Two British soldiers are awaiting trial charged with membership of a proscribed organisation, namely National Action. A handful of soldiers joining extreme right groups is not unusual and not new. Of greater concern is the strategy by (currently legal) extreme right-wing groups to recruit active and former soldiers in order to swell the number of participants in the groups’ events and to hide the true intent of the groups’ aims.
Example: Veterans Against Terrorism
“Our mission to end all terrorism in the UK” is the opening line on Veterans Against Terrorism blog page. It is an oddly pompous statement because everyone would like terrorism to end (apart from the terrorists) and are Veterans Against Terrorism implying that the government, the armed forces and the police do not have a mission to end all terrorism?
The group’s letter to the prime minister includes a demand for “high treason charges for returning or returned Jihadists.” As a charge, treason is grandstanding because all treasonous offences could have other serious charges applied instead. (Incidently, the most recent prosecution for treason in Britain was in 1945.) The letter claims that the security services have said there are 3000 “active Jihadists” in Britain – (the security services have not said that), and asks that certain actions that are already illegal, such as inciting violence, be made illegal. There are statements in the letter that are entirely political; for example, “nonviolent Islamist groups pose a long-term threat to the political and social cohesion of the UK.” This contradicts the assertion made in the main blog that “we do not identify with any political dogma or group.” There is a sinister aside in the letter: “We are also deeply disturbed by the close relationship some MPs seem to have forged with Islamist groups and apologists for Jihad this gives credibility to the terror groups and is a threat to national security.” None of these “some” MPs are named, none of the “Islamist groups” are named and there are no details of the nature of the “forged relationships.”
Anonymity is a feature of the Veterans Against Terrorism blog. None of the contributors and none of the organisers of the events are named anywhere in the blog. The only person named is the ubiquitous Mr. Astroturf himself Maajid Nawaz from the right-wing political think-tank Quilliam, which is also mentioned separately.
However, the associated facebook group page, Veterans Against Terrorism facebook, does include some named administrators. One such administrator Andrew Tranter supportively shared a link on his own facebook page to a speech by racist extremist Geert Wilders. Another administrator Antony Harrison supportively shared a link on his own facebook page to a speech by racist extremist Anne-Marie Walters that had originally been posted by racist extremist Tommy Robinson.
If it quacks like a duck, etc.
The main blog page of Veterans Against Terrorism is full of the same rhetoric that all of the above trio of racist extremists, or any of their ilk, normally espouse in speeches and articles. That is, it is a stinking pot pourri of lies and misrepresentations (e.g. “the security service tells us there are 23,000 potential Jihadists in the UK with 3000 active players“), it demands the removal of basic freedoms and access to justice (e.g. “we call on the government to take all necessary means to deal with the threat including internment without trial“) and it is riddled with pathetic whingeing that racist extremists are being denied their right to express their racist extremism (e.g. “The sinister practice by some Islamist groups of demonising commentators and journalists who are critical of certain aspect of Islamic theology and practice must stop“). The facebook page states “we are not political” but the blog is completely political.
The administrators of the facebook page claim to be careful about who they allow to join: “Before been accepted into the group we search your friend lists, your timeline, the groups you have joined on FB and a Google search of any information held on you. This is done to try to keep out those that do not stand with our beliefs. So please understand if you are not accepted into the group it is because you have failed the above or we could not obtain enough information to safely let you join the group.” But, the facebook group has over 16,000 members. Did a handful of administrators check on all those thousands of people? No, of course they didn’t. Just another lie.
Veterans Against Terrorism ticks all the boxes for a typical far-right group:
- It is all about Islam
- Its key protagonists are fans of racist extremists
- It repeatedly claims to be non-political while being entirely political
- Linked to Quilliam
- It claims that the right to express bigoted prejudiced views is a free speech issue
- It invents a false connection between left-wing politics and terrorism
- It lies to its members about its intent
- It demands suspension of basic human rights and access to justice
The duck quacks.