Under the spotlight: Britain’s big problem with homegrown nazi terrorists


Jo Cox’s killer was only the latest in a long line of far right terrorists in the UK

NEO-NAZI TERRORISM is on the rise across Europe, a tendency underlined in the UK by the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox by white supremacist Thomas Mair in June.

Experts on violent extremism have long warned policy makers of the dangers posed by neo-nazi terrorism. Just days after Cox’s murder, the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in the UK published a report warning of the growing danger of ‘lone wolf’ far right attacks, which had claimed the lives of 96 across Europe between 2000 and 2014.

But what is the UK’s specific problem with far right violence, and what motivates the UK’s fascist terrorists?

CommonSpace looks at the long history of terrorism by neo-nazi’s in Britian

British Union of Fascists

British fascism's violent career was launched by the Oswald Mosley and the British Union of Fascists in 1932.

The organisation was constructed around violence, with members attacking Jewish homes and businesses and violently breaking up opposition meetings and rallies.

British fascist leader Oswald Mosely adresses a BUF rally, the events were know for their extreme violence

Some British Nazis, including William Joyce, collaborated with Adolf Hitler’s regime as it murdered over 10 million civilians during the Holocaust and plunged Europe and the world into unprecedented war.

Following the second world war and the banning of the BUF, ex-members and successor organisations helped to stir up anti-semitic riots in 1947, that saw widespread destruction of Jewish properties.

Ulster loyalist militias

The most violent wing of the British far right in recent times have been the Ulster loyalist paramilitary militias.

The paramilitaries actively targeted catholic civilians in Northern Ireland, and were responsible for almost half of the 3,600 civilian deaths during ‘the troubles’ from 1969-1997.

Loyalist militias such as the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) received funding from other elements of the British far right.

A BBC Panorama investigation in 2015 found that they were heavily infiltrated by British special branch and army agents. Some of these British agents were responsible for murders.

Combat 18

Combat 18 (C18) was a neo-nazi militia founded in 1992. It was famous for its culture of extreme violence and for threats of targeted violence against individuals. It established a website, ‘Red Watch’, for the public posting of information on anti-fascists, trade unionists and various others it deemed acceptable targets. Numerous individuals whose information has been posted on the website have been violently attacked.

World in Action documentary investigating Combat 18

The group dissolved in acrimony after infighting resulted in the murder of one of its members. However C18 has since gone international, with several foreign chapters and successor groups such as the Racial Volunteer Force (RVF) are still active in the UK.

David Copeland and ‘lone wolf’ attacks

In 1999 David Copeland exploded a series of nail bombs across London, targeting the city’s black, Bangladeshi and LGBT+ communities. Three were killed and more than 100 injured in the wave of terror. Copeland was a neo-nazi who told police he wanted his attacks to inspire violence between communities and induce whites to “vote BNP”.

Copeland was the first and most successful of a long slew of similar ‘lone wolf’ terrorists in the UK, most of whom were apprehended before they could attack, or while they were still accumulating bomb materials or other weapons. These included the arrests of Robert Cottage in 2007, Martyn Gilleard in 2008, Nathan Worrell in 2008 and Neil Lewington in 2009.

Thomas Mair murdered Labour MP Jo Cox in June 2016, at the height of the EU referendum. He was obsessed with nazi ideology and racism, and screamed nationalist slogans including “Britain first” as he shot and stabbed Cox to death. Mair’s is the first terrorist murder of a British MP carried out by the far right.

British fascists fighting in Ukraine

Much attention is given to the potential future threat of terrorist activities from UK citizens returning from fighting for Islamic fundamentalist militias in the Syrian civil war. Far less attention is paid to the fascist fighters who are participating on both sides of the war in Ukraine.

Though both sides of the war, which has seen attempts by Eastern, pro-Russian parts of the country to break away from Kiev control, have far right elements, the largest single pool of UK fighters is thought to be in the Azov Battalion, an attempt to integrate Ukrainian fascist militias and European volunteers into the Ukrainian army. The Ukrainian conflict is supplying British fascists with weapons training and a network of contacts with neo-nazi terrorists across Europe.

Picture courtesy of Gavin Lynntemptationize

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