The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) released its annual report on extremism within the United States this week, revealing that individuals linked to or affiliated with the far-right were responsible for nearly every extremist-related murder committed in the United States in 2018.
The report notes far-right extremists were responsible for 49 murders in 2018, making it the fourth deadliest year on record for domestic extremism in the United States. What’s perhaps more alarming is that those murders only represent the tip of the iceberg.
Just this week, authorities uncovered two separate violent plots in New York and Utah, both of which were planned out by suspects with far-right leanings, but thankfully not carried out.
On Tuesday, The Denver Post reported that police and FBI agents in Utah had arrested 27-year-old Christopher Wayne Cleary of Denver, Colorado for threatening to kill “as many girls as I see.” According to a probable-cause statement, Clearly said his virginity was a motive for plotting to carry out the attack.
“I’m 27 years old and I’ve never had a girlfriend before and I’m still a virgin, this is why I’m planning on shooting up a public place soon,” Cleary said. “I’m ready to die and all the girls that turned me down is [sic] going to make it right by killing as many girls as I see.”
Cleary’s motivations are straight from the incel (or involuntarily celibate) community, a virulently misogynistic online group which began as a support group of sorts for celibate men but has morphed into a toxic online community which regularly advocates rape and has a proven track record of inspiring real-world violence. Mass-murderers Elliot Rodger, Alek Minassian, and, most recently, Scott Paul Beierle were all directly inspired by the incel “ideology.”
The ADL has begun to track incel-related violence as part of its wider examination of far-right extremism. “Involuntary celibates…externalize their rage and unhappiness over their inability to form meaningful relationships with women,” the ADL’s report reads. “Rodger’s 2014 murders were the first known example of deadly incel-inspired violence and he continues to inspire like-minded men today.”
The same day as Cleary’s arrest, police in upstate New York arrested and charged four men who were allegedly plotting to attack the nearby Muslim community of Islamberg, which has been the target of Islamophobic conspiracy theories for years.
Police accused the group, which includes three young men and one 16-year-old, of stashing improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and 23 rifles and shotguns in preparation for the attack. The grandmother of 20-year-old suspect Brian Colaneri told BuzzFeed News that he had been “manipulated” by fellow alleged plotter Vincent Vetromile. As The Daily Beast reported, Vetromile’s social media was full of far-right tropes — such as referring to Muslims immigrants as “rapefugees” — and posts praising President Donald Trump.
The two sets of arrests were made the same week that white supremacist James Jackson pleaded guilty in New York City to several charges of murder and hate crimes, as well as “Murder as a Crime of Terrorism,” the first ever prosecution of its kind in the state.
The charges stem from a March 2017 racism-fueled murder in which Jackson brutally stabbed 66-year-old Timothy Caughman in the back with 26-inch sword. Caughman, who had been collecting recycling cans, was able to stagger into a nearby police station following the attack, before collapsing. He died of his injuries shortly after.
Jackson, who pleaded guilty in October, stated to police that he wanted to “inspire white men to kill black men, to scare black men, and to provoke a race war.” He is expected to be sentenced to life without parole in February.
“White nationalism will not be normalized in New York,” District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said in a statement, following Jackson’s guilty plea. “If you come here to kill New Yorkers in the name of white nationalism, you will be investigated, prosecuted, and incapacitated like the terrorist that you are.”
The foiled plots, as well as Jackson’s guilty plea, demonstrate the very real nature of the threat the ADL report highlighted, the group warned this week.
“The white supremacist attack in Pittsburgh should serve as a wake-up call to everyone about the deadly consequences of hateful rhetoric,” ADL CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt said in a statement, citing the anti-Semitic attack at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pennsylvania last October, which left 11 people dead. “It’s time for our nation’s leaders to appropriately recognize the severity of the threat and to devote the necessary resources to address the scourge of right-wing extremism.”