Far-right political terrorism 'is surging' in Western countries, report warns

Access to the comments Comments
By Euronews
Ambulance staff take a man from outside a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand on March 15, 2019.
Ambulance staff take a man from outside a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand on March 15, 2019.   -  Copyright  AP Photo/Mark Baker

Far-right terrorism is surging in Western countries as political violence is becoming increasingly accepted, a new report has found.

"One of the more worrying trends in the last five years is the surge in far-right political terrorism," the Institute for Economics and Peace wrote in its latest Global Terrorism Index released on Wednesday.

According to the report, there have been over 35 far-right terrorist attacks in the West every year since 2014 with 49 recorded in 2019. In 2010, only one such incident was reported.

The US is the most heavily impacted country, accounting for just about half of the 332 far-right terrorism incidents recorded in Western countries between 2002-2019. European nations, including Germany, the UK, France and Sweden collectively recorded 132 such incidents.

With 113 deaths resulting from these incidents, the US was also the most bereaved country. It was followed by Norway with 78 fatalities, New Zealand (51), Germany (19), and Canada (16).

The Christchurch mosque attacks were last year's deadliest far-right terror attack, accounting for more than half of the 89 deaths observed in the West. 

Far-right terrorism remains less lethal than Islamist terrorism with 13 far-right attacks killing more than 10 people over the past 50 years in the West, compared to 24 Islamist attacks.

But the report notes that "there are signs that political violence is becoming publically acceptable."

In the US, nearly 40 per cent of poll respondents in 2020 felt that violence for political ends was at least partially justifiable, up from less than 10 per cent just two and a half years earlier.

"Social and political instability has also been on the rise in the West, even prior to the widespread demonstrations seen in 2020. Nearly 70 violent demonstrations were recorded in the West, compared to 19 in 2011," the report also flagged. 

Overall, global deaths from terrorism fell for the fifth consecutive year in 2019, dropping 15.5 per cent year on year to 13,826.

Sixty-three countries recorded at least one death from a terrorist attack with Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Syria, and Somalia the most heavily impacted.

Europe recorded 56 deaths from terrorism in 2019, of which 40 were in Turkey. The UK was the second most affected country with four deaths, up from two the year prior. Three fatalities were the result of a stabbing at Lonon Bridge.

Terrorism in the West makes up a small fraction of total terrorism in the world with 1,215 deaths between 2002 and 2019 compared to more than 236,000 globally.