First responders in conflict zones are wary of secondary terrorist attacks — another bombing or mass shooting that targets those racing to the scene.

Domestic terrorism has a second wave too, striking online with an arsenal of racism, damaging speculation and quite often, breathtaking ignorance.

That has been the virtual scene since Sunday’s killing of six Muslim men at a Quebec mosque. Terror experts say the polarization on Twitter and other social media platforms is a worrying trend as many terrorists — from foreign fighters who pledge allegiance to Daesh leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, to Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik — began their violent path online.

Read the latest news on the Quebec mosque shooting

Hicham Tiflati, a senior research associate at Georgetown State University and Montreal resident who has studied groups like Daesh, also known as ISIS and ISIL, says he has seen a rise in far-right extremism online, especially in Facebook groups that have a closed membership.

“We’ve been paying a lot more attention to ISIS sympathizers or other violent Islamists, but somehow we’re not paying attention to the other side,” Tiflati said.

Tiflati said the “radicalization ladder” is almost identical for Islamic and far-right extremists, often starting online where the angry or frustrated seek out like-minded individuals and challenge opponents.

The problem is likely to get worse with one of the world’s most popular trolls now its most powerful man. U.S. President Donald Trump continues to dismiss outrage against his ban on refugees and immigrants from seven Muslim countries. On Monday he blamed an airline’s computer outage for the mass protests.

The outage was real, but passengers did not demonstrate.

Also on Monday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the Quebec shooting was “a reminder of why the president is taking steps to be proactive not reactive when Jasminbet it comes to our nation’s security” — essentially using the murders of Muslims as support for Trump’s Muslim ban.

Tiflati calls this type of rhetoric “co-radicalization,” as it emboldens both violent Islamists and Islamophobes. Racists and Islamophobes have found mainstream acceptance in Trump’s rise, which Daesh has exploited to support propaganda that says the West is at war with Islam.

It is too early to know what influence the Internet or far-right rhetoric had on Alexandre Bissonnette, the alleged shooter in Sunday’s massacre. There are likely to be other personal factors, as there often are when online hate leads others to murder in the name of Daesh.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the shootings a “terrorist act,” but Bissonnette has been charged with murder and attempted murder, not terrorism offences. That may not change even if strong evidence arises the attack was politically motivated — the prospects for conviction on terror charges are likely to be lower than for murder, which calls for a life sentence anyway.

An archive of Bissonnette’s Facebook page — which was taken offline following the shooting — shows that he “liked” Trump, late Toronto mayor Rob Ford and French far-right leader Marine Le Pen. He also liked late NDP leader Jack Layton, actor Tom Hanks and Republican Senator John McCain — not to mention Doritos and the cartoon cat Garfield.

There are reports that 27-year-old Bissonnette was a far-right troll known to Montreal activists, often espousing misogynist, anti-immigrant and extreme French nationalist views. He called feminists “feminazi” online, La Presse reported.

The Quebec tragedy also raises concern about the prevalence of Islamophobia specific to Quebec — an issue that predates the Trump administration’s policies, or the rise of American white nationalist groups online.

The Parti Québécois’ 2013 charter of values, which sought to ban religious symbols such as the hijab for public employees, plunged the province into an identity crisis, sparked debates about nationalism and secularism and exposed an underbelly of intolerance.

Although there was considerable backlash and it was not implemented, a Quebec Human Rights Commission survey two years later found that 43 per cent of Quebecers believe we should be suspicious of those who openly express their religion. Nearly half said they were uncomfortable with women wearing a hijab.

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