On Thursday, senior counter-terror police officers provided a rare insight into the threat from extreme-right terrorism as they see it, revealing the scale of the problem and some of the motives behind its rise.
Their assessment of the threat reveals a disturbing mix of hateful ideologies and grievances, which are inspiring disenfranchised lone actors to plot and in some cases commit acts of far-right terrorism.
Rightwing terrorism now takes up around 10% of counter-terrorism policing’s 800 live investigations, up from around 6% in 2017/18, with around a quarter of all counter-terror related arrests linked to the far right.
Since March 2017, police and security services have foiled 22 terror attack plots, with around a third – seven in total – relating to rightwing terrorism.
And rightwing ideology was behind 18% of referrals to the government’s anti-radicalisation programme, Prevent, in the year to March 2018, up from 10% in the year to March 2016.
Counter-terror officers said the rightwing terrorists are being inspired by three distinct sets of ideology, all of which have associated individuals and groups.
Cultural nationalism and the far-right is anti-Islam, anti-immigration and anti-government. Groups that display this ideology include, but are not limited to, the Football Lads Alliance and the English Defence League. The ideals of cultural nationalism inspired in part the actions of Darren Osborne, the terrorist who drove a van into worshippers outside Finsbury Park mosque, killing 51-year-old Makram Ali.
The ideology escalates to white nationalism and identitarianism, officers explained, which as well as the traits found in cultural nationalism, has an additional focus on the “importance of the white race”. Groups matching this way of thinking include Generation Identity, the racist movement that promotes a conspiracy theory that white people are being replaced by non-whites in Europe. Brenton Tarrant, the man charged with 51 murders in the Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand, is alleged to have subscribed to these beliefs. He denies all charges and will face trial next year.
Finally, the ideology heightens further to white supremacism and the extreme far right, which sees an even greater importance placed on the “white race” as well as a prominence of conspiracy theories. National Action, the UK’s only banned far-right group under proscription powers, falls under this category. Members of National Action were behind the plot to murder the Labour MP Rosie Cooper.
Source: The Guardian