Know Your Extremist Group

09 05 19

You’ve come across a leaflet from an organisation you’ve not heard of before; or maybe someone has shared a link to a video you think looks a bit hateful; or maybe there’s been an announcement of a demo in the town centre and you want to find out more about the organisers. Check out our list of some of the groups currently causing concern. It’s not exhaustive, so contact us for more information, or to let us know about a new group!

English Defence League
In terms of numbers and methodology, the EDL is very similar to the National Front. Although started in response to Islamist inspired terrorist attacks as an explicitly ‘anti-Islamist’ (but in reality anti-Muslim) organisation, the EDL has long given up all pretence of being anything other than a nasty racist organisation. It is also almost completely moribund. Many ex-members have gone on to act independently of the organisation, filling social media with hateful content.Membership: Unknown, less than 100Areas of activity: Newcastle, Manchester, Liverpool, London, WorcesterLeader: Alan Spence
Democratic Football Lads Alliance
Followers: 1,000
Other Areas of activity: London, Sunderland, West Brom, Newcastle, Leeds, Birmingham
Key figures: Kevin Kerwick, Phil Hickin, Mark Turnball
North West Infidels (NWI)
Known for: involvement in drug dealing, extreme violence and ‘paedophile hunting’ (aka misusing grooming scandals to attack Muslim communities). Membership: 10-50Areas of Activity: Blackpool, Coventry, Blackburn, WiganLeadership: Shane Calvert Other leading figures: Shaun Jones, Tommy Law, Gerald McCullion, Danny Holden, Martin Corner
Britain First
Known for anti-immigrant rhetoric; white nationalism; misusing Christian ideals in their name; aggressive posturing in areas of high density Muslim residence and small but intimidating demonstrations outside mosques. Britain First is a registered political party, with a membership of 2-300Areas of activity: Belfast, Newtonards, Ballymena, Lisburn, Derry/Londonderry (all Northern Ireland), Manchester, Kent, Leeds, Dewsbury, Bradford, London.Leader: Paul Golding, other key figures: Andrew Edge, George Whale
British National Party
Once Britain’s most successful far-right political party, the growing disinterest in the BNP finally appears to have infected its own leadership. Has a membership of 300-500.Areas of Activity: South London, South Yorkshire, Essex.Leader: Adam Walker (Chair), Clive Jefferson (Deputy)
National Front
One of the world’s longest surviving far right groups, now a shadow of its former self. Still manages to arrange a small Remembrance Sunday parade at Whitehall.Has a membership of under 100. Areas of Activity: Greater Manchester, Yorkshire, Croydon, Northern Ireland, Bristol, KentLeader: Tony Martin, Jordan Pont (Deputy) Other Key Activists: Richard Edmonds, Kevin Layzell
Ku Klux Klan (KKK)
The Ku Klux Klan is the most infamous of American hate groups., with a long history of violence and hate. Although black Americans have typically been the Klan’s primary target, it has attacked Jews, immigrants, gays and lesbians and, until recently, Catholics.Following the end of the American Civil War, the Klan quickly formed as a vigilante group to intimidate Southern blacks – and any whites who supported them – and to prevent the establishment of basic civil rights for black people. The Klan adopted outlandish titles for leaders, like imperial wizard and exalted cyclops, together with hooded costumes, violent “night rides”. The idea that the group were made up of a kind of invisible empire conferred a mystique that only added to the Klan’s popularity. Lynchings, tar-and-featherings, rapes and other violent attacks became a hallmark of the Klan.Klan activity in Britain is extraordinarily rare, though some extreme elements of the far-right, often those falsely projecting a Christian motivation to their ideology, will mimic it’s iconography.
Al Muhajiroun
Al Muhajiroun is Britain’s most prolific and dangerous extremist group. The group is stirring back into life after two years of relative silence and with it comes a possible threat of terrorism and extreme violence. This comes as its leader, Anjem Choudary, has been released from prison – albeit on very strict controls and having served three years of a six year sentence for promoting the Islamic State.Al-Muhajiroun, an Islamist extremist group formed in 1986, has seen several hundred of its supporters go on to commit acts of terrorist in the UK or fight in wars abroad. Among them are those responsible for the 7/7 London bombers, the killers of Lee Rigby and those behind the 2017 Westminster bridge and London Bridge attacks.Dozens of al-Muhajiroun-linked supporters have fought with IS in Syria and Iraq, including three well-known activists who became suicide bombers and another three were killed in targeted drone strikes. Mohammed ‘Raza’ Haque, dubbed the ‘jihad giant’ because of his imposing 6’ 7” frame, was one of the infamous IS executioners, even beheading one supposed informer on video. Siddhartha Dhar became a pivotal part of the IS propaganda operation, producing manuals and literature to encourage others to join.Al-Muhajiroun shot to notoriety through its high profile and provocative stunts. It organised weekly street stalls in towns and cities across the country, held regular protests outside foreign embassies and organised several stunts designed to attract media attention and aggressive opposition. It was one such protest in March 2009 against the Anglian Regiment’s homecoming parade, which gave birth to the English Defence League.The group is starting to emerge again, albeit on a much smaller and more tentative scale than before. Street stalls have been seen in East London again and al-Muhajiroun activists have made several appearances at Speakers Corner in central London. Trevor Brooks (aka abu Izzardeen), a key al-Muhajiroun leader, has re-emerged on Twitter; Anthony Small (aka Adbul Haqq) has begun making videos again; and Ricardo MacFarlene (aka Abdul Hakeem) is becoming increasingly prominent. Two other al-Muhajiroun activists engaged in a verbal confrontation with Rebel Media’s Ezra Levant outside one of Stephen Lennon’s High Court hearings.In London, ALM continues to have active units in Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest, Newham and Redbridge, but other units in West London and Slough have largely collapsed.Outside London, ALM only has functioning units in Luton and Derby. The convictions of Tahir Aziz and Mohibur Rahman in 2017 largely put an end to the group in Stoke-on-Trent, while the media publicity and police crackdown following the killing of Nasser and Aseel Muthana has caused the Cardiff group to collapse, or at least go inactive. There are the odd supporter in Birmingham, Leicester and Slough, but even these appear to have dropped out of any activities.
Hizb ut Tahrir
Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT) is an international pan-Islamic organisation, which aims to unite all Muslim countries into a Caliphate under strict Islamic Law. Founded in 1953 in Jerusalem by Taqiuddin an-Nabhani, a Palestinian court clerk, the organisation is currently under the global leadership of Ata Abu Rashta. HT has become global in reach, with a membership possibly as high as one million people across 40 countries.Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain (HT UK) was founded in 1986 by Omar Bakri Muhammad, who led the group until 1996, when he left to form the more extreme Al-Muhajiroun with Anjem Choudary. Bakri Muhammad has been a mentor to many of Britain’s most extreme Islamists and is now barred from entering the UK. HT UK, which now focusses much of its activities on Birmingham, is currently led by Abdul Wahid.The group demands the segregation and the covering up of women, calls for homosexuality to be made illegal and strongly opposes same-sex marriage. It is also an outspoken opponent of Western-style democracy, and has expressed extreme antisemitic views.While HT claims to support non-violent methods, and while it does not engage in terrorist acts itself, it has been accused of being a “conveyor belt for terrorists” and of developing recruits for more extreme organisations.
Neturei KartaNeturei Karta is a fringe Jewish sect that espouses extreme anti-Zionist views.  They base their approach on a marginal, fundamentalist belief which opposes the existence of the State of Israel on the grounds that Jewish sovereignty may only be established in the biblical Land of Israel after the arrival of the Messiah in the form of a theocracy, by fully-observant Jews, .Globally the sect numbers around 5,000, most of whom are based in Israel, with some members living in the UK and USA. Members of the group engage in forms of activism that are utterly rejected by virtually all other Jews. Members of the sect went to Iran to participate in Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust Denial conference and have met with Louis Farrakhan, the anti-semitic head of the Nation of Islam cult. They have participated alongside people waving Hezbollah flags who call for the death of Jews at Al Quds day parades.Many anti-Zionists happily embrace Neturei Karta as allies, not because of their extremist religious beliefs, but because their traditional Chassidic Jewish dress allows them to be held up as ‘good Jews’, therefore enabling the denigration of the vast majority of Jews, who do support the existence of the State of Israel.
National ActionDeclared illegal and proscribed by the British government in December 2016, over a dozen people have subsequently been jailed post-ban.As a radical ‘youth’ group formed in 2013, National Action (NA) were masters of manipulating the media and hiding from view on line. A sophisticated group, NA not only planned to ignite a ‘race war’ they carried out their planning on a series of complex internet forums and communication ‘apps’ that made detecting them almost impossible. Seven months after the ban however, National Action was exposed as still active and recruiting and it was reported they had opened premises from where they were training to carry out terror attacks.In 2018 a member of the group admitted he had plotted to murder an MP and a policewoman in revenge for not just the banning of the group, but for prosecution relating to hate speech and the sexual grooming of young boys. He was jailed for life in 2019.National Action was horrendously extreme and revelled in its growing notoriety- believing they were superior to other far-right hate groups. At no time between 2013-2016 did the group ever have more than 200 members though its influence was huge not just in the UK, but also internationally. NA committed very few things to paper and the majority of its members enjoyed and took advantage of the anonymity provided by the group’s sophisticated and strict structures. As a uniform, the group wore all black and covered its faces wherever possible. Post-ban it is believed membership of the group had shrank to around 60 dedicated adherents.To circumvent bans on the group or its current and former members meeting, a number of similar or similarly influenced groups have sprung up, most notably NS131, System Resistance Network and Scottish Dawn. Where possible the government has also banned these groups, rightly believing they are front groups for National Action.NA’s lasting legacy is not just a shroud of secrecy but the ideology ‘White Jihad’ that HOPE not hate believes is an encouragement to sacrifice one’s own life for the cause. Another central component of ‘White Jihad’ is Satanism, which is the spiritual component and justification for murdering and dying for the cause. Zack Davies, a committed National Action member who tried to behead an Indian man in Mold, Wales in 2015, extolled the virtues of ‘White Jihad’ and cited the ISIS executioner ‘Jihadi John’ as a hero.Not a group to be pigeonholed, as well as embracing Satanism and Nazism, the group embraced all forms of genocide and terrorism and often encouraged the use of rape and sexual violence against political opponents. Not a particularly masculine group, much of its recruitment and the spread of its ideas were carried out online.Although National Action is no longer active, its ideas and ideology persist as do former members who wish to keep the flame alive.
British MovementNearly as old as the National Front, the British Movement believes it is an ideologically pure organisation keeping alive the spirit of a British Nazi movement waiting to take control of the country. A tiny organisation (perhaps less than 20 members) its reputation for violence was forged in the 1970’s and 1980’s when as a much larger organisation, it would send skinheads out to do battle in support of National Front and British National Party marches and rallies.Mainly aged men now, although the group still meets in secret, it does associate with the equally aged Blood and Honour music network. Popular for its unremitting commitment to Nazism, British Movement stickers and paraphernalia are popular across the extreme far right.Active: South London, North London, Leicestershire, East Midland
Blood and HonourIn the 1980’s an English musician Ian Stuart Donaldson, singer in the skinhead band, ‘Skrewdriver’, spearheaded the rise of ‘white power music’ under the name ‘Blood and Honour’ an umbrella under which neo-Nazi musicians could organise concerts and the distribution of its music. In 1993 Donaldson died and the highly profitable Blood and Honour fell under the control of Combat 18 (C18), the terror group who wanted to start a race war in Britain. This tie-in led to a series of splits from which in terms of popularity, the British arm of Blood and Honour has never managed to recover. Across the world, from the Ukraine to Argentina there are chapters of Blood and Honour that as well as promoting music, have also been linked to terrorism because of the tie-in with C18. In Britain what remains of Blood and Honour meet irregularly to hold very small, secretive and very poorly attended concerts where the numbers of band members often outnumber the audience.
Combat 18 (C18)C18 began life inside the BNP in the early 1990’s. The one and the eight represent the first and eighth letters of the alphabet, the initials of Adolf Hitler. A collection of working class men from the BNP and National Front in London (around thirty in number) who wanted to engage in violence against Trade Unionists and antifascists, it’s membership and reputation spread across Britain. In Europe where they also spread their ideas and influence, copycat and likeminded groups sprung up.During this period in the UK, the group was very active in attempts to procure and supply guns to Loyalist paramilitaries in Northern Ireland. Some members and associates of the group were caught and jailed for their attempts. The group also became very heavily involved in the drugs trade as well as running the neo-Nazi music scene. For some the drugs and music scene became a distraction from the group’s original aims.In the late 1990’s after a failed bombing campaign, the organisation violently split leading to murder and the jailing of two of its most senior figures. David Copeland, who planted the London nail bombs in 1999, killing three people, was heavily linked to one of the factions involved in the split.Although a vendetta persists between the rival factions, one faction has taken itself to Europe where they have been able to spend much of their monies on properties and the organising of large Blood and Honour concerts. Its leaders are rarely seen in the UK these days, though they do have lucrative property and business interests here.During 2016 the leadership of National Action met with the leader of Combat 18 on two occasions but it is thought the generational and cultural differences between the individuals were too great to surmount and so came to nothing.Although the group is not banned or proscribed in the UK, it is no longer politically active here. Flags and badges commemorating the group are often displayed at far-right events, mainly by sycophants or people wishing to cash in on the group’s continuing notoriety.
Generation Identity United Kingdom and IrelandLeader: Benjamin JonesAreas Active: London, Manchester, Newcastle, Belfast, Dublin, Birmingham, Bristol, Glasgow, WrexhamGeneration Identity (GI) UK and Ireland, launched in the UK and Ireland in 2017, is a branch of the pan-European, anti-Muslim and anti-migrant youth movement of the same name, founded in France in 2012 and which can now be found across 11 European countries. GI subscribes to the far-right ‘identitarian’ ideology developed in France and is connected to a wider identitarian network found across Europe. Identitarian groups of varying sizes have also emerged in the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Russia, Chile and Argentina.GI caught the headlines in the summer of 2017 when activists launched ‘Defend Europe’, a mission to hamper the work of NGOs saving the lives of refugees crossing the Mediterranean. More recently, both GI and identitarianism have come under scrutiny following evidence that the Christchurch Mosque attacker was inspired by the ideology, and revelations that he had donated large sums to and had been in contact with GI activists in Austria and France.Part of GI’s success has been to eschew associations with the traditional far right, use a highly social media-savvy style of campaigning, and use less familiar, coded language for their extreme views. This includes their racial separatist demand for ‘ethnopluralism’, their call for ‘remigration’ and ‘de-Islamisation – a policy of repatriating and lowering the standards of living for non-white migrants and Muslims – and their promotion of the idea that there is a “Great Replacement” of “indigenous” Europeans by (especially Muslim) migrants.In anticipation of GI UK and Ireland’s first conference to be held in Sevenoaks, Kent in April 2018, HOPE not hate Ltd published A New Threat? Generation Identity United Kingdom and Ireland outlining the movement.2019 started badly for GI in the UK and Ireland, with dwindling press interest, deplatforming by social media, and a majority of its actions being carried out by the same activists. In January 2019 the group underwent a split following the creation of the breakaway ‘British Revival’ group. However, since that time the branch has continued to grow steadily, recruiting new activists and continuing to hold actions. They have also continued to interact with branches of GI abroad in France and Austria.


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