Authored by Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens, Bennett Clifford, and Lorenzo Vidino
This report examines the role of antisemitic ideas and narratives as foundational elements of two disparate American violent extremist movements: the extreme right wing and violent Islamist groups. Both movements have historically used antisemitism as a belief and world-structuring theory to recruit new followers, mobilize them to action, and justify violent attacks against the Jewish community in the United States. Despite differences in ideology between far-right and Islamist extremists-and methodological disagreements between violent and non-violent iterations of the same movement-the various iterations of these movements have all included antisemitism as a core element of their worldviews.
Three recent case studies of American violent extremists from the far-right and Islamist currents structure the report's findings. Antisemitism was a vital part of the radicalization process in each case study, despite apparent differences in ideological persuasion. In some individual case studies, antisemitic narratives were a gateway issue that structured the remainder of their radicalization and mobilization to others. For others, it shaped their transitions between one extremist movement and the other, or between a non-violent and violent iteration of the same extremist movement.
To conclude, the report argues that counterterrorism and countering violent extremism practitioners and scholars may consider treating antisemitism as a diagnostic factor for radicalization to violent extremism. While distinguishing a profile for American violent extremists remains a difficult task, antisemitism's ubiquity in various extremist movements over time in the United States makes it a common denominator among many types of American violent extremism. The report was made possible through support from the National Counterterrorism, Innovation, Technology, and Education Center (NCITE).