Ukrainian Neo-Nazi groups involved in fighting in eastern Ukraine are actively seeking to recruit British far-right activists. The anti-fascist watchdog has warned that at least two Britons have recently travelled to Ukraine.
Hope not Hate (HNH), a UK based advocacy group, detailed that the Ukrainian fascist militia Azov battalion and connected groups have been recruiting Britons. The group has contacted representatives from National Action, a proscribed terror organization, and a London-based Polish fascist group.
HNH estimates extreme far right groups have around 600-700 members, a significant decrease from previous years. However, the group warned that there was an emergence of new, tech-savvy far right wingers. These elements are creating professional media campaigns to ignite hate across Europe.
“The threat is evolving. As traditional British far-right groups collapse, far-right-inspired terrorism is on the rise. Replacing old-fashioned racial nationalism is anti-Muslim hatred. Today’s key activists tend to be younger, operate online and have little of the obvious ‘Nazi’ baggage of their predecessors,” HNH said in its annual State of Hate report on Friday.
The group’s chief executive Nick Lowles stated: “Coupled with the collapse of the British National party, which has convinced some hardliners that there is now no parliamentary route to fascism, and the Islamist terrorist attacks last year which led directly to four terrorist attacks or attempted attacks in response, and a worsening public perception of British Muslims and Islam generally, we must be prepared for more terrorist plots and the use of extreme violence from the far right for the foreseeable future.” The warning comes four days after the outgoing head of UK counter-terrorism policing, Mark Rowley, revealed that four far-right terror plots had been foiled in 2017.
Rowley said: “The right-wing threat was not previously organized. Every now and then there’s been an individual motivated by that rhetoric who has committed a terrorist act, but we’ve not had an organized right-wing threat like we do now.”
Rowley cited the power of individuals to drive recruitment to extremist organizations, citing convicted activist Anjem Choudary and Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) on one hand, and groups such as National Action and former EDL leader Tommy Robinson on the other. Islamic terrorists and the far right are both trying to “increase tensions and divisions in communities,” Rowley added.
In a statement, the UK’s security minister Ben Wallace said the government is working to eradicate the groups. “This government did not hesitate to proscribe a neo-Nazi group, National Action, when the evidence was enough, and we will not hesitate to take further action.
“Through our Prevent strategy, we are successfully fighting back against the terrorist recruiters and safeguarding vulnerable people who are being preyed upon – whether by Islamists, neo-Nazis or other violent extremists.”
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