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VOL. XIV, Issue 5

Fabricated Martyrs: The Warrior-Saint Icons of Far-Right Terrorism

Martyrdom has historically been an important part of underground movements. Martyrs have been utilized as such in propaganda and messaging campaigns in a variety of fashions. This began by expressing one’s willingness to sacrifice him or herself for one’s faith, and eventually began to be associated with death on the battlefield. The global Far-Right extremist movement has, akin to global Salafi Jihad, adopted martyrdom as well as a tool to encourage members to carry out lone-wolf attacks. In the case of the Far-Right, carrying out a terror attack (and accepting the risk of getting arrested or killed while doing so) is enough for the decentralized Far-Right propaganda machine to create a living “martyr” of the movement by reframing the terrorist as a “holy warrior” of sorts. This article examines three prominent Far-Right terrorists: Anders Breivik, Robert Bowers and Brenton Tarrant as examples, exploring their relevant iconography and imagery to show that their image has been purposed by the Far-Right to inspire lone wolves to carry out attacks.

About ICCT

The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism (ICCT) is a think-and-do tank based in The Hague, Netherlands. We provide research, policy advice, training and other solutions to support better counter-terrorism policies and practices worldwide. We also contribute to the scientific and publi.…