European governments and law enforcement agencies are overlooking the threat of far-right terrorists, a new study warns.
Based on a 98-page survey conducted by experts from four main European research institutes, individuals and small groups of right-wing extremists are in fact more lethal, almost as numerous, and much harder to detect in comparison with other extremist groups.
Analyzing 31 European countries, the researchers found that there had been 124 individuals involved in 98 attacks or plots across Europe over the past 15-year period.
Out of the 124 perpetrators, some 50 were religiously motivated and some 42 others were branded right-wing extremists.
“Given the intense public focus on religiously inspired terrorism, the finding that right-wing extremists account for a similar proportion of perpetrators within the database is particularly significant,” the report said.
Melanie Smith, one of the authors of the report, said that the researchers were surprised at the high percentage of far-right, lone-actor attacks recorded across Europe.
"When we looked into where [law enforcement agencies’] resources were going, it became clear that actually the vast majority were [sic] going to looking for religiously-inspired terrorists… which kind of made sense to us because that’s what we were expecting too, but that’s not the case,” she said.
According to the study, Britain was leading the list of the most targeted European countries, with 38 planned attacks. France came second with 11. Germany and Sweden both had five.
“The most frequent targets were civilians, in particular ethnic and religious minorities, asylum seekers and immigrants. A large majority of religious targets were Muslim,” the report said.
The single most deadly raid in the list was carried out by far-right extremist Anders Behring Breivik. The 36-year-old went on a killing rampage on July 22, 2011, leaving 77 people dead and 242 others injured in bomb-and-gun massacres in the Norwegian capital, Oslo, and the Utoya Island. He was sentenced to 21 years in prison and his sentence can be extended indefinitely in case he is considered a threat.