Muslims at risk from neo-Nazi plots

A 2016 protest in Bolton by National Action, a now proscribed neo-Nazi group JOEL GOODMAN/LNP

A 2016 protest in Bolton by National Action, a now proscribed neo-Nazi group

About 40 neo-Nazis are being investigated by police amid fears that they are plotting terrorist attacks against Muslims around the country.

The extremists are understood to be operating in “far-right hotspots” predominantly in Yorkshire, including Leeds, Dewsbury and Batley, according to police intelligence sources familiar with the investigations.

They believe the threat from the far right has increased over the past year, since the murder of the Labour MP Jo Cox by a neo-Nazi. Thomas Mair, the white supremacist who killed Cox in Birstall, West Yorkshire, in June last year was not known to police. He was jailed for life.

The neo-Nazis being investigated are “proactively plotting” by familiarising themselves with Islamic institutions and community representatives.

This contrasts with those who carry out hate crimes against Muslims ­simply in response to Islamist terrorist attacks.

The investigation of far-right ex­tremists was stepped up by police after a terrorist attack in June near the ­Finsbury Park mosque in north London, in which one Muslim man died and 11 were injured.

Home Office figures show 48 people were arrested for domestic terrorism, which covers far-right extremism, in the year to March. This is a fivefold increase on the 10 arrested for the same offences in the previous 12 months.

“The danger far-right extremists pose to national security is no different from Islamist terrorists,” a well-informed source said. “They do their research, they identify vulnerable targets and then they make a move. But they are more difficult to track than Islamists because they appear to be much better at operating under the radar. We’re anticipating more problems and attacks by neo-Nazis.”

The North East Counter Terrorism Unit, which covers Yorkshire and is understood to be receiving tactical ­support from MI5, said: “Over the past year or so, there have been indications the threat from extreme right-wing [individuals] could be increasing . . . UK counterterrorism policing is alive to this.”

National Action, a neo-Nazi group which celebrated Cox’s murder, was ­proscribed as a terrorist group by the Home Office in December. It is not believed that any of its members are being investigated.

In certain regions, such as the ­Midlands, Yorkshire and south Wales, neo-Nazis account for a quarter of cases handled by Prevent, which aims to stop people being drawn into terrorism.

The Times