The Role of the Balkans in Extremism And Why Bulgaria Should be Careful

Opinions | March 19, 2019, Tuesday // 20:07|  views

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A far-right Australian extremist attacked two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, killing 50 people and injuring so much. The police are working on the version that he did not act alone, but is part of a larger contact group far outside New Zealand. National Security Experts define the extremism as a global threat, not a local phenomenon in Europe or the United States. Bulgaria and the Balkans are increasingly referred to a problem area, and Cyrillic inscriptions on the New Zealand terrorist's machine ask many questions on which the services should answer.

The attack in New Zealand happened last Friday. To intensify the effect, the striker, Brenton Tarant, creates a comprehensive campaign in social networks, where live tens of civilians are massacred. Video footage has been watched over a million times, and users' comments express support, believing it to be a video game broadcast. The terrorist left behind a 87-page manifesto calling for a fight against multiculturalism and migrants. Tarant's ultimate goal in his words is to provoke a civil conflict in the West.

Such an apocalyptic vision of the world is not new. People like Tarant, and supporters of extreme ideas - whether extreme right, ultra nationalists or jihadists - believe that the only way to save the world is with a global war in which the "unclean" be exterminated. Similar views are held by each of the Norwegian terrorists Anders Breivik to the leader of the Islamic State Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Although experts in the West have warned for several years that extreme right extremism is a growing problem, the countries have spend little money and effort to stop  them, with the focus still being jihadist and radical Islamist groups. However, there is a change. In Germany, the government has appointed more analysts in the specialized Department 2 of the Internal Federal Intelligence Agency, which is dealing with far-right and nationalist groups. The department plans to increase its state by 50% in 2019, aiming to reach the resources earmarked for combating Islamist terrorism.

The same situation is in the UK. Between 2016 and 2017, the services reported a 88% increase in counter-terrorism operations related to breaking down far-right networks. In 2018, London assigned the Internal Intelligence Service (MI5) to increase the cost of collecting information and preventing extremist, neo-Nazi and utra nationalists. This means that for Great Britain far-right extremism is already on a level as a threat along with Northern Ireland's separatism and jihadism.

While far-right extremism is becoming a problem for the United States and Europe, its international dimensions are becoming more and more visible. Extremists believing in the dominance of the White race travel all over the world, creating contacts to build communication and networks to exchange information and ideas. In this context, the Balkans are one of the most important areas for these people, as they can freely meet with sympathizers here and take advantage of paramilitary groups from the former Yugoslavia, some of whom are also fighting in Eastern Ukraine. The weakness of local governments makes the control chaotic and it helps to carry even weapons, as it was revealed last year in connection with deliveries for extreme Serb groups in Republika Srpska.

Through the Internet, it becomes much faster and easier than the past. The use of cryptocurrencies is the preferred way to fund operations.

On the other hand, jihadist groups are also expected to increase their activity after a year and a half of stagnation due to attacks on the structures of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. But both ID and Al-Qaeda are back on line. Their fighters are attacking Yemen, West Africa, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan almost every day. Only in a small country like Burkina Faso al-Qaeda is responsible for over 200 terrorist attacks per year. The attack in New Zealand has exacerbated the appetite of ID, and the organization has called on its sympathizers to strike Western Europe as "revenge." We can imagine the effect of this cycle of violence between jihadists and far-right extremists.

As far as Bulgaria is concerned, our country needs to keep track of the events shortly. Obviously, Tarant has visited our country many times, and the explanation of the prosecution that he was just a tourist and has not communicated with Bulgarian citizens is not only difficult to prove, but it sounds as if he is hiding more. For example, only in Sofia he stays for several days and no one knows what he did meanwhile. 


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