Four Army members among five held in ‘neo-Nazi terror’ probe
The men were detained as part of a “pre-planned and intelligence-led” operation and are no threat to the public.
Five men, including four serving members of the Army, have been arrested under the Terrorism Act on suspicion of being members of banned neo-Nazi group National Action.
Four men, including a civilian, were arrested in the UK, while a fifth suspect, who is understood to be in the Royal Anglian Regiment, was detained in Cyprus.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman confirmed he was detained by the Royal Military Police at the island’s British Dhekelia base before being transferred to RAF Akrotiri, from where he will be flown to the UK.
A 22-year-old, from Birmingham, a 32-year-old from Powys, mid Wales, a 24-year-old from Ipswich and a 24-year-old from Northampton, were detained by West Midlands Police, as part of a “pre-planned and intelligence-led” operation, but the force said there was “no threat to the public’s safety”.
One of the men is believed to have been serving in Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME), while at least one other is in the Royal Anglian Regiment.
All four are being held at a police station in the West Midlands and a number of properties are being searched.
In a statement, police said the four suspects were arrested “on suspicion of being concerned in the commission, preparation and instigation of acts of terrorism under Section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000; namely on suspicion of being a member of a proscribed organisation (National Action) contrary to sec 11 of the Terrorism Act”.
National Action, described by the Home Office as “virulently racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic”, became the first extreme right-wing group to be banned under terrorism laws in December 2016.
An Army spokesman said: “We can confirm that a number of serving members of the Army have been arrested under the Terrorism Act for being associated with a proscribed far right group.
“These arrests are the consequence of a police-led operation supported by the Army.
“This is now the subject of a civilian police investigation and it would be inappropriate to comment further.
“Any further inquiries should be made to the West Midlands Police Force.”
An entry for National Action in the official list of proscribed groups says it is a “racist neo-Nazi group” that was established in 2013 and has branches across the UK which “conduct provocative street demonstrations and stunts aimed at intimidating local communities”.
The document adds that the group is “virulently racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic”.
Its activities and propaganda materials are particularly aimed at recruiting young people, according to the list.
The document also links National Action to the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox in 2016.
It said the group’s online propaganda material frequently features extremely violent imagery and language, and cited tweets posted in connection with Ms Cox’s murder at the hands of right-wing extremist Thomas Mair.