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Majority Of Late-Stage Terror Plots Foiled Last Year Were From Right Wing Extremists

4 min read

The Head of Counter Terrorism Policing has warned of the growing threat posed by the extreme right-wing in the UK, with three out of four late stage disrupted terror plots last year relating to extreme right-wing terrorism.

Speaking at a Scotland Yard briefing on the evolution of counter terrorism since 2017 on Thursday, assistant commissioner Matt Jukes highlighted that over 40% of terrorist related arrests last year related to the extreme right, and warned there was a “picture here of young people who are spending a great deal of time discussing and sharing material online, but we are absolutely seeing some of that shift to plans to carry out terrorist attacks”.

Those who are radicalised into extreme right-wing ideology are a substantially younger group than Counter Terrorism Policing (CTP) has seen in the past, with the youngest attack planner being identified as a 16-year-old who was convicted in 2019 on planning attacks against the Jewish community and writing a manifesto for a so-called ‘race war’.

Out of 20 children CTP arrested last year, 19 were linked to extreme right-wing ideology and all were boys: with the most common offence relating to the possession of or dissemination of terrorist material.

“We do not want to be in a position where we have to arrest children” the assistant commissioner stressed, highlighting the importance of counter radicalisation programmes such as Prevent and the education sector. One in four people who were referred into Prevent last year were identified as having an extreme right-wing ideology.

One feature of the threat posed by the extreme right wing, Jukes states, is that there are enduring themes in the narrative relating to anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and violent misogyny.

Hope not Hate, the UK’s leading antifascism and antiracism campaign group, agree that the threat from the violent far right is growing.

“Among the more specific trends we are seeing is that younger and younger people are involved in the most extreme parts of the far right,” Patrik Hermansson, senior researcher at Hope not Hate told PoliticsHome. 

“In some cases, kids as young as 13-14 are running terror advocating far-right groups. The average age of those convicted between 2017 and 2021 was 28, and 18 teenagers were convicted during this period. In stark contrast, between 2012-2016, the average age was 31 and only two teenagers were convicted.”

Assistant commissioner Jukes highlights that other trends are not as easy to identify.

“We’ve certainly seen this [extreme right-wing terrorism] is very heavily dominated by the online community and gaming is present in both as a messaging programme and reflected in some of the propaganda,” he continued. 

“One of the features of this younger group of extreme right-wing subjects is that they are, in some cases, relatively well educated.

“If you were imagining this was necessarily all aligned to disenfranchised, poorer, disengaged white communities, actually the evidence is that it is a much more complex picture than that and we see people whose backgrounds might be relatively middle class and educated.”

There is also a rise of those presenting with a mixed ideology and they are seeing individuals who come from a background of violence or poor mental health, searching, and selecting narratives from different ideologies. “We’ve seen people who have flicked from Islamist content to extreme right-wing content”.

“A growing group of concern for us is those whose ideology is mixed, unclear or unstable”, Jukes added.

“We continue to ask people to act on their instincts and to recognise that if something doesn’t feel right to them then they will not be wasting time in contacting counter terrorism policing.” 

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Hateful extremism has no place in our society and the Government remains committed to tackling hate crime, disrupting the activities of the most dangerous extremists and protecting the young and most vulnerable from being drawn down the path into terrorism.

“We are working closely with law enforcement, local communities and our international partners to tackle groups who sow division and hatred.”

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Read the most recent article written by Laura Hutchinson, Head of UK Political Intelligence - The Problem With Prevent


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