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Anti-fascists call for greater scrutiny of far-right terrorism

29th Sep 2017
Anti-fascists call for greater scrutiny of far-right terrorism

2014 National Action members defaced Mandela statue (Photo:  Wikimedia Commons)

Nadine Osman

Anti-fascists groups have called for far greater scrutiny and action against far-right terrorism following the arrests of serving members of the British army on terrorism offences on September 5.

The five people were arrested under Section 41 of the Terrorism Act, related to suspicion of being a member of a proscribed organisation, National Action, formed in part by ex British National Party (BNP) young members.

Army members Alex Deakin, 22, Mark Barrett, 24, and Mikko Vevhilainnen, who is 32 and originally from Finland, were all accused of being members of National Action on September 11.

A fifth person – a civilian – was also arrested on the same charge. One of the soldiers was detained by the Royal Military Police in Cyprus.

The arrests were planned and intelligence-led. The Army said it had supported the operation. Four of the men are being held at a West Midlands police station.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman confirmed the man detained in Cyprus had been held at the island’s British Dhekelia base before being transferred to RAF Akrotiri, from where he will be flown to the UK.

National Action describes itself as a “National Socialist youth organization” and says its movement is aimed at the “broken right-wing”.

The official register says it was established in 2013 and has branches across the UK which “conduct provocative street demonstrations and stunts aimed at intimidating local communities”.

Its online material contains extremely violent imagery and language and it condones and glorifies those who have used extreme violence for political or ideological ends, the Home Office says.

That included tweets in 2016 about the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox, who was stabbed and shot by Thomas Mair. One such tweet said there were “only 649 MPs to go”.

Charity Hope not Hate has repeatedly warned that National Action has continued to operate insisting that authorities needed to remain vigilant.

“We maintain that in spite of any police action against individuals carried out today, the group still continues under a number of different names and guises.”

Unite Against Fascism (UAF) say despite almost a third of those monitored under the Government’s Prevent scheme believing in far-right ideologies, National Action remains the only far-right group to be proscribed as a terrorist organisation, added to the list of over 70 groups in December 2016.

UAF Joint Secretary, Sabby Dhalu, said the arrests provide “evidence that much greater prominence must be given to the fight against far-right terrorism.”

She also spoke of “double standard” in the approach to terrorism committed by non-Muslims and Muslims.

“There is a clear double standard in the way we treat terrorism in this country: Media headlines and Government announcements focus almost exclusively on terrorist activity by those claiming to be Muslims, while around a third of all suspected terrorist activity is coming from the far right,” said Dhalu in a statement to The Muslim News.

“The murders of Jo Cox and Mohammed Saleem and the outrage in Finsbury Park show that this is far from being a minor threat. Rather than demonising Muslims and contributing to Islamophobia, we call on politicians and the media to take the growing threat of far-right violence and terrorism as seriously as it does ISIS-type terrorism.”

Weyman Bennett, Joint Secretary of UAF, said: “After being defeated at the ballot box and on the street, the far-right is increasingly turning to violence and terrorism.

“Outrages such as the murder of Jo Cox, the murder of Mohammed Saleem and numerous attacks on mosques including Finsbury Park, show that the threat is real and must be taken seriously.

“National Action is a despicable, pathetic group of Nazis who use Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, homophobia and threats of violence to intimidate all who oppose their sick ideology. They are only a tiny part of the growing threat of far-right terrorism which must be prioritised and defeated.”

In August The Times reported that about 40 neo-Nazis are being investigated by police amid fears that they are plotting terrorist attacks against Muslims around the country. “The extremists are understood to be operating in “far-right hotspots” predominantly in Yorkshire, including Leeds, Dewsbury and Batley, according to police intelligence sources familiar with the investigations.”

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