British counter-terrorism forces yesterday arrested six suspects for alleged membership of a banned neo-Nazi terror group. The five men and a woman were suspected of instigating and carrying out terrorism, and being members of National Action, a statement from West Midlands Police said. The arrests were carried out in an intelligence-led operation, police said.
The men aged 21-28 were held in Cambridge, Banbury, Wolverhampton, Leicester and Stockport. A 37-year-old woman was arrested in Banbury, Oxfordshire. All six are being held at a police station in the West Midlands and a number of properties are being searched, police said.
National Action was proscribed as a terror organization in December 2016. British counter-terror officers, last year, arrested a number of individuals amid investigations into the banned neo-Nazi group, including serving British soldiers, three of whom were charged with terror offenses. The anti-Semitic and white supremacist group had celebrated the murder of Labor MP Jo Cox in June 2016 by far-right extremist Thomas Mair.
The group describes itself as a "National Socialist youth organization." However, Home Secretary Amber Rudd described it as "racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic." "It has absolutely no place in a Britain that works for everyone," she added.
The killing of Cox by a white nationalist terrorist indicates growing violent white supremacy trends, violence from far-right extremism and neo-Nazi groups across the country. Cox was the first British lawmaker killed in office in a quarter century. Cox had been a prominent voice arguing for Britain to remain in the EU during a divisive and often angry referendum campaign that focused heavily on the issue of immigration. She had also urged Britain to take in more refugees fleeing the violence in Syria.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a civil rights group based in the U.S. state of Alabama, said on its website that it had obtained records showing Mair had links to the National Alliance dating back to 1999. He also had letters printed in a South African pro-apartheid magazine, the SPLC said. An analysis of his internet usage on computers in local libraries also showed Mair's obsession with the far right. In the days and months before the attack, he read articles about Nazi figures, the Ku Klux Klan and Dylann Roof, the man convicted of killing nine black parishioners at a church in Charleston, South Carolina. He had also looked up the Wikipedia entry for Ian Gow, the last British lawmaker to have been killed before Cox, in 1990, reports said.
As the number of white Britons arrested on terrorism-related offences increases, Muslims in the U.K. have been suffering from rising hate crimes in the country. Anti-Muslim hate crimes have skyrocketed by more than 500 percent following the May 22 concert suicide bombing in Manchester, local police said. Anti-Muslim hate crimes were already on the rise – by 186 percent – in April 2017 before the Manchester attack, which left 22 dead and dozens injured. This surge was prompted by the major terror attacks in Manchester and London, a senior police chief said.
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