Roots of violent radicalisation - Home Affairs Committee Contents


Supplementary evidence submitted by the Community Security Trust

1.  This is the second submission by the Community Security Trust, made in response to the Committee Members' request for further information following Michael Whine's oral testimony on 1 November 2011.

2.  We are asked for our views on the following:

—  Whether the Government is placing appropriate emphasis on tackling the threat from the far right; where and how the police and other agencies should focus their efforts.

—  How much of a danger foreign individuals preaching extremist messages pose to the UK, and whether the UK's proscription and exclusion regime are effective.

3.  The far right poses different, but interconnected threats. They are:

—  from far right extremist political parties, of neo-Nazi origin, such as the British National Party (BNP) and National Front (NF);

—  from Populist Extremist Parties (PEPs), such as the English Defence League (EDL); and

—  from far-right terrorists.

4.  The BNP, the largest far-right political party, has lost considerable support over the past two years. This can be seen in a number of ways.

For example, by its reduction in electoral activity. In May 2011, it stood 323 candidates in the local elections, compared with 739 candidates in 2010, and 877 candidates for the same seats in 2007.

In the 2010 local elections, the BNP lost almost half their sitting councillors nationally and were wiped out in their former stronghold of Barking and Dagenham.

In the May 2010 general election, the BNP stood 338 candidates in England, Scotland and Wales, the highest number ever put forward in a general election by a far-right party. This was a significant increase on the 119 BNP candidates in the 2005 general election.

Overall, the BNP polled 563,743 votes nationally, or 1.9% of the national vote, and an increase on the 192,746 votes they polled in the 2005 general election.

However, the average BNP vote fell from 4.2% in 2005 to 3.7% in 2010, and only 71 of their 338 candidates retained their deposits, whereas in 2005, 34 of their 119 candidates had retained their deposits.

In neither general election were any BNP candidates elected.[1]

Members are increasingly disenchanted by BNP leader Nick Griffin's impetuous and autocratic leadership, and as a consequence are leaving for other groups.

In the May 2011 local elections, 36 former BNP candidates stood for a range of other smaller groups, including the National Front, England First Party, Democratic Nationalists, English Peoples Party, British Peoples Party and as Independents.[2]

Other candidates have since defected from the BNP to these smaller parties.

In June 2011, Griffin faced a strongly supported leadership challenge from Andrew Brons, the other BNP member elected to the European Parliament.

Some of its loss of support may be ascribed to a move away from public activity such as demonstrations, to political activity, for which it has little capacity or experienced personnel.

Media publicity about the number of BNP members and leaders who have been convicted of crimes in recent years is growing. This, together with reports of the possibility of bankruptcy proceedings and criminal prosecutions of one or more leaders for failing to submit accounts, is harming their organisational capacity.

5.  Populist Extremist Parties (PEPs) or Far-Right Social Movements are not new in Europe, but the English Defence League was only established in 2009, and therefore the phenomenon is comparatively new in the UK.

The government and the police still have much to learn therefore about what motivates its members, and how they operate.

Four recently published reports shed some light. They are:

The EDL—Britain's "New Far Right" Social Movement;[3]

Inside the EDL - populist politics in a digital age;[4]

The New Face of Digital Populism;[5]

Right Response—Understanding and Countering Populist Extremism in Europe.[6]

6.The authors of these reports agree on some key findings about the EDL, which may be summarised as follows:

—  The overriding grievance of EDL members is over continued immigration into the UK, and particularly Muslim immigration.

—  EDL supporters express growing dissatisfaction with government and its ability to improve the economic situation.

—  EDL supporters are significantly more likely to hold pessimistic views about their economic prospects than non-EDL members.

—  EDL supporters are "ultra-patriotic", and some may disavow racist ideologies.

—  While the BNP is the most popular political party amongst EDL supporters, the majority of members state that they are democrats.

—  EDL supporters are, for the most part, 18-24 year old males.

7.  The reports note that the EDL has no political programme, and few self-declared leaders. Its main activity is the holding of street demonstrations and marches, which are organised via Facebook and other social media.

These may be used to intimidate Muslim communities and their institutions, or to protest against Muslim and Islamist public activities. They are often violent, and print and electronic media reports refer to their racist chanting and the giving of Nazi salutes by some members.

The EDL has Afro Caribbean, Hindu, Sikh and Jewish members, but they constitute a tiny and insignificant minority, although their presence has allowed the leadership to disavow racism.

One EDL sub- group, the NE Infidels, is however more openly racist and violent. (see Appendix 1).

Although some leaders and members have also been members of the BNP, the EDL is most accurately understood as a new populist social movement, rather than a traditional political party or group of the far-right. The threat that it poses is, at the moment, to public order, and beyond that to community cohesion.

8.  The Swedish academic, Dr Tore Bjorgo, who has studied Europe's far-right movements for over twenty five years, noted in 1995 that increasing support for xenophobic and far-right parties enabled the growth of militant neo-Nazi organisations and networks which target asylum seekers and visible minorities in Europe. He further observed that groups perceived as "right wing" or "racist" frequently turned out to have no connections with extreme political organisations, and had only a rudimentary idea of any ideology.

He suggested that theirs "is an anger against perceived outsiders, or the state, which could take a violent path".[7]

This analysis, and that of the four recent reports referred to above, supports the view that within Europe as a whole, there is a growing political reaction to continued migration, and especially Muslim migration, which is perceived as a challenge to European culture. This may arise because of genuine concern over the future rather than as a by-product of racist or neo-Nazi ideology.

9.  In 2007, the EU Terrorism Situation and Trend (TE-SAT) Report published by Europol, noted that:

"Although violent acts perpetrated by right-wing extremists may appear mainly sporadic and situational, right-wing extremist activities are organised and transnational'. Also that 'Right-wing violence is partly driven by the agenda of their perceived opponents".

In 2008, the TE-SAT report noted that "Activities from right-wing extremist groups are increasing", and in 2009 that "several right-wing extremists were acting alone without links to an extremist organisation" and that "Individual members of the WPM (White Power Movement) scene have exhibited their readiness to use violence, threats or coercion to reach their political goals. In 2010, it observed that 'far right activists are engaging in paramilitary training in EU Member States … and that individuals who act alone continue to pose a threat", and in 2011, that "right wing extremist groups are becoming more professional in their manifestations" and that they "still pose a threat in EU Member States".[8]

The ACPO National Community Tension Team noted in 2008, with reference to far-right terrorism in the UK, that:

"The unorganised nature of such activity makes it difficult to police but individuals within known Right Wing Extremist groups are the subject of covert operations locally, regionally and nationally" and that "Lone Wolf operatives in the UK have primarily targeted Muslims whereas there is more evidence of an anti-Semitic focus in continental Europe".[9]

9.  An important underlying philosophy for right-wing terrorism is that of "leaderless resistance" as proposed by an American Ku Klux Klan leader Louis Beam, in his online journal, The Seditionist, and the messages contained in the novels of National Alliance founder, William Pierce, writing under the name of Andrew McDonald. In The Turner Diaries, Pierce depicted a violent revolution in the USA that leads to the overthrow of the federal government, and the extermination of all Jews and non-Whites. His other book, Hunter, describes a campaign of targeted assassinations of couples in inter-racial marriages and civil rights activists carried out by a Vietnam War veteran who gets drawn into a white supremacist group planning insurrection.[10]

These two novels were a formative influence on both Timothy McVeigh, who bombed the Alfred P Murrah Federal Government Building in Oklahoma City in 1995, and David Copeland, the London Nail Bomber in 1999.

The philosophy proposes that individuals, or small groups, who are radicalised act out their beliefs without either participating in the political movement itself or without being part of a command structure.

10.  Within Europe, parallel ideological developments included those promoted by the American-born Francis Parker Yockey, author of Imperium, who campaigned for a transatlantic and trans-European alliance; Jean Thiriart, a Belgian former Nazi collaborator, who established the Jeune Europe Movement, and who advocated abandoning the trappings of Nazism and who campaigned for a wider European collaboration from the Atlantic to the Urals; and Povl Riis Knudsen and Michael Kuhnen who adopted elements of leftist theory into their violent far-right ideologies. Kuhnen was among the earliest far-right terrorists in Europe, who was convicted in 1979 of organising an armed assault on a NATO establishment.

11.  Targets for far-right terrorists have been Muslim communities, state institutions and Jewish communities.

It is no coincidence that the Norwegian Anders Breivik bombed the Norwegian Prime Minister's Office in Oslo. He had been preceded by a Swedish neo-Nazi group, who in 2005, planned to bomb the Swedish Parliament and murder large numbers of young people. The four members of the Kameradenschaft-Sud, a neo Nazi group, were convicted of a plot to bomb the rededication ceremony of a synagogue in Munich in 2003 which was to have been attended by the German federal president, Johannes Rau and members of the Cabinet. Had the plot succeeded, the German government would have been decapitated.

12.  Far-right political parties and groups provide the arena in which radicalisation occurs, even if the number who go on to commit acts of terrorism has remained small. But there is little public support for terrorism, and interdiction of plots by effective law enforcement counterterrorist operations has resulted in a number of significant arrests and convictions in the UK and elsewhere in Europe.

The number of far-right activists who plot acts of terrorism may be small, but the latest version of Prevent refers to 17 far right activists convicted of terrorist offences.

It is worth noting that, while the far right activists convicted of terrorist offences in the UK mostly followed a traditional neo-Nazi ideology, Breivik presented an ideological worldview more reflective of the attitudes of Europe's new PEPs.

Far right terrorism is committed by very small groups and lone operators or "Lone Wolves".

Far right groups lack cohesion, and have a low degree of overall coordination, but it should be noted that support for their views has risen historically in times of high unemployment and economic distress.

13.  The police should focus their efforts on the specific nature of the far right and the different threats that each grouping presents. The BNP and the smaller extremist political groups may revert to street activities such as demonstrations or even violence. The EDL, for the present, presents a public order threat, although their activities should be continuously scrutinised for evidence of any move toward violence. Recent statements by some members suggest a shift towards more openly violent, and anti-state rhetoric. (Appendix 2)

The police should be on the alert for evidence of individuals and small groups moving towards violence and terrorism.

A more pro active policing policy of the EDL is now apparent. The arrest of EDL supporters by the Metropolitan Police Service on 11 November in the Whitehall area to forestall violent clashes with Islamists is evidence of this, as is the re-configuration of the specific police units that monitor domestic extremism.

14.  Radicalisation occurs via a variety of methods, of which the influences of foreign preachers is one. Others may be via the Internet and video tapes and cassettes. In all known cases, however, with the possible exception of Roshonara Choudhry, there was also some human intervention. In other words, the intervention and guidance of a mentor is normally required to turn someone who has been radicalised into a potential terrorist.

Foreign preachers and extremist activists are known to have had a radicalising effect on some British Muslims.

Among the more prominent have been:

Abdullah el-Faisal (aka Sheikh Faisal, born Trevor William Forest) who was sentenced to nine years imprisonment in 2003, for soliciting to murder and incitement to racial hatred, of which he served four years before being deported to Jamaica. Between 1991 and 1993, he preached at the Brixton Mosque before being dismissed because of his radical views.

Mohammed Sidique Khan and Germaine Lindsay, two of the 7 July bombers, were known to possess copies of Faisal's tapes, and are believed to have been radicalised by them.

Abu Qatada al-Filistini (aka Abu Omar, born Omar Mahmoud Othman), a Jordanian national deported from Kuwait for radical activities who arrived in the UK in 1993. He was arrested in 2002 and, despite a succession of appeals, remains in prison pending his deportation. He was convicted in absentia by a Jordanian court in 2000 for involvement in 'The Millenium conspiracy', and sentenced to life imprisonment. He is listed as an al Qaeda affiliate by the United Nations Security Council, and was described in testimony given in February 2001 in a New York court as a member of al Qaeda's "Fatwa Committee".

He was a known associate, and influence on, terrorists convicted in the British and US courts, including Zacarias Moussaoui, Rachid Ramda, Nizar Trabelsi, Richard Reid and Abdullah el-Faisal.

Abu Hamza al-Masri (born Mustafa Kamel Mustafa) an Egyptian national who came to the UK in 1979 and was arrested in 2004. In 2006, he was convicted of various terrorism and public order offences and sentenced to seven years imprisonment. His appeal against an extradition request to the USA has been the subject of a lengthy appeal process.

Together with the 'Supporters of Sharia' group, which he founded and led, al-Masri took control of the North London Central Mosque at Finsbury Park, and used this as a base to preach violent jihad, until ejected following a legal challenge by the Charity Commission in 2003.

Omar Bakri Mohammed (born Omar Bakri Fostock) a Syrian national developed the Islamist political party Hizb ut Tahrir in the UK between 1986 and 1996, following which he established Al-Muhajiroun, which worked to re-establish the Muslim caliphate (like all other Islamist groups) and supported terrorism.

Mohammed is among the most significant preachers of extremism, and reliable media reports note that several terrorists were radicalised by meeting him, including Mohammed Naeem Noor Khan, Bilal Mohammed and Asif Hanif.

He remains active from his home in Lebanon, to which he fled in 2005.

Sheikh Anwar Al Awlaqi a Yemeni American engineer and educator, the operations leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsular, is regarded as one of the originators of the contemporary anti Western jihadi movement. He was assassinated by US forces in Yemen, in September 2011.

While living in the UK between 2002 and 2004, he may have radicalised people who went on to commit acts of terrorism, but both before 2002 and after 2004, he is known to have had a radicalising influence on some of the 9/11 bombers, Roshonaura Choudri, who attempted to murder Steven Timms MP, and Umar Farouk Abdulmutalab, the 'Underpants bomber'.

Numerous other Islamist preachers have been convicted of incitement and or terrorism offences, and an extensive list of these, and those they are known to have influenced and who went on to commit terrorist offences in the UK and abroad, has been published in Islamist Terrorism.[11]

15.  acial, religious and other forms of hatred against minority groups is increasing in Europe. Economic and political strains in societies have historically led to tension, and in many cases a search for scapegoats on whom to blame societies' troubles. Historically this has often been the Jews, but other contemporary victim groups may include Muslims, Roma and Sinti.

Inter-governmental human rights agencies have commented on this in increasingly alarming terms in recent years.

The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights has noted that:

"9 of the 12 (EU) Member States which collect sufficient criminal justice data on racist crime experienced an upward trend in recorded racist crime"[12]

The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination recently noted that: 'the Committee expressed its concerns—often continuing from previous observations—about the prevalence of violent racist incidents in several States.' It went on to list EU Member States where it had particular concerns about racist violence.[13]

The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe recently noted that 'The OSCE has long recognised the thret to international security posed by racism, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance … Hate crimes do not happen in a vacuum. Participating States have acknowledged that "hate crimes can be fuelled by racist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic propaganda" and have repeatedly expressed their concern regarding" racist, xenophobic and discriminatory public discourse."[14]

16.  It is clear that the presence of foreign extremist preachers and political activists can have a significant radicalising effect on some UK citizens. As a consequence of their activities, UK citizens have gone on to commit acts of terrorism here and abroad.

If the government is to take its role of protecting society, and of combating hatred against sexual, religious and racial minorities seriously, it should seek to bar the presence of foreign extremists.

The views of those excluded ranges widely, but the exclusion process has been used judiciously over the years, and individual exclusions are reviewed in order to determine if those excluded no longer present a threat.

It is right that the Home Secretary, acting on advice, should have the power to exclude those whose presence here is not conducive to the public good, but the strengthened powers, provided by the Prevent Strategy, are both also proportionate and necessary.

APPENDIX 1


APPENDIX 2

The English Defence League published following statement on 17 November on its Facebook page.

A screenshot of the EDL's statement is displayed below:


TRANSCRIPT

In the last 66 years we as a nation, as a race have had our national identity stolen from us by politicians who have forced us to accept multiculturalism. They have and still are practicing cultural genocide on their own people, despite warnings that we will not accept it. They have forced us to accept the dilution of our heritage and history by the implementation of laws which will stop us from rising up, even if that's just to voice an opinion.

Any action which has the aim or effect of depriving us of our integrity as distinct peoples, or of our cultural values or ethnic identities. Any form of population transfer which has the aim or effect of violating or undermining any of the rights of the native or indigenous people. Any form of assimilation or integration by other cultures or ways of life imposed on us by legislative, administrative or other measures is cultural genocide.

And unless we find our backbone and stand up to the ones who are committing crimes against the English people we shall continue to be subjected to slavery by a British elite aided by outside influences whose only intention is to destroy us from within and wipe us out as a race.



1   Elections Report, Thursday 6 May 2010, Community Security Trust, London. Back

2   Elections Report, Thursday 5 May 2011, Community Security Trust, London. Back

3   The EDL-Britain's "New Far Right" Social Movement, Dr Paul Jackson, Radicalism and New Media Research Group, University of Northampton, Northampton, 2011. Back

4   Inside the EDL-Populist Politics in a Digital Age, Jamie Bartlett and Mark Littler, DEMOS, London, 2011. Back

5   The New Face of Digital Populism, Jamie Bartlett, Jonathan Birdwell and Mark Littler, DEMOS, London, 2011. Back

6   Right Response-Understanding and Countering Populist Extremism in Europe, Matthew Goodwin, Chatham House, London, 2011. Back

7   Tore Bjorgo, Terror from the Extreme Right, Frank Cass, London, 1995. Back

8   EU Terrorism and Situation (TE-SAT) Report, Europol, The Hague, Netherlands, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011. Back

9   Lone Wolves Briefing Document, NCTT, Association of Chief Police Officers, London, April 2008. Back

10   The Turner Diaries, Andrew Macdonald, National Vanguard Books, Arlington, VA; 1978; Hunter, Andrew Macdonald, National Vanguard Books, Arlington, VA, 1989. Back

11   Islamist Terrorism-The British Connections, The Henry Jackson Society, London, 2011. Back

12   Annual Report 2010, European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, p 36, Vienna, 2011. Back

13   Protection Against Racial Discrimination in Europe, Europe Regional Report, United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. P 25, Geneva, 2011. Back

14   Hate Crimes in the OSCE Region-Incidents and Responses, Annual Report for 2010, OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, Warsaw, November 2011. Back


 
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© Parliamentary copyright 2012
Prepared 6 February 2012