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FASCIST terror plots are a "surging threat" despite the collapse of longstanding far-right groups across Britain, a new report by Hope Not Hate warned yesterday.
The anti-racist group’s State of Hate report suggests a younger generation of extremists are successfully radicalising people online, pointing to the case of Finsbury Park terrorist Darren Osborne, who drove his van into worshippers outside a mosque last summer.
The report noted the British National Party, Britain First and English Defence League (EDL) were “mere shadows of their former selves,” while convictions had hit militant groups like the North West Infidels “very hard.”
But despite almost the entire fascist hooligan leadership being jailed following confrontations at Dover in 2016, it found that 28 people were arrested and/or convicted last year for far-right inspired terrorist or violent offences in 2017.
Hope Not Hate warned of a “surging threat from far-right terrorism and violent extremism” and said it was “vitally important” that the government crack down on “peddlers of hate.”
It said a coterie of younger fascists who are “tech savvy [and] avoid the stereotyped ‘look’ of the past” has been growing in size and influence.
The report highlighted the case of Mr Osborne, who told his murder trial that his target had been Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn – smeared as a supporter of terrorism by the Daily Mail and Sun newspapers.
Mr Osborne “devoured” far-right media online in the weeks before his attack, including videos by EDL founder Tommy Robinson and Britain First’s Jayda Fransen.
Three of the world’s five most prominent far-right figures are British, the report adds, with ex-Breitbart columnist Milo Yiannopoulos, Paul Joseph Watson of conspiracy website InfoWars and the EDL’s Tommy Robinson all commanding more than a million followers across their social media accounts.
Hope Not Hate also discovered members of National Action — which became the first far-right group to be proscribed by the government in December 2016 — was managing to get around the ban by simply operating under new front groups, three of which were set up in 2017 alone.
Even more alarmingly, the report found that extremists have been recruiting in Britain for the neonazi Azov Battalion fighting for the Ukrainian government against anti-fascists in the Donbass, with one National Action supporter, Mark Jones, visiting Azov's Ukrainian headquarters.
The report concludes that 2017 was a “significant year for the far right,” saying that while it was “organisationally weaker and politically more marginalised, it does pose a significant threat to the social fabric.”
Hope Not Hate chief executive Nick Lowles said: “Combined with burgeoning online hatred, directed particularly towards Muslims, we fear further violence from the extreme right in the months to come.”
He said the “rising terrorist threat” was a consequence of “increasingly confrontational” online far-right rhetoric, combined with the “almost universal extreme-right belief that a civil war between Islam and the West is coming.”
Mr Lowles warned that the collapse of the British National Party had “convinced some hard-liners that there is now no parliamentary route to fascism” which, combined with “a worsening public perception of British Muslims and Islam generally,” meant Britain “must be prepared for more terrorist plots and use of extreme violence from the far right for the foreseeable future.”
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