In mid-May 2022, eighteen-year-old Payton Gendron approached a grocery store in a predominantly African-American neighborhood in Buffalo, NY. He opened fire with a Bushmaster XM-15 semi-automatic rifle, killing ten people. The attack was one of the deadliest racist massacres in recent American history.
The attack made headlines worldwide, the latest in a series of racially and ethnically motivated violent extremist attacks. As in the Christchurch mosque attack in New Zealand, Gendron live-streamed his armed assault and left behind a manifesto outlining a range of conspiratorial views and documenting extreme racial animus.
Beyond the tragedy itself, the attack was noteworthy for another reason—it was the quintessential example of how terrorist ideologies have become more diverse in recent decades, attacks have become more decentralized, terrorism itself has been democratized by new technologies, disinformation has been used to fuel hate, and terrorists have acquired the means to make attacks much deadlier. These trends in terrorism (diversity, decentralization, democratization, disinformation, and deadly) are shaping the future of violent extremism.