Chapter What he has to do next is just wait.
Many scholars of terrorism see worrying similarities between the rise of the Islamic State and that of white nationalist terrorism, seen most recently in the carnage in El Paso, Tex. And they are growing more notable with each new attack.
Experts say that the similarities are far from a coincidence. White nationalist terrorism is following a progression eerily similar to that of jihadism under the leadership of the Islamic State, in ways that do much to explain why the attacks have suddenly grown so frequent and deadly.
In both, there is the apocalyptic ideology that predicts — and promises to hasten — a civilizational conflict that will consume the world. There is theatrical, indiscriminate violence that will supposedly bring about this final battle, but often does little more than grant the killer a brief flash of empowerment and win attention for the cause.
And for these recruits, the official ideology may serve simply as an outlet for existing tendencies toward hatred and violence. Differences between white nationalists and the Islamic State remain vast.
The world-shaking infamy of the Islamic State has made it a natural model even — perhaps especially — for extremists who see Muslims as enemies. A set of global changes, particularly the rise of social media, has made it easy for any decentralized terrorist cause to drift toward ever-grander, and evermore nonsensical, violence.
Berger said. White nationalism in all forms has been on the rise for some years. Its violent fringe was all but certain to rise as well. The feedback loop of radicalization and violence, once triggered, can take on a terrible momentum all its own, with each attack boosting the online radicalization and doomsday ideology that, in turn, drive more attacks.
The lessons are concerning. It is nearly impossible to eradicate a movement animated by ideas and decentralized social networks.
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And global changes that played a role in allowing the rise of the Islamic State are only accelerating, Mr. Berger warned — changes like the proliferation of social networks. A New Kind of Terrorism The nihilism that increasingly defines global terrorism first emerged in the sectarian caldron of American-occupied Iraq.
A washed-up criminal from Jordan, Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, exploited the chaos brought by the American-led invasion to slaughter occupiers and Iraqi Muslims alike, circulating videos of his deeds.
Al Qaeda, for all its religious claims, had, like most terrorist groups, killed civilians in pursuit of worldly goals like an American withdrawal from the Middle East. But Mr. Zarqawi seemed driven by sadism, a thirst for fame and an apocalyptic ideology that he is thought to have only vaguely grasped.
Zarqawi instead proved so popular among jihadist recruits that Al Qaeda let him fight under its name. After his death, his group re-emerged as the Islamic State. Most terrorists are not born wishing to kill.
They have to be groomed. Where past terrorist groups had appealed to the political aspirations and hatreds of its recruits, Mr. The American-led invasion of Iraq had seemed, for many Middle Easterners, to turn the world upside down. Zarqawi and later the Islamic State, instead of promising to turn it right side up, offered an explanation: The world was rushing toward an end-of-days battle between Muslims and infidels.
In that world, Mr. Because the attacks were easier to carry out, almost anyone could execute their own and feel like a true soldier in the glorious cause.
Jihadism retained its core political agenda. With an ideology that said anyone could kill for the movement and that killing was its own reward, much of the violence took on a momentum of its own.
That, some scholars say, is what appears to be happening now with the extreme wings of the white nationalist movement rising globally. Seeing a Global Race War The ideological tracts, recruiting pitches and radicalization tales of the Islamic State during its rise echo, almost word-for-word, those of the white nationalist terrorists of today.
For the latter, the world is said to be careening toward a global race war between whites and nonwhites. Radicalization requires little more than a community with like-minded beliefs, said Maura Conway, a terrorism scholar at Dublin City University. While white backlash to social and demographic change is nothing new, social media has allowed whites receptive to the most extreme version to find one another.
Berger, in his research, found that these deadly messages, which have had mixed success in traditional propaganda channels in all but the most dire historical moments, can spread like wildfire on social media.
It offered them a way to belong and a cause to participate in. And, much like the Islamic State had found, social media gave white extremists a venue on which to post videos of their exploits, where they would go viral, setting off the cycle again.
In , Mr.