Daniel Koehler

Violence and Terrorism from the Far Right: Policy Options to Counter an Elusive Threat



Extreme right-wing violence and terrorism are a growing threat to Western societies. This form of political violence is also quite elusive and differs from others (e.g. jihadist violence) in some key characteristics. Since the September 11 attacks, policymakers, law enforcement and intelligence agencies, as well as researchers, have focused most of their attention on Islamic extremist violence and terrorism. This has led to an imbalance in the understanding of other threats, especially from the far-right, and adequate ways to counter it. This paper, using Germany as a main case study, argues that far-right violence has a potential risk of being misunderstood and under-classified, thus creating the perception among victims of that violence that democratic countries “are blind on the right side”. This erosion of trust in the rule of law and the monopoly of force is one goal of extreme right-wing terrorists. Specific recommendations to improve countering the threat posed by the far-right are avoiding double standards in dealing with political violence at all costs, swift and efficient appropriate legal actions against extreme right perpetrators of violence, an increase in funding for research about right-wing terrorism, a possible refinement of the legal definition of “terrorism” and a discussion about its relationship with “hate crimes”, as well as wide-scale support for countering violent extremism (CVE) and deradicalisation programs targeting the far-right.