President Donald Trump speaks to reporters about a shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue as he arrives at Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, on October 27, 2018. Picture: Andrew Harnik/AP
President Donald Trump speaks to reporters about a shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue as he arrives at Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, on October 27, 2018. Picture: Andrew Harnik/AP

Far-right terrorism now a bigger threat to the US than ISIS

ANALYSIS

THE murder of 11 Jews at a synagogue and the wave of pipe-bomb attacks is the latest in a series of conspiracy-minded right wing violence.

Donald Trump needs to accept some responsibility.

It's not Islamic jihadists that US citizens should be the most afraid of - it's the lunatic fringe of the Republican Party. These people are armed and increasingly reacting to Donald Trump's dog-whistling by turning his rhetoric into reality.

The September 11 terror attacks in 2001 rightly turned the media's attention on to the scourge of radical Islamic terrorism.

Australia was rocked by the deaths of 202 people in Bali less than a year later, then followed the widely publicised Madrid bombings (2004), Beslan school hostage crisis (2004), Paris attacks (2015) and last year's London Bridge attack. Together, these acts of terrorism killed 827 people.

But an insidious problem is festering in the US and it's not being widely reported on.

An analysis of the Global Terrorism Database showed almost two-thirds of the terror attacks in the US last year were carried out by members of the Far Right.

There has been a "sharp increase" in the share of attacks by right-wing extremists, from 6 per cent in the 2000s to 35 per cent in the 2010s, according to Quartz.

Many of the terrorists are "lone wolves" who feel that their personal or national way of life is under attack. They are also virulently against "globalists" - those who extreme right-wingers believe form part of a perceived conspiracy to overthrow American power.

The term carries an undertone of anti-Semitism but it also refers to an ongoing debate in the US over trade policy.

It's concerning because as CNN host Don Lemon explained, the term globalist is a "favourite of the alt-right and is loaded with nativist and racial undertones".

Donald Trump has his own explanation for the word. At a rally in support of Senator Ted Cruz in Texas, the President declared: "A globalist is a person that wants the globe to do well, frankly, not caring about our country so much," Mr Trump said.

"And you know what? We can't have that. They have a word, it sort of became old-fashioned, it's called a nationalist, and I say really, we're not supposed to use that word."

He also proudly said he was a nationalist.

"You know what I am? I'm a nationalist, OK?" he said. "Nationalist. Use that word, use that word."

As news.com.au reported in September, in a speech to the United Nations, Mr Trump railed against "the ideology of globalism" and "unelected, unaccountable global bureaucracy".

"Where the term originates from is a reference to Jewish people who are seen as having allegiances not to their countries of origin like the United States, but to some global conspiracy," the Anti-Defamation League explained a few months ago.

These problems existed before Mr Trump arrived like a whirlwind on the US political scene.

But it's becoming increasingly obvious that his vitriolic rhetoric is making the problem worse - much worse.

He defied pollsters and political commentators by winning a sweeping victory in the US presidential elections, largely based on anti-immigrant policies.

Trump has been linked to - or has refused to disavow - right wing extremist and neo-Nazis.

Alex Jones, a wildly-successful conspiracy theorist who is now banned from YouTube and Twitter for hate-speech and encouraging violence, welcomed Mr Trump as a guest following his election victory.

"You have an amazing reputation. I will not let you down," Mr Trump told Mr Jones in an interview from Trump Tower in December 2015.

"Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!" - that's how Richard Spencer saluted more than 200 attendees, in Washington, D.C., for the annual conference of the National Policy Institute.

The organisation describes itself as "an independent organisation dedicated to the heritage, identity, and future of people of European descent in the United States, and around the world", according to The Atlantic.

He was endorsed by former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke - which he later disavowed.

Mr Trump's violent rhetoric started early. He urged supporters in Cedar Rapids, Iowa to "knock the crap out of" protesters.

He then promised to pay the legal fees of anyone who undertook violence, telling the Las Vegas crowd, "I'd like to punch him in the face, I'll tell you" of another protester, GQ reported.

Peter Cvjetanovic (C) along with neo Nazis, alt-right, and white supremacists encircle and chant at counter protestors at the base of a statue of Thomas Jefferson after marching through the University of Virginia campus with torches in Charlottesville on August 11, 2017. Picture: Getty Images
Peter Cvjetanovic (C) along with neo Nazis, alt-right, and white supremacists encircle and chant at counter protestors at the base of a statue of Thomas Jefferson after marching through the University of Virginia campus with torches in Charlottesville on August 11, 2017. Picture: Getty Images

When neo-Nazis marched through the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia, chanting, "The Jews will not replace us" during a white supremicist rally last year in which counterprotester 32-year-old Heather Heyer was killed, Mr Trump first decried the violence.

He then drew the most infamous equivalency of his time in office.

"I think there is blame on both sides," the President told reporters that day in August 2017.

"You had some very bad people in that group," Mr Trump said, referring to the white nationalist groups rallying against removal of a Confederate statue. "But you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides", ABC reported.

Throughout his presidency, Mr Trump has launched vicious attacks against his political opponents, and led chants of "lock her up" referring to Hillary Clinton. He has also regularly lambasted CNN as "fake news" for criticising him - even going so far as to post a Twitter video of a WWE event with him body slamming the CNN logo.

It's become clear that some lunatics are willing to turn those words into actions.

Earlier this month, 14 packages containing pipe bombs were mailed to several prominent Trump critics including Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and CNN.

It wasn't long before the suspect was arrested - Cesar Sayoc - who had lived in a van covered in pro-Trump posters.

Disturbingly, it was also plastered in posters with Mr Trump's political opponents, with ominous targets over their faces.

Mr Sayoc has been pictured at Mr Trump's rallies with a sign reading "CNN sucks".

This November 1, 2017 photo shows a van with windows covered with an assortment of stickers in Well, Florida, as federal authorities took Cesar Sayoc into custody. (Courtesy of Lesley Abravanel via AP)
This November 1, 2017 photo shows a van with windows covered with an assortment of stickers in Well, Florida, as federal authorities took Cesar Sayoc into custody. (Courtesy of Lesley Abravanel via AP)

Disconcertingly, when Mr Trump announced Mr Sayoc had been arrested, his supporters chanted "CNN sucks".

With the mid-terms quickly approaching, a "caravan" of central American migrants hoping to gain asylum in the US drew the ire of Mr Trump.

He vowed to send the military to the US border, cut aid to the migrants' countries of origin and warned of terrorists in their ranks.

And so it was no surprise when yesterday, 11 people were killed when a gunman stormed the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.

He had opened fire on the congregants inside. The suspect, Robert Bowers, was soon arrested by authorities.

"I can't sit by and watch my people get slaughtered," Bowers had earlier written on social media. "Screw your optics, I'm going in."

His hate-speech was all over social media platform Gab, styled as the alt-right version of Twitter which puts nearly no restrictions on content.

Mr Bowers had become convinced Jews were helping transport members of the migrant caravans. He believed that those in the migrant caravans were violent because they were attempting to leave countries that had high levels of violence. And he repeatedly called them "invaders."

"I have noticed a change in people saying 'illegals' that now say 'invaders'," read one post, six days before the shooting. "I like this."

According to CNN, Bowers claimed Jews were helping transport members of the migrant caravans.

Not all the violence is on the right. Last year anti-Trump and left-wing activist James Hodgkinson shot Republican member of Congress and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise. Hodgkinson was killed in a shootout with police and Mr Scalise survived the attack.

In recent days, Mr Trump has urged Americans to unify in the wake of the attacks.

"All of America is in mourning over the mass murder of Jewish Americans at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh," he said.

"We pray for those who perished and their loved ones, and our hearts go out to the brave police officers who sustained serious injuries.

"This evil anti-Semitic attack is an assault on humanity. It will take all of us working together to extract the poison of anti-Semitism from our world. We must unite to conquer hate."

This is a positive sign, but it will take much more than two tweets to fix the toxic environment he has helped to create.

It's clear that the Far Right needs to accept responsibility for the bulk of the violence and terrorism sweeping the US, and ultimately Mr Trump himself is to blame.