Expert on far-right violence and white supremacists talks about the reasons she saw this coming. Jessica Stern has spent more than two decades studying and writing about white supremacists and other extremists who call for armed conflict. But even she was shocked by the violence that exploded at the Capitol on January 6—and by the talk she saw online about what might come next. A research professor at BU’s Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies, Stern’s main focus is on the perpetrators of violence and their motivations. She has interviewed white-identity terrorists in the United States, jihadis in Pakistan, neo-Nazis in European prisons—and more recently, a former Serbian warlord convicted of genocide for atrocities committed against Muslims during the Bosnian War. A member of the Homeland Security Experts Group, an independent, nonpartisan nonprofit that seeks to increase awareness of evolving national security risks, Stern studies counterterrorism and the migration of hard-right extremists to online platforms. She is currently teaching courses on the psychology and history of terrorism and on mapping dangerous speech online.
“I spent a lot of time on Parler before it was taken down on Sunday night,” Stern says. “What shocked me the most about what was happening on the site was the open planning for additional violence on January 17 at State Houses around the country and on January 19 and 20 in Washington, D.C.” “How can we stop this kind of dangerous speech, while still protecting people’s rights?” Stern asks. “This is the question that haunts me and my colleagues who study the migration of extremist recruitment to online platforms.” BU Today spoke with Stern about whether last week’s attack on the Capitol was an act of terrorism, what motivated those behind the attack, and what she feels can be done to prevent further violence.

via BU’s Jessica Stern on Why January 6 Attack on Capitol Was an Act of Terrorism