Including a Discussion of Possible Connections Between Militant Islamic
Fundamentalists and the U.S. Extreme Right
There is no hard evidence linking domestic U.S. right-wing groups to
either the terrorist attacks of 9/11/01; the mailing of real
anthrax letters, or other acts of domestic terrorism. For example,
the list of potential
suspects in the real anthrax mailing cases is long, and the
evidence is missing. Claims about a connection between the Oklahoma
City bombing and Middle East terrorists are based on dubious speculation.
Some U.S. Extreme Right groups praised
the 9/11 attacks along with some militant Islamic fundamentalists.
Most Muslims around the world denounced the attacks.
In considering potential suspects for terrorism, however, possible connections
between the U.S. extreme right and certain elements of militant Islamic
fundamentalism cannot be dismissed. There is also a possible connection
between these sectors and some Black
Nationalists, the Third Position, and Antisemitism. Racial nationalism
is a core building block of fascism. Most Black nationalists do not ascribe
to the Third Position tendency. The matter of mental
illness also needs to be considered.
If right-wing domestic groups are shown to be involved in the live anthrax
letters, it may well be rank opportunism based on one of the first two
ideological affinities with the terrorists. The intriguing ideological
link of Third Position ethnonationalism deserves special scrutiny because
it explains one reason why U.S. and European Extreme Right White
supremacist activists have already forged an alliance with Islamic supremacists
or Arab supremacists that goes back over two decades.
A Tactical Alliance Around Common Enemies
The Extreme Right in the U.S. includes White Supremacists, militant antisemites,
neofascists, neonazis and an assortment of hate groups. Activists in the
Extreme Right have been involved in numerous violent incidents over the
last 30 years; however, most have involved guns or bombs.
The U.S. Extreme Right shares three ideological affinities with some
Islamic clerical fascist movements such as the Taliban and the al Qaeda
networks, and some Black nationalist groups:
A hatred of Jews who are seen in the traditional antisemitic caricature
of running the world through secret conspiracies.
A hatred of the U.S. government, seen as not just a global bully
but also controlled by Jews. U.S. neonazis sometimes refer the administration
in Washington, D.C. as the Zionist Occupational Government--ZOG.
A desire to overthrow existing governments and replace then with
monocultural nation states built around the idea of supremacist racial
nationalism or supremacist religious nationalism or both mixed together.
This ethnonationalist philosophy is sometimes called the "Third Position."
U.S. White Supremacist Groups and Militant Islamic Fundamentalists
11.15.01 NPR senior correspondent Howard Berkes:
"Some investigators and researchers believe Osama bin Laden might still
be getting help from within the United States. They suggest that help
might not be coming solely from people with extreme views about Islam.
It could also be coming from white supremacy groups." Hear
the story using Real Player -- from Thursday's All
According to an article in the Washington Post:
A remote possibility is a collaborative effort. U.S. monitoring groups
cite increased contacts between Middle Eastern radicals and some Americans
on the far right. Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center
protested a planned meeting this year in Beirut between neo-Nazis and
members of militant Islamic organizations. The gathering was shifted
to Jordan, he said, and later canceled.
"It's a long, long way from rubbing elbows and giving hateful speeches
to acting out or inspiring others to act out," Cooper said. "But those
connections are there."1
In a Financial Times online article "Far-right has ties with Islamic
extreme," by Hugh Williamson and Philipp Jaklin, Berlin, November 8 2001:
Ahmed Huber, a 74-year-old Swiss businessman and former journalist
who converted to Islam in the 1960s, is a board member of Nada Management,
a financial services and consultancy company which is part of the international
Al Taqwa group. The US says this group has long acted as financial
advisers to al-Qaeda.
Mr Huber, who is based in Bern, is known in Switzerland and Germany
as an Islamic fundamentalist who attempts to forge links to far-right
and neo-Nazi movements.
A spokesman for Germany's office for the protection of the constitution,
the internal intelligence agency, said on Thursday that Mr Huber "sees
himself as a mediator between Islam and right-wing groups". He
also belongs to the revisionist movement, which believes the Holocaust
did not take place, the spokesman said.
Klaus Beier, spokesman for the NPD, one of Germany's main far-right
political parties, said Mr Huber has often addressed NPD events.
What is the Third Position?
Today there is a new form of fascism, a neofascism, called the Third Position,
which seeks to overthrow existing governments and replace them with monocultural
nation states built around the idea of supremacist racial nationalism and/or
supremacist religious nationalism. Third Position neofascists have organized
in the U.S., Europe, and the Middle East, and they maintain some kind of
loose network, at least for the purposes of discussing their shared ideas
and agenda, but in some cases involving meetings and even funding.
For instance Libyan president of Mu'ammar Qadhafi has sponsored several
international conferences in Libya promoting his special variation of
racial nationalism and cultivating ideas congruent with Third Position
ideology. Qadhafi has also offered funds to racial nationalist groups
active in the U.S. and Canada.2 During
the Gulf War, according to the Searchlight magazine, "Neo-nazis
is several European countries have been queuing up to shoulder arms for
Saddam Hussein's murderous Iraqi Regime."3 One
organizer for this attempted neonazi brigade, claimed he had over 500
volunteers from "several countries, including Germany, the USA, the Netherlands,
Austria and France."4 Revealing
the Third Position motif, a racial nationalist journal, Nation und
Europa, promoted the slogans "Arabia for the Arabs," and "the whole
of Germany for the Germans."5 In
Britain, some neofascists praised the regimes in Libya and Iran as allies
in the fight against communism, capitalism, and Israel.6
The Third Position has a more intellectual aristocratic ally called
the European New Right (Nouvelle Droit) which is different from
the U.S. New Right.7 Intellectual
leaders of the European New Right, such as Alain de Benoist, are hailed
as profound thinkers in U.S. reactionary publications such as the Rockford
Institute's Chronicles. The more overtly neo-Nazi segment of the
Third Position has intellectual links to the Strasserite wing of German
national socialism, and is critical of Hitler's brand of Nazism for having
betrayed the working class. See magazines such as Scorpion or Third
Way published in England. Third Position groups believe in a racially-homogeneous
decentralized tribal form of nationalism, and claim to have evolved an
ideology "beyond communism and capitalism."
White supremacist leader Tom Metzger promotes Third Position politics
in his newspaper WAR which stands for White Aryan Resistance.
In Europe, the Third Position defines its racial-nationalist theories
in publications such as Third Way and The Scorpion. Third
Position adherents actively seek to recruit from the left. One such group
is the American Front in Portland, Oregon, which ran a phone hotline
that in late November, 1991 featured an attack on critics of left/right
coalitions. Some Third Position themes have surfaced in the ecology movement
and other movements championed by progressives.8
While the Third Position is an obscure ideology, there have been published
reports that have reported on it. An excellent discussion of the emergence
of the Third Position and the revivial of a national socialist/Strasserite
version of intrernational fascism can be found in Kevin Coogan's 1999
book, Dreamer of the Day: Francis Parker Yockey and the Postwar Fascist
International and in Martin A. Lee's 1997 book, The Beast Reawakens. The
convergence among racial nationalists in North America and Western and
Eastern Europe is discussed at length in Jeffrey Kaplan and Tore Bjørgo,
eds., Nation and Race, and Jeffrey Kaplan and Leonard Weinberg, The
Emergence of a Euro-American Radical Right.9 There
is a theoretical discussion of the European Third Position and racially
separate nation-states by Robert Antonio in "After Postmodernism: Reactionary
anti-U.S. aspect of the Third Position is examined in "´Neither
Left Nor Right´" in the Southern Poverty Law Center magazine, Intelligence
I argue elsewhere that a good case can be made that the religious
ideology of Osama bin Laden and the Taliban is a form of clerical
fascism or some close hybrid. It certainly is a form of religious
nationalism. This could help explain the potential for links between
Islamic religious supremacists and U.S. White racial supremacists.
The White racial supremacists we are discussing are part of the U.S.
Extreme Right, not the Patriot or armed militia movements or the
Christian Right. This is purely a speculative exercise, however,
based on ideological affinities. A similar argument that places the
Islamic supremacists in the context of apocalyptic revolutionary
millenarianism makes the same point, since most U.S. neofascists
can be placed in the same category. See: The
`Religion' of Usamah bin Ladin: Terror As the Hand of God,
by Jean E. Rosenfeld, Ph.D., UCLA Center for the Study of Religion.
In Right-Wing Populism in America Matthew N. Lyons and I discussed
the Third Position:
To varying degrees, some neofascists also shifted away from traditional fascism's
highly centralized approach to political power and toward plans to fragment
and subdivide political authority. Many neonazis called for creation of an
independent White homeland in the Pacific Northwest, based on the ethnic
partitioning of the United States. Posse Comitatus, mostly active in rural
areas, repudiated all government authority above the county level. And in
the 1990s neonazi leader Louis Beam promoted the influential doctrine of "leaderless
resistance." While such decentralist policies may seem incompatible with
full-blown fascism, we see them partly as defensive adaptations and partly
as expressions of a new social totalitarianism. Industrial-era totalitarianism
relied on the nation-state; in the era of outsourcing, deregulation, and
global mobility, social totalitarianism looked to local authorities, private
bodies (such as churches), and direct mass activism to enforce repressive
In the 1970s and 1980s these efforts to reinterpret fascism were not
confined to the United States, but took place among neofascists in many
industrialized capitalist countries. European, Canadian, and South African
neofascists, too, at times advanced the doctrine known as the Third Position,
strengthened internationalist ties, used coded racial appeals, advocated
ethnic separatism and the breakup of nation-states, and practiced solidarity
with right-wing nationalists of color.12
= = =
THE THIRD POSITION AND WHITE SEPARATISM
The Third Position-which rejects both capitalism and communism-traces
its roots to the most "radical" anticapitalist wing of Hitler's Nazi
Party. In the 1970s and 1980s, neonazis in several European countries
advocated the Third Position.13 Its
leading proponent in the United States was White Aryan Resistance, headed
by former California Klan leader Tom Metzger. Metzger, who was a Democratic
candidate for Congress in 1980, expounded his philosophy at the 1987
Aryan Nations Congress:
"WAR is dedicated to the White working people, the farmers,
the White poor. . . . This is a working class movement. . . . Our problem
is with monopoly capitalism. The Jews first went with Capitalism and
then created their Marxist game. You go for the throat of the Capitalist.
You must go for the throat of the corporates. You take the game away
from the left. It's our game! We're not going to fight your whore wars
no more! We've got one war, that is right here, the same war the SA fought
in Germany, right here; in the streets of America."14
Metzger's organization vividly illustrated fascism's tendency to appropriate
elements of leftist politics in distorted form. WAR supported "white working-class" militancy
such as the lengthy "P-9" labor union strike against Hormel in Minnesota,
stressed environmentalism, and opposed U.S. military intervention in Central
America and the Persian Gulf. The Aryan Women's League, affiliated with
WAR, claimed that Jews invented male supremacy and called for "Women's
Power as well as White Power."15 Metzger's
television program, "Race and Reason," was broadcast on cable TV in dozens
of cities and aided cooperation among White supremacist groups. Through
its Aryan Youth Movement wing, WAR was particularly successful in the 1980s
in recruiting racist skinheads, who include thousands of young people clustered
in scores of violent pro-Nazi formations. (Not all skinheads are racist
and there are antiracist and antifascist skinhead groups.) Metzger and
WAR's position in the neonazi movement was weakened in October 1990 when
they were fined $12.5 million in a civil suit for inciting three Portland
skinheads who murdered Ethiopian immigrant Mulugeta Seraw.16
Out of the stew of the Third Position, and the European New Right
theories of intellectuals such as Alain de Benoist, came a new version
of White Nationalism that championed racially separate nation-states.17 In
the United States this filtered down to White supremacists, who began
to call themselves White Separatists.18 Dobratz
and Shanks-Meile believe that "most, if not all, whites in this movement
feel they are superior to blacks."19 Instead
of segregation, however, White Separatism called for "geographic separation
of the world's races" and in the United States this prompted calls
for an Aryan Homeland in the Pacific Northwest.20
[Excerpt: Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort,
Chapter 13, pp. 265-286.]
Connections between Canadian Extreme Right racial nationalists and Libya
have been reported by author Warren Kinsella.
"The Libyan government of Mu'ammar Qadhafi had been funding
[Canadian nationalist Party Leader Don] Andrew's group since at least
April 1987, when a number of his members traveled to Tripoli for a "peace
conference" to commemorate a U.S. bombing raid. Qadhafi liked the white
supremacists because, like him, they believed in separate racial states
and they despised Jews."21
The pan-Arab Ba'ath party is rooted in racial nationalism, not religious
nationalism. Ba'ath is the political ideology behind the regimes in Libya
and Iraq. Islamic clerical fascists, on the other hand, are religious nationalists.
This might seem to be a barrier to cooperation, but in fact, many U.S.
White supremacists also practice a racial nationalist religion called Christian
Identity. There is clearly a fluidity between political and religious ideologies
based on ethnonationalist desires. Since the idea is to smash all current
nations and redivide the world into separate nation states based on race
or religion, there is a shared goal.
"Andrews worked closely with Wolfgang Droege, a leader of the
Canadian Knights of the Ku Klux Klan who visited the U.S. to meet
with members of the extreme right including David Duke.22 Droege
was arrested in Louisiana in 1981 with nine other extreme right
activists in a plot to overthrow the government of the island of
Dominica and establish a White homeland.23
"In September 1989, at Andrew's suggestion, Droege traveled to
Libya with a group of 17 [Canadian] Nationalist Party members." 24
Antisemitic Conspiracism & Black Nationalism
Antisemitism is another link among Third
Position ethnonationalists. Tom Metzger's White Aryan Resistance forged
active ties with Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam, as did the network
of maverick fascist Lyndon LaRouche.25 At
the same time, Qadhafi forged a relationship with the Nation of Islam.
Qadhafi also tried to organize a coalition among U.S. Black nationalist
groups into the Afrikan Anti-Zionist Front, first announced on June 11,
1990 at an initial meeting held in Tripoli, Libya. In all of these relationships
the central theme for coalition building was a hatred of Jews and the spreading
of antisemitic conspiracy theories.
For more on this, see: Black
Nationalists, the Third Position, and Antisemitism
There are several more militant Islamic Black nationalist groups in the U.S.,
such as al Fuqra.
See articles by the ultraconservative National
Review and ADL.
Right Woos Left
From the study Right Woos Left:
Right-wing racial nationalists and antisemites have attempted to spread their
conspiracist message to the political left by stressing the anticapitalist
aspects of the Third Position. For the most part this has failed, but it is
worth briefly exploring. This section is adapted from Chapter 16 of Right-Wing
Populism in America:
One popular author bringing right-wing antisemitism into left and alternative
subcultures was David Icke.26 A
former soccer player and sports commentator, Icke was removed as spokesperson
of the Green Party in Britain for antisemitic conspiracism in his book The
Critics of conspiracism quickly emerged in a number of progressive alternative
the social ecology newsletter Green Perspectives, Janet Biehl warned
that "antistatism has been adopted by a movement of insurgent hate," and
that made it even more important for leftists to understand that they have "nothing
to learn from paranoid racists, no matter how psychedelic their conspiracies
may be."29 As
one report from a progressive watchdog group argued, "There is a vast gulf
between the simplistic yet dangerous rhetoric of elite cabals, Jewish conspiracies
and the omnipotence of ´international finance´ and a thoughtful
analysis of the deep divisions and inequities in our society."30
here for the full report: Right Woos Left
Left-Right Coalitions and Antiglobalism
From Right-Wing Populism in America:
A handful of right-wing activists, including some Third Position neonazis
and fans of David Icke, took part in the large and dramatic Seattle protests
against globalization in early December 1999.31 As
a result, the Southern Poverty Law Center used the Seattle protests to
anchor a report titled "Neither Left Nor Right: The Spreading Battle against
the Forces of Economic Globalism Is Shaping the Extremism of the New Millennium."32 The
report contained a detailed discussion of the rise of Third Position fascist
movements and their call for Left/Right unity to smash capitalism. But
since the report relied heavily on centrist/extremist analysis, it was
read by some as implying that fascist forces played a major role in Seattle,
which was false. In addition, the report appears to have played a role
in law enforcement circles where countersubversive hard-liners lumped "extremists" of
the Right and the Left together. They falsely asserted that antiglobalist
protests were a cover for neonazis and anarchists to engage in terrorism.33 When
the Washington, DC, protests against the World Bank were staged in mid-April
2000, police engaged in a number of repressive preemptive maneuvers and
there were numerous reports of excessive use of force.34
[Excerpt: Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort, Chapter
16, pp. 341-342.]
What About Mental Illness?
The combination of apocalyptic
thinking and demonization of opponents can lead some people to see violence
as a legitimate moral choice. Not all mentally ill people turn to violence,
and some violence is carried out by people not mentally ill.
It is possible that some people who are suffering from some forms of mental
illness become caught up in political or religious subcultures where apocalyptic
thinking and demonization are commonplace. They then lack the psychological
restraints that keep other similarly situated people from acting out on their
beliefs in a violent manner.
At the same time, relatively sane people in political or religious subcultures
where apocalyptic thinking and demonization are commonplace can become so angry
and frustrated that the barriers to violence are simply breeched by arguments
that the violence prevents a greater moral harm.
We can see examples of both types of dynamics in anti-abortion violence and
violence against Blacks, Jews, Asians, and government workers by persons in
various race hate movements.
For example, in the case of John C. Salvi III, who shot abortion providers
in the Boston. Salvi came out of an apocalyptic Catholic Right subculture.
Salvi was someone who was arguably mentally ill, but who picked his targets
based on a recognizable political/theological outlook. The same may be true
with Buford Furrow, Jr. who shot up a Jewish day care center in California,
then killed a Filipino-American postal worker. Furrow came out of an apocalyptic
neonazi subculture that demonized Jews, people of color, and the government.
The political/theological outlook sets the stage, but it is the mental illness
that writes the script where someone pulls the trigger or commits other acts
Salvi’s psychological condition was not demonstrated by his claims about
a banking conspiracy, which were commonplace in the Catholic apocalyptic Right,
but at the same time his choice of targets was not random. Certainly
a person like Salvi did not represent the mainstream of Catholicism, the antiabortion
movement, or the U.S. political Right, but he expressed the views of a durable
subculture with conspiracist views that consciously resorts to scapegoating.
This dynamic of rhetoric triggering violence functions more easily among some
who are mentally ill. But those who are scapegoated can be injured or killed
by people—whatever their mental state—who act out their conspiracist beliefs
in a zealous manner. The failure of political and religious leaders to take
strong public stands against groups and individuals that demagogically spread
conspiracist scapegoating theories encourages this dangerous dynamic.
When someone engages in terrorism it is not fair to automatically blame the
entire political or religious subculture in which they are embedded. At the
same time, it is naive to ignore the possible influence of demonization, scapegoating,
and conspiracism on persons who choose to engage in violence.