How many Americans are Trump supporters

Militant Trump supporters in the US"Considerable terrorist potential"

Security measures will be ramped up in all US states for the upcoming inauguration of the new US President Joe Biden. It is feared that radical supporters of the still incumbent US President Donald Trump will march again, who does not recognize his electoral defeat. The violence potential of these groups is greater than that of the jihadists in the USA, said terrorism expert Peter Neumann from King's College in London in the Dlf. For the USA, one must assume that there are tens of thousands of threats who are also ready to commit terrorist attacks and other acts of violence.

Terrorism researcher Peter Neumann (picture alliance | dpa | Christoph Meyer)

Dirk Müller: The militant groups in the USA are calling for an armed march on all parliaments. Many fear that numerous security forces will not stand firmly enough against the possible violent perpetrators and that Republican politicians and employees will also participate. Is this state terror?

Peter Neumann: The terror does not come directly from the state. I do think that of course a lot of people take part in it, including possibly elected officials, and that is of course problematic because it goes so far and so deep into politics and because so many possible supporters are attached to it. That is the big difference to jihadist threats. There are no elected officials or broad sections of the population who support this, and therefore there is less potential for it to actually lead to a split in the population.

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"Trump is the shining light for this movement"

Müller: Is there a clear leader in the movement? Is that Donald Trump?

Neumann: Donald Trump is what the movement's supporters believe to be their leader. This movement fell into their lap, at least the more extreme forms of this movement. He encouraged her too, he poked her on. But of course he always had an ambivalent relationship because he also knew or perhaps understood what potential this movement had, what negative potential there was in this movement. And now he's trying to deal with it in a very clumsy way. I think that Donald Trump is of course the savior, the shining light for this movement and that it also depends crucially on Donald Trump and his supporters and his elected officials, how they behave now, what signals they give to their own supporters. And it would be important for Donald Trump and also leading Republicans to be very clear that they lost the election.

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QAnon went from being a reservoir for conspiracy ideologues to a movement. US President Donald Trump is considered a savior by QAnon.

"Trump has to admit defeat in the elections"

Müller: Trump has now distanced himself from the violence and the potential perpetrators in a video message. Is that enough to take a little wind out of the sails?

Neumann: That is certainly not enough. It is too late. It is not credible enough. And he didn't make the crucial point. The key point is that he admits he lost the election. Because that's what the whole thing depends on. If you try to imagine these people's shoes, these people, who actually believe that Trump actually won the election, that the election was stolen from him, and that this is the biggest scam in American history. If they are of course of this opinion, then of course that is a huge thing, and then that may even justify very wild protests. And it is therefore important, not just that Trump say, please no violence with a wink; it is important that it, in principle, remove the foundation from the whole, and the foundation of this is that the supporters believe that this choice was in fact betrayed.

"Potential for violence greater than that of jihadists"

Müller: Mr. Neumann, we wanted to take a closer look at this movement, whatever you may call it - it's American citizens we're talking about. We read about the "Proud Boys". We have known the Aryan Nations, White Supremacy and so on for many, many years, for decades. Who is behind it?

Neumann: In the last two or three years a movement has formed that now has, it is estimated, two or three million followers. This includes former supporters of the citizen militias or people who are still active there. Right-wing extremists are part of that. This includes supporters of so-called conspiracy theories such as QAnon. You read about it again and again. These are people who believe that Trump is waging a secret war against a network of child molesters and satanists at the top of the government - completely absurd, completely absurd. And of course there are also a lot of fanatical Trump supporters, whose loyalty is to Trump as a person and not to the institutions. They have come together in recent years. They are also connected via the Internet. Above all - and this is the problem - they are heavily armed and they have also infiltrated the military and the police. You saw that in the protests last week. Many active soldiers and military personnel and also former soldiers and military personnel are involved in this movement. When you look at it all together, the conspiracy theories, the guns, the beliefs these people hold, the infiltration of state institutions, there is a significant potential for violence, in my opinion greater than that of jihadists within America.

"Very significant terrorist potential"

Müller: Mr. Neumann, you always have to be careful with comparisons. Would we in Germany describe these circles, these groups as dangerous?

Neumann: Quite sure, because the definition of a threat is one that has an extremist ideology and is ready to use violence or has already taken active steps to prepare for acts of violence. We see that very clearly in a large part of this movement. Even if you are conservative - I don't want to sound too alarmist now, but if you conservatively assume a million supporters and say, okay, maybe one percent of them is violent, then we are still talking about 10,000 so-called threats, i.e. a very significant terrorist potential, which I think will likely be the greatest terrorist threat in America in the years to come.

Müller: These groups, some of which we named, were not enemies in the past, but they stood for their own identity, which was also individually defined, did not cooperate with one another, were not networked. Back then there was no internet. Is it all different now? Are these groups all pulling together?

Neumann: They all pull together in that they can all agree on one point, namely that Donald Trump should stay in office, that he was betrayed and that the "deep state" - as it is called - a conspiracy against Donald Trump has undertaken. That is what they have in common at the moment. There are of course huge differences, but it is the case that in the last two or three years Donald Trump has produced a certain ideological and personal cement that has also created this movement, held it together, so that now, in principle, common rituals, has a common culture that people communicate with each other, that you can actually talk about that they have a goal.

(picture alliance / dpa - Chris Tuite / ImageSPACE / MediaPunch) Right-wing extremist vigilante groups mobilize before the US election
They are called "Three-Percenters", "Proud Boys" or "The Base": extreme right-wing militias in the USA see President Donald Trump as an advocate and an ally. Hatred and violence are therefore directed against Trump's opposition.

"Challenge for Biden"

Müller: Right-wing extremism prone to violence - in Germany the discussion has been going on for many years with the accusation of many critics, often discussed in politics, that we did not take whoever "we" may be seriously enough, and did not fight it seriously enough. Right-wing extremism, ready to use violence in the USA, has politics also tended to deny it, push it aside, or open it?

Neumann: Definitely in the last four years. Under Donald Trump there is indeed material evidence that Donald Trump, his Department of Homeland Security, has scaled back its monitoring of right-wing extremism, that funds have been cut, that departments that have dealt with this issue have been closed, and that is of course very problematic now that we have this danger. It's not just that we now have a danger with possibly 10,000 people who are ready to use violence. It is also the case that the federal agencies, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security are less prepared for this danger than they were four years ago, when the danger was much lower. That is why it will be a very big challenge for President Biden, because I am convinced that if President Trump is actually no longer in the White House next week, these supporters will no longer see any reason to hold back, because until now the attitude has always been We are now waiting for Donald Trump to do something, for him to do something, he's in the White House, so the government still has a certain legitimacy. From next week this will no longer be the case, so I think it will be a huge challenge for President Biden in the first few years of his term in office.

Statements by our interlocutors reflect their own views. Deutschlandfunk does not adopt the statements of its interlocutors in interviews and discussions as its own.