There’s a new breed of young, violent, far-right activist in Britain: ‘white jihadists’

Alex Davies, the co-founder of the proscribed far-right terror group National Action, was sentenced to more than eight years in prison hierdie week, bringing the total number of people convicted of membership of the group to 19. Gevorm in 2013, National Action espouses extreme antisemitic and anti-immigrant views, and presented itself as better organised and more disciplined than other groups in a British neo-Nazi scene previously on the verge of collapse.

Wanneer it was banned by the then-home secretary, Amber Rudd, in Desember 2016, National Action was the first far-right organisation to be proscribed since the second world war. But it wasn’t the first such group in that period to espouse extreme neo-Nazi beliefs or promote the ideology of terror and violence – nor will it be the last.

Davies, 27, a former University of Warwick student, began outlining the framework for this neo-Nazi youth movement a decade ago, while he was being monitored by the government’s controversial Prevent programme.

Disaffected by the demise of the British National party (BNP) and in his own words, given the “all clear” by Prevent, Davies had considered joining, aiding and abetting the similarly minded National Front (NF) and another fascist successor group, Patriotic Alternative, as well as the UK Independence party (Ukip), before striking out on his own with National Action.

Davies described himself as a socialist who had wanted his new group, NS131 (National Socialist Anti-Capitalist Action), formed in 2017, to launch housing campaigns in and around Swansea. The group prided itself on positioning campaigns on issues such as housing and anti-fox hunting to burnish its image.

Along with his National Action co-founder, Ben Raymond, who was also jailed late last year, Davies was hellbent, according to Mark Dennis QC, on “the usurping of the state and undermining democracy.” Dennis commented further that Davies “remains an adherent of Adolf Hitler and all that he stood for.”

Davies and others were admirers and adherents of Hitler and the Nazis. But it was not a single historical figure or movement that guided their hatred. That would vastly underestimate the breadth of influences that Raymond and Davies injected into their dark, and mostly online, corner of the fascist milieu.

Raymond and Davies first began proselytising for what they called “white jihad” in 2013. They cultivated a community where beliefs such as satanism were found alongside calls for violent jihad and sexual exploitation. For its disciples, it would finally “rid” the British far right of its old pub brawlers and gangsters (as typified by 1990s gangs such as Combat 18), with their “Judeo-Christian” guilt and superstitions. “White jihad” appeared designed to enthuse and push new disciples towards a race war, leading to a dystopian society governed by race and enforced by violence.

The old far-right claims of protecting “our women” and “our children” were stripped away: this new breed of race haters hated women as well, and wanted to encourage their exploitation, sharing dark fantasies about the virtue and necessity of using rape against both women and children. When arrested, these new far-right adherents are increasingly found in possession of exploitive images of young children. Their justification tends to be that this “enables” them to “desensitise” themselves, in preparation for the acts of terrorism and murder ahead.

People convicted of continuing membership in National Action have included rail workers, would-be models, university graduates, a single mother, a serving soldier and even a serving Metropolitan Police officer. Representing belief in an ideology normally considered the domain of knuckle-dragging neanderthals, at the very least National Action could be said to have drawn in an eclectic mix of individuals.

Recent trials have revealed that far-right suspects have been in possession of documents extolling the virtues of killing women of producing anthrax, as well as – chillingly – details of how to produce firearms using a 3D printer.

The one true constant to this Nazi terrorism has been the idea of “leaderless resistance”, and the “lone wolf” (although many are not truly lone actors), as well as increasing youth. And that is worrying. How many of us would know if a son (of, more rarely, a daughter) was exploring these ideas alone in their bedroom?

Ons (thankfully) haven’t witnessed a successful large-scale act of terrorism from a far-right extremist since the 1999 London nail bombings. However in the years since National Action was proscribed, 70 people have been convicted of far-right terror offences, including many who had plotted and prepared to carry out acts of murder and terrorism. We must be vigilant and educate ourselves to this new terror threat, if we are to prevent atrocities in the future.

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