The Antifa Threat Spiral: Some Safe Predictions on the Coming Unsafe Era- Part 1

The rapid post-election growth of the left’s so-called “anti-fascist” (Antifa) movement is alarming. This movement has some clear parallels to the draft protests of the late 1960s. These protests spawned a wave of domestic terrorism with groups like the Weather Underground, the Black Panther Party, the BLA, the FALN, and the SLA.  Anyone reading this who is under my age is probably missing out. This is because they don’t have a good recollection of just how profoundly violent the late 1960s and early 1970s were in these United States. Bombings, fake bomb scares, riots, arson, bank robberies, airliner hijackings, attempted assassinations, and kidnappings were all too commonplace.

This period of upheaval all started a few years earlier with large college campus anti-war/anti-draft protests staged by the SDS. But some of those “activists” spun out of control.  Soon, an amalgamation of inner city blacks and privileged college whites became increasingly radicalized. Although the FALN bombing campaign continued into the early 1980s, the most memorable climactic event of this age of domestic terrorism came in May of 1974 with the much-publicized SLA shootout. Near the end of the “Golden Age of Terror”, President Gerald Ford survived two assassination attempts in rapid succession–both perpetrated by white women.  One was a wacky Manson family follower but the other was a dyed-in-the-wool leftist and a fan of the SLA.

For some fascinating reading about this turbulent era, I highly recommend Bryan Burrough’s book Days of Rage.  The gist of his book was well-captured in a recent book review at the Lawfare blog.

History Rhymes

There is an oft-quoted modern proverb:  “History doesn’t repeat, but it often rhymes.” I posit that a similar age of terror is now dawning in the United States, as radicalized Clintonista uber-Democrats ramp up from street protests to overt acts of terrorism. (The attempted assassination of Congressman Scalise by James Hodgkinson was just a precursor event. In the tech world, Hodgkinson would be called an early adopter.) I predict that the greatest threat will come from the radical left, rather than from the right.

Most alarmingly, we now live in the 21st Century era of cyberwarfare, neurotoxins, and off-the-shelf quadracopter drones. So the potential damage that just a few malcontents can wreak is enormous.

No More Open Air Speeches

I will go so far as to predict that traditional open-air speeches by politicians will become a thing of the past. Weaponized drones will be difficult to stop. I first warned of the misuse of such technologies back in 1990, when I authored a two-part feature article titled High Technology Terrorism, for Defense Electronics magazine. (At the time, I was an Associate Editor for the magazine, and was already living at a ranch near Orofino, Idaho. There, I prototyped a telecommute life at the sedate rate of 2400 baud.)

Lest anyone should chide me about describing particular technologies that could be used by terrorists, keep in mind that much of what I’ll be mentioning has been in print for more than 27 years. Yes, I wrote about most of these technologies way back then–although then I mentioned radio-controlled model airplanes rather than foreseeing modern quadracopter drones. But even my early writings on this subject were little more than an intellectual traverse from a Rand Corporation report published in 1975.  In more recent years, the US CIA has documented in open sources the variety of  chemical agents that might be used by terrorists.  In recent years there have been dozens of articles penned on the subject.

Threat Spirals

Modern western military analysts and planners often use the term threat spiral. This describes a situation wherein a nation state reacts to a threat to its security by instituting particular countermeasures and technologies. Their opponent(s) then react to these innovations by adopting new, more powerful technologies of their own, and then the spiral expands.

In recent memory, one of the best examples of a threat spiral was seen in the development of Improvised Explosive Device (IED) warfare in the Middle East and Southwest Asia. Heavily armed convoys that at were difficult to attack with small arms and RPGs. So in reaction, terrorists began using radio-controlled IEDs (RCIEDs). They cleverly used detonators controlled by standard cellular phones. This was a technology perfected by Iran. For more than 15 years, the Iraninan-made RCIED circuit cards (and detailed instructions on explosive-formed penetrators (EFPs) have been widely distributed in Arabic to Islamic terrorist groups–both Shiite and Sunni.)

In reaction to the RCIEDs, the U.S. and Coalition military fielded up-armored Humvees. These were soon supplemented by South African-designed mine protected vehicles. The next arm of the spiral (the counter-countermeasure) of the Islamic terrorists was simple. They merely constructed much more powerful IEDs. These blasts were capable of destroying not just MRAPs but even main battle tanks.  (Typically these IEDs used two or even three 122mm artillery shell warheads lashed together, for sympathetic detonation.)  The spiral continued with the fielding of CREW systems: Counter RCIED Electronic Warfare systems. This was circa 2000 to 2007. CREWs are sophisticated reactive jammers that block cellular phone signals in the area near a convoy or a protected point target.  Western military organizations are now fielding a third generation of CREW systems.

Antifa’s Likely Tactics

How will the Antifa and Counter-Antifa threat spirals develop? First, let’s assume that their violent and absolutist rhetoric will continue.  Also, we can assume that their street protests and riots will continue. It is also fairly safe to assume that there will be splinter groups within the Antifa movement.  A few splinters might drift toward passive resistance.  But several more will likely radicalize directly to the stage of overt terrorism and resistance warfare.  There is also the possibility of some cooperation between cells of the Antifa and the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movements.

But predicting the mix of technologies that Antifa terrorists will weaponize is more difficult.  The use of small drones is probable.  But which weapons will they incorporate or carry on their drones as payloads?

Most off-the shelf aerial drones made for the consumer market are small and light. This limits their payload capacity. Thus, traditional explosives will not be highly effective unless a drone can be flown into contact with (or in very close proximity to) an unarmored human target.  To make up for this limitation, greater effectiveness with light weight can be achieved by combination of:

1.) The use of extremely compact high explosives. Crystalline RDX (and similar high explosives) would be a logical choice.

2.) Combining low explosives with toxins. Very simple explosives can vaporize a toxin, and rapidly disperse it throughout a desired target radius. This is doubly effective in confined spaces, and even more so in confined spaces that are conveniently packed with people, such as train stations or concert halls.

3.) Combining various poisons, nerve agents, or biotoxins with transdermal carrier chemicals. Of these, the industrial solvent dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) is the best known. When mixed with DMSO, nearly any chemical makes its way into the bloodstream with amazing rapidity.

Which Agents?

There has been a lot of fairly well-founded conjecture published. These describe possible terrorist use of chemical weapons, toxins, and nerve gas.  The late John B. Tucker authored the book Toxic Terror: Assessing Terrorist Use of Chemical and Biological Weapons. And Tamar Berger (et al) published Toxins as biological weapons for terror—characteristics, challenges and medical countermeasures: a mini-review.

Of these described agents, I see toxins (harmful proteins derived from plants, bacteria, and fungi) as the likely “best bang for the buck” for terrorists.  These toxins are fairly simple to produce, isolate, transport, and dispense.

Nerve agents such as GB and VX are more complicated to produce and handle.

And most biological (disease) weapons that are transmissible are even more complex to develop. But their use could be particularly devastating. One possibility is the creation of designer biowarfare agents that attack only individuals who carry a particular genetic marker. That could be the ultimate terror weapon.

Mix of Low Tech and High Tech

As with other modern guerilla movements, the Antifa spin-offs will probably use a mix of low technology and high technology.  Low technoloy techniques includes Monkeywrenching. (A broad set of sabotage techniques popularized by eco-terrorists–also known as Ecotage.) The most likely target for Monkeywrenching will be America’s  grid power and telecommunications infrastructure.  Rifle fire can be directed at substation transformers. And even just lengths of grounded cable or chain thrown over power wire lines is remarkably effective.  (They can also be propelled, with various medieval propulsive devices.) Just a balloon trailing a wire in contact with the ground could cause a lot of damage.

Even lone terrorists can strike fear into national populations, but organized groups can be even more effective. The key difference comes with time-coordinated attacks. These would be designed to inflict maximum terror and panic of the populous, across a wide area.  As preppers, we need to be ready to survive turbulent times.  The best approach, in my estimation, is to relocate to a lightly-populated region. Why? Because most terror targets will be areas of high population density. It is also important to develop your own off-grid power system, since the three national power grids are very likely terrorist targets. The coming wave of leftist domestic terrorism should  be something that you hear about on the news rather than something that you experience first hand. Relocate!

Other High Tech Weapons

There are a variety of other new technologies — electronic, chemical, biological, radioactive, computing, pharmacological, and psychological — that could be employed. A few of these are so clever and nasty that I dare not mention them in print. But I’ll suffice with just pointing out just one that I also mentioned in my 1990s articles. It is called a liquid metal embrittlement (LME) agent. These are fairly benign-looking and smelling chemicals. But when applied to metal alloys cause them to become brittle and prone to stress failure.  The potential terrorist use of LMEs on aircraft parts was first publicized by G. Gordon Liddy–back before he became a talk radio host.

In summary, the terrorist threat on America is real.  Countering Antifa-inspired terrorists will be difficult.Be ready for quite turbulent times. Plan and prepare, and your chances of survival will be an order of magnitude higher than the average urbanite.

Tomorrow, in Part 2, I will discuss the possible use of cryptography, cyber weapons, non-nuclear localized EMP, and the high vulnerability of utility SCADA systems.  I also intend to discuss the possible growth of Antifa into a leaderless guerilla army. This is some scary stuff. Stay tuned.




  1. Thank you for a putting my, and other’s words, into a great article. I am old enough to remember the tail end of the hippy movement and the terror they caused. Another rhyme with them was they too were considered peaceful by many. Sadly, my spouse thinks we are crazy, so I won’t be able to relocate, but your words are truth.

  2. The biggest difference in our response to violence from these groups is the level at which we can legally respond at all.
    During the riots of the 60s and early 70s, we used firearms to guard our properties without consequence. In most areas doing this today will get you arrested while the police continue to ignore the looters.

  3. Can’t be said any clearer than the author in this article, and in his precepts. “Encourage…readers…to avoid trouble, most importantly via relocation to safe areas where trouble is unlikely to come to visit”. Folks, they aren’t going to blow up the “Hon Deere Tavern” in Big Rock Tennessee, or the Post Office in Bovill Idaho. But you’d better believe that Mortons Steakhouse on 5th Ave or the Los Angeles Federal Building would make any Left-Leaning terrorists eyes glimmer. Leave while you still can

  4. amen to this article, hope it doesn’t come to pass. But be ready at all times. I believe like the writer that the left will stop at nothing to destroy America.

  5. Working as an active duty Marine in CID (criminal investigation division) in Southern California in the 67-70 time period, I saw exactly what JWR describes. Seeing how the leftist media and politicians have idolized and canonized people like Bill Ayers is proof enough that the left sanctifies violence when perpetuated by their own, evidenced by the support shown by some media and politicians for the individual who recently gunned down several republicans in Washington DC. This repeat of history is going to be even more violent.

  6. Thanks for the memories!!! Yes, I do remember all to well living thru those turbulent, violent times. They were not pleasant nor comforting. I agree with JWR; we do seem to be entering the same turbulence of a country divided. This time, the unrest seems to be given greater impetus and acceptance by politicians and their behavior in Congress and the RESIST actions. We can also thank the Hippie movement for the growing acceptance of the recreational use of mind-altering substances, which MAY in part contribute to the social/societal unrest and escalating violence. But one other more positive thing came out of the hippie movement – “Why can’t we all get along???” The answer is simple: there are always those who don’t want to get along; they want their own way and nothing else will do. If they don’t get what they want, they have a temper tantrum. My generation called them “Spoiled Brats.” Now, their tantrums are more violent.

  7. 1) Last time I checked there are over 300 million private firearms in America — and very few are in the hands of leftists. Which suggests the Antifa operatives will be stacked up like firewood if they ever become anything more than hilarious propaganda theater.

    2)The Sixties radical groups probably had more FBI and Army infiltrators than true believers.
    A friend of mine infiltrated the Weathermen while in the Army — he still laughs about shaking off local police detectives who tried to follw him from a meeting. He didn’t want them to see his license/find out his name so he drove onto a local Army base. MPs armed with M16s were a creative countersurveillance technique.

    Re explosives, Weathermen blowing themselves up trying to make IEDs using the stupid Anarchist’s Cookbook were a self-correcting problem.

    3)It’s a well known rule that you can do violent direct action/terrorism or you can do political organizing but you can’t do both — any attempt to expand your message and recruit more members leaves you wide open to infiltration and surveillance. And to hostile provocateurs who stage surprise violent acts under your banner so your enemies have an excuse to crush you with mass arrests and loud accusations that make supporters melt away from you like snowflakes.

    4) Yes, the CIA used to manipulate foreign politics covertly before the job was handed off to NGOs. But that takes enormous amounts of foreign money for little return and only works if you stay within local law and strongly avoid any links to criminals. Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos’s $250 Million purchase of the Washington Post would become worthless the first time he was caught funding a violent group. The more violence Antifa commits the more their funding will shrink because no one with something to lose can be caught tied to a terrorist group. Especially a PUBLIC terrorist group, which is a truly idiotic idea.

    5) The shortcoming of drones is their broadband comm link back to the operator. Straightforward jamming should disrupt directed attacks and they are also vulnerable to gunfire.

    6) On the other hand, stealth drones guided solely by GPS , directed to a fixed location and programmed to detonate at a specific time could one day be a pain in the tush. Which is why the nuclear-armed Russians are annoyed by Obama mounting the Ukrainian coup in order to roll NATO forward to within 300 miles of Moscow and Russian ICBM bases. A swarm of our RQ180 stealth drones carrying 300 kt nuke warheads , if launched from Ukraine, could take out Russia’s entire group of ICBMs one night. So much for Mutual Assured Destruction. Assuming, of course, Russia doesn’t launch first. Amazing what the Wash Post does NOT report, isn’t it?

    7) Beware of Neocon propaganda hyperventilating about “Iranian” explosively formed penetrators (EFPs). Our Green Berets were spreading that tech to our own terrorists …er.. freedom fighters back in the Sixties. See e.g,
    “Platter Charge” on page 281 of Army Field Manual 31-20 “Special Forces Operational Techniques” , dated December 1965. Available on the Internet.

    1. Don Williams, Do not forget that in the 60’s federal agents provocateurs along with various ‘undercover’ police officers set in on the planning of, and sometimes initiated protests simply to provide reason for their continued employment.
      Many of the officers were well known, and tolerated amusedly as they tried to buy drugs or promote dissention by the local ‘filthy degerates’ who were there mainly to meet members of the opposite sex.
      I met some interesting folks preaching revolution on the streets who later made the headlines. There is no way that the various ‘alphabet’ agencys did not know exactly who these people, and their backers were!
      Why the backers were allowed to remain free and continue their treasonous activitys remains an unanswered (and generally unasked) question.
      (although I have suspicions)

      1. Jim Allen asked “Why the backers were allowed to remain free…”
        Why is George Soros still free? Consider that his son has been seen having lunch with Chuck Shumer. The traitors to the Constitution are deeply embedded.

    2. Having just visited the Titan II Missile Museum in Green Valley AZ, it will take more than a stealth drone can carry to impact a missile silo. You might burn the paint off the blast door, but the silo and its missile wont notice the diff.

  8. I remember the 60’s and 70’s well, I was at Ft. Ord for basic training when gate guard (MP’s) number’s were increased during the Angela Davis trial.

    Antifa, with the left seemingly at the epicenter of social problems, proponents for socialist actions claiming “their America should ____” (fill in the blank), has me wondering if they’re more the nazi’s (national socialist party) than what they refer to the right as being.

  9. Sometimes I wish I didn’t know of these dangers. This article gave me a stomach ache. Other times glad for the reminder as it makes me more diligent. Being exposed to “duck and cover” as a seven year old put me on my guard my whole life.

    1. I’m with you, Kathy. The depravity of left-wing maniacs knows no bottom, and it leaves me sick to my stomach. They desire nothing less than to tear down all of western civilization. Sadly, I’m afraid it’ll be a long road before the civilized defenders of our world finally decide to ‘take the gloves off’. And it may be too late.

  10. All of the concerns you have mentioned have been floating around in my head. some for over 20 years. not organized, just floating around. Thanks for organizing and coalescing them. Yes you are correct , the biological could be developed to be gene specific, However if used by an American of European decent on an American of European decent the enemy would have to have an antidote. Yes I do have a medical background and yes I have tried to study as many of the potential pathogens I consider possibilities but you can never know or cover all the possibilities for sure. Looking forward to part 2.

  11. I grew up in the 50’s and remember air raid drills where we went to the local post office for shelter from a nuclear blast.
    In April 1968 as a fresh from jump school 18 year old assigned to the 82nd. Airborne Div. I found myself and others in Washington D.C. with an M-16 rifle with a bayonet attached trying to break up riots.
    The 60’s and early 70’s were very turbulent times with much of it starting on Liberal collage campuses like today. Many of the ANTIFA are the children of the parents that went to these collages and were brainwashed by the liberal professors.
    I remember in the 90’s my son coming home from High School with a black beret and a picture of Che Guevara telling me about how great his teacher said this man was. To say the c**p hit the fan is an understatement. I just wonder haw many other children still believe this.

  12. Matthew 24:8-13King James Version (KJV)

    8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.

    9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.

    10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.

    11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.

    12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.

    13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

  13. History lesson, most of the 60’s groups are outgrowths of the 50’s and early 60’s “civil rights” groups. I believe the first targets are going to be the corrupt police that have caused so much damage to our country and have no trust in the communities they threaten on a daily basis,retaliation may start as simple equipment destuction and may go as far as “phoenix” style operations with judges and local officals next. Being in a more rural area may help but being know as just and honest may be better,a rural area still depends on large cities for many capital intensive necessitys and services. Just hope that anyone we have wronged in the past doesn’t decide on retribution.

  14. The use of toxic zone-delivery weapons by any domestic insurgency would be a fatal strategic mistake. While the likely effect would be small, the observed willingness to use such substances would escalate the threat to an entirely different intensity. Which would likewise escalate the response intensity, in ways that include kinetics but reach beyond. As (leftist) cartoonist xkcd notes, it may take $1 million to crack your data encryption, but a $5 wrench applied to a friend will get them to talk. Metadata tells enough of a story to begin these processes. And the independent citizen reprisals would probably begin shortly after toxic attack #2 if no draconian crackdown was forthcoming.

    One can never underestimate the stupidity of people who live in a “dream palace,” and see others as props in their personal psychodramas. Case in point: they all think they’ll end up as commissars, rather than the statistically likely “body by the side of the road.” But I still wouldn’t spend much time planning for toxic attacks from this quarter. It’s very hard to do properly, as effective dispersal/delivery is complex and difficult. And if they do it, they forfeit both Boyd’s Moral Level of War and most of the system’s inherent brakes on escalation.

    Frankly, what’s far more likely is the use of small commercial drones as part of a surveillance/C3 network used in street battles (think hoplite warfare with drones and electronic comms) and assassinations. Essentially, the use of off-the-shelf tech to duplicate capabilities available to advanced militaries. Strongly encrypted communications add-ons for the drones and mesh networking are the key complementary tech. Both are well within the horizon of current commercial developments.

    It would appear that we are entering a Latin American model of politics in the USA: oligarchic and divided, where impunity destroys Rule of Law and thereby requires the growth of extra-legal organizations. In addition to their extra-legal moneymaking activities, they also end up as a key alternative option for key personal needs around justice/ safety, and sometimes even certain social supports.

    One can probably expect infusions of the Russian model as well, where factions of the Deep State end up having their respective pets and wind up playing key direct roles in the criminal syndicates.

    That “push from behind,” more than anything else, strikes me as the likely threat driver for serious escalation.

    If one buys that model, one must also assume that low-level terrorism by Antifa would spark a strong unofficial counter-reaction within a deep pool of highly-trained civilian and Praetorian Class personnel. The power of anarcho-tyranny from above would be the brake, and its ongoing decay/ relaxation/ pace of counter-enablement by other state factions would be signalled by new levels of counter-reaction.

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