Benjamin Raymond was the founder and mastermind behind National Action (NA), which in 2016 became the first far-right group banned in this country since the Second World War.
Filling the void left by the electoral demise of the British National Party (BNP) and the increasing disorganisation of the English Defence League (EDL), the 33 year old from Swindon founded and administered the group from 2013 onwards, luring in young, gullible teenagers with a mishmash of extreme far right and other extremist politics that glorified violent racism, antisemitism and misogyny.
Under his leadership, NA unknowingly welcomed at least one known paedophile and Satanist into their ranks, and went on to allow the ‘teachings’ of the Satanist Ryan Fleming to permeate until rape and child sexual abuse would become fundamental and glorified tenets of the group’s far right terrorist ideology.
Raymond (like many other convicted NA adherents) kept secret caches of videos of the Islamic State group (ISIS) beheading, shooting and stabbing their victims. He also kept graphic footage of a woman being shot in the head up close by Chechnyan rebels and the beheading of two men in a forest by Russian neo-Nazis. Videos such as these were used at NA training camps and ‘seminars’ to help desensitise followers for the task he saw as ahead of them – ‘White Jihad’, the process of ethnically cleansing this country in anticipation of a bloody race war.
Throughout his time as one of the most influential and dangerous exponents of terrorist ideas, Raymond was often amused and delighted by the reaction to both his inane online warblings and the behaviour of the gang of Nazi thugs, which he called ‘brutes’, National Action had assembled.
When HOPE not hate exposed Fleming’s history of child abuse, for instance, not only did NA’s leadership defend him- they reveled in the notoriety. Not only did they embrace Fleming’s behaviour, it became an almost core tenet of some of the group’s adherents’ core ideology.
This mixture of bastardised Islamist teachings, Nazism and Satanism derived and concocted in a series of squalid bedsits Raymond would infest, inspired the ideas of terrorism both here and in the USA. The court heard how Raymond developed and coined the term ‘White Jihad’, which I outlined in my book ‘Nazi Terrorist’ about National Action in 2019.
British and American neo-Nazis concurred that such an ideology was needed, because so many young men stopped short from carrying out deadly acts of terrorism due to the far right having been ‘infected’ with Judeo- Christian theology and guilt over such terrorist acts.
Raymond and National Action took inspiration from the behaviours of ISIS recruiters and actors. What was needed a new ‘spiritualism’ to drive young neo-Nazis to up the ante in bringing about a ‘race war.’
In Britain this new ideology and spiritualism would inspire Zack Davies, who in 2015 attempted the racist murder of an Asian man in a supermarket. Initially, Davies was written off as a Muslim convert, much to the amusement and delight of Raymond, who viewed his and NA’s ability to obfuscate much of what was known or written about NA as evidence of his own self-proclaimed brilliance.
Davies’ image would appear in a series of Raymond’s sick artwork where he was lauded as a ‘hero’ and martyr. Raymond even produced a piece of artwork titled ‘Tesco Macht Frei’ with a picture of the smiling Davies super-imposed on a picture of the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz. It was a vulgar play on the Nazi slogan above the camp gates, which translates as ‘work will set you free.’
Later, Raymond would add Davies’ image to a collage he created of such martyrs and ‘heroes’ that included notorious Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik and Dylann Roof. Roof was an American white supremacist, neo-Nazi and mass murderer convicted for perpetrating the Charleston church shooting in 2015.
In 2017 the paedophile Jack Renshaw, one of a number of former British National Party youth members who joined National Action, plotted to murder his local member of parliament, Rosie Cooper MP.
Renshaw’s plot to murder Cooper and the policewoman who had investigated his child grooming was in an advanced stage when HOPE not hate, with the help of a mole operating inside the proscribed group, scuppered his murderous plans.
Renshaw had planned to carry out his sick crimes, which included the wearing of a fake suicide vest to ensure his own ‘death by cop’, in the name of ‘White Jihad.’ According to the Crown, Islamic State imagery ‘ran through the imagery of National Action’ and that it was perhaps (given the excessive use of ISIS propaganda) ‘no surprise’ that Renshaw desired to murder the MP Rosie Cooper and a female police officer with a sword.
Among the many thousands of documents found in Raymond’s possession included one that warned its readers would ‘have to get used to the idea of killing women.’ Indeed, throughout ‘White Jihad’ runs a hatred of women that stems not just from the distribution of rape videos, but also from the seminal and influential hate novel ‘The Turner Diaries’ that glorifies both terrorism and the brutalising of women.
Banning the group in December 2016, then Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, told parliament ‘it has been proscribed following an assessment that it is ‘concerned in terrorism’. The group’s online propaganda material, disseminated via social media, frequently features extremely violent imagery and language. National Action also promoted and encouraged acts of terrorism after Jo Cox’s murder.’
After the banning order, not only did Raymond’s National Action inspire a plethora of similar groups using his customed artwork and which were subsequently banned when detected, these groups were described by the crown as extensions of NA, the ‘Continuity National Action.’
Raymond was also friends with members of ‘Sonnenkrieg Division’ a small Nazi-Satanist group modelled on National Action who had two members convicted in 2019 for encouraging terrorism. Sonnenkrieg Division encouraged their members to follow Satanism and encouraged the use of rape as a weapon against opponents. Raymond would describe one of those convicted (himself a former member of National Action,) as a ‘nice kid.’
HOPE not hate had long followed Raymond’s career of hatred and little that came out in his trial at Bristol Crown court this month was of a surprise to us. But much of it shocked court observers and members of the jury.
Given his service to and long admiration of terrorism, we had long asked the question of why, when sixteen people have been jailed for membership of National Action post proscription, did it take so long for Raymond who was first arrested with ten others in September 2017 to face prosecution?
However, it became abundantly clear at court, that Raymond’s mass of documents, videos, images, memes and terrorist contacts has been given a Herculean and forensic examination, one that may finally wake people up to the fact we have a very real and very serious terrorist threat from the far right in this country.
Not only did this investigation involve some thirty three million data files, Raymond would provide over 400 pages of answers when questioned about his documents, images, videos and contacts. He gave so many answers in fact, the judge himself expressed surprise. Raymond also admitted before proceedings began that, although he denied his own continued membership of the banned organisation, it did survive after proscription. He claimed his many visits to the trials of other suspected members of NA were to see ‘what had been going on behind my back.’
Now that Raymond has been finally convicted, HOPE not hate is confident to put on record once again that it is our sincere belief that Raymond’s actions and directions are almost single handedly responsible for a new generation of ‘bedroom terrorists,’ the growing number of young men at home and alone obsessed by carrying out terror attacks in the name of the ‘White Jihad’ philosophy.
The court heard from the Crown that Raymond’s collection of terror documents will have been of great use to the ‘right wing death squads’ that he so venerated and encouraged.
Not only did Raymond communicate with the murderous American terrorist group, the Atomwaffen Division (AWD), he had met their leader Brandon Russell in London in 2015 to exchange ideas. Later in 2018 Russell would plead guilty to possession of an unregistered destructive device and improper storage of explosive materials.
Russell was caught only when another member of the AWD, Devon Arthurs, whom Raymond had in his Skype contacts, converted to Islam and murdered two of his Nazi roommates. An investigation following the murders revealed that Brandon Russell had a plan to attack civilians, nuclear facilities and synagogues.
In his interview, Raymond described AWD as a ‘fun social club’ and Brandon Russell as a ‘pretty nice guy.’
Raymond faced seven indictments which the Crown said on opening, could easily have been as high as twenty indictments. They were:
MEMBERSHIP OF A PROSCRIBED ORGANISATION, contrary to section 11 of the Terrorism Act 2000.
POSSESSION OF A DOCUMENT OR RECORD OF USE TO A TERRORIST, contrary to section 58 (1) (b) of the Terrorism Act 2000. Namely the possession, without reasonable excuse, information of a kind likely to be of use to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism, namely the document “Ethnic Cleansing Operations”.
POSSESSION OF A DOCUMENT OR RECORD OF USE TO A TERRORIST, contrary to section 58 (1) (b) of the Terrorism Act 2000. That he possessed, without reasonable excuse, information of a kind likely to be of use to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism, namely the document “2083 – A European Declaration of Independence” by ‘Andrew Berwick’.
POSSESSION OF A DOCUMENT OR RECORD OF USE TO A TERRORIST, contrary to section 58 (1) (b) of the Terrorism Act 2000. That he possessed, without reasonable excuse, information of a kind likely to be of use to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism, namely the document “Homemade Detonators” by ‘Ragnar Benson’.
POSSESSION OF A DOCUMENT OR RECORD OF USE TO A TERRORIST, contrary to section 58 (1) (b) of the Terrorism Act 2000. That he possessed, without reasonable excuse, information of a kind likely to be of use to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism, namely the document “TM 31-210 Improvised Munitions Handbook”.
POSSESSION OF A DOCUMENT OR RECORD OF USE TO A TERRORIST, contrary to section 58 (1) (b) of the Terrorism Act 2000. That he possessed, without reasonable excuse, information of a kind likely to be of use to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism, namely the document “Homemade Molotov Cocktail”.
POSSESSION OF A DOCUMENT OR RECORD OF USE TO A TERRORIST, contrary to section 58 (1) (b) of the Terrorism Act 2000. That he possessed, without reasonable excuse, information of a kind likely to be of use to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism, namely the document “Cluster bomb”.
Raymond was found guilty on charges 1, 3 and 4.
It came as little surprise to hear the frequent mention of HOPE not hate and members of our staff. We can also reveal that during an Old Bailey trial in 2019, one member of our staff had to remove their children from school after the police gave notice there was a credible threat against the family. We are confident that this was a result of our staff member and his children being targeted by Raymond in a document that is now in our possession. This came a year after another court, the Old Bailey, heard of a desire by one defendant to rape the same staff member’s mother.
Raymond had long assumed he was above the law. Indeed, in one conversation he had pre-trial, he declared himself ‘more intelligent’ than the charges against him. That comes as no surprise. Throughout his time in the far right and as the founder of National Action, he displayed a supreme self-confidence and belief that was wholly unwarranted in terms of his actual intellect. A brilliant designer and choreographer, Raymond was under the impression that having attended university he was an academic. He was woefully undereducated for such a title. We would claim that large numbers of terror documents in his possession were due to him being an ‘ex-academic.’
He was more renowned both in the group and the opposing antifascist community for physical cowardice- and as someone who encouraged other members to go further and further towards terrorism whilst he himself stayed at home and offered ‘legal advice’.
The court heard how NA’s leadership would refer to their members as ‘retards’ and ‘mongs’, two of Raymond’s favourite terms. Two former members in particular- Connor Scothern from Nottingham and Garron Helm from Liverpool, both loyal and subservient members, were particularly singled out time and time again for abuse in the various chat rooms and forums the group used.
Attending court, Raymond was hardly the super human, Aryan being he had tried throughout his time to project himself as. Walking with a slight hunch and in ill- fitting and poorly matched clothes, he seemed unsure how he should project himself. His court attire as well as his behaviour were of someone either physically ill or as he had always wanted to be viewed, as some deformed genius.
His defence for possession of so many terrorist documents was laughably that he was a ‘journalist’ an ‘artist’ and even the self-declared academic.
But he was none of those. He was a cowardly terrorist who had even been replaced as the leader of his own terrorist group because he was often found wanting. And the prosecution made this clear; not only was Raymond none of those callings and professions above, he hated them all passionately.
Ben Raymond was in fact the individual standing aside people like Jack Renshaw, the wannabe killer of women, shouting for ‘traitors’ to be ‘gassed’. His favourite motto after all, was ‘Long Live Death’.
At court without a friend in the world remaining to support him or hear much of his cowardice and stupidity, Raymond took the opportunity to moan and groan audibly for all to hear about a variety of ailments. He would even turn up with an eye patch complaining the court’s lighting had triggered a migraine. When he spoke, he spoke too loudly, too over-confident. It was obvious Raymond was unsure which personality act to play. He was caught between courting the sympathy vote or cultivating the idea of himself as a warped genius. Neither worked.
On one occasion he asked for a table and a mattress among other things as he made a ‘Mad Hatter’s’ demonstration of taking notes he assumed were of use to the defence. They were not.
His defence did not challenge expert testimony that bomb manuals in his possession were viable. Despite promises of a brilliant testimony, he decided against giving evidence himself. Perhaps, rightly.
When he had decided to stop furnishing the police investigating him, he had told them “The Grand Wizard has nothing to add.” Grand Wizard is a senior rank in the Ku Klux Klan.
On one of the few occasions Raymond felt cocky, he attempted to approach HOPE not hate journalists for conversation. When rebuffed he intimated he had in fact been threatened.
Once outside court, dressed in a pathetic disguise, he was abusive to a female photographer using the vulgar profanity for which he was truly infamous. Every morning and night he would play a game of cat and mouse as he tried desperately to avoid being photographed. The evidence against him became so obviously overwhelming, that he no longer craved the attention for which he was so desperate when he appeared on the BBC giving interviews about his beliefs.
Make no mistake, Ben Raymond’s conviction(s) are just and long overdue. Sometimes desperate and disturbed young men and women were drawn to his projection of a childish sense of adventure. But Raymond’s mind, as portrayed and proven in court, was perverted by a sickening lust for violence. His personal tastes were for horrific, nauseating and cowardly murders carried out by a plethora of different groups. Murder for murder’s sake.
Ben Raymond’s legacy remains a powerful and dangerous one. He was a dangerous but not a brilliant mind. Many other young men and women who initially followed him are already rotting in prison. He idolised terrorism and encouraged it in others. He not only made terrorism possible he strove to provide the ideological and spiritual justifications for it.
Raymond was so sure and convinced of his own overbearing self-confidence, he did not follow many of NA’s strict instructions himself. The police recovered no less than six devices full of thousands of images, videos and documents of his terror fantasies.
The rise of far-right terrorism in this country was not the work of a brilliant mind. It was evidentially something much darker.
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