous, massacre, supported by a
global right wing ideology, had not been anticipated by the New Zealand
national security apparatus, for which terrorism is not a priority3. An examination of the Christchurch massacre
begs two questions of the French
national security apparatus: (i) does a similar threat exist in France; and
(ii) are the French security services fully able to respond to such a threat?
In the morning of March 15th 2019,
Brendon Tarrant, an Australian
citizen living in New Zealand, sent a 74- page manifesto to several local
media, as well as to the Prime Minister’s Office. He then posted the text on
social media, titled “The Great Replacement”. A few moments later, Brendon Tarrant began a live broadcast as he drove
to the Al Noor Mosque in the suburbs of Christchurch. When he reached the
mosque, he grabbed his weapons, marched inside the building, and began
shooting, causing multiples deaths and injuries before driving away. The live broadcast ended there, but
the carnage did not. The shooter then pulled up to the Linwood mosque, where he
similarly opened fire on the congregation. One of his victims was able take his
weapon from him, forcing him to flee. After ramming
his car, New Zealand police officers were able to arrest
This type of attack was unexpected
by the New Zealand law enforcement community, as well as by the New Zealand government writ large. Prime
Minister Jacinda Arden described March 15th as “one of New
Zealand darkest days”5.
The attack reached an international audience due to the live broadcast, as well
as through the ideology of its
perpetrator. The level of violence and high number of casualties, relatively
unheard of in a Western country, can
be explained by two elements of the attack: its modus operandi and the ideology
in furtherance of which it was committed.
The shooter planned his operation
for two years and started the logistical preparation six month before the
attack. His modus operandi (MO) is relatively simple: armed with multiples
firearms (two semi-automatic assault rifles, two shotguns, and one lever
action rifle), he entered two mosques during
prayers and opened
fire on the worshipers. Though the weapons he used were legally
purchased, his 30 round magazines were illegal in New Zealand, and were
purchased online and taped together to allow a faster reload. Importantly, he
was also a competent marksman, well trained and used to the weapons he used.
During the shooting, he stayed on
the move and acted fast. In order to kill the maximum number of victims, he
“double tapped” (two shots fired in rapid succession at the same target with
the same sight picture) most of his victims. This MO is not entirely new. The
terrorist attacks of Anders Breivik in Oslo and on the island of Utoya, of
Alexandre Bissonette in Québec, or of Luca Traini in Marcerata share common
elements with the killing perpetrated by Brendon Tarrant. These similarities
can be explained by shared aspects in their ideologies, as illustrated in
Christchurch terrorist’s manifesto.
Brendon Tarrant’s manifesto, titled “The Great Replacement”, is a 74-page
long string of text. After a drawing were Brendon Tarrant presents the eight pillars of his
ideology6, the manifesto is
divided in to four parts: an introduction, a series of self-interviews, several
messages to various audiences, and then a summation titled “General Thoughts
and Potential Strategies”.
From the start, the introduction
states the reason of the attack: the birthrate of immigrants. In the manifesto,
immigration is described as an ethnic, cultural, and racial replacement.
Therefore, the shooter describes his objective
as the defense of the European people
and the execution of its “revenge”. These
subjects are common in right wing discourse. However, the Christchurch shooter also takes
some less common
positions, describing himself
as an “ecofascist” and promoting environmental protection.
He acknowledges a “racial component” to the attack, which could justified his description as a neonazi.
number 14, written on his weapons,
referenced the 14 Word Pledge: « We must secure the existence
Furthermore, the terrorist chose to broadcast his attack abroad,
hoping to stimulate similar
attacks in various Western countries.
These “spectacle murders” were precisely choreographed and executed, complete with music and decorated weapons.
people and a future for white children »7, a well known neonazi slogan. Nonetheless, the usual white supremacist talking points are not a predominant part of the manifesto, as the author appears more concerned about cultural and ethnic segregation. Another surprising element came from the foreign based examples used by Brendon Tarrant to justify his actions: the murder of Ebba Akerlund, a young Swedish girl rammed by a jihadist in Stockholm in April 2017,
and the defeat of Marine Le Pen in the French presidential elections of 2017. The shooter shows a knowledge of international politics, and
selects examples of what he calls a “white genocide” in the United Kingdom,
France, Germany as well as in the United States and Turkey. He explains his choice of using firearms for the attack
in order to reignite the gun control debate in New Zealand, and by extension in
the United States.
His hope appears to be to start a
balkanization of the debate “along political, cultural and, most importantly,
racial lines” in America. Furthermore, the terrorist chose to broadcast his
attack abroad, hoping to stimulate similar attacks in various Western countries. These “spectacle
murders” were precisely choreographed and executed, complete with music
and decorated weapons.
The victims weren’t
randomly selected either.
Brendon Tarrant explain his
choice of targets using two arguments: the birthrate of the Muslim community;
and the tensions around Islam in Western societies.
He states that targeting the Muslim community will bring him “more support”
from a radical fringe of the violent right wing.
I – The
Right wing terrorism is a criminal
phenomenon, well known by Western security professionals despite the tactical
and ideological disparities in each country. However, the Christchurch attack
takes inspiration from the two main frames of right wing terror: the Anglo
Saxon frame and that of continental European, to blend them in a new, more
dangerous and more lethal version.
Anglo Saxon Right Wing Terrorism
The Anglo Saxon right wing terrorism frame originated in the United States. After the 1945 dissolution of the Ku Klux Klan, various right wing extremist group appeared in the late 70’s. Louis Beam, one of the pioneers of the violent right wing, theorized and made popular the concept of “leaderless resistance”, in an essay written in 1983. American right-wing extremism of this era, organized in hierarchical groups, was regularly infiltrated by the FBI, and routinely saw its members “turned” by law enforcement, as happened with the Order white supremacist organization. Beam’s theory
suggests a system composed of solitary cells with only one or two members, with no hierarchical relations between cells, leaving them to select their own objectives and methods, while fighting for the same cause. With this system, the arrest of one operative does not jeopardize the entire movement. The absence of communication between terrorists limits the chances of being detected by law enforcement. Leaderless resistance was soon adopted by the vast majority of American right wing extremists.
Right wing terrorism is a criminal phenomenon, well known
by Western security professionals
despite the tactical and ideological disparities in each country. However,
the Christchurch attack takes inspiration from the two main frames of right wing terror: the Anglo Saxon
frame and that of continental European , to blend them in a new, more dangerous and more lethal
Nearly 10 years after Beam’s manifesto, a rental truck, loaded with
3,500 kilos of explosive8,
from of the Alfred
Murrah Federal Building
in Oklahoma City, killing
168 people. It was the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil prior to
the 9/11 plane attacks. The
perpetrator, Timothy McVeigh, a
right-wing extremist, considered the US federal government to have become
tyrannical. He planned his attack alone, and was only help by an accomplice to
load the truck9.
This type of attack,
by a lone, self-radicalized terrorist, next appeared among the British
right wing movement. In 1999, a series
of nail bombs around London
killed three and injured one hundred and forty. The perpetrator, David Copeland, a self-proclaimed neo-nazi, targeted the black and gay communities of the British
capital. He is well versed with American right-wing literature and did not mention
his attack to anyone. Recent
examples are numerous. In 2016, a British MP, Jo Cox, was murdered by Alexander Mair, who called her a “traitor to the white race” because
of her involvement for the Remain campaign.
The investigators discovered his interest for
American right-wing books and David Copeland. A year later, Darren Osborne
rammed his car into the Finsbury Park mosque. He justified his attack by citing
the Rochdale10 sex abuse cases and the
latest jihadist attacks on British soil. Finally,
in 2018, British law enforcement arrested Ethan Stables, a neo-nazi
activist, who was planning
a machete attack
on a gay pub. in each of these cases,
the terrorist was self radicalized, acted outside of right wings organization he frequented, without
telling anyone about his projects. They found his motivation and his modus operandi online, but lacked deep
Continental Europe Right Wing
Right wing terror in continental Europe
varies significantly from
the anglo saxon
model. In most countries, right wing networks were built after World War Two by former collaborators of the Nazi regime. At first, they aimed
for the return of Nazism in Europe, but soon moved to an identitarian rhetoric,
which became predominant in the 1980’s. During
the second half of the twentieth century, national issues arose and fueled
right wing extremism: French Algeria,
the fight against
communism, American imperialism, the rise of the State of Israel, before focusing on immigration and the struggle
against Islam in Europe. The European groups
communicated in Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Italy and Germany, and developed an extremist
intellectual corpus as a response to growing immigration from outside of
Though some of these groups’
members may have joined just for the “rough and tumble”, the European right wing fringe is much more
ideologically trained than its American or British counterparts. Specifically, these groups developed
contacts in the universities, among students (GUD), think tanks (GRECE, Erkerbrand Study Association), and theorized their fight. The “Great
Replacement” theory, made popular
again by the French author Renaud Camus in 2010, gave its title to the
Christchurch shooter’s manifesto.
The tactical doctrine of
Continental European right-wing terrorist groups are also different. They
usually prefer acting as a group,
without claiming any involvement after the attacks.
Groups such as the Organisation Armée Secrète en France,
or Terza Posizione in Italy had tremendous destructive capacity and professionalism, making them more dangerous
adversaries than most current groups,
which are more violent but less organized than their predecessors. In
2016, weapons and ballistic protections were found during a home search of
members of the Blood and Honour Hexagone group (France). Recently, Action des
Forces Opérationnelles, a French small group disbanded in 2018, were gathering
weapons and planning a series of attacks on French soil targeting Muslims.
These types of terrorist groups, composed of multiples members, are easier for
law enforcement to detect,
and recent arrests
have put the brakes on their actions.
However, these recent
successes and the mediatic impact may trigger a change of methods for
potentials terrorist looking to cause destruction.
Hybrid Right Wing Terrorism
European security services are growing
concerned over the threat of right wing terrorism. Former Assistant
Commissioner Mark Rowley
of the London Metropolitan Police
Services recently stated
that “the change and growth in extreme right-wing terrorist threat has [not] been explained or described well enough”11. Patrick
Calvar, the former director of the
French General Directorate for Internal Security, mentioned “ineluctable
confrontation” between l’ultra droite and
the jihadist groups12. An attack like the
Christchurch one is not unprecedented in Europe.
On July 22, 2011 Anders Brevik put a bomb in a van in
Oslo, before going to the island of Utoya, dressed as a police officer, and
opening fire on a youth camp organized by the Norwegian Labor Party. The two attacks killed 77 peoples.
The shooter had published online a 1,500 page manifesto (referenced by Brendon Tarrant) where familiar themes were
discussed, such as the defense of the European race. The Utoya attack shows
that right wing extremism is a current
and changing threat
in Europe, able to act violently and efficiently. The 2018
attack by Luca Traini13 confirms this. While Italy was used to coordinated attack by trained
groups in the 80’s, like the Bologna
train station attack perpetrated by Terza Posizione, Traini
chose to act alone. He opened
fire from his car on a group of African migrants, injuring six of them. These
attacks illustrate a change in the modus operandi of the terrorist
European right wing. The threat
is now less organized, more radical and more
violent. The shooters are looking for a high number of victims and try to
European security services are growing concerned over the
threat of right wing terrorism. Former Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley of
the London Metropolitan Police Services recently stated that “the change and
growth in extreme right-wing terrorist threat has [not] been explained or
described well enough”. Patrick Calvar, the former director of the French General Directorate for Internal Security, mentioned “ineluctable
confrontation” between l’ultra droite and
the jihadist groups.
Additional factors seems to show that the risk on a right-wing attack
is increasing in Europe. The multiplication
of attacks by jihadist, who see Europe as a land to conquer, triggers
a reciprocal and cumulative radicalization, as seen in the writings of Brendon Tarrant. Contrary
to the last developments observed
at the end of the century,
the right wing groups are trying to increase their competence. Belgium and
Dutch security professionals are noticing an increase
in gun registration among right wing activist
in their respective countries. The connection of some these groups inside the
military and law enforcement communities are also worrying according to
multiple analysts, who are concerned with their capacity for mayhem it could
give to these groups14.
Europe is seeing many examples of
the professionalization of its right-wing extremists. For example, a German
military officer was recently arrested while planning an attack. Additionally, right wing groups are now
recruiting “returnees” from combat zone. Most of them are coming back from
Ukraine and have been trained and have fought in combat units on both side of
the conflict. The Azov Bataillon, which upholds a neo-Nazist ideology,
recruited dozens of volunteers attracted
by their beliefs15, including ten French nationals.
In addition to these soldiers of
fortune, another risk exists at the eastern borders of Europe. In June 2016,
Ukrainian SBU police officers arrested a 27 years old French citizen attempting
to cross the border in to Poland. In his car, they found 5 Kalashnikov type
assault rifle, two RPG, 125 kilos of TNT and more than 5000 rounds of
ammunition16. At his sentencing to
six years in jail, he mentioned his plans of attacking mosques, synagogues, and
tax centers with a group of ten people. If details are lacking, and some of the
information is still unconfirmed, this arrest proves the existence of a rapidly
evolving right-wing fringe. The inspiration of Brendon Tarrant by Anders
Breivik illustrates a key development in modern terrorism. Similar to the
November 13th attack in Paris,
planned from Belgium by local and foreign operators, the current right- wing
threat is now mobile and not restricted by national borders anymore.
II – The
Right wing extremism is currently mutating and changing into a hybrid
version of both historic models.
Lone terrorists and small
ultra-violent cells have replace the hierarchical organized groups of the past. They are radicalized on the Internet
and build ideology from a global
culture, using talking points and
examples they view as justifying their action. Their attacks are designed to be
spectacular and they spread manifestos on social medias, following a
“propaganda of the deed” strategy. Their
modus operandi are currently simple
inspiration of Brendon
Tarrant by Anders Breivik
illustrates a key development in modern terrorism. Similar to the November 13th
attack in Paris, planned from Belgium by local and foreign operators, the
current right-wing threat is now
mobile and not restricted by national borders
low cost, but recent trends to
involve firearms, members in law enforcement or military forces, and returnees
from war zones may multiply
their destructive capacities. Both security experts
and politicians need to address the threat.
The French response has been
composed of three sections: intelligence gathering, tactical response, and legal prosecution. These
three sections require
highly trained professionals. The focus must be kept on the evolution
of the right-wing extremism to better anticipate the changes of its modus
operandi. Without prospective studies, these new kinds of attack will be extremely hard to
manage for the security services.
The Merah case is a perfect
example of these difficulties17.
After the creation of the DCRI18,
The French intelligence were being reorganized and did not completely
appreciated the risk caused by the Toulouse
jihadist, who acted outside of the usual networks. The terrorist then
acted quickly and violently, making the investigations difficult as the
detectives had to face a series of successive attacks. Finally, the operation at his
apartment was especially hard. The RAID19 faced an individual ready to die for his cause and eager
to kill as many victims as possible. Despite the professionalism of the French
security forces, there were a series of flaws in the response, due to the
combination of a new form of jihadism and a relative inertia in adapting the
response to it.
Facing a growing jihadist threat,
France reformed its internal intelligence agency,
allocated more funds to the
newly created DGSI20, and increased its
participation in international cooperation efforts. French intelligence
officers are well aware of the right-wing terrorism risk and have built
a solid expertise on the subject.
However, due to the increasing jihadist activity on French soil, it is
more complicated to spend resources on right wing extremism, despite
its ongoing globalization of the threat.
Indeed, Brendon Tarrant did not targeted
Australia, his native country but New Zealand where he anticipated he
could find easier targets. He also knew that an attack in a Western country
that had so far been spared from international terrorism would have a bigger impact in the media. This transnational
aspect of terrorism, well documented in jihadism, is now also characteristic of
the right wing. Following the 2001 terrorist attacks, and again after 2015,
France started to multiply its contacts with foreign intelligence agencies to
improve information sharing on terrorism issues. These efforts must continue
and extend to the right
wing threat. French
intelligence agencies need also to be able to use the
full spectrum of captors at their disposal, from the local police officer and
gendarme to trained analysts, in order to prevent the next attack.
Facing a growing jihadist threat, France reformed its internal intelligence agency, allocated more funds to the newly created DGSI1, and increased its
participation in international cooperation efforts.
French intelligence officers are well aware of the right-wing terrorism risk and have built a solid expertise on
After the 2015 attacks21, the Ministry of Interior entirely redesigned the French national tactical response22. Elite tactical units such as GIGN, RAID and BRI branches were set up in various cities all across France in a grid pattern. Locals SWAT teams from both the National Police (BAC), and the Nationale Gendarmerie (PSIG Sabre) received better weapons and equipment following the BAC-PSIG Plan of 2016. A new tactical doctrine was also set in place, allowing every gendarmes or police officer to act quickly in order to stop an ongoing mass shooting event.
General Richard Lizurey, Director
of the National Gendarmerie pleaded
for a “transfer of useful
skills”, trying to get some of
tactical skill sets usually reserved to SWAT
team members to the rest of the force23.
The French Ministry of Justice has
a long history of dealing with right wing terrorism. Under articles 431-13
(constitution of a combat group)
and 421-1 (listing
terrorist activities) of the Penal
Code, prosecutors can go after groups which (1) possess or have
access to weapons and (2) have hierarchical structure capable of triggering
public disorder. Article
431-13 of the Penal Code is a more practical
tool against right wing groups
than article 450-1 (criminal
conspiracy), which is preferred against jihadist cells. However, both articles
are designed for terrorist groups and cannot be used against
lone terrorists. In this case, “hate crimes”
laws are another
tool for the prosecution and were used in the case of the Chalon
sur Saone hammer
attacker. The 17-year-old terrorist committed 4 attacks,
while claiming his affiliation to the fictitious “Commando for the Defense of the French People and Fatherland” and asking
for the release of right wing inmates. When interrogated by the police, he
stated having “no racist thought, nor
This example illustrates perfectly one of the major challenges facing politics
today: defining the demands of today’s right
wing extremism and Yellow Vest
The demands of a radical fringe of
right wing extremist can be hard to understand, especially in the rapidly
evolving world of French politics. Former element of the right wing rhetoric,
like the religious catholic roots, are less significant than before. However,
subjects like the protection of European culture
and the fight against the perceived rise of Islam
in Europe are growing concerns for these populations, as illustrated by the Christchurch shooter.
New subjects are also emerging
among the right wing concerns: environmental protection, native worker’s right, and anti-globalization, among
others. These new concerns are echoing demands
from groups on different
parts of the political spectrum. The convergence of the political struggles is
clearly illustrated in the Yellow Vest movement. Short terms alliances are
formed among radicals of various political fringe groups against what they see as common adversaries: globalization, “elites”, “the media”. The fight against
immigration and its impact on
the job market often unites right wing and left wing extremists. The clash
between the Jewish intellectual Alain Finkielkraut and Yellow Vest demonstrators
showed both right wing extremists and radical Islamists uniting around their
shared antisemitism, a phenomenon already seen in French prisons. The wide
variety of demands inside the Yellow Vest movement allows right wing extremism
to recruit from a wider pool of candidates, some of them from populations which were traditionally hostile to right wing ideas.
Right wing groups have already sent some of their trusted members,
including mercenaries back from the Donbass
New subjects are
also emerging among
the right wing concerns: environmental protection, native
worker’s right, and anti-globalization, among others. These new concerns are
echoing demands from groups on different parts of the political spectrum. The
convergence of the political struggles is clearly illustrated in the Yellow Vest movement.
region, to join the security staff of the demonstrations25. This wider pool of recruits multiplies the capacity for action of a violent fringe of the
right wing movement, which has already hardened its rhetoric and is gaining
The French political response has
to take place in a continuously evolving situation, where radical political
opinions are becoming the norm. If security professionals have to handle the
capacity of action of violent groups, the hardening of the right’s rhetoric and
the growing number of militants is, by essence, a political issue. Legislators
must monitor the actions of law enforcement and intelligence agencies by
setting limits to their actions, before leaving the security apparatus act in a
neutral, apolitical environment. Simultaneously, a specific social response has to be designed for the growing
number of French
citizens feeling alienated
by the government, and who
are susceptible to being recruited by radical right wing groups.
The combination of a difficult economic
situation, a succession of jihadist attacks,
and an absence of political representation is creating a
dangerous trend. Gilles de Kerchove – the EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator –
made a similar statement on the absence of right wing representatives in the
Belgian Parliament, when they represent the view of a non-negligible part of
the electorate in many parts of European states. He also noted that this situation could escalate and trigger some right wing supports to “act violently outside
our democratic systems”26.
Right wing movements are
traditionally legalistic and aspire to law and order. However, in a context of an anomic society, its supporters are ready to move
to violence to attain their goals. Therefore, a multisectoral plan, including
social, economic, as well as civil actions,
must be designed to target
that part of the population which feels left behind by the
French Republic. The investigative committee on right wing violent groups which began last January, is a first step in that direction. However, the right wing threat is high and necessitates a complex and specific
security response, based on prospective research on a large scale.
Research on right wing terrorism
in 21st century France is scarce. Most of the body of literature
is fixated on the OAS bombings or the
emergence of skin head groups in the 80’s, references
that are not relevant to the current situation. Right wing terrorism has its
codes, its factions, its objectives and each of them need in-depth research to
be fully understood in similar
fashion to jihadism. Experts on the subject exists in theFrench intelligence and law enforcement communities, but the evolution and
globalization of the threat, and the
predominance of the perceived jihadist risk, do not allow them any time for
prospective research. Moreover, this type of research is time consuming and expensive and therefore extremely
difficult for French security professionals who are required
to be extremely
The combination of a difficult economic situation, a
succession of jihadist attacks, and an absence of political representation is creating a dangerous trend.
versatile in their work. Building
an analytical capacity, able to research and anticipate trends, requires the
recruitment of highly trained individuals, the constitution of databases, and
the ability to stay flexible in the treatment
of the subject. All these
elements are hard to set up for a public institution with a constantly growing workload.
Consequently, the monitoring of
these trends can be externalized to structures capable of researching and
analyzing the recent developments such as universities and private security
companies27. The payoff from
combining research and investment could be enormous for the French security
apparatus. Academics, and private security consultants can support the
government effort, with a larger budget and less strict deadlines, and without
having to react on the spot at any given terrorist attack.
Think tanks such as the Centre de Réflexion sur la Sécurité Intérieure (CRSI) or the Club des Directeurs de Sécurité &
de Sûreté des Entreprises (CDSE) are already contributing to the national
security debate. Some initiatives mixing
academics and specialist from law enforcement agencies
already exist. The French Gendarmerie Officers Academy (EOGN)
MBA program is a successful
example of this trend.
A coordinated effort, combining academics and private
contractors, with both in-depth knowledge of the subject and technical
expertise, would offer a variety of tools to observe, evaluate and finally
counter right wing extremism.
In addition, university researchers can provide more than
security related data to security services.
Terrorism is a complex, multi-causal, and evolving subject, and
needs to be studied in an interdisciplinary fashion by experts from various
background. Radicalization of right wing supporter, the impact of Big
Data on intelligence gathering and analysis, the national identity debate are
examples of subjects that affect
terrorism research. Some
of them can be considered
controversial, and difficult to handle for elected officials. However, they
cannot be ignored as they are likely to bring necessary answers to decisions
makers. An exhaustive and neutral study of the “Great Replacement” theory, including ethnic statistics28, could be a solution to the ultra-right’s statements.
Counter speech arguments, based on a scientific approach of established facts
could prevent a number of potential
recruits from joining
the violent right wing ranks.
Additionally, the financial and analytical
capacities of companies such as the GAFA now
exceed those of most public institutions. Beyond research, private security
companies and academics are also able to evaluate
the impact of the French
counter-terrorism policies, and separate
efficient initiatives from less useful
ones. Their contribution to the audit of the counter-
terrorism best practices could stop critics complaining about the cost and the impartiality of such evaluations29. A coordinated effort, combining academics and private
contractors, with both in-depth knowledge of the subject and technical
expertise, would offer a variety of tools to observe, evaluate and finally
counter right wing extremism.
The attack perpetrated by Brendon Tarrant last March showed the latest
mutation of the of the right wing threat. The violent attack was executed by a
heavily armed, lone operative, who was radicalized online by a heterogeneous compilation of ideologies, and who broadcast his attack online
to a global audience. The shooter
carefully planned and selected his modus operandi (firearms), his target (the
Muslim community) and his environment (New Zealand),
taking in account
the political impact
of each of them. He wrote a manifesto and
shared a live broadcast of the murders
in order to incite copycats. He is a right wing
hybrid threat, using the Anglo Saxon modus operandi coupled with the
continental European ideological training, in furtherance of a clear political goal. This is the new threat facing the Western security apparatus, which is already
witnessing a growth in right wing extremism.
In France, this growth is
characterized by three main elements: a hardening of political discourse,
In France, this growth is characterized by three main
elements: a hardening of political discourse, and
increasing capacity of action from violent groups,
and a wider pool of recruits, especially from the Yellow Vest movement.
and increasing capacity of action from violent groups,
and a wider pool of recruits, especially from the Yellow
Vest movement. Political
lines are also dissipating between right and left wing on subjects of religion
and worker’s right. A dual response is necessary on both the security and the
political level, based on a common basis such as the French Constitution. The Constitution
is a common frame on values and rights which need to be the center of the fight
against right wing extremism. Intelligence analysts, law enforcement officers
and magistrates are already working to protect the population from the threat.
However, risk monitoring and prospective research are mandatory in order to
further counter this rising threat. Such efforts are expensive and time
consuming, but partnership between public institutions, universities and
private sector actors, can be an efficient solution. Terrorism is a social
phenomenon, evolving alongside its host society.
The growth of Internet and social media,
the constant and global sharing
of content, the continuous fight
between conspiracies and fact checkers makes the confinement of information counterproductive, even when the information can be
dangerous. The next Christchurch attack will only be avoided through
prospective research, analytical study and forward thinking.
Antony Couzian-Marchand is a specialist in state
and international organizations (UN, NATO) and
public administrations. A graduate of both HEC-Assas (MBA and Bachelor
of Law) and the Special
Military Academy of
Saint-Cyr; he joined the GIGN and before becoming the unit Second in Command.
He then took a position as
Magistrate of the French Court of Auditors, before joining Gallice
Alexandre Rodde is a consultant at Gallice International Service, specialized in terrorism and mass shooting response. He is a LLM graduate from the National Security Law Program at The George Washington University and a reserve officer in the French National Gendarmerie. As a security consultant, he trains French National Gendarmerie and National Police tactical teams.