Counterterrorism chief claims the US is seen as an ‘exporter of white supremacist ideology’ as he says mass murderers like Charleston shooter Dylann Roof are being hailed as idols by like-minded supremacists
- Russell Travers is acting director of the National Counterterrorism Center
- Travers spoke to Washington, DC, think tank on Friday about white supremacism
- He said America is viewed as ‘exporter of white supremacist ideology’
- Travers says ideology has morphed into ‘racially motivated violent extremism’
- He cited Christchurch massacres, Dylann Roof, and Anders Breivik as examples
The United States is viewed around the world as an exporter of white supremacist ideology that is fueling terrorist attacks like the New Zealand mosque shootings while making heroes of mass murderers like Charleston church killer Dylann Roof, a top American government official said.
‘For almost two decades, the United States has pointed abroad at countries who are exporters of extreme Islamist ideology,’ Russell Travers, the acting director of the National Counterterrorism Center, told a Washington, DC, think tank on Friday.
‘We are now being seen as the exporter of white supremacist ideology. That’s a reality with which we are going to have to deal.’
Travers said that this ideology is part of a global movement which is characterized by ‘racially motivated violent extremism’ (RMVE) which is being helped by the ease with which information is disseminated on social media and internet message boards.
Russell Travers, the acting director of the National Counterterrorism Center, told a Washington, DC, think tank on Friday that the United States is seen as an ‘exporter of white supremacist ideology’
Travers said that infamous gunmen like Dylann Roof (left) and Anders Breivik (right) are viewed as inspirations among white supremacists
‘A large percentage of RMVE attackers in recent years have either displayed outreach to like-minded individuals or groups or referenced early attackers as sources of inspiration,’ he said.
Travers says that white supremacists worldwide have looked up to three individuals in particular – Anders Breivik, Dylann Roof, and Brenton Tarrant.
In 2011, Breivik, a Norwegian far-right extremist, massacred 77 people at a socialist-oriented youth summer camp using a bomb and two guns.
More than 300 people were wounded in the attack.
Roof is the white supremacist gunman who killed nine people and wounded one in a June 2015 shooting in a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina.
Tarrant is the Australian national who slaughtered 51 people and wounded 49 others at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand in March.
According to Travers, these three men ‘have gained international reverence and are serving as an inspiration’ for other white supremacists, ‘including those looking to plan or conduct attacks.’
Travers said that Breivik has already inspired at least five ‘RMVE’ attackers since 2014 in places like the US, United Kingdom, Germany, and New Zealand.
Travers also mentioned Brenton Tarrant (center), the Australian national who massacred 51 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March
Roof has inspired two such attackers, while Tarrant is said to be the inspiration for at least three attacks since the Christchurch massacres.
Travers says this ‘non-Islamist terrorism’, which is also referred to as ‘domestic terrorism’ has taken on ‘global dimensions and potential for seeing a movement’ that has become ‘increasingly transnational [in] nature.’
He said that social media and the internet enables ‘frequent communication between sympathizers and an open exchange of ideas’ as well as ‘outreach to like-minded individuals or groups.’
Travers said that the challenge facing governments is that while Islamic terrorism was ‘hierarchical,’ white supremacist terrorism ‘does not feature authoritative or structured orgnaizations or a monolithic ideology.’
‘Instead, it is dominated by lone actors and small cells who use the online space as a borderless safe haven.’
Travers said that in order to combat the threat of white supremacist terrorism, governments need to gain ‘control of the narrative’ by ‘appropriately dealing with violent white supremacist activity while not being perceived as painting with too broad a brush and impinging on legitimate right-wing political activity and free speech.’