“National Action” arrests show group is still recruiting, organising
Arrests over the last year in the UK have shown that, despite their being named as a proscribed group, the banned “National Action” organisation is continuing to recruit members, organise and, allegedly, prepare to undertake terrorist attacks.
On the 5th September 2017, it was reported that 4 soldiers, along with a civilian, were arrested as part of an intelligence-led operation that originated with the Home Office and was supported by the Army, but is being handled and prosecuted through civilian channels. Initial arrests were under the Terrorism Act, for being members of a proscribed group and on suspicion of being concerned in the commission, preparation and instigation of acts of terrorism, though officials were keen to stress that there was no risk to the public.
Subsequently, two soldiers and the arrested civilian have been charged and appeared in court, while the other two arrested individuals were released without charge. Among the materials found in the possession of the charged individuals include the manifesto of the Norwegian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik.
National Action aliases banned, subsequent arrests
National Action was revealed to still be operating, albeit under new names, by an investigative report by The Independent. Making use of legal loopholes similar to the ones which allowed Anjem Choudry to continue operating and recruiting, the group reformed under the names of Scottish Dawn and NS131. These groups have also subsequently been banned.
On September 27th 2017, it was revealed that a further 11 arrests had been made by counter-terrorism police investigating National Action. Five of the arrests related to allegations of planning terrorist attacks, while the six other arrests appear to be for being members of a proscribed group.
It was also revealed last month that National Action members were undertaking combat training courses in the town of Warrington. It’s not clear if they were using one of their group aliases to obscure their involvement there.
A “highly organised” and secretive group
National Action’s ideology is best described as Neo-Nazi. The leader of National Action, Benjamin Raymond, is an unabashed admirer of both Hitler and Anders Behring Breivik, the aforementioned Norwegian terrorist whose manifesto has become popular among the extreme right wing. Originating as a splinter group among the BNP youth wing, the group has quickly taken advantage of the fractured nature of the British far-right and disillusion with existing groups to emerge as a key player.
One notable feature of National Action is its focus on recruiting at UK universities, attempting to court more middle class and educated recruits than other extreme right-wing groups. It has also undertaken a number of “public stunts” in the past to raise its profile, in addition to being highly active on social media.
National Action’s banning in 2016 was the first case of a far-right group in the UK being proscribed under the Terrorism Act of 2000. It comes amid an increased focus by the Home Office on far-right extremism in the UK.
Marc Simms is an occasional blogger for Proelium Law LLP. Marc holds a MLitt in Terrorism Studies and a Masters in International Relations, both from St Andrews. His particular interests are in emerging international security issues, unconventional warfare and terrorism.
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