Far right ‘mimicking video games to lure middle class children to terrorism’

Children from middle class backgrounds are being lured into extreme rightwing terrorism with online content based on violent video games shaped to indoctrinate them, Britain’s most senior counter-terrorism officer has said.

Assistant commissioner Matt Jukes said that 19 から 20 children aged under 18 who were arrested last year for terrorism offences were linked to an extreme rightwing ideology.

Those falling for rightwing hate and then breaking terror laws were younger than those falling for Islamist hate, according to Jukes, the Met police’s head of counter-terrorism.

彼は言った: “One thing we see is young people who do not understand that researching and then sharing some of the material which they encounter, is a terrorist offence … [そして] will lead them to serious consequences.”

Most counter-terrorism activity in the UK continues to be tackling the threat of Islamist-inspired violence but the extreme right continues to grow.

Jukes said 41% of counter-terrorism arrests in 2021 were of extreme rightwing suspects, and three in four advanced plots disrupted by police involved rightwing extremists.

He was speaking to mark the fifth anniversary of the string of terrorist attacks in 2017, one of which was extreme rightwing while the rest were Islamist. Counter-terrorism police and MI5, the security services, are bracing themselves for potential criticism after the inquiry into the Manchester Arena bombing, which is expected to publish conclusions this year after having heard evidence of alleged failings.

Jukes said the makeup of those drawn to the extreme right wing was from families with a stake in society: “Actually they are in some cases, relatively well educate. If you were imagining this was necessarily all aligned to disfranchised, poorer, disengaged, white communities, actually the evidence is that is a much more complex picture than that, and that we see people whose background might be relatively middle class, relatively well educated.”

While once terror cells and big plots were the threat, now it is more likely to be young people being turned by online propaganda in their bedrooms. The extreme right was adept at this and exploited an interest in gaming, said Juke.

“Some of the videos produced by the extreme rightwing groups pick up the tropes of the presentation of first-person shooter games," 彼が追加した. “They are presenting something which is very attractive, potentially, to a vulnerable, young person, a young boy who spends a lot of time gaming.”

彼は言った: “There is a picture here of young people spending a great deal of time discussing and sharing material online. We are absolutely seeing some of that shift to carrying out terrorist attacks.”

Rightwing hate material was targeting Jews, Muslims and women as well as spreading conspiracies and lies of a plot to replace white men, said Jukes

The youngest suspect arrested was 13, and a 15-year-old boy was charged last week over terrorist material to do with bomb-making, alleged to have been shared online.

Amid confused messaging from the government about Britons going to fight in Ukraine, Jukes issued a warning. Privately, some counter-terrorism officials believe there is little they can do, especially given that the UK government is backing the Ukrainian government.

Jukes said: “People would face a range of risks, including legal, and therefore we would absolutely encourage people [to find] other ways of supporting the Ukrainian people. We would have to consider any travel on a case-by-case basis.”