By GRAHAM MACKLIN


Abstract: The murder of Jo Cox MP by a white supremacist on June 16, 2016, in the midst of the E.U. Referendum campaign catapulted the issue of extreme-right terrorism to the forefront of British politics. As the electoral fortunes of extreme-right political parties in the United Kingdom (UK) have declined, racist revolutionary violence has reemerged as a significant concern for British authorities. The focal point has been National Action—a small, overtly national socialist groupuscule that in December 2016 became the first extreme-right group to be banned in the United Kingdom since 1940 and the first ever such group to be proscribed as a ‘terrorist’ organization. British authorities were subsequently confronted with a new networked threat posed by clusters of activists who continued to operate clandestinely after the ban, as well as a larger and more nebulous threat from extreme right-wing ‘lone actors’ and have responded with an increasingly coordinated and multi-layered approach.


The electoral rise of the British National Party (BNP) from 2001 onward until its implosion in 2010 eclipsed the extreme right’s violent, racist, revolutionary fringe. Yet, despite the BNP’s ‘quest for legitimacy’ at the ballot box, violence and terrorism have remained a persistent feature of the broader extreme right landscape. The 1999 terrorist campaign by David Copeland, the so-called Soho nail bomber, which left three dead including a pregnant woman and her unborn child, was only the starkest example. In the 20 years since Copeland, British police have arrested numerous extreme-right motivated individuals for terrorism-related offences. However, the number of arrests has done little to alter the overall threat assessment, largely unchanged since 1999, that if an extreme-right terrorist attack came, it was ‘more likely’ to come from a ‘lone actor’ like Copeland than an organized conspiracy.

Anders Behring Breivik’s bomb attack in Oslo, Norway, and the subsequent massacre on Utøya in July 2011 caused security services across Europe to revisit their assessment of the overall severity of the threat posed by extreme-right lone actors and to devote extra resources to the phenomenon. In Britain, then Home Secretary Theresa May informed the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy on December 17, 2012, that after Breivik, there had been an “increased focus upon” the extreme right. The government “enhanced” the capabilities of the National Domestic Extremism Unit and allocated more resources to the issue in general, which included ensuring the “Channel programme” adequately addressed violent right-wing radicalization, too.1

The increased seriousness of the threat was demonstrated by the murder of Mohammed Saleem, an elderly Muslim man who was killed on April 29, 2013, by Pavlo Lapshyn, a Ukrainian student on a work visa who had been in the United Kingdom for a mere five days. Lapshyn remained at large, his killing unrecognized as the opening shot in a one-man terrorist campaign. Following the murder of the British soldier Lee Rigby by two jihadis several weeks later, and though not directly connected to it, Lapshyn detonated several bombs outside mosques in the West Midlands between June and July 2013 in an effort “to increase racial conflict.” Had he got his timings right (Lapshyn’s third bomb, outside a Tipton mosque, exploded when the building was empty), his attacks could have been devastating.2 After his arrest, Lapshyn confessed to Saleem’s killing—“I have racial motivation and racial hatred”—leading the authorities, belatedly, to recognize the murder as an act of extreme-right terrorism.3

 

National Action

 

Lapshyn’s actions again caused the authorities to review their responses to extreme-right violence just as a new threat was emerging. Politically, the extreme right was at a low ebb. The BNP had imploded amidst bitter internal strife while the English Defence League, the foremost anti-Muslim street movement, having lost momentum from 2011 onward, continued its atrophy with the resignation of its leader in October 2013.4 Against this backdrop of organizational weakness—which has only increased with the passage of time—a small, overtly national socialist group called National Action (NA) appeared.5 Founded in 2013 by two young activists, Ben Raymond and Alex Davies, who had met online, NA quickly gained between 100 and 150 adherents.a Many were teenagers attracted to the group’s distinct stylized aesthetic with its striking visual imagery and streetwear redolent of the German Autonomous Nationalists.6 b NA staged a series of “Hitler was Right” demonstrations and other provocative anti-Semitic stunts designed to court publicity and outrage in equal measure.7 It gained national attention after an individual on the periphery of the group, Zack Davies, attempted to murder a Sikh dentist using a machete, in apparent revenge for Lee Rigby’s murder. The fact that NA had also begun participating in outdoor training camps, including one allegedly led by Russian MMA fighter Denis Nikitin,8 also heightened alarm concerning the group’s trajectory.

On June 16, 2016, amidst the increasingly toxic rhetoric saturating the E.U. Referendum campaign, Thomas Mair, a far-right extremist, stabbed and shot Labour MP Jo Cox to death as she arrived at a constituency meeting in Birstall, West Yorkshire. He received a life sentence (without the possibility of parole) for his actions. Despite longstanding racist and white supremacist views,9 Mair had little, if any, contact with domestic extreme-right organizations. He had, however, bought numerous publications directly from the National Alliance in the United States, including guides on improvised munitions, which he began purchasing 10 days after Copeland’s 1999 bomb attacks.10 How Mair, a reclusive and socially isolated individual, acquired his (stolen) firearm remains one of the investigation’s unanswered questions.11 c

NA glorified Mair as a “hero.” One NA Twitter feed threatened “Only 649 MPs to go #WhiteJihad.” Asked to confirm his name in court after his arrest, Mair stated “My name is Death to traitors, freedom for Britain”—the only words he spoke after his arrest.12 NA adopted it as a mantra, using it as a slogan on its now defunct website. Police were increasingly concerned by the numbers of young people either involved with the group directly or within its wider orbit. During the course of 2016, they arrested 22 NA activists.13 This figure included Jack Coulson, a 17-year-old who, on the day in June that Mair murdered Jo Cox, had proclaimed on social media that “he’s a hero, we need more people like him to butcher the race traitors.”14 Police arrested Coulson the following month after he posted images of a homemade pipe-bomb on Snapchat.d

In December 2016, then Home Secretary Amber Rudd announced NA’s proscription under section 3(3)(a) of the Terrorism Act, meaning that “belonging to or inviting support for the group” was now a criminal offense, carrying a sentence of up to 10 years’ imprisonment.15 NA thus became the first extreme-right group to be banned by the British state since 1940 and the first ever to be banned for being “concerned with terrorism.” Mair’s actions were frequently cited as a catalyst for the ban, though Rudd stated that the decision had already been taken prior to his trial but she did not table the debate in the House of Commons until after it had concluded to avoid prejudicing the outcome.16

Predictably, raising the legal stakes did little to deter a hardcore contingent of former NA activists from “high risk” activism. Initially, Raymond sought to circumvent the ban by reorganizing former NA militants under the umbrella of the National Socialist Network, which he conceived as a fluid, amorphous movement rather than as a distinct “entity.” Raymond cited the British jihadi extremist grouping al-Muhajiroun and its flouting of successive banning orders as a template, believing such a model would enable activists to continue to operate, though his plans collapsed following their media exposure by anti-fascists.17 Other activists founded new organizations, notably Scottish Dawn and National Socialist Anti-Capitalist Action (NS131), both of which were subsequently banned in September 2017 as synonyms for NA.18

Other former NA militants opted for clandestine activity.19 On the eve of proscription, Raymond and Davies held a secure conference call with their regional organizers to determine their response. Christopher Lythgoe, the northwest NA leader who played a prominent role within the group, urged defiance. He sent a flurry of emails to other activists. “Long term we’ll keep moving forward just as we have been,” he wrote in one. In another he stated, “We’re just shedding one skin for another.”20 Two hours after receiving this email, Alex Deakin, the West Midlands NA organizer, set up an encrypted Telegram group (“Triple KKK Mafia”) as a channel for further activity and discussion. At its peak, 21 people were members while another, more select group, called “Inner” had seven subscribers. While the West Midlands group ceased public activity, militants continued to meet up, recruit, and propagate increasingly hardline messages calling for “race war.”21

One prominent figure within both Telegram groups was Lance Corporal Mikko Vehviläinen, a professional soldier who had served with the British Army in Afghanistan.22 “I’m only in to learn useful combat skills,” he commented in one email. Of Finnish descent, Vehviläinen had been in contact with Pohjoismainen vastarintaliike (PVL),23 the Finnish branch of the Nordiska Motståndsrörelsen (Nordic Resistance Movement), and was also active on both a racist Christian Identity forum and a leading white supremacist website, Stormfront. Obsessed by thoughts of a racial apocalypse and impending civilizational collapse, Vehviläinen stockpiled weapons at his home.24 During his time in the British Army, he also drew other serving soldiers into his orbit while advising those involved in the Inner Telegram chat group that they should join, too. “If we get enough of us in the Army, we’ll be in the right place when things start to collapse.” At least four NA activists had been, or were, attempting to join the British Army when police intervened.25

Deakin’s arrest in the spring of 2017, following a police investigation into racist stickers at Aston University in Birmingham, led to the discovery of the Telegram chat groups on his phone. Deakin’s poor security led to three consecutive and interlocking trials that saw numerous activists jailed for NA membership.26 Deakin and Vehviläinen were both convicted of NA membership for which they received eight years. Deakin was additionally convicted of possessing bomb-making manuals and instructions as well as a publication entitled “Ethnic Cleansing Operations,” which he had sent to Raymond and several other contacts. Deakin was subsequently convicted of inciting racial hatred together with three other NA activists as a result of the Aston University case. The third and final trial in 2018 saw five more activists convicted of NA membership, including the stepson of a former musician with the seminal “white power” band Skrewdriver, who was also convicted for possessing a bomb-making manual.27

In the northwest, NA also continued to operate covertly. Here, Christopher Lythgoe, who harbored paramilitary fantasies, operated a private gym for “violent training sessions” at a disused Warrington warehouse set up with £1,000 from NA leader Alex Davies, who, according to the BBC, then visited it, together with other activists, after the ban.28 Acting on information from a former member who had defected to an anti-fascist group, police arrested this northwest cell for conspiring to murder Labour MP, Rosie Cooper, and a local police officer.29 Jack Renshaw, a former Young BNP activist who was allegedly part of this cell, later pleaded guilty to threatening to kill the police officer (who was investigating him for alleged child sex offenses) and preparing an act of terrorism, namely the purchase of a machete with which he intended to murder Cooper.30 Lythgoe and another activist were convicted of NA membership, receiving sentences of eight and six years, respectively.31 The jury failed to agree on a verdict as to whether Renshaw and two others were NA “members.”32

 

A Central Node in an International Network

 

From the outset, NA has been a central node in a violent international militant network. Ben Raymond and other NA activists cultivated ties with militants in Germany, the Baltics, and Scandinavia, including the (recently banned) PVL with whom Raymond posed for photographs with guns. There is also evidence of NA activists visiting the Azov Battalion, formerly a far-right militia fighting Russia forces, in Ukraine.33 e

Through the now defunct Iron March forum, Raymond also encountered a young American activist, Brandon Russell who, after visiting NA in London during the summer of 2015,34 returned to the United States to establish Atomwaffen Division (AWD)—an increasingly nihilistic, cultic group immersed in lurid race war fantasies and “anti-system” rhetoric that became increasingly influenced by veteran Nazi activist James Mason, an acolyte of the murderous 1960s cult leader Charles Manson.35 AWD activists have since been involved in five murders.36 Former NA activists have retained contact with AWD—firstly, through the System Resistance Network (SRN), a small groupusucle that emerged during the summer of 2017, and thereafter, through an offshoot calling itself Sonnenkrieg Division (SKD), a racist and violently misogynistic group of former NA and SRN activists who style themselves as “atomwaffen with less guns.” Three SKD activists, aged 17, 18, and 21, were arrested on terror charges on December 6, 2018. The two teenagers were subsequently charged.37

 

Lone Actors

 

The broader contextual drivers of extreme-right violence in the United Kingdom, particularly in relation to lone actors, appear to derive, at least in part, from a process of reciprocal radicalization. Max Hill Q.C., formerly the Independent Reviewer of Terrorist Legislation, stated that “in my clear view it [extreme-right terrorism] has grown in reaction to the [jihadi] terrorist atrocities on Westminster Bridge, London Bridge and at Manchester arena,” which, between March and June 2017, claimed 36 lives and injured over 200.38 Seemingly, the most obvious expression of this reciprocal dynamic occurred on June 19, 2017, when Darren Osborne drove a van into a crowd gathered outside Finsbury mosque in north London, killing a worshipper. Osborne had planned to drive his van into the annual Al Quds Day march in central London, but when that proved impossible, he drove around the city until a target presented itself. Reflecting the findings of academic research on lone-actor terrorism,f Osborne was, in hindsight, extraordinarily indiscreet. Observed to be “mentally agitated and disturbed,” he leaked details of his intentions the night beforehand, telling drinkers in a Cardiff pub that he would “kill Muslims” and was a “soldier.” Challenged by a fellow drinker—a serving soldier who asked which regiment he was in—Osborne replied, “You’ll find out tomorrow.”39

A note recovered from the van in the aftermath made clear, however, that Osborne harbored a range of anti-Muslim grievances beyond jihadi terrorism, including, most notably, the Rotherham child sexual exploitation scandal,40 which has, arguably, played an equally large role in radicalizing and mobilizing extreme-right activists as has the threat of “Muslim” terrorism. Indeed, devices seized by police and testimony from his partner highlighted that in the weeks before the attack, Osborne had become “obsessed” with Muslims after watching the BBC drama “Three Girls” about “grooming” in Rochdale.41 Thereafter, he immersed himself in anti-Muslim media produced by Britain First and former EDL leader Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka Tommy Robinson).42 “Did the internet play a major role—yes it did,” remarked Metropolitan Police Counterterrorism Command Commander Dean Haydon after Osborne was sentenced to life, with a minimum term of 43 years. “It was part of fueling a hate-filled agenda and that’s what led him ultimately into committing these offences.”43


Osborne was merely the most high-profile case, however. Despite the recent activity by the networked group National Action, when it comes to extreme right-wing terrorism, lone actors pose by far and away the greatest threat. RUSI’s Countering Lone-Actor Terrorism dataset, which analyzed 120 cases from across Europe, highlights that a third of lone-actor attacks since 2000 have been motivated by right-wing extremism, a figure likely to be higher given underreporting of the phenomenon in many countries.44 While the NA crackdown was intelligence-led, of concern is the fact that right-wing lone actors were less likely to be under active investigation by the authorities than their Islamist counterparts with a large proportion of plots being interdicted by chance as a result of police investigating other offenses or through the incompetence of the perpetrator.45 In comparison to the jihadi threat, Commissioner Cressida Dick commented in July 2017, “We are dealing here with fewer individuals, less coordinated or organized. But every year we see some with lethal intent brought to justice. As I speak, there are 14 Domestic Extremist individuals in custody, who had lethal capability and intent.”46

Since 2017, there have been several instances in the United Kingdom of vehicles being utilized to attack Muslims by racist and extreme-right actors, albeit without fatalities.47 Police have arrested several would-be attackers armed with knives, petrol bombs, and explosives, including individuals as young as 15. To an extent, “far-right-wing ideology” also reportedly informed the worldview of Thomas Wylie, a 14-year-old school boy who, together with another pupil, was convicted in May 2018 of planning a school massacre in North Yorkshire, though the Columbine killers appeared their primary inspiration.48 If a distinction can be made between the recent cohort of violent right-wing extremists and that of the previous decade, anecdotally at least it would appear to be relational. In other words, the bulk of contemporary lone actors appear ‘peripherally’ involved in extreme-right groups while earlier cases had involved individuals who, despite acting alone, were, to some degree, ‘embedded’ within the broader milieu. This currently constitutes a clear challenge for detection and interdiction.49

More worrisome for the authorities than the relatively minor public order problems associated with policing clashes between extreme-right activists and their opponents, at least at the present moment, is the broader effort by such groups to stigmatize and antagonize ethnic minority communities and, in so doing, to fragment community cohesion and fuel polarization. The wider impact of this is to erode trust in democracy and democratic institutions. For the authorities, the key challenge is to maintain, and to be seen to maintain, an evenhanded approach in its response to Islamist and extreme-right activism. “I think we don’t have parity at the moment in the way that we look at things,” observed Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, the Senior National Coordinator for Counterterrorism Policing, in early 2018. “But we don’t have parity because at the moment, the scale of the threat is not the same.” Alive to the potential evolution of this threat, police took “robust action” against NA “because we were determined to stop this [from] becoming the next problem.”50

Political polarization has undoubtedly been fueled by the degraded political rhetoric accompanying Britain’s E.U. Referendum in June 2016, which led to a spike in racist and religiously aggravated offenses following the result.51 The emotional temperature was further heightened after the 2017 jihadi terrorist attacks, following which several individuals were convicted for inciting violence against Muslims, typically through Facebook posts exhorting readers to “fight back” and to burn mosques and the Qur’an.52 More broadly, there has been a rise in racially motivated offenses. Police in England and Wales recorded 94,098 hate crimes in 2017-2018, a 17% increase on the previous year. This figure represented a more than doubling in the number of offenses per year since 2012-2013 when 42,255 hate crimes were recorded. Worryingly, the volume of crimes detailed in the Home Office’s statistics did not return to the same baseline after each spike.53 g

 

Responding to the Threat

 

NA represented a specific, networked threat, a dimension lacking from extreme-right terrorism in the United Kingdom since the late 1990s when a faction within Combat 18 (C18) embarked upon a letter-bomb campaign.54 As Basu told this publication, with regard to the danger posed by NA, this “was the first time we saw anybody who was organized in the XRW [extreme right wing] space in a way that would represent a national security threat.”55 The government’s revamped CONTEST strategy (June 2018) also reflected this understanding in its verdict that, prior to 2014, extreme-right activism had been “confined to small, established groups with an older membership, which promoted anti-immigration and white supremacist views” that represented “a very low risk to national security.”56

While lone actors remain the broader, ongoing threat, what appears to have driven the recent increase in counterterrorism-related convictions has been the spate of NA-related prosecutions, predominantly for offenses related to “membership,” which has been a criminal offense since the group itself was banned in December 2016. These arrests have undoubtedly contributed to the proportion of extreme-right activists in custody for terrorism-related offenses, which has also increased steadily over the past three years. For the year ending March 31, 2018, 29 (13%) of the 228 individuals in custody for terror-related offenses adhered to extreme-right ideologies. The number has more than doubled when compared to the previous year-long period (up nine to 29).57

While the bulk of the police and security operational resources remain focused, understandably, upon the jihadi threat, it is noteworthy that between 2017 and the time of writing (early January 2019), the authorities have disrupted four extreme-right plots compared to 12 Islamist plots during broadly the same period.58 “I don’t think we’ve woken up to it enough,” stated Mark Rowley, the Metropolitan Police’s outgoing counterterrorist officer, in August 2018. “Now I’m not going to say that it’s the same level of threat as the Islamist threat … no pretense that it’s exactly the same order of magnitude, but it’s very significant and growing, and what I’ve seen over the last couple of years is a lack of recognition of that.”59

Terrorist-related arrests were only part of the picture, however. Referrals to the Prevent counterterrorist program have also steadily increased since the Prevent strand of British counterterrorism efforts was retooled in 2011 to include a greater focus on right-wing extremism.60

Statistics for the year to March 2018, the latest for which there are figures, show that out of a record 7,318 Prevent referrals, 1,321 (18%) related to right-wing extremism. This represents a 36% increase compared to the previous year-long period. By contrast, Islamist referrals decreased 14% between the two periods. Discussions involving cases related to right-wing extremism at Channel panels, which are chaired by the local authority working with multi-agency partners who meet to collectively assess what intervention might be necessary to support individuals deemed vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism, increased 58%—from 271 individuals in 2015/2016 to 427 in 2016/2017. Of the 394 individuals who subsequently received specialist support from the Channel program, 174 (44%) were referred for concerns related to right-wing extremism—a 40% increase on the previous year’s figures (from 124 to 174). For the first time, a similar number of individuals have received Channel support for concerns relating to Islamist and right-wing extremism.61

The authorities’ evolving threat assessment was also mirrored in the changing institutional architecture of the bodies responsible for countering it. Two previous Independent Reviewers of Terrorist Legislation recommended that the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC) extend its remit to include monitoring the threat of domestic extremism.62 The government accepted this recommendation in September 2017.63 A meeting of the government’s Cobra emergency committee, convened in the wake of Darren Osborne’s Finsbury Park attack earlier that year, also appears to have contributed to a wider restructuring. The Independent reported that when Prime Minister Theresa May asked for a security assessment of the perpetrator, she was “surprised to be told MI5 [the British security service] had no information and he was not their responsibility.”64 This soon changed. In October 2018, it was announced that MI5 was taking over as the lead intelligence agency investigating the right-wing terrorist threat, though, together with the police, it had, in fact, long monitored the trajectory of the milieu.65 Within days, two men were arrested, one of whom was subsequently charged with plotting a bomb attack on a London mosque.66

 

Conclusion

 


While jihadism remains the overarching concern, the threat posed by extreme-right terrorism has increased not just in the United Kingdom but across Western Europe, too. In the 13 years to 2014, the Global Terrorism Index records 20 attacks by extreme-right terrorists, whereas in the three years to 2017, there were 61. Since 2011, 96 people have died in Western Europe during extreme-right attacks, though 77 of these were murdered by a single individual: Breivik.67 While lone-actor terrorism continues to predominate as the principal concern, the security services have, with a few notable exceptions, successfully interdicted the majority of such plots long before they came close to fruition, although, at times, luck has played a role.68 However, as the proscription of National Action highlighted, right-wing extremism and its violent potential has continued to evolve. So too has the official response.

The authorities have moved toward an increasingly active, coordinated, and indeed multi-layered response to right-wing extremism. This has involved legislation (for example, banning NA), increased Prevent/Channel work, and greater focus from police and security services, backed up by institutional changes that have put the intelligence agencies at the forefront of monitoring such actors. In short, the reprioritization of right-wing extremism and the increasingly joined-up nature of the response makes it harder to substantiate the claim, in Britain at least, that the authorities still have a “blind spot”69 when it comes to extreme-right terrorism and political violence. CTC

Graham Macklin is an assistant professor and postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Research on Extremism (C-REX) at the University of Oslo, Norway. He has published extensively on extreme right and anti-minority politics in Britain in both the inter-war and post-war periods, including Very Deeply Dyed in the Black: Sir Oswald Mosley and the Resurrection of British Fascism after 1945 (2007) and, with Nigel Copsey, British National Party: Contemporary Perspectives (2011). Routledge will publish his forthcoming monograph Failed Fuhrers: A History of the British Extreme Right in June 2019. He co-edits the Routledge Studies in Fascism and the Far Right book series as well as the journals Patterns of Prejudice and Fascism. Follow @macklin_gd

 

Substantive Notes


[a] Raymond, a University of Essex politics graduate, had worked as a double-glazing salesman and in a job center assisting claimants. Davies, a former Young BNP member, was a Warwick University student but failed to complete his studies as a result of his activism. After NA was banned, police arrested both men in September 2017 on suspicion of NA membership, though neither was ultimately charged. In “National Action: The new parents and the neo-Nazi terror threat,” BBC, November 12, 2018, BBC reporter Daniel De Simone notes that Raymond was also arrested on suspicion of possessing terrorist material and remained under investigation at the time his report was filed.

[b] The ‘Autonomous Nationalists’ represent a distinct sub-cultural youth trend within Germany’s extreme right that copies the aesthetics and militancy of radical left and anarchist groups.

[c] Mair’s murderous actions seriously increased the cost of security assistance for MPs, which rose sharply from £170,576 in 2015/2016 to £2,550,954 in 2016/2017, a 15-fold increase. See “Cost of MPs security rises by £2m following murder of Yorkshire’s Jo Cox,” Yorkshire Post, November 17, 2017.

[d] Coulson was given a three-year youth rehabilitation sentence but was arrested again in 2018 after downloading a terrorist manual. This time he was jailed. See “Four years for Nazi teen who downloaded terror handbook,” BBC, July 19, 2018; “Neo-Nazi pipe bomb teenager given rehabilitation order,” BBC, February 13, 2017.

[e] The Azov Battalion has since become a formal regiment of the Ukrainian National Guard.

[f] In Lone-Actor Terrorism, Policy Paper 4: “Leakage” and Interaction with Authorities (London: RUSI, 2016), authors Clare Ellis and Raffaello Pantucci observe that extreme-right perpetrators were far more likely to post telling indicators online; 41% of their leakage occurred on the internet, reaffirming this as a crucial sphere for interdicting plots.

[g] Third-party organizations reported sharp increases, too. Tell Mama, an independent hate-crime reporting service, recorded 1,201 verified anti-Muslim hate crimes and incidents in 2017, almost double the number in the previous year. See Tell Mama, Beyond the Incident: Outcomes for Victims of Anti-Muslim Prejudice (London: Faith Matters, 2018). Likewise, the Community Security Trust (CST), which affords communal protection to Britain’s Jewish community, recorded 1,382 anti-Semitic incidents in 2017, the highest annual total it had ever recorded. Antisemitic Incidents Report 2017 (London: CST, 2018).

 

Citations


[1] National Security Strategy Committee, December 17, 2012; Nigel Copsey, Contemporary British Fascism: The British National Party and the Quest for Legitimacy (London: Palgrave 2008).

[2] Vikram Dodd, “Pavlo Lapshyn, the ‘shy and polite’ student turned terrorist,” Guardian, October 21, 2013.

[3] “The Queen vs. Pavlo Lapshyn: Sentencing remarks of Mr. Justice Sweeny,” October 25, 2013.

[4] Joel Busher, The Making of Anti-Muslim Protest: Grassroots activism in the English Defence League (Abingdon, England: Routledge, 2016), p. 7.

[5] See Graham Macklin, “‘Only Bullets will Stop Us!’: The banning of National Action,” Perspectives on Terrorism 12:6 (2018): pp. 104-122 for an extended discussion of the group.

[6] Jan Schedler and Alexander Häusler eds., Autonome Nationalisten Neonazismus in Bewegung (Wiesbaden, Germany: Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, 2011).

[7] See, for instance, Lizzie Dearden, “British neo-Nazis perform Hitler salute at Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany,” Independent, May 26, 2016.

[8] Max Musson, “Culture Camp 2014,” Western Spring, August 25, 2014.

[9] Ian Cobain, Nazia Parveen, and Matthew Taylor, “The slow-burning hatred that led Thomas Mair to murder Jo Cox,” Guardian, November 23, 2016.

[10] “Alleged killer of British MP was a longtime support of the neo-Nazi National Alliance,” Hatewatch, June 16, 2016.

[11] Glen Newey, “Who supplied the gun?” London Review of Books, June 16, 2017.

[12] Robert Booth, Vikram Dodd, Kevin Rawlinson, and Nicola Slawson, “Jo Cox Murder suspect tells court his name is ‘death to traitors, freedom for Britain,’” Guardian, June 18, 2016.

[13] Sophie Jamieson and Victoria Ward, “Three men including two soldiers charged with being members of banned neo-Nazi group National Action,” Daily Telegraph, September 11, 2017.

[14] Michael Black, “Pipe bomb was start of Bradford teenager’s ‘all-out race war,’ court told,” Telegraph & Argus, January 17, 2017.

[15] “National Action becomes the first extreme right-wing group to be banned in UK,” Home Office, December 16, 2016.

[16] Jessica Elgot, “Neo-Nazi group National Action banned by UK home secretary,” Guardian, December 12, 2016.

[17] Matthew Collins, “Exclusive: National Action’s secret plans to relaunch with a new name,” Hope Not Hate, March 13, 2016. This citation covers the information in this paragraph.

[18] “Further extreme right-wing groups banned in the UK,” Home Office, September 28, 2017.

[19] Unless otherwise stated, the details on this case in the next paragraphs derive from De Simone.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Ibid.

[23] Information obtained by the author from Finnish expert on the extreme right, November 2018.

[24] De Simone.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Ibid.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Nadia Khomami, “‘Neo-Nazi’ murder plot: disillusioned man blew whistle, jury told,” Guardian, June 13, 2018.

[30] “Jack Renshaw admits planning to murder MP Rosie Cooper,” BBC, June 12, 2018.

[31] Nadia Khomami, “Two member of banned neo-Nazi group National Action jailed,” Guardian, July 18, 2018.

[32] Lizzie Dearden, “National Action terror pot: How once-ridiculated BNP Youth leader planned neo-Nazi machete attack,” Independent, July 18, 2018.

[33] Kevin Rawlinson, “Neo-Nazi groups recruit Britons to fight in Ukraine,” Guardian, March 2, 2018.

[34] Johnny McDevitt, “New Hitler youth is enemy at the gates,” Times, March 3, 2018.

[35] For Mason’s influence on AWD, see “Atomwaffen and the SIEGE parallax: how one neo-Nazi’s life’s work is fueling a younger generation,” Hatewatch, February 22, 2018.

[36] Greg Myre, “Deadly Connection: Neo-Nazi Group Linked to 3 Accused Killers,” NPR, March 6, 2018.

[37] “Two teenagers charged with terror offences,” BBC, December 7, 2018.

[38] Max Hill Q.C., “The Terrorism Acts in 2017: Report of the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation on the Operation of the Terrorism Acts 2000 and 2006, The Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Act 2011, and the Terrorist Asset Freezing Etc. Act 2010,” October 2018.

[39] Joe Tidy, “Finsbury Park Mosque attack suspect Darren Osborne ‘warned drinkers of his intentions,’” Sky News, January 28, 2018.

[40] Vikram Dodd, “How London mosque attacker became a terrorist in three weeks,” Guardian, February 1, 2018.

[41] Martin Evans, “Finsbury Park terror trial: Darren Osborne turned into ‘ticking time bomb’ after watching BBC drama, court hears,” Daily Telegraph, January 22, 2018.

[42] Lizzie Dearden, “Finsbury Park terror suspect Darren Osborne read messages from Tommy Robinson days before attack, court hears,” Independent, January 23, 2018.

[43] Tristan Kirk, “Darren Osborne guilty: Anti-Muslim rhetoric from far-right leaders played a ‘major role’ in radicalization of Finsbury Park attacker, police say,” Evening Standard, February 1, 2018.

[44] Clare Ellis, Raffaello Pantucci, Jeanine de Roy van Zuijdewijn, Edwin Bakker, Benoit Gomis, Simon Palombi, and Melanie Smith, Lone-Actor Terrorism: Final Report (London: RUSI, 2016).

[45] Ibid., p. 10. The RUSI authors highlight that 40% of right-wing extremist plots in the dataset were uncovered “by some element of chance, as part of an investigation into other offences or because the perpetrator accidentally detonated a device, drawing attention to his or her activities.”

[46] “Met Commissioner Cressida Dick’s Mansion House speech,” MayorWatch, July 20, 2017.

[47] Haroon Siddique, “Britain First fan who drove van at London restaurant owner walks free,” Guardian, January 12, 2018; Kevin Rawlinson, “Man jailed for life after running over Muslim woman in Leicester,” Guardian, March 27, 2018.

[48] Lizzie Dearden, “Teenager who plotted Columbine-style school massacre was not arrested despite confessing to teacher and police,” Independent, July 20, 2018; “Barrow man charged with terrorism offence after alleged threats against gay people,” Mail, June 28, 2017; Tom Wilkinson, “Thornaby Hitler-obsessive with stash of medieval weapons threatened to petrol bomb mosques,” Northern Echo, February 9, 2018; Tristan Cork, “The hate-filled anti-Islam Facebook shares of Bristol bomb maker Matthew Glynn,” Bristol Post, November 4, 2018; “Teen terror suspect from Bradford tells Old Bailey he is ‘British, white,’” Sky News, August 31, 2018.

[49] See Lasse Lindekilde, Stefan Malthaner, and Francis O’Connor, “Peripheral and embedded: relational patterns of lone-actor terrorist radicalization,” Dynamics of Asymmetric Conflict (2018) for this theoretically important distinction.

[50] Raffaello Pantucci, “A View from the CT Foxhole: Neil Basu, Senior National Coordinator for Counterterrorism Policing in the United Kingdom,” CTC Sentinel 11:2 (2018).

[51] “Hate Crime, England and Wales, 2017/18,” Home Office, October 16, 2018.

[52] See, for instance, “R v Andrew Littlefair,” “R v Ian Evans,” “R v Keegan Jakovlevs,” and “R v Andrew Emery” at “The Counter-Terrorism Division of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) – Successful prosecutions since the end of 2006 [2018 (last updated July 23, 2018)].

[53] “Hate Crime, England and Wales, 2017/18,” pp. 7, 12, and 14.

[54] See Nick Lowles, White Riot: The Violent Story of Combat 18 (Croydon, London: Milo, 2014) for more detail.

[55] Pantucci.

[56] “Contest: The United Kingdom’s Strategy for Countering Terrorism,” June 2018.

[57] Home Office, “Operation of police powers under the Terrorism Act 200 and subsequent legislation: Arrests, outcomes, and stop and search, Great Britain, financial year ending March 2018,” June 14, 2018, pp. 13 and 18.

[58] Max Hill Q.C., “The Terrorism Acts in 2017: Report of the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation on the Operation of the Terrorism Acts 2000 and 2006, The Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Act 2011, and the Terrorist Asset Freezing Etc. Act 2010,” October 2018.

[59] Mattha Busby, “UK has not ‘woken up’ to far-right threat, says ex-counter-terror chief,” Guardian, August 18, 2018.

[60] Home Office, Prevent (HMSO: London 2011), pp. 20-21.

[61] These figures derive from Home Office, “Individuals referred to and supported through the Prevent Programme, April 2017 to March 2018,” pp. 13-16.

[62] Max Hill Q.C., “The Terrorism Acts in 2016: Report of the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation on the Operation of the Terrorism Acts 2000 and 2006,” January 2018, p. 71; David Anderson Q.C., “Attacks in London and Manchester: Independent Assessment of MI5 and Internal Police Reviews,” December 2017, p. 33. Commenting on his recommendation, Anderson recorded that “the aim is to ensure the equivalence of processes in analysing and dealing with all kinds of terrorism, irrespective of the ideology that inspires them.” [emphasis in the original]

[63] “The Government Response to the Annual Report on the Operation of the Terrorism Acts in 2016 by the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation,” HM Government, September 2018.

[64] Lizzie Dearden, “Far right ‘not a working-class movement anymore’ as groups prey on terror fears and Brexit,” Independent, January 2, 2019.

[65] Vikram Dodd, “MI5 to take over in fight against rise of UK rightwing extremism,” Guardian, October 28, 2018.

[66] “Man arrested at his mother’s Morden home plotted to blow up a mosque in a suicide mission, a court heard,” Wimbledon Times, November 6, 2018.

[67] Global Terrorism Index 2018: Measuring the Impact of Terrorism.

[68] This observation is based on the author’s research into various cases.

[69] For a critique, see Arun Kundnani, Blind Spot? Security Narratives and Far-Right Violence in Europe, ICCT Research Paper, June 2012.

 


This article was first published by Combating Terrorism Centre JANUARY 2019, VOLUME 12, ISSUE 1.

 

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