September 27, 2022 | GNET

Moustafa Ayad on ISD’s work in addressing lack of research in Middle Eastern Nazi networks

In an article for the Global Network on Extremism & Technology, ISD’s Executive Director for Africa, the Middle East and Asia (AMEA), Moustafa Ayad, writes about Middle Eastern Nazis, the lack of research into the modern digital networks, and ISD’s work in the field.

Moustafa outlines how most research has focused on the historical legacy of the Third Reich’s reach in the region, while making a case for the 29,000 collective profiles across social platforms Facebook, Telegram and YouTube, that are adapting transnational far-right and Nazi trends for their own content. “If we are to truly understand the transnational nature of the far right, understanding the growth and sustainability of Nazi movements online in the Middle East and North Africa should be a priority”, he says.

ISD “has been monitoring these networks as part of its mandate to understand the global spectrum of online extremists. ISD has so far mapped 38 channels on Telegram, dozens of Facebook profiles, and numerous YouTube channels while analysing linkages to other groups. We’ve also found and analysed stand-alone websites, content repositories, and online stores selling Nazi merchandise to Middle East-based audiences.

By tapping into what we can understand about these regional Nazi networks, we can also further our comprehension of how authoritarianism morphs into totalitarian fascism. These networks have fused with fascist-nationalist undercurrents in the region, built in the image of present-day regional authoritarians. The modern-day Baathist party, and its figurehead Bashar Al-Assad, is revered within these Arabic-speaking circles, as are Saddam Hussein and the autocrat Abdelfatah al-Sisi,” he writes.