19/09/2019 16:50 BST

Far-Right Extremism Is Britain's Fastest Growing Terror Threat, Police Say

UK head of counter-terrorism Neil Basu says officers have disrupted far-right plots "designed to kill" and warned extremists were mimicking Islamist jihadist tactics.

Far-right extremism is the fastest growing terror threat in Britain, police have said.

Nearly a third of terror plots – seven out of 22 – foiled since March 2017 have been linked to right-wing extremism, Britain’s head of counter-terrorism Neil Basu said.

He revealed police had disrupted plots designed to kill and said right-wing extremists were mimicking the tactics used by Islamist jihadists.

About 10% of more than 800 live terror investigations were linked to right-wing terrorism while the government’s controversial Prevent anti-radicalisation programme has seen referrals nearly doubling since 2015/16 to 18%.

It comes amid the growth in popularity of right-wing populist politics across the world, with the likes of Donald Trump in the US and Narendra Modi in India, among others. 

“It’s small but it’s my fastest-growing problem,” Basu told a briefing on Thursday.

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The Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner revealed his officers and the security services have disrupted far-right plots “designed to kill people”.

And he warned that right-wing extremists are mimicking the methods of Islamist jihadist plots, including knife attacks and trying to create improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

Some have even used Islamic State (Isis) materials to help plan attacks.

It came as the Hope Not Hate anti-extremism charity warned that that small groups of “hardcore Nazis” are willing to commit extreme violence, while “DIY fascists” were engaged in harrassment campaigns against public figures, especially opponents of Brexit.

Basu said the neo-Nazi National Action group has been “decimated” since it was banned in December 2016, with small groups or individuals now operating across international borders online.

PA Wire/PA Images
Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu

“The lone actor threat is the biggest problem,” he said.

Basu said young people and those with mental health issues are particularly vulnerable to becoming radicalised, with children as young as 14 linked to right-wing terrorism.

He said: “We are bringing the full might of the UK counter-terrorism machine to bear against those extremists of any ideology who wish to do us harm or incite violence. And that is evident not only in the number of plots we have foiled, but also the number of convictions we have achieved and continue to chase through the courts.”

But he stressed the biggest threat still comes from Islamist and jihadist terrorists.

“Despite the increases, right-wing terrorism remains a relatively small percentage of our overall demand, but when nearly a third of the plots foiled by police and security services since 2017 relate to right-wing ideology, it lays bare why we are taking this so seriously,” he said.

“As a proportion of our overall threat it’s definitely increasing, whereas the Islamist threat is staying the same, albeit at a very high level.”

Last week white supremacist Vincent Fuller, 50, was jailed for 18 years and nine months for stabbing 19-year-old Dimitar Mihaylov in what a judge called a “terrorist act”.

Three other right-wing terrorists, including a “16-year-old Nazi”, are due to be sentenced in London and Leeds on Friday.

But Basu said police “can’t arrest ourselves out of this problem” and called on the public to come forward if they fear a friend or family member is becoming radicalised.

“I have been called ridiculously idealistic, but I believe more than ever that evil triumphs when good people do nothing,” he said.

“In the UK the Prevent programme is full of people who get up every day to do something to protect those who need our help, and I believe that is worth defending and fighting for.”

Hope Not Hate chief executive Nick Lowles said: “We have long warned about the rising threat from the far right. 

“Small groups of hardcore Nazis are increasingly willing to commit extreme acts of violence, while a wider pool of DIY fascists are engaging in campaigns of harassment against public figures, especially those who oppose Brexit. 

“It is essential that the police track the most extremist groups, but it is also vital to have robust security arrangements for candidates in any forthcoming election.”