There’s a report just out by the Centre for Social Cohesion and the antifascist blog Nothing British about the BNP. Written by Edmund Standing and Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens, two formidable investigators of the far right, the report argues that the phenomenon poses a terror threat that we should take seriously.
Contrary to what I’ve argued before, the danger from white UK militants is not equivalent to that presented from Al-Qaeda – there are, for example, no known neo-Nazi training camps. Yet there are people infused with apolocalyptic racial ideology, they have been known to make bombs, they have demonstrable associations with the BNP. They have been encouraged by the recession but their beliefs are self-sustaining. In his foreword, Denis MacShane highlights examples of far right terror activity from last year:
- In July, Yorkshire police raided a neo-Nazi terror cell with international links. They seized the largest suspected terrorist arsenal since the IRA bombings of the early 1990s. Twenty properties were raided and over 300 weapons and 80 bombs were discovered by counter-terrorism detectives. The hardware included rocket launchers, grenades, pipe bombs and dozens of firearms. Several people were charged, and over 30 were questioned over the incident.
- In September, Neil Lewington, a follower of [Nazi network Blood and Honour], was jailed indefinitely for attempting to launch a bombing campaign against non-white Britons. In his flat, police discovered a bomb-making factory and neo-Nazi literature. Court reports said that Lewington wanted to emulate his ‘heroes’ – David Copeland, the Soho bomber, and Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma bomber.
- In May, Terence Gavan, a card-carrying member of the BNP, was arrested after police raided his home. In January 2010, he was convicted on terrorism charges and sentenced to 11 years in prison, after a stockpile of nail and ball-bearing bombs, shotguns, improvised explosive devices and pistols was found at his house.
MacShane goes on to say this:
On the threat of far-right violence, a cautionary Sir Norman [Bettison, Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police] also said that Yorkshire police were not prepared to wait for it to ‘first emerge into the public eye out of a critical incident like an explosion’. He is right. And if there is one lesson to be learned from the rise of extremist UK Islamism, it is that we should not simply wait for people to die. Action is needed now.