Citing a rise in ethnic and racial Terrorism in many parts of the world, the State Department is mobilizing U.S. partners to combat white supremacist and other extremist groups.
Nathan Sales, the State Department’s counterterrorism coordinator, said Friday the “world saw a rise in racially or ethnically motivated terrorism” in 2018, calling the development a “disturbing trend.”
“Our role is mobilizing international partners to confront the international dimensions of this threat,” Sales said at the launch of the State Department’s 2018 Country Report on Terrorism.
Sponsors of terrorism
The report called Iran “the world’s worst sponsor of terrorism,” saying the Iranian regime, through its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, spends nearly $1 billion a year to support terrorist groups such as the Lebanese Hezbollah.
“Many European countries also saw a rise in racially, ethnically, ideologically or politically motivated terrorist activity and plotting, including against religious and other minorities,” the report said.
For example, the report noted an estimated 2,000 “Islamist extremists” and 1,000 “white supremacist and leftist violent extremists” in Sweden. A 2018 assessment by the Swedish Security Services called the extremists’ presence a “new normal.”
Echoing recent assessments by the FBI and other security officials, Sales said that white supremacists and other extremists increasingly communicate with like-minded cohorts across international borders.
“We know that they are, in a sense, learning from their jihadist predecessors, in terms of their ability to raise money and move money, in terms of their ability to radicalize and recruit,” Sales said.
U.S. law enforcement officials are increasingly concerned about such cross-border links between extremists. In some cases, right-wing extremists have traveled to Ukraine to fight on either side of the five-year conflict in the east of the Country.
The links between U.S. extremist groups and their foreign counterparts appear to be more ideological than operational. But what worries the FBI is the inspiration white supremacists can draw from violent groups overseas, FBI Director Christopher Wray told the House Homeland Security Committee Wednesday.
“I think you’re onto a trend that we’re watching very carefully,” Wray said.
“We have seen some connection between U.S.-based neo-Nazis and overseas analogues,” he said. “Probably a more prevalent phenomenon that we see right now is racially motivated violent extremists here who are inspired by what they see overseas.”
The rise of violent groups on the right has started a debate among policymakers over whether some outfits should be designated as terrorist organizations.
No domestic terrorism penalty
The problem is that while “material support” for international terrorism is a chargeable offense, there are no penalties for domestic terrorism.
One proposed solution is to pass a law that would allow prosecutors to bring domestic terrorism charges against defendants. Another is to add overseas white supremacist groups to the State Department’s list of designated foreign terrorist organizations.
Sales deferred a question about terrorism designations to the FBI and Department of Homeland Security.
Asked whether a proposed law on “domestic terrorism” will help the FBI, Wray said, “Certainly we can always use more tools. Our folks at the FBI, just like (federal prosecutors), work with [the motto] ‘Don’t Give Up,’ and so they find workarounds.” (VOA)
Facebook has shared for the first time data on how it takes action against child nudity and child sexual exploitation, terrorist propaganda, illicit firearm and drug sales and suicide and self-injury on its photo-sharing app Instagram.
In Q2 2019, Facebook removed about 512,000 pieces of content related to child nudity and child sexual exploitation on Instagram.
“In Q3 (July-September period), we saw greater progress and removed 754,000 pieces of content, of which 94.6 per cent we detected proactively,” Guy Rosen, VP Integrity, said in a statement on Wednesday.
It is ironic that Instagram has also become a platform, like Facebook, for such acts.
“For child nudity and sexual exploitation of children, we made improvements to our processes for adding violations to our internal database in order to detect and remove additional instances of the same content shared on both Facebook and Instagram,” Rosen explained.
In its “Community Standards Enforcement Report, November 2019,” the social networking platform said it has been detecting and removing content associated with Al Qaeda, ISIS and their affiliates on Facebook above 99 per cent.
“The rate at which we proactively detect content affiliated with any terrorist organisation on Facebook is 98.5 per cent and on Instagram is 92.2 per cent,” informed the company.
In the area of suicide and self-injury, Facebook took action on about 2 million pieces of content in Q2 2019.
“We saw further progress in Q3 when we removed 2.5 million pieces of content, of which 97.3 per cent we detected proactively.
“On Instagram, we saw similar progress and removed about 835,000 pieces of content in Q2 2019, of which 77.8 per cent we detected proactively, and we removed about 845,000 pieces of content in Q3 2019, of which 79.1 per cent we detected proactively,” said Rosen.
In Q3 2019, Gacebook removed about 4.4 million pieces of drug sale content. It removed about 2.3 million pieces of firearm sales content in the same period.
On Instagram, the company removed about 1.5 million pieces of drug sale content and 58,600 pieces of firearm sales content.
On spread of hate speech on its platforms, Facebook said it can detect such harmful content before people report it and, sometimes, before anyone sees it.
“With these evolutions in our detection systems, our proactive rate has climbed to 80 per cent, from 68 per cent in our last report, and we’ve increased the volume of content we find and remove for violating our hate speech policy,” said Rosen. (IANS)