ISS: Right-wing extremist terrorism new potential threat

Internal Security Services (ISS) headquarters in Tallinn.
Internal Security Services (ISS) headquarters in Tallinn. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Next to decades of Russian influence activities, right-wing extremist terrorism has become a new potential risk factor in Estonian society, the Estonian Internal Security Service (ISS) writes in its annual review.

"Unfortunately, a growing part of our attention is paid to right-wing extremists whose activities are mainly symbolic and centered around social networks but which development could still result in attacks on people's lives, health and property – we are talking about the potential threat of right-wing extremist terrorism," ISS Director Arnold Sinisalu writes in the yearbook's foreword.

"In the context of prevention, the most dangerous development of recent years is the /---/ arrival of the pro-terrorism so-called Siege culture in Estonia," the threats to constitutional order chapter reads.

It goes on to explain that the Siege movement is named after a series of articles published by U.S. extremist James Mason in the 1980s the main thesis of which is speeding up the collapse of society and the resulting race war (boogaloo) by staging terrorist attacks. The theory, initially regarded as too radical in extremist circles, was picked up by a new generation of extremists in the Iron March online forum in 2011-2017.

"This was the start of several groups promoting violence members of which have been convicted of murder and terrorist acts. The forum was created and moderated by Russian citizen Alisher Mukhitdinov who graduated from the Russian Foreign Ministry's Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO). A book by Mukhitdinov that justifies and glorifies violence has been found in the possession of Estonian extremists," the ISS writes.

The agency remarks that taking advantage of various extremist groups is in line with Russia's military doctrine that prescribes employing military, political, economic, informational and other non-military methods in conflicts by using the potential of the local population.

The ISS gives the example of a provocatively tattooed right-wing extremist from St. Petersburg attempting to attend an event to remember the fallen at the Battle of the Tannenberg Line in Estonia in 2015 to allow Estonia to be accused of publicly supporting Nazism. In February 2021, the ranks of the so-called Immortal Regiment included Russian-speaking Estonian skinheads who attended a demonstration to defame Russian opposition member Alexey Navalny in front of the Russian Embassy in Tallinn.

Siege ideology has resulted in mass murders

The ISS points out that the threat of the Siege ideology of the Iron March forum is reflected in the fact it was followed by mass murderers in New Zealand and USA in 2019.

"The latter are in turn set as examples by proponents of the Siege culture all over the world, including Estonia," the annual review adds.

The ISS' overview concludes that the Siege ideology targets ostracized youths left to their own devices. They are stirred up against certain social groups and promised the status of hero attached to Nazi activities.

"Members of groups might not meet in person, while misconceptions created in cyberspace could motivate members to perpetrate attacks. These efforts are more dangerous in the case of young people and mentally unstable persons who could take an interest in or have access to (their parents') legal firearms," the ISS finds.

The agency emphasizes that corresponding chatrooms also have Estonian youths who have disseminated violent propaganda and recruited new members.

As part of preventative activities, the ISS in October 2021 detained two young men with ties to the organization known as the Feuerkrieg Division that the UK authorities have classified as terrorist. The men have been handed suspicions of inciting terrorist crime and making threats.

"The ISS Yearbook 2021-2022 has published in Estonian and is available here.
The official English-language translation will be available in due course.''


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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