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Far-right militias are back

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Far-right militias are back

Lea Feiger: To be fair, a militia of 2,500 across the United States that is carefully organized on Telegram and promotes the use of armed weapons in response to everything from natural disasters to false accusations of election fraud is still really worrying. I’m worried.

David Gilbert: Absolutely, and I think that gets lost. When you write articles like this, a lot of people say, “Oh, you shouldn’t give these people platforms. They’re making this up. They’re lying.”

Lea Feiger: Definitely.

David Gilbert: But there are people in these Telegram groups who want to join armed militias, and it’s part of a larger resurgence of far-right paramilitary activity and discussions that I and other experts are seeing online in recent weeks and months, and that It’s really disturbing.

Lea Feiger: We’ll take a short break, and when we come back, we’ll talk about how all of these types of militias are starting to go mainstream again and what this means for 2024. Welcome back to the WIRED Policy Lab. David, you were talking about how militias are resurgent right now. What exactly do you mean by that?

David Gilbert: What I mean is that Lang is, and his network of militias that they have launched is just one part of a broader movement that I and other journalists and researchers who monitor the space have seen in recent weeks, and it is all related with the 2024 election, that people need to be prepared to respond if something happens and of course what will happen if Donald Trump loses.

Lea Feiger: So what does Lang say will happen if Donald Trump loses?

David Gilbert: Well, Lang talks about civil unrest and how if Trump loses, people will automatically be outraged. Do you think the result of Joe Biden winning the election was accurate?

Jake Lang: No, I think it’s more or less a statistical outlier or impossibility.

David Gilbert: When I spoke to him, he told me a list of the most well-known 2020 election conspiracies.

Jake Lang: Rigged, stolen, manipulated, scam, whatever you want to call it. It was not the will of the people.

David Gilbert: When he looks ahead to 2024, he predicts that if Trump loses, there will be a huge catastrophe and there will be a lot of angry people, and that’s where his militias will be ready to intervene.

Lea Feiger: Is this real? I mean, people say a lot of things online. What kind of connections are you and other researchers making between this moment in 2020?

David Gilbert: The network of people who are organizing this is much larger and much stronger because they have had four years to create these national networks of connections and groups, whether online or in person. We saw before 2020 that there were some researchers and some journalists who were raising flags, not many, but they were raising flags and saying, “This is worrying.” The intelligence services also realized what was happening, but no one took any action. I think this time, about five months before the election, I think the signals are much stronger. In the last few weeks, I’ve definitely noticed a serious increase in people discussing things like militias, things like sheriff’s forces, that people need to be ready for 2024, this idea that something is going to happen on November 5th. If the result is not It will not be as people think it will be. So I think the parallels you see between 2020 are that people ignored what was in front of them. In 2020, you could see why that happened, because something like January 6th had never happened before. So what’s happening this time is much bigger, but people, at least for the moment, don’t seem to be paying attention.

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