Is There Compelling Evidence To Establish A Link Between White Supremacist Ideology And Acts Of Ideologically-Motivated Extremism?

Charlotte Hanson
Master of Criminology Graduate, Sydney Law School, University of Sydney


This paper will discuss the evidence that establishes a link between white supremacist ideology (WSI) and acts of ideologically-motivated extremism. It will examine the evidence of white supremacist ideology and acts of ideologically-motivated violent extremism, which can be described as right-wing extremism, and right-wing terrorism. It will discuss right-wing terrorist lone actors, which are ‘lone wolves’ that use the internet and technology to further their ideologies. The case studies of Anders Behring Breivik, responsible for the Norwegian terrorist attacks and Brenton Tarrant, the Christchurch shooter, responsible for the terrorist attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand will be used as a framework for this paper’s analysis.

Access to both Breivik and Tarrant’s extremist content is limited as material has been blocked by technology due to the nature of the increasing threat by future extremists. Both terrorists’ modus operandi, such as their manifestos, and plans of attack outlined in their ‘cultural scripts’, have been seen to influence the next generation of Person X, (Sparrow, 2019) the next unknown perpetrator of copycat style killings and massacres. Thus, it can be seen through the case studies of the Halle shooter, Stephan Balliet, and the El Paso shooter, Patrick Cruisius, that Breivik and Tarrant influenced these unknown Persons X to commit further atrocities due to their ideologies. These acts of ideological violent extremism, that result in mass murder that are classified as terrorist attacks demonstrate the compelling evidence that there is a link between WSI, and the physical acts themselves . The terrorists’ manifestos, act as an ideological justification, with an incitement for violence, and as a manual, with the intention of giving instructions and tactical lessons for the next Person X.


It is suggested that white supremacist ideology (WSI), which also can be referred to as right-wing extremist ideology (RWE) can be a ‘loose movement’. Which can be defined as white power and white identity being superior to all other races, this is the ideology that frames such organisations. This can be identified as a ‘racially, ethnically and sexually defined nationalism’ (Perry & Scrivens, 2015, p.62). This white power ideology is theorised by xenophobic and biased ‘exclusionary understandings’ of supposed threats by ‘out-groups’ such as any non-Whites, immigrants, feminists, refugees, Jews and members of the LGBTQ community. Across these sub-groups, such ‘targets of enmity’ differ. The white identity is perceived to be a ‘pawn’ by the Jewish community who allegedly hold power illegitimately over all individuals, in the interests of all except for the white community. Due to these misguided beliefs, RWE, are on the offensive and defensive to protect their legacy (Perry & Scrivens, 2015).

White supremacist (WS) movements, believe white individuals should have dominance over other racial groups and minorities, that their culture is superior to other cultures. WSI believe in living in an all white society, and that white individuals are ‘genetically superior’. White supremacists and the RWE conclude that the white race is becoming extinct due to immigration, multiculturalism, the influx of refugees and non-Whites. These ideologies believe in ‘ White Genocide’, this refers to the extinction of the white race, due to over population of other race and ethnicities, and the idea of ‘forced assimilation’ with other cultures, with the belief of a Jewish conspiracy against the white race. This ideology can be seen in the WSI slogan called “14 Words”:
“We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children”
(ADL, 2021).

As part of the WS movement, there are sub-movements, for example, the alt right, neo-Nazis, extremist anti-government movements, the sphere known as the “Patriot” movement, collectively. This is the sovereign citizens, and militia movement. The WS movement is part of the extreme right (ER), also the term ‘far right’, (FR) which is used synonymously (ADL, 2021). For the purposes of this paper the term ‘right-wing extremist (RWE) or ‘far-right extremist (FRE) will be used, as it encompasses the categories of ‘white supremacists, neo-Nazi, racist, or anti-government sovereign citizen’ (Koehler, 2016).


Right-wing extremist (RWE) attacks, have been seen to be isolated events in contrast to Islamic terrorist attacks. Recently, RWE has been recognised as a form of terrorism, in events such as the 2019 Christchurch massacre, where an Australian FRE, Brenton Tarrant, shot 51 people in two mosques in Christchurch, livestreaming his attack on Facebook, using a GoPro camera on his helmet, as he was carrying out the violent acts. Tarrant’s attack was a distinctive new line of terrorism attack, as it ‘highlighted the Achilles hill’ of social media platforms, that had an immediate audience, with the ‘viral dissemination of extremely violent content’ (Macklin, 2019).

Earlier in 2011, an attack by Anders Breivik, in Norway killed 77 people in a mass shooting in Utøya and a bomb attack in Oslo (Koehler, 2016; Seierstad, 2015). Both attacks were linked by the perpetrators modus operandi (MO), using online extremism, a manifesto, similar ideology, obsession with military weapons, obsessions with online extreme violent video games, and a mass murder that can be classified as a terrorist attack. Tarrant had planned his attack after studying Breivik’s MO, and was inspired by Breivik (Macklin, 2019). Both cases will be used as an analysis in this paper to demonstrate there is compelling evidence to establish a link between white supremacist ideology and acts of ideological motivated extremism.

Other similar cases that exhibit that RWE, that can be classified as right-wing terrorism (RWT) is the 2015 killing of African-American worshippers at a church, in South Carolina, in the United States, by Dylann Roof. Tarrant admitted to reading Roof’s manifesto, although acknowledging he had been inspired by Breivik, in his own manifesto (Koehler, 2016; Macklin, 2019). According to Koehler (2016), there is a lack of empirical studies on this type of RWE or RWT, also regarding any threat assessment of FRE. These mass killings being committed by right-wing-terrorist lone actors (RWLA), is seen as lone wolf terrorism (LWT) committed by FRE. The Internet coincides with the rise of LWT. The Norwegian massacre by Breivik demonstrates that there is a need to understand this phenomenon, to be able to deal with this problem, for experts to try to predict patterns of behaviours that can lead to the identifying subsequent further possible FRE terrorist attacks like those of Breivik, Tarrant and others (Feldman, 2013). This wave of ‘lone wolf terrorism’ is part of the terrorist cycle, which can be seen to be linked to FRE. Thus, this can be seen as a ‘fifth wave’ of a new type of international terrorism, related to FRE activities.

RWE, recently has been the catalyst and motivation for violent acts of domestic terrorism in Western countries, in the US and Europe. Koehler (2016) asserts that there is a history of violent atrocities by FRE actors, in Western countries. Koehler (2016) uses also the example of Breivik’s massacre as a terrorist atrocity, citing that Breivik published his manifesto, with relevance to his ideology, which was grounded in ‘cultural racism’ and ‘Christian fundamentalism’ before his attack. Anti-immigration and xenophobic crimes, social movements, and the refugee situation, has contributed to support for RWE groups and violent online extremism networks (Koehler, 2016).


The trend of the far-right extremists (FRE), and lone wolf terrorism, merges as FRE become far-right lone actors (FRLA). These FRLA operate as a single actor to carry out their ideological structures of terrorism, acting outside a formal command structure of a terrorist organisation, without ‘external direction or coordination’ (Feldman, 2013; Weimann, 2021).

FRLA that can be categorised as ‘lone wolves’, include both Breivik and Tarrant, amongst others, such as Dylan Roof, and the anonymous future person X. The Anti-defamation League’s Centre on Extremism (2019) asserts that since the rise of the RWE in the West, in 2018 extremist killings were perpetuated by FR groups or individuals. This phenomenon of the FRLA, is a new ‘dimension of virtual and international far-right terrorism’, that includes the ‘mutual inspiration’ from other FRLA. Who directly or indirectly can recruit, radicalise, direct and train others through social media platforms including websites and online forums, such as Reddit, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. FRLA, lone wolves find their ‘virtual packs in cyberspace’ (Weimann, 2021). Interactive chatrooms can be utilised by individuals to promote their ideologies and be a breeding ground for hate. Digital platforms cultivate violent right-wing extremist (RWE) forums and ideologies. This has been evident, since there has been an increasing presence of terrorists and extremists online, being actively participating in forums before committing their atrocities, examples such as Tarrant posting his plans, and proclaiming his intentions on the 8chan platform, uploading a link to his manifesto, before live-streaming the Christchurch attacks (Scrivens, Osuna, Chermak, Whitney & Frank, 2021). These FRLA or extremists that launch these attacks are ‘subscribed’ to certain ideological terrorist narratives, and are linked to a network of informal followers, that provide a shared ideological and logistic support to FRLA. These networks or unorganised collectives, share common ideological values, narratives, and those that they perceive as enemies (Ritzmann, 2021). These online forums extremists or FRLA have a common theme or indicator, a justification for their attacks:
“Acceptance of violence as a necessary means to achieve ideological goals”
(Scrivens et al., 2021, p12).


July 22, 2011, Anders Behring Breivik, in Oslo, Norway, wearing a police uniform, parked a white van containing a bomb, outside a government building. Breivik left the scene and detonated a fertilizer bomb. This incident killed eight people, causing serious injuries to ten more individuals. Breivik then drove to Utøya Island. That was where the Labour Party’s Youth League was having their annual summer camp. Breivik, entered the island on the pretence that he was securing the area after the Oslo attack. Breivik shot sixty-nine individuals, in an hour and thirteen minutes, until the police arrived and he surrendered.

The majority were under eighteen, he tried to ‘stalk‘ and kill as many as possible, injuring others ( Macklin & Bjørgo, 2021). A few hours before, the bomb detonated, Breivik emailed a 1,521 page manifesto to over a thousand recipients. This manifesto said ‘we’ were at war with Muslims and multiculturalism. Breivik also uploaded a twelve-minute video to YouTube that stated, with ‘propaganda simplicity, what was going to happen in Europe: the Muslim Invasion’ (Knausgaard, 2015, p.2-3). Breivik, in the police interviews and his trial, made the justification that the attacks were to proclaim his manifesto, which was his motive for the operation. Breivik’s manifesto ‘2083-A European Declaration of Independence’, was a manual of sources, ‘culled’ from ‘jihad milieu’, plagiarised sections from right-wing authors on history and ideology, his own plan, and instructions for an attack. Sections gave guidelines for operational structure, and attack, weapons ‘acquisition’, ‘target selection’, and details on making an explosive with fertilizer (Macklin & Bjørgo, 2021). Breivik claimed he was inspired by:
“many incarcerated and some have even martyred themselves… cultural Marxist/multicultural alliance”.
His diary was, published, as part of the manifesto, he was of the belief that his acts of ‘terrorism would inspire others’. In his diary:
“I explained to God that unless he wanted the Marxist-Islamic alliance and the certain Islamic takeover of Europe… succeed with my mission and as such;
contribute to inspire thousands of other revolutionary conservative/nationalists; anti-Communists and anti-Islamists throughout the European world”
(2083: A European Declaration of Independence, 2011, p.1461).

Breivik’s ‘cultural script’, his manifesto and his acts of violent ideological extremism, has inspired or influenced several FRE terrorists for the last decade. As in other extremists perpetrators cases and manifestos, such as Tarrant, and Balliet, the Halle shooter, Breivik has been referenced in their cases. His MO, can be seen reflected in the FR extremism terrorist attacks, such as the Christchurch massacre, the El Paso attack, Poway, and the Halle attack. All attacks can be seen as acts of ideological motivated extremism, with violent extremism and terrorism as a form of a chain reaction, instigated within the ‘violent sub-cultural online milieus of right-wing extremism’ (Macklin, 2019). It can be argued that Breivik’s ideology, manifesto and MO of the Norwegian attacks, using explosives, and military style weapons of guns, was the ‘smoking gun’ inspiration for these later attacks. This can be argued as a catalyst to inspire a copycat pattern of killings. The attacks such as the Halle attack, is compelling evidence of trends, regarding the internationalisation:
“of right-wing terrorism and lone-actor terrorists fashioning their own weapons”
(Koehler, 2019, p.14).
This attack was unique, in that the perpetrator fashioned his homemade firearms. Although the explosive devices seem to be fashioned on the design of Breivik’s explosive device that he used in the bombing in Oslo (Pfeiffer, 2021).

Knausgaad (2015) suggests that exposure in the trial, gave the impression that Breivik was less dangerous, as there were individuals that were discrediting his ideology, arguments and ‘misconceptions’. This lessening of the offender, still did not give any understanding of how this violent act of terror was attainable. The white supremacist ideology or FRE, and the acts of violent ideological motivated extremism that Breivik committed, seemed ‘irreconcilable’.

It seemed to be the two ‘entities’, that the perpetrator- Breivik that committed the crime, and the ‘imaginable crime’ were conflicting. Psychiatric reports, diagnosed Breivik , with paranoid schizophrenia, a later review diagnosis was ‘narcissistic traits’ and ‘dissocial personality disorder’, ruled not psychotic by the court system. Knausgaard (2015) suggests that Breivik’s act of violent extremism is more personal than political and ideological, due to Breivik’s actions. Before the attack, Breivik photographed himself dressed in police uniform. He referred to an organisation of the Knight’s Templar, of which he was a member, of a group that does not exist. He interviews himself in his manifesto seeing himself as a hero, Tarrant uses the same technique in his manifesto. It can be argued and theorised that this ‘make-believe reality’ in Breivik’s manifesto, self-image and rationale, his thoughts regarding his commission of the ideological motivated acts of violent extremism, acts of terrorism against the future leaders of multiculturalism, have influenced the potential future Person X.


Breivik’s manifesto ‘2083

A European Declaration of Independence’, is described as a “declaration of war” and the manifesto’s purpose “was to inspire fighting spirit, to fire up the reader” (Seierstad, 2015, p.190). Breivik states in his manifesto that his cultural script would assist future FRE terrorists, with “tools … to win the … Western European cultural war” (Breivik, 2083, p.5). The bombing and massacre, seen as a marketing tool by Breivik for his manifesto text (Seierstad, 2015, p.164; Breivik, 2083, p.8).

Tarrant’s manifesto is structured similar to Breivik’s where there is an interview sixty-four pages, where Breivik uses a self-narrative style set of questions for himself in his manifesto. Breivik developed this interview format narcissistic style from celebrities profiles ( Seierstad, 2015, p.206). Both Tarrant and Breivik had ideological analogies in their manifestos, similarities regarding immigration, both racist and racial beliefs about Western societies being over taken by other cultural societies, in particular the Muslim community. Breivik in his manifesto asserts that Muslim immigration, was “demographic warfare”, that sought to remove “Indigenous peoples of Western Europe”, which can be seen as “a merciless and bloody genocide” (Breivik, 2083, p.6 and p.391, as cited in Macklin & Bjørgo, 2021). Tarrant’s ideology, in his manifesto The Great Replacement had similar beliefs, “It’s the birthrates … the birthrates must change” (Tarrant, 2019, p.3, as cited in Macklin & Bjørgo, 2021). Breivik and Tarrant’s manifestos, asserted their ‘moral justifications’ for the attacks, and mass murders, they saw their actions of motivated violent extremism, with their white supremacist ideologies, as a ‘burden’ that released the future generation of violent bloody acts (Breivik, 2083, p.1365; Tarrant, p.53, as cited in Macklin & Bjørgo, 2021). Both manifestos, give an insight into the ideologies, motives and thought processes of white supremacist and FR extremism, and the shooters themselves.

Macklin & Bjørgo (2021) suggest that Breivik’s manifesto was central to his actions of violent extremism, in his terrorist attacks in Oslo and Utøya, compared to the Christchurch shooter Tarrant. The most important element of Tarrant’s plan and execution of attacks was the live streaming video, which was the most important part in the ‘communicative component’ of his terrorist attack. Macklin & Bjørgo (2015) assert that it was the message, not just the medium for his message. Tarrant’s focus was to create a live stream video of “someone killing Muslims” (Burke, 2019). The Internet and “technology is terrorism’s most effective ally. It delivers a global audience” (Burke, 2019). Tarrant’s manifesto can be seen to be more influential than Breivik’s manifesto, as its audience is more technologically advanced than when Breivik wrote his, as the advance of online forms such as 8chan, 4chan, Gab, and digital livestream platforms such as Twitch, TikTok, plus digtal applications such as Discord, Slack and encrypted channels like Telegram did not exist, as an underworld breeding ground for online hate crime speech forums. These channels, also are used as violent RWE discussion online forums, spreading their extremist ideologies, through forums such as Fascist Forge and Iron March. There is lack of empirical studies or knowledge of the RWE ideologies discussed on these forums. But platforms like these were used by Tarrant and other ideological FRE and white supremacists before they committed their attacks (Scrivens et al., 2021).

Breivik’s manifesto did inspire Tarrant, but there is no concrete evidence to which extent, as the New Zealand police found a copy of Breivik’s manifesto, from Tarrant’s drone’s SD card. Investigations of Tarrant’s IP address, found evidence of “suspicious files” accessed, with Breivik’s manifesto (Royal Commission of Inquiry, p.343). It is suggested that Tarrant, used Breivik’s manifesto ‘selectively’, as he stated that he did not download Breivik’s manifesto until 2018, after he planned his attacks, although he posted in his manifesto he was influenced by Breivik (Royal Commission of Inquiry, p.343). In the copycat style killings, as a ‘template’ for acts of ideological motivated violent extremism, Tarrant’s manifesto has influenced a trend for FRE terrorists, to post a manifesto online to forums before they commit their attacks, with details and memes. These copycat killers, may not have known that Tarrant’s MO, in using a manifesto was based on Breivik’s manifesto (Macklin & Bjørgo, 2021). In the cases of the Halle attack, the El paso shooter and others, all have posted a manifesto before their attacks. In the case of the El Paso shooter, his manifesto ‘The Inconvenient Truth’, the opening line defended the ‘Christchurch shooter’ and FRE (Macklin, 2019b).

The Halle attack, shooter Balliet, uploaded an English version of his manifesto to the Meguca, an image board, with threads and posts. Balliet’s MO and background was more similar to Tarrant, attempting to live stream using the same technique, helmet with a camera, but failed, but he still managed to kill (Koehler, 2019).

Case study of Brenton Tarrant

March 22, 2019, Brenton Tarrant, an Australian, an active member on online FR extremist platforms and forums, with no prior history of criminal offences, accessed the Al Noor mosque, in Christchurch, New Zealand, The first shots were fired at 1.40PM, Tarrant shot 42 people dead, injuring many more. Leaving the mosque, he shot dead another victim, and firing more shots, using a Ranger 870 pump action shotgun, through his windshield whilst driving. Footage of his livestreamed attacks were from a bodycam on his helmet, using GoPro footage. Tarrant arrived at 1.52PM at the Linswood Islamic centre, another mosque to continue his attack. He used a lever action rifle, and shot three family members, and another worshipper. He went back to his car and returned with a semi-automatic AR-15 to shoot worshippers inside the mosque. At 1.54PM police attended , at 1.55PM, Tarrant, was seen leaving the scene through his Go Pro footage, at 1.59PM he was arrested after pursuit. At 2PM Tarrant was ‘apprehended with fire arms…possible improvised explosive devices in the rear of his car were identified’ (Operation Deans Overview, 2019, 4.17, p.14).Tarrant killed 49 people in 36 minutes, with a death toll of 51 (Macklin, 2019).

Tarrant was sentenced by the High Court in Christchurch to life imprisonment without parole for ‘each of the 51 charges of murder’, subsequent life imprisonment for ‘engaging’ in an act of terrorism, and subject to ‘concurrent terms’ … 12 years imprisonment for 40 charges of attempted murder’ (R v Tarrant [2020] NZHC 2192). In the sentencing remarks by Justice Manders:
“ The ideological motivation for your attack is readily apparent from the people you sought to target and the document you distributed. On your weapons you wrote
references to the Crusades and recent terror attacks, and marked them with various symbols, including those of the Nazi SS. Your extremist views and motivations were
(R v Tarrant [2020] NZHC 2192, para.5).

J Manders stated that Tarrant, sent his manifesto, to ‘an extremist website’. That he also sent emails regarding the attacks to the media and government, with also the manifesto as an attachment. He asserted that there was no opportunities for the authorities to ‘intervene’, as these messages were sent ‘minutes’ before the attacks (para.4). He remarked that Tarrant was in possession of six firearms, ‘including semi-automatic shotguns, two military style semi-automatic rifles … large amount of ammunition … four incendiary devices … to burn mosques’.

He remarked that Tarrant wore military clothing, a bulletproof vest with ammunition, and stated Tarrant’s helmet had a ‘strobe light to confuse victims’, with a camera to ‘livestream to an online audience’ (para.3). The intention was kill ‘as many of the attending worshippers as you could’ (para.2). The details of Tarrant’s actions in his attacks on the mosques, establish clear compelling evidence that there are links between FRE ideologies, and acts of ideological motivated extremism. Evidence is found in his ideologies in his manifesto, his online activities in his extremist views in online forums, posting details of his attacks with memes referenced to his target audience. Evidence of his last posts for himself and the online forums he posted in were found in his emails to his own account, titled “For Twitter”, and notes with the subject lines “4CH and 8CH” (Operation Deans Overview, 2019, 2.1, p.2).

Then in his final violent acts of extremism in killing members of the Muslim community, at their most vulnerable in prayers and the sanctuary of their mosques. As J Manders states in his sentencing remarks, Tarrant, when entering the main prayer room at the Al Noor Mosque, shot at worshippers on the ground, then groups with no chance to escape, “ you fired your semi-automatic firearm into a mass of people …”, anyone attempting to hide or escape, or those that were “ deceased, wounded or feigning death…”, those still alive, “crying out for help … were systematically shot in the head” including a three year old child “clinging to his father’s leg … you murdered him with two aimed shots” (para.12). It could be argued that killing a Muslim child would get the “birth rates down”, as a means to control the Muslim population, which were the views of both Breivik and Tarrant. This act of ideological violent extremism fitted Tarrant’s white supremacist FRE ideology.

Although Breivik’s victims were not Muslim, but white Norwegian teenagers who were part of a political party that supported multiculturalism .The depravity of Tarrant’s actions amounted to killing a wounded victim in the street, where she was “pleading for help”, shooting two shots at point-blank range, then driving over her body, as J Manders remarked “ inflicting the indignity of driving over her body as she lay…” (para.17). J Manders states that Tarrant developed radical views whilst travelling regarding the ideology of “cultural displacement” of Europeans, due to the immigration and integration of the Muslim community. He asserted that Tarrant resolved to take violent extremist action to justify his FRE ideology, against those he perceived as “the invaders” , those of Muslim faith. J Manders asserts that Tarrant “adopted the views of the far-right white supremacists” (para.113), and that he was in Christchurch to “ plan and prepare” and execute his attack (para.114). Tarrant’s focus was on FR websites, military, firearms with the main objective of acts of ideological violent extremism, culminating in terrorism on the Muslim community (para.114). Tarrant had been assessed as an individual with “racist beliefs”, with “narcissistic traits”, like Breivik, and who was described by a psychiatrist as an individual who viewed themselves as a “white European ethno-nationalist” (para.114). Similar to Breivik’s idea of using his trial to project his ideology, it was mentioned that Tarrant’s plan was to use his trial as a platform to promote his ideology. Although his actions and interactions with other individuals, on or offline was cemented in FRE ideology. Tarrant apparently denied he was ‘racist or xenophobic’, nor targeted the victims due to their ‘ethnicity or religion’ (para.121) or ‘hatred of Muslims’.

Christchurch Attacks and Manifesto

Tarrant’s manifesto, ‘The Great Replacement’, was not intended for a public audience as it was coded and encrypted in a file share storing site, for his followers on 8chan. This is where he announced his attack was going live via his Facebook account, he added the link to his account, Brenton.tarrant9, this was deleted. He used the Facebook Live application to livestream his attacks, with white power music in the background, as he filmed his attacks. Using the GoPro camera, it had the effect of ‘ first-person shoot’em up’ video game, the terrorism became a video game. Tarrant, ‘peppered’ his manifesto with humour, in-jokes about video games such as Fortnite and Spyro, which he commented in his manifesto that they “trained him to be a killer” and “taught me ethnonationalism” (Macklin, 2019, p.19).

Tarrant took the livestreaming technique from jihadism to use by FR extremism, this was the first time a terrorist attack was livestreamed. The video, on Facebook was viewed 4,000 times before it was removed, but it went viral via other channels and platforms. The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT) hashed versions of the video, in an attempt to restrict access. The 17-minute video was classified as “objectionable” by the Films, Video & Publications Act (1993). The main goal in Tarrant’s FRE ideology and acts of ideological motivated violent extremism was outlined in his manifesto:
“to incite violence, retaliation and further divide between the European people and the invaders currently occupying European soil”
(Tarrant, The Great Replacement, p.5; as cited in Macklin, 2019, p.21).
Tarrant’s main theme was cultural, racial and ethnic “replacement”.

Tarrant, ‘Person X’ and Influence on Shooters

Tarrant, is referred to as Person X (Sparrow, 2019), not just because his name was repressed by New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Arden, but also because it ‘diminished his victims’ (Sparrow, 2019, p.4). Person X, suggests that the euphemism has other purposes central to the argument of Tarrant, as an unknown presence, that ‘emerged from a fascist subculture … into the limelight to shoot innocent people … no one-outside the milieu of the far right-knew who he was. The next killer will be the same’ (Sparrow, 2019, p.4). It is suggested that the Christchurch massacre, was an inspiration to incite more acts of terrorism. It can be seen as a strategic tactic for FRE, not using organisations but using unknown far-right lone actors (FRLA), that act ‘in isolation’ so they cannot be predicted or detected.
The Christchurch shooter has inspired copycat style killings in El Paso, Halle shootings and others. These FRLA act as Person X:
“the anonymous young man who emerges from the shadows, gun in hand, ready committed to an evil ideology”
(Sparrow, 2019, p.5).

Evidence of a link between FRE ideology and acts of ideological motivated violent extremism is suggested by Sparrow (2019). The use of the Person X pseudonym, asserts that whilst Tarrant is incarcerated, there is another Person X unknown to authorities “ browsing a racist internet forum and counting ammunition” (Sparrow, 2019, p.5). Tarrant’s manifesto is being studied by potential future Persons’ X, even though New Zealand has made possession or distribution of the manifesto a criminal offence. Internet services have deleted both the manifestos of Breivik and Tarrant from their servers, but this has not stopped access on FRE platforms. Google has disabled search functions for extremist material relating to Breivik and Tarrant. Online extremists have praised the livestream video, one commenting in regards to all the mass shootings that Tarrant created:
“possibly the most powerful meme we have ever had: the shooting video”
(Sparrow, 2019, p.114).

Online extremist forms like Gab and 8chan, had individuals using as an avatar Tarrant’s name or image. There are reports in social media that that the ‘memification’ of the Christchurch massacre and shooter, has created a ‘first person-shooter game’ where gamers can ‘play as Person X’, Tarrant ( Sparrow, 2019, p.114).


El Paso Attacks

Breivik and Tarrant’s massacres have inspired a series of FRE copycat killings, using similar modus operandi, with a manifesto published online before the deadly attacks, for example the El Paso terrorist attacks in Texas. The perpetrator Patrick Cruisius, in a mass shooting, killed 22 people, seriously injuring 26 others., using a WASR-10 rifle, in 2019. Cruisius’s target was the El Paso Hispanic community, specifically ‘Mexicans’ was his racial motive (Macklin, 2019b). The MO was the same, uploaded online before the extreme violence, an anonymous user on 8chan posted two documents. Firstly, “ P_Cruisius- Notification Letter”, this was deleted, then another document, the manifesto ‘The Inconvenient Truth’, was uploaded, it was attached to a post entitled “It’s Time”. This ritual, the posting of a manifesto before the acts of FRE violence, is seen as a powerful tool, ‘propaganda’, that delivers an ‘explanatory narrative’, with ‘ideological justification’, with the incitement of a ‘call of arms to follow’ (Macklin, 2019b, p.2). Far-right extremists that are lone actors are seen to be more ‘influential’ in the digital age than those that leave a ‘vacuum’ (Berger, 2019).

Macklin (2019b) asserts that this phenomenon was influenced by Breivik, being the ‘inspirational figure’, and that Tarrant was inspired by Breivik in the Christchurch massacre. The livestream of the attacks were to incite others in commit further acts of violence. Macklin further assets that Tarrant was the next ‘inspirational figure’, for Cruisius, and others, including the Halle attacker, Balliet, who tried to copy Tarrant’s MO. Both tried to influence further individuals through their attacks and manifestos. Macklin, suggests that the ‘digital mileu’ has a key role, in FRE lone actors moving from extremist views to acts of violence. The ‘digital mileu’ has lowered the threshold for acts of violence, killing is seen to glorify and ‘gamify’ violence through memes on forums, such as 8chan. It is suggested that online forums such as 8chan, with extremists sharing their ideologies and giving access to extremist material, such as the manifestos, writings and access to links of videos, such as those related to the Christchurch massacre, and other extremist videos, that can be even found on sites such as Reddit, have the propensity to radicalise others. These online forums also act as a ‘supportive digital ecosystem’ , where anonymous users praise terrorists like Breivik and Tarrant for their acts of violent extremism, giving them the status of ‘saints’ and ‘martyrs’ (Macklin, 2019b, p.2). The founder of 8chan stated:
“The other anonymous users are guiding what’s socially acceptable, and the more you post on there you’re being affected by what’s acceptable and that changes you. Maybe you start posting Nazi memes as a joke … but you start to absorb those beliefs as your own, eventually”.
(Wolf, 2019, as cited in Macklin, 2019b, p.2).

Cruisius’s manifesto “The Inconvenient Truth” , outlined his ideology regarding FRE, that his argument for his violence, was to defend his country from ‘cultural and ethnic replacement … by an invasion’. Cruisuis stated the Hispanic group was not the intended target before reading Tarrant’s manifesto. His manifesto was against immigrants, it’s content had similar themes to Tarrant, both had racism and ‘anti-human ecology’. His manifesto outlined his plans, weapon, an AK-47, ammunition, he framed his attack as a necessity. Classified as hate crime, but white supremacy was added to the list of terrorist threats by the DHS Strategic Framework for Countering Terrorism and Targeted Violence (2019). This strategy by the Department of Homeland Security agencies (DHS) recognised that threats from white supremacists which involves acts of ideological motivated extremism, is the ideological force in the rising numbers of mass shootings and attacks that are occurring in the U.S and other countries.

The Halle Attacks

Stephan Balliet, attempted to attack a Jewish synagogue, in the German town of Halle in 2019. Balliet tried to livestream an attempted mass shooting, executing a copycat killing spree, a similar MO as the Christchurch massacre. Balliet used the Twitch gaming platform to livestream his attack, using a smart phone attached to his helmet. He published a link to his livestream to the social media platform Meguca, a similar site to 4chan. The video had been viewed by 2,200 viewers. Balliet in one hour and forty minutes attempted to gain access to the synagogue, using explosives and firearms, but was only able to shoot two victims. From his livestream, it could be seen that his weapons had jammed. He drove to another location and shot another victim, escaping from the police to shoot two other victims, before arrest. The attack demonstrates further evidence of a link between white supremacist ideology, which can be seen as FRE, and the trends in FRE, extreme right terrorism, and acts of ideological motivated extremism. FRE has able to reach a more global target audience using technology such as live streaming and social media platforms with the FRLA manifestos (Koehler, 2019). Balliet’s English language manifesto, uploaded before the shootings, were divided in to three PDF files. The file titled ‘The Objective’, defined his primary goals:
“1. Prove the viability of improvised weapons; 2. Increase the moral [sic] of other Supressed Whites by spreading the combat footage; 3. Kill as many anti-Whites as Possible, Jews preferred.”

Balliet’s ideology and motivations were anti-Semitic, he referred to a Jewish conspiracy, and anti-feminism. His ideological motivations were demonstrated in his manifesto and his ‘rhetoric’ in his livestream attack, switching between English and German. His manifesto detailed his ‘self-manufactured weaponry’ , made using high-tech 3D printing with tech elements , consisting of a 9mm submachine gun, 12-gauge shotgun and pistol (Koehler, 2019, p.18). Balliet referenced victims as ‘gaming-like achievements’ in his manifesto and livestream. He also used jokes during his livestream with references to the ‘internet SS’, which is a link to the Nazi ‘Schutzstaffel’, protection squad, there are references to the ‘Zionist Occupied Government (ZOG)’, which relates to his FRE ideology.

During his livestream, he uses the same technique as Tarrant, using music in the background, by rapper Mr. Bond, “Powerlevel”, with references to the ‘black sun’ and ‘master race’. Balliet made references to video games , online subcultures, anime, and a livestream of his attack like Tarrant, although his techniques was not as successful as Tarrant. The Halle attack was a FRE terror attack modelled on Christchurch. The attacks demonstrate the difficulty in monitoring for the future Person X, as these type of FRE work as lone actors, using offline and online digital extremist footprints, raising no red flags.


In conclusion, it can be seen that the future Person X can be influenced by previous perpetrators of ideological motivated extremism, with their ideologies, their manifestos as training manuals for future attacks, as evidenced by the El Paso and Halle attacks. Both Breivik and Tarrant were highly influential in these attacks, evidenced by references to similar ideologies and the perpetrators own acts of ideological motivated violent extremism, that resulted in mass casualties. Evidence that there is a link between these extreme ideologies and physical acts of ideological violent extremism, is the establishment of the ‘Christchurch Call’, an initiative by Jacinda Arden, that brings together countries that are fighting against the war on ideological violent extremism, in collaboration and initiatives by the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT), The EU Internet Forum, G7, G20, and Tech Against Terrorism.


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