In the past eight years, more than 175 people around the world have been killed in at least 16 high-profile attacks motivated, or apparently motivated, by white nationalist conspiracy theories, including the far-right racist belief that nonwhite immigrants and refugees are “invaders” who pose an existential threat to the white race.
The targets of deadly attacks have included Muslim worshippers at mosques in Canada, Britain and New Zealand; black Americans in church, including during Bible study at a historic black church in South Carolina; Jewish Americans in synagogues across the United States; and leftwing politicians and activists in the US, UK, Greece and Norway.
Now, law enforcement officials in the United States are investigating two more mass shootings with potential links to white nationalist radicalization.
An attack on Saturday at a Walmart superstore in El Paso, Texas, a majority-Hispanic city, which left 20 people dead and more than two dozen wounded, and a shooting the previous weekend at a garlic festival in Gilroy, California, packed with families with young children, which left three people dead and 15 wounded.
Many of the white male perpetrators or suspects in these attacks have explicitly described immigrants and refugees as “invaders” or an “invasion” online, and have cited previous white nationalist killers as the inspiration for their attacks.
Several of these deadly attacks have also been closely linked to mainstream political debates over refugees and immigration. Here are the prominent cases prior to this August 2019 shooting:
1 killed in mass shooting targeting a synagogue in Poway, California, US.
The alleged shooter, 19, from California, opened fire in a synagogue during Passover services, killing a 60-year-old woman and injuring three others. An “open letter” posted on the 8chan extremist message board before the attack included white nationalist conspiracy rhetoric and said the shooter was inspired by the gunman who had opened fire on Muslims at two mosques in New Zealand the month before.
51 killed in mass shootings targeting two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.
The alleged shooter, a 28-year-old white man from Australia, posted on 8chan before the attack, and then live-streamed himself shooting unarmed people in and around two Christchurch mosques. The manifesto posted before the shooting paid tribute to previous white nationalist attacks, including Anders Breivik’s 2011 bomb and shooting attack in Norway, as well as historic acts of violence against Muslims.
11 killed in a mass shooting targeting the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, US.
The alleged shooter, a 46-year-old white man, reportedly shouted “All Jews must die!” during the attack. After he was taken into custody, he told a law enforcement official that he believed Jews “were committing a genocide to his people”, a central white nationalist conspiracy theory. The gunman, who is awaiting trial and has pleaded not guilty, apparently had an active profile on an extremist social media site, where he accused Jewish people of trying to bring “evil” Muslims into the US, and wrote that a refugee aid organisation “likes to bring invaders in that kill our people”.
Man attempted to enter black church before allegedly killing two black people in a supermarket in Kentucky, US.
A witness said that during the attack, the alleged shooter said: “Whites don’t kill whites.” His two victims, Maurice Stallard, 69, and Vickie Lee Jones, 67, were both black. Shortly before the shooting he had attempted to enter a nearby, predominantly black church, which was locked. The suspect was charged with hate crimes.
Heather Heyer was killed and dozens injured after a car ploughed into anti-Nazi protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, US.
After authorities shut down a violent white supremacist and neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, one of the men who had been photographed with a white supremacist group drove his car into a crowded street full of counter-protesters. Heather Heyer, 32, who was there protesting the far-right supporters, was killed. Dozens more were injured, many seriously. The killer had been obsessed with Hitler as a teenager, according to a former teacher. He was sentenced to life in prison.
A man called Makram Ali was killed and 12 people injured after a van ploughed into worshippers outside a mosque in Finsbury Park, United Kingdom.
The killer, who has been jailed for life, shouted: “I want to kill all Muslims – I did my bit,” after the van attack, according to witnesses. He had been radicalised online and over Twitter, a judge concluded, and avidly consumed anti-Muslim propaganda from prominent rightwing figures.
Two men stabbed to death after intervening in an anti-Muslim rant, Portland, Oregon, US.
Two men were killed and one injured after they tried to intervene to protect young women on a public train who were being targeted with an anti-Muslim tirade. Their alleged killer shouted “Free speech or die” later in a courtroom, and “Death to Antifa! You call it terrorism, I call it patriotism!” The suspect is awaiting trial.
Timothy Caughman stalked and killed by a white supremacist with a sword, New York, US.
The alleged killer later pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life behind bars.
Caughman, a 66-year-old “can and bottle recycler”, had lively social media accounts full of photographs with celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey. His killer, an American military veteran, said he targeted a random black man on the street in New York City as a “practice run” for a bigger attack.
Six people killed during evening prayers at a mosque in Quebec City, Canada.
One of the victims, Azzeddine Soufiane, was killed as he attempted to tackle the gunman. Nineteen people were also injured in the shooting, which the convicted gunman said was prompted by Justin Trudeau’s tweet that refugees were welcome in Canada, and that “diversity is strength”. Those comments from the Canadian prime minster followed US president Donald Trump’s travel ban on people from several Muslim-majority countries. The shooter, who said he feared refugees would kill his family, had previously been known as an aggressive online troll .
Labour MP Jo Cox shot and stabbed to death, UK.
Cox was a supporter of Britain staying in the European Union. She was attacked a week before the EU referendum vote in 2016. The man convicted of killing her was a white supremacist obsessed with the Nazis and apartheid-era South Africa. He shouted: “This is for Britain,” “Keep Britain independent” and “Britain first” as he killed her.
Three killed in attack on school in Trollhättan, Sweden.
The attacker targeted a local high school with a high percentage of immigrant students. Police said students and teacherswith darker skinwere targeted. Three died, including 15-year-old Ahmed Hassan, who was born in Somalia and had recently moved to Sweden.
Nine people killed during Bible study at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, US.
The nine victims included elderly longtime church members at the Mother Emanuel AME church, and Clementa Pinckney, a state senator. The shooter, a self-avowed white supremacist, said he wanted to start a race war, and that he was concerned about “black-on-white crime”. He has been convicted of murder and hate crimes.
Three killed at Jewish centre and retirement home in Overland Park, Kansas, US.
A former Ku Klux Klan leader shot and killed three people, one of them just 14 years old. He was later convicted of murder. He said he believed Jews were destroying the white race, and that diversity was a kind of genocide. None of his victims were Jewish, but he said he considered two of them to be accomplices to Jewish people.
Rapper and anti-fascist activist Pavlos Fyssas stabbed to death in Piraeus, Greece.
A senior member of Greece’s neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party was imprisoned after confessing to the killing.
Six worshippers killed in a shooting targeting a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.
The dead included the temple president, Satwant Singh Kaleka. The shooter, a “frustrated neo-Nazi” who had played in white power bands, was a regular on racist websites, and died in the attack. He had previously talked to one colleague in the US military about a “racial holy war that was coming” and told another he was a “race traitor” for dating a Latina woman.
77 people killed in attacks on Utøya island and in Oslo, Norway.
A bomb attack, followed by a shooting that targeted the island summer youth camp of Norway’s Labor party. The shooter, who was convicted and is in prison, wanted to prevent an “invasion of Muslims” and deliberately targeted politically active young people who he saw as “cultural Marxists” and proponents of multiculturalism. More than half of the dead were teenagers.