UK police arrested four men, including serving British soldiers, on suspicion of neo-Nazi terrorism offences on Tuesday, September 5.
The four men − a 22-year-old from Birmingham, a 32-year-old from Powys, Wales, a 24-year-old from Ipswich and a 24-year-old from Northampton, are being held at a police station in the West Midlands, and properties are being searched in connection with the arrests, a West Midlands Police statement said.
They were arrested under the Terrorism Act on suspicion of “being concerned in the commission, preparation and instigation of acts of terrorism,” specifically of being members of the proscribed neo-Nazi organisation National Action. The criminal offence carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison on conviction.
“The arrests were pre-planned and intelligence-led; there was no threat to the public’s safety,” the statement said.
The Telegraph quoted an Army spokesperson as saying: “We can confirm that a number of serving members of the Army have been arrested under the Terrorism Act.”
In February, a 17-year-old member of National Action from Bradford who made a pipe bomb was sentenced to a three-year youth rehabilitation order and ordered to attend counselling from a deradicalisation expert.
National Action outlawed
When National Action was outlawed in December 2016, Home Secretary Amber Rudd said: “National Action is a racist, antisemitic and homophobic organisation which stirs up hatred, glorifies violence and promotes a vile ideology. It has absolutely no place in a Britain that works for everyone.”
Rudd added that proscription of the group would “protect vulnerable young people at risk of radicalisation from its toxic views.”
In December, Professor Matthew Feldman, the co-director for the Centre for Fascist, Anti-Fascist and Post-Fascist Studies at Teesside University said National Action had a core of between 100-200 activists, the BBC reported.
“There’s a growing appreciation that the far-right has not had the same attention that jihadi Islamist groups have had in the last 10 years,” Feldman said, adding that there now is more acceptance that “the extreme right poses a threat.”
In its list of Proscribed Terrorist Organisations, the Home Office says National Action is a virulently racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic neo-Nazi group established in 2013 that has a a number of branches across the UK.
According to the Home Office, National Action rejects democracy and promotes the idea that there will be an inevitable violent ‘race war’ in the UK that the group will be an active part of.
It implicitly endorses violence against ethnic minorities and ‘race traitors’, and its propaganda, which frequently features extremely violent imagery and language, is particularly aimed at young people.
National Action “condones and glorifies those who have used extreme violence for political or ideological ends,” including the murder of Jo Cox MP, and the attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando in which 49 people were killed.
This amounts to the unlawful glorification of terrorism, the Home Office says.
National Action’s local branches conduct street demonstrations and stunts aimed at intimidating local communities.