LONDON: Five men and a woman have been arrested on suspicion of belonging to banned far-right terror group National Action. West Midlands Police said the suspects, aged between 21 and 37, were detained under Section 41 of the Terrorism Act on Wednesday. The arrests were pre-planned and intelligence -led with no threat to the public’s safety, the force said.
National Action was made a proscribed terrorist organisation in December 2016, the first extreme right-wing group to be outlawed in the UK.
The male suspects include a 26-year-old from Cambridge, a 21-year-old from Banbury, Oxford shire, a 28-year-old from Wolverhampton, a 26-year-old from Leicester and a 24- year-old from Stockport. The female suspect is a 37- year-old, also from Banbury, West Midlands Police said. All six are being held at a police station in the West Midlands. Officers are now carrying out searches at several properties in connection with the arrests.
They are the latest in a wave of arrests of alleged National Action members since the group was banned by the Government. Counter-terror police have detained dozens of people, including some on suspicion of plotting terror attacks, since the order formally came into effect.
They were arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the commission, preparation and instigation of acts ofterrorism, namely on suspicion of being a member of a proscribed organisation, National Action. West Midlands Police said the arrests were intelligence-led and carried out in conjunction with a number of other counter-terrorism units across England.
“There was no threat to public safety,” a force spokesperson said. A number of properties are also being searched as part of the operation. Dominic Casciani, BBC home affairs correspondent, reports the reasons of proscribing the National Action.
The organisation became the first British neo-Nazi group to be banned after Home Secretary Amber Rudd said it was promoting violence and acts of terrorism. Members and supporters applauded the murder of Jo Cox MP by a white supremacist – and the group had carried out a series of small, but confrontational, demonstrations in towns and cities throughout England. One of its most notorious events saw masked members – many of them very young men – gathering outside York Minster to make Hitler salutes. Since it was banned, detectives have been carrying out more and more investigations into the group which, to all intents and purposes, has organised itself in a similar way to the banned al Muhajiroun network – the extremist Islamist youth movement.
Both have used social media to target young people, attracting them with a simplistic us-and-them message designed to make them angry. National Action was made a proscribed terrorist organisation in December 2016, the first extreme right-wing group to be outlawed in the UK.
Two men, including a British soldier, have pleaded not guilty to possessing documents that could be useful to someone planning an act of terror. Lance Corporal Mikko Vehvilainen, 33 and Alexander Deakin, 22, are accused of membership of the banned neo-Nazi group National Action. The far-right organisation was added to a list of proscribed groups in 2016. Appearing at Birmingham Crown Court, neither men entered a plea with regard to membership of the group. The next hearing has been scheduled for 19 February, with a trial set to begin in March. National Action was the first extreme right-wing group to be outlawed in the UK.