For immediate release | Monday, March 16, 2020

Extremist Content Online: White Supremacists Blame Jews, Israel & China For COVID-19

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Media at CEP

(New York, N.Y.) – The Counter Extremism Project (CEP) reports weekly on the methods used by extremists to exploit the Internet and social media platforms to recruit followers and incite violence. This week, white supremacists on Telegram channels and chan-style message boards blamed Jews, Israel and China for COVID-19 and shared a meme encouraging those who have the virus to spread it to religious minorities. ISIS released a propaganda video to numerous web platforms titled “Defeated by Their Enemy” from the extremist group’s self-proclaimed Kirkuk province in Iraq. Also, ISIS’s Al Hayat Media Center released an Urdu nasheed seeking to further exacerbate tensions between Hindus and Muslims in India. Additionally, on Telegram and chan-style message boards, white supremacists celebrated the one-year anniversary of the Christchurch terror attack and advocated for further violence. A neo-Nazi Telegram channel urged for attacks on Jews, donors to pro-immigrant organizations and individuals that are “anti-white,” and a neo-Nazi Internet security group released a cyber security manual with instructions on protecting one’s online information and identity. Finally, CEP researchers located seven uploads of a notorious neo-Nazi National Action propaganda video on the BitChute video streaming platform.​

White Supremacists Blame China And Jews For COVID-19, Share Meme Advocating For Spreading Infection

In numerous Telegram channels and chats, and on chan imageboards, white supremacists and other right-wing extremists have blamed Jews, Israel, China or Chinese people generally for COVID-19. Numerous posts have falsely accused China of accidentally releasing the virus from a biological weapons research facility. Many posts have also accused Israel of developing the virus, and have accused Jews of deliberately spreading it. Several white supremacist Telegram channels have also accused immigrants of spreading COVID-19.

“While a meme shared by white supremacists that encourages spreading COVID-19 to religious minorities and people of color could be viewed as a failed attempt at humor, it’s important to recognize the violent and eliminationist rhetoric behind it,” said CEP researcher Joshua Fisher-Birch. “Telegram should take action against violent communities on their platform.”

A meme on Telegram urges the viewer that if they are infected by COVID-19, to intentionally infect Muslims, Jews, people of color, and to spread the disease on public transit. The meme was shared by an anti-Semitic Telegram channel with over 1,200 subscribers and a Telegram channel that claims to be affiliated with the neo-Nazi British Movement, which has over 700 subscribers. While the meme is an attempt at humor, it invokes the genocidal fantasies of white supremacist movements in a time of precarity.

ISIS Propaganda Video Uploaded To Multiple Websites

On March 13, ISIS released a propaganda video titled “Defeated by Their Enemy,” from the group’s self-proclaimed Kirkuk province in Iraq. The video shows ISIS attacks conducted in the past year in the Kirkuk region and includes footage of ISIS fighters conducting night raids, and executions of militiamen and accused spies.

In addition to Telegram and RocketChat, the video was uploaded to at least ten additional websites: YouTube, the Internet Archive, ok.ru, Amazon Drive, file.fm, mail.ru, Dropbox, the Microsoft One Drive, Jumpshare, and Yadi.sk. Approximately four hours later, the video was still available on five websites: ok.ru, file.fm, mail.ru, Jumpshare and Yadi.sk, in addition to Telegram and RocketChat. While the YouTube video was removed in approximately 20 minutes, it had at least 130 views at the time of removal.

ISIS Releases Urdu Nasheed

On March 11, ISIS’s Al Hayat Media Center released an Urdu nasheed titled “People of Determination and Courage.” ISIS has been attempting to further inflame tensions in India between Hindus and Muslims. India’s recent Citizenship Amendment Bill does not include Muslims in India’s list of protected religious groups that can attain asylum, and the National Register of Citizens calls for Indians to provide proof of citizenship in order to be included in a national registry. Nationalist mobs in New Delhi have murdered dozens of Muslims and burned buildings in sectarian attacks.

The mp3 was released on Telegram, Top4top, YourListen, and Clyp. Two days later the mp3 was still available on Telegram, YourListen, and Clyp.

White Supremacists Celebrate One-Year Anniversary Of Christchurch Terror Attack

White supremacists celebrated online in the days prior the one-year anniversary of the March 15 terrorist attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. Brenton Tarrant is awaiting trial on charges of 51 counts of murder and 40 counts of attempted murder and engaging in a terrorist act. White supremacists on Telegram praised Tarrant’s actions. White supremacists on 8chan’s successor forum also praised Tarrant and encouraged further violence. Users of a white supremacist chan board exchanged video clips and memes taken from Tarrant’s Facebook live footage.

Neo-Nazi Telegram Channel Urges Attacks On Jews And Donors To Pro-Immigrant Organizations

In a post regarding so called “legitimate targets” on March 10, a neo-Nazi Telegram channel said that “hypothetically” violence should be used against anyone who is “anti-white”. The post alluded to Jews as being the architects of a plot to replace whites, and implied that violence should be used against Jews, political parties, and those who donate to organizations that help immigrants. Robert Bowers, who is accused of murdering 11 people at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue, posted diatribes against Jewish groups that assist refugees. The Telegram channel administrator was concerned that lone actor shooters, such as Dylann Roof and Brenton Tarrant, have attacked targets such as churches and mosques, while not attacking who or what organizations are considered the foundation of the alleged perpetrators of replacement theory. The channel, which has over 3,800 subscribers and uses an image of Timothy McVeigh as an AVI has indicated that the creator lives in Slovakia.

Neo-Nazi Internet Security Group Releases Cyber Security Manual

A neo-Nazi internet security group released a 54-page cyber security manual on March 11. The manual contains information on obscuring one’s online information and identity, how to avoid being doxed, secure communications, and encryption. The group launched an “.onion” page in December. The channel has over 2,100 subscribers as of March 13. 

Seven Uploads Of Notorious National Action Propaganda Video Found On British Video Streaming Site

Seven uploads of a notorious neo-Nazi National Action propaganda video were located by CEP researchers this week on the BitChute video streaming platform. The video features a National Action rally interspersed with propaganda imagery and calls for unspecific action against politicians, Jews, bankers, and immigrants. BitChute’s Community Guidelines forbid the posting of “terrorist material” or content that promotes terrorist organizations. BitChute is registered in the United Kingdom. The oldest video was uploaded in September 2019 and had 865 views on March 13, and the most recent upload was in February 2020 and had 101 views on March 13. All seven links were reported to BitChute on March 13 for violating the site’s policies on terrorist material, they were still online approximately 72 hours later.

National Action was proscribed by the British government in December 2016 following the group’s vocal support for Thomas Mair, who murdered British MP Jo Cox. In March 2018, the chair of the UK Home Affairs Committee, Yvette Cooper MP, criticized Google/YouTube for the group’s failure to remove National Action propaganda videos. In March 2020, a Metropolitan police officer was arrested on suspicion of belonging to a banned right-wing terrorist organization. The Guardian alleged that the officer had links to National Action.