February 23, 2017 | White Nationalist shootings in Kansas

On this day in 2017, Adam Purinton shot two Indian men whom he had mistaken for Iranians, at a restaurant in Olathe, Kansas. He yelled “get out of my country” and “terrorist” before firing.

Many are clamouring about the ‘rise’ of far right violence in the West: ‘rise’ is not the ‘right’ word

As I draft this Today in Terrorism piece, we are still trying to comprehend the most recent shootings at two shisha bars in the German city of Hanau, near Frankfurt, on February 19. The shooter, Tobias Rathjen, killed nine people before taking his own life, as well as that of his mother. German authorities believe he had far right extremist views: a video and ‘manifesto’ the dead man left behind, although a little convoluted in parts, supports that theory.

Germany is not new to this scene. The nation that gave us nazism is inundated with ‘neo’-Nazis and other forms of white supremacism: security services there estimate that are more than 32 THOUSAND adherents as of 2019. Those figures are terrifying.

None of this is new. White nationalist violence has been with us for a depressingly long time and predates Adolph Hitler. The US had its own forms in the 19th century and that country too has a huge problem it is struggling to name, let alone monitor and interdict. It certainly does not help when the commander-in-chief has leanings that are impossible to decipher.

RELATED > Germany Shisha Lounge Shootings: What can we learn from terrorist ‘manifestos’?

Sticking with the US the other complicating factor is the overabundance of guns. It is estimated that there are 393 MILLION civilian-owned firearms in that country, which is more than one per American. So when you combine ubiquitous weapons and far right ideology you get a very dangerous situation.

As we saw a few years ago.

2017 Olathe Kansas shooting

On this day in 2017 Adam Purinton walked into Austin’s Bar and Grill in the Kansas suburb of Olathe and shot Alok Madasani, Srinivas Kuchibhotla, and Ian Grillot (the latter came to the aid of the previous two). Mr. Kuchibhotla died of his wounds.

Purinton told the two Indian men to ‘get out of my country’. He was sentenced in August 2018 to three consecutive life prison sentences.

As I noted, this kind of white/far right violent extremism is not new. Hence it is inaccurate to speak of the ‘rise’ of the movement. ‘Continued scourge’ would be a better term.

And I fear I will be writing about this a lot more in the months to come.

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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