11 men have been arrested by counter-terror police in the UK following an investigation into the proscribed Neo-Nazi group National Action. National Action was banned as a terrorist organisation in December 2016 by the UK’s home secretary after the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox. “Death to traitors, freedom for Britain” became a slogan for the group after being said in court by Cox’s killer, Thomas Mair, an anti-Semitic, far-right extremist and white power activist who was glorified in their online propaganda calling for more murders. The group has been tied to several foiled plots and far-right violence. National Action models itself on European far-right Neo-Nazi hooligan street groups and autonomous nationalist organisations, copying tactics, rhetoric and aesthetics from these extreme-right groups which learnt initially from studying the success of their enemies, autonomous anti-capitalist organisations and anarchists.
After proscription, National Action was evading authorities by taking on new names – including ‘Scottish Dawn’ and ‘NS131’, and trying to go towards newer underground tactics. It seems the raids aimed to prevent this, the operation was investigation-led and based on police work into the group post-ban and followed on from recent arrests of members of the group in the military. Anti-fascist research estimates are that up to 60 members are still currently active, down from a peak of 150 when their Neo-Nazi conference was held in Southport.
Several of the alleged National Action supporters were arrested in and around Warrington, Cheshire, in the North-West, where the group was continuing to operate a hang-out in a small brick warehouse for Mixed Martial Arts training and recruitment.
Their warehouse club, which sits next to a children’s playground on an industrial estate, has been converted into a gym and office for the group. Six men were arrested in North-West England, including one suspect who was summonsed in prison; two in Wales; two in West Yorkshire; and one man in Wiltshire. Counter-terror police raided and searched their homes and cell.
Earlier in the month 4 British soldiers were arrested on suspicion of terror offences for being members of the Neo-Nazi group. 4 men, a 22-year-old from Birmingham, a 32-year-old man from Powys, a 24-year-old from Ipswich and a 24-year-old from Northampton, were arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the commission, preparation and instigation of acts of terrorism. The men were detained on suspicion of terror offences in Brecon, Ipswich, and at a military base in Cyprus, alongside a civilian who is also suspected of being a National Action member. All 4 men were held at a police station in the West Midlands following their arrests, and they remain in custody. The arrests were carried out by the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit in conjunction with the Wales Extremism Counter Terrorism Unit and the East Midlands CTIU, supported by the Army. One of the men was serving in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME), while at least one other is in the Royal Anglian Regiment. The man who was serving with the Royal Anglian Regiment in Cyprus, was formally arrested and flown back to the UK from RAF Akrotiri. Lance Corporal Mikko Vehvilainen, Private Mark Barrett and Alexander Deakin, the civilian, were charged with being members of the National Action and other terrorism related offences. Following their arrests, it emerged that several people who openly expressed support for National Action and their Neo-Nazi ideology online were able to join the Army. The Conservative government expressed a possibility for an inquiry into far-right infiltration into the Armed Forces, but the Army said it had no plans for such an investigation.
22 suspected members or associates of National Action were also arrested in 2016. National Action became the first post-World War 2 far right-wing group to be banned in the UK. Being a member or inviting support for the group is a criminal offence carrying a sentence of up to 10 years imprisonment but anti-fascist investigations showed its members are still meeting in secret. The group is known for the organisation of military-style training camps, and had openly boasted that “a number of National Action supporters/members, have decided however to apply to join the British Army …” as part of their strategy. In February 2016, a 17-year-old National Action member from Bradford was merely ordered to undergo “intensive counselling” after making a pipe-bomb. The boy told the court he was a Neo-Nazi and supporter of National Action. “Thomas Mair is a HERO,” he had written online. “We need more people like him to butcher the race traitors.” The intense racism and nationalism which has been bred online and in the print by the mainstream media and the right-wing political parties for decades has helped produce the environment for these Neo-Nazis to grow in, and whilst State proscription is taking up the time, resources and energy of this Neo-Nazi group, at no time should anti-fascists make the mistake in thinking that these repressive techniques will not be used against themselves and that the State has anything else but it’s own discourse at stake in the current climate of the internal enemy of “extremism” against ‘democracy’ and ‘neo-liberalism’. The State will allow Neo-Nazism to wax and wane as it remains useful to Power, authoritarians of all kinds have more in common with each other than they ever could to those who love freedom and anarchy. The struggle remains in the streets and places where we meet, conspire and exist, in the demonstrations, the attacks and blows against all authority.
Fascists of all kinds – We are coming for you!
Those arrested are:
A 24-year-old man from Seaforth, Merseyside, on suspicion of preparation of a terrorist act, funding terrorism and membership of a proscribed organisation.
A 23-year-old man from Newton-le-Willows, Merseyside, on suspicion of preparation of a terrorist act, funding terrorism and membership of a proscribed organisation.
A 33-year-old man from Prescot, Merseyside, on suspicion of preparation of a terrorist act, funding terrorism and membership of a proscribed organisation.
A 31-year-old man from Warrington, Cheshire, on suspicion of preparation of a terrorist act, funding terrorism and membership of a proscribed organisation.
A 35-year-old man from Warrington, Cheshire, on suspicion of preparation of a terrorist act, funding terrorism and membership of a proscribed organisation.
A 22-year-old man from Lancashire has been produced from prison for police interview on suspicion of preparation of a terrorist act and membership of a proscribed organisation.
A 28-year-old man from Swansea, Wales, on suspicion of membership of a proscribed organisation and possession of terrorism material/documents.
A 23-year-old man from Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire, on suspicion of membership of a proscribed organisation.
A 23-year-old-man from Swansea, Wales, on suspicion of membership of a proscribed organisation.
A 26-year-old man from Leeds, West Yorkshire, on suspicion of membership of a proscribed organisation.
A 30-year-old man from Wiltshire on suspicion of membership of a proscribed organisation.