Right-Wing Extremists Use Encrypted Apps To Plan Future Attacks
Telegram, an app where white supremacist content has been freely shared for months, is being used by right-wing extremists to call for violence against government officials.
As an encrypted communication app with minimal content moderation, Telegram allows people to post messages in private chatrooms, mostly dwelling in eastern Europe and the Middle East but also in U.S. These extremists have been sharing knowledge of how to make, conceal and use homemade guns and bombs.
Since the Capitol attack on Jan. 6, exhortations to “shoot politicians” and “encourage armed struggle” have been posted in a Telegram channel that uses “fascist” in its name. Documents such as “U.S. Army explosives and demolitions manual” and “U.S. Army Engineer course” and posts explaining how to radicalize Trump supporters to neo-Nazism have also been shared via the channel’s file manager.
Chris Sampson, chief of research at the Terror Asymmetrics Project on Strategy Tactics and Radical Ideologies, a defense research institute, said his group is concerned about the users on the channels, alerting the FBI about the posts.
“When they start calling for assassinations, when they start calling for action versus sharing information, we flag them, a little higher,” Sampson said. “Some channels merely swap information, but then they accelerated into conversations of where to be.”
Last week, the FBI sent a memo to law enforcement agencies warning against possible armed protest at all 50 state capitols. Trump supporters with extremists views have used these encrypted platforms to post warnings about avoiding upcoming local rallies.
A “Million Militia March” is also being planned, as well as a “Million Martyr March,” the latter in honor of Ashli Babbitt, a veteran and a Trump supporter who was shot and killed during the Capitol riots.
Content meant to inspire people to fight for Trump continues to circulate around mainstream platforms even after President Joe Biden‘s inauguration.
In a video posted to YouTube on last week, ominous music played in the background as Trump’s speeches were woven with biblical verses. This video, however, was removed after 12 hours due to its “violation of YouTube’s Community Guidelines.”
Parler, a popular platform financed by conservative Rebekah Mercer, went offline last week after Amazon ended its web-hosting relationship with the company, but it has since come back online.
“Now that they forced us off the main platforms it doesn’t mean we go away, it just means we are going to go places they don’t see,” a user posted in the chatroom intended for past Parler members.