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Extreme Right-Wing Terrorism Is On An "Upward Trajectory", New Report Warns

4 min read

A damning new report by the secretive Intelligence and Security Committee has warned that MI5 desperately needs increased funding in order to stave off a worrying growth in extreme right-wing terrorism.

The ISC, which was responsible for the high-profile Russia Report, and tasked with oversight of the UK Intelligence community, says in a report published this week that the threat posed by Extreme Right-Wing Terrorism is on an “upward trajectory” with young men being radicalised by online material and groups exploiting grievances and conspiracy theories.

The committee, made up of a cross party group of MPs and Peers, has stressed they are “seriously concerned” that despite this increase in threat, MI5 have not received any additional resources to tackle the issue since absorbing responsibility for tackling it in 2020.

Out of 25 attacks prevented by the intelligence community and Counter Terrorism Policing (CTP) between 2017 and 2020, just under 30 per cent of them were from the extreme right wing. Out of 20 children arrested by CTP last year, 19 were linked to the extreme right wing. The report warns that perpetrators are predominantly young men who are being radicalised online, often on messaging and gaming sites, and some right-wing groups are actively seeking to recruit from within the military and police service.

The demographic of extreme right-wing terrorists is complex, with individuals often exhibiting mixed, and unstable, ideology. In March, the Head of Counter Terrorism Policing raised concerns about the increase in young men searching and selecting violent narratives from different ideologies.

“The terrorist threat is sadly real and is ever-evolving. Our core mission at Counter Terrorism Policing is to keep the public safe, and our officers and staff work tirelessly to do so," a spokesperson for Counter Terrorism Policing told PoliticsHome.

“As a global leader in countering terrorism, collaboration with the UK Intelligence Community and HMG is vital to the development of our activities and response to the terrorist threat.”

A cornerstone in the government’s counter terrorism strategy is its counter radicalisation programme Prevent. An independent review of the programme has been ongoing since 2019, with its Chair Sir William Shawcross having missed several reporting deadlines.

Human rights and Muslim organisations have also boycotted the review following concerns over Shawcross’s impartiality and previous comments on Islam. A leak to The Guardian in May 2022 indicated Shawcross’s review will argue that there has been a disproportionate focus on right-wing extremism in recent years, and Prevent should pivot back to focusing on Islamist extremism, seemingly contradicting the findings of the ISC report.

The UK’s leading anti-fascism campaign group, HOPE not hate, have been tracking the rise in Extreme Right-Wing Terrorism, helping security agencies to unveil a neo-Nazi plot to murder the Labour MP Rosie Cooper in 2019.

Speaking to PoliticsHome, CEO Nick Lowles urges the Shawcross review to take heed of the ISC's findings.

“The report by the Intelligence and Security Committee is based on extensive investigation into the facts and is built on interviews by governmental and non-governmental experts. The leaks we have seen to the Prevent review have suggested it is ideologically driven and we can only hope the final version of the review takes a more well-rounded approach to the issue, taking into account the findings of the ISC," he said.

The government has stated they will consider the ISC’s findings in full and respond in due course but stopped short of agreeing to the committee’s call to provide immediate additional funding to MI5 to enable them to effectively tackle Extreme Far Right Terrorism.

A government spokesperson said: “The government takes the threat from all forms of terrorism seriously, including the warped ideology of the extreme right-wing. We are committed to tackling those who spread views that promote violence and hatred against individuals and communities in our society, and that radicalise others.

“In April 2020, MI5 took over full primacy for ERWT. This demonstrates the seriousness with which we take this threat and we will always ensure the UK Intelligence Community have the resources they need to keep us safe.”

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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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