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    Antifa Threat Assessment

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    Antifa supporters at a public demonstration (source: The Federalist)

    Summary

    The Antifa threat rose to its height of national exposure during the presidency of Donald J. Trump and recent civil unrest in the United States. There is no shortage of partisan media coverage portraying the group as a serious burden to law and order in US cities. The true nature of the Antifa threat remains in a position of heavy debate, often across partisan lines. Some view the group as an ideologically driven counter-protesting group, while others view them as domestic terrorists. Although Antifa has taken part in violent acts in recent US history, the threat they present is less substantial than often reported.

    Key Judgement 1

    It is highly likely the Antifa threat in the US over the next 24 months is interdependent on the ever-changing social and political climate. 

    • Antifa’s primary goals focus on combating the group’s interpretation of the fascist ideology. Direct action activism and counter-protesting historically accomplished this work at politically charged events. 

    • Antifa lacks a central command and is an organization united through an ideology. The only time Antifa cells are active or violent is during periods of social unrest and political protest, particularly during the now ended Trump presidency. A shift in national politics towards a left-wing majority, and a temporal decrease in nationwide socio-political protests, has placed cells in a state of dormancy. (source)

    • Upcoming national midterm elections, and an increase in public demonstrations against the Biden administration’s COVID vaccine mandates, and to support justice for January 6th insurrectionists, will likely set conditions for increased Antifa threat in the future. (source)
    antifa threat
    Antifa activists demonstrating in Germany (source: wikicommons)

    Key Judgement 2

    It is likely in the next 24 months, violent action committed by Antifa members will focus on right-wing targets, including members of the Proud Boys and Patriot Front.

    • Regional Antifa cells direct most of their violent attacks towards members of the Proud Boys and other activists who align with ideologies that the group labels as fascism. Patriot Front has recently begun taking part in public demonstrations, making them a likely Antifa target in the future. 

    • Antifa limits activities to socio-political demonstrations and counter-protesting. Outside of those spaces are limited opportunities or motives for direct action activities. The direct action and black bloc tactics used by Antifa in the past 12 months have been scarce in frequency, and mostly directed at right wing targets. Doxing enemies is the most common tactic used by regional Antifa cells through inter-connected networks on social media platforms in the group’s current era.

    • The rise of Patriot Front on the national public stage will likely re-energize regional Antifa cells who view them as a threat. Patriot Front contrasts the Proud Boys as a more disciplined and professional group in appearance. Their white nationalist agenda and documented neo-Nazi connections make Patriot Front a viable enemy for Antifa in the future. (source)
    antifa threat
    Man with an Antifa patch at a 2020 Stop The Steal Rally in Minneapolis (source: flickr)

    Key Judgement 3

    It is highly likely partisan news in the US has used the Antifa threat as a political weapon, resulting in a distorted image of the group’s true strength to the American public.  

    • Antifa has become a political weapon for right wing-oriented media outlets, who often mis-characterize the group’s strength and activities for the sake of political persuasion. (source)

    • Right-wing media’s creation of an “Antifa boogeyman” has directly contributed to public fear of the group. It is likely the lack of accurate reporting on Antifa as a de-centralized ideology instead of highly dangerous militant group has resulted in misinformation being widely spread to large parts of the domestic population. 

    • It is likely the continued utilization of Antifa as a political weapon will contribute to deeper fractures in civil society and has the realistic potential of radicalizing individuals who are sympathetic to right-wing causes. That radicalization includes motivating individuals to align with groups like the Proud Boys and Patriot Front and combat the Antifa threat in the public square. 
    Michael Ellmer
    Michael Ellmer
    Michael is a Senior Intelligence Analyst at Grey Dynamics. He spent eight years as an rifleman in the United States Marine Corps infantry, with tours to Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Pacific Theater. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Strategic Intelligence Analysis at Brunel University London.

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