Spain’s burgeoning far–right radicalisation problem has been struck a blow after a coordinated operation took down 240 Spanish websites related to terrorist attacks and violent far-right organisations.
The operation, by the Spain’s Centre for Intelligence against Terrorism and Organized Crime (CITCO), was part of a Europol police operation that took down 800 websites in total hosted on 34 internet platforms, of which 30% were located and identified by Spanish police experts.
The materials included content produced by or promoting banned right-wing extremist organisations, as well as content related to terrorist attacks motivated by violent extremism, such as livestreams, manifestos, and claims of responsibility.
It is the second operation of its kind against violent far-right content that targets isolated and vulnerable people – usually young men.
The Spanish government’s Instituto de la Juventud cites a 2018 study on the influence of online websites on young people’s socialisation, which found that 75% of Spanish teenagers lack the necessary training in critical thinking to be able to adequately navigate the web.
The Europol operation, which was carried out over several weeks and concluded on December 15, was motivated by the recent attacks in Buffalo (USA) and Bratislava (Slovakia) this year.
Last June, a teenager in Buffalo shot dead ten people at a supermarket, with prosecutors alleging he was motivated by racial hatred.
And in October, a man waited outside a gay bar in Bratislava and shot dead two people and wounded a third. The attack was declared an anti-LGBT hate crime.
Both were carried out by members of transnational online communities that were inspired by other far-right terrorist attacks.
While jihadist and religiously-inspired terrorism is still the primary concern of police, far-right violence has been trending upwards for a number of years now, with 64 arrests across European Union member states in 2021.
There have been 26 far-right terror attacks in the European Union over the past five years.
The operation was also carried out in the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, and Slovenia.