The assassination of Labour MP Jo Cox while she was meeting with her constituents on Thursday left Britain reeling — particularly in the wake of at least two eyewitness reports that the suspect, Thomas Mair, shouted “Britain First,” the name of a far-right, British nationalist party.
While these allegations have not yet been confirmed by police, there is further evidence that Mair may have been motivated in part due to his links to far-right, white supremacist movements. According to a new report by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), Mair was a supporter of the National Alliance (NA), a Neo-Nazi, alt-right, white supremacist organization based in the United States. According to records SPLC received:
Mair, who resides in what is described as a semi-detached house on the Fieldhead Estate in Birstall, sent just over $620 to the NA, according to invoices for goods purchased from National Vanguard Books, the NA’s printing imprint. Mair purchased subscriptions for periodicals published by the imprint and he bought works that instruct readers on the “Chemistry of Powder & Explosives,” “Incendiaries,” and a work called “Improvised Munitions Handbook.” Under “Section III, No. 9” (page 125) of that handbook, there are detailed instructions for constructing a “Pipe Pistol For .38 Caliber Ammunition” from components that can be purchased from nearly any hardware store.
The NA, which declares on its website that “no multi-racial society can be a truly healthy society,” was for 30 years the most dominant hate group in the U.S., according to SPLC, peaking in the 1990s. The group was founded by Neo-Nazi leader William Pierce, who wrote racist novels like The Turner Diaries, which later inspired Timothy McVeigh to carry out the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.
The Independent also noted that Mair had links to the Springbok Club, a group that has defended the white supremacist apartheid regime in South Africa.
The link between Mair and the Springbok Club goes back ten years when its online magazine, the Springbok Cyber Newsletter, was inquiring about the whereabouts of “Thomas Mair, from Batley in Yorkshire [who] was one of the earliest subscribers and supporters of “S.A. Patriot” who has moved from his address in the Fieldhead Estate district of the town.”
The leading article of this month’s Springbok Cyber Newsletter was devoted to the United Kingdom and the upcoming E.U. referendum vote. The piece blamed migrants for a deterioration of public health services, a lack of employment opportunities, and an increase in crime. “The E.U.’s open-door policy towards the swarm of migrants invading from the Middle East and North Africa threatens our own borders,” it notes, before urging all readers to vote to leave the European Union.
While no motive has yet been established for Cox’s killing according to West Yorkshire police, Cox was a vocal supporter of immigration and remaining in the E.U. Her first speech in Parliament after she was elected described how beneficial immigration and ethnic diversity had been in Batley and Spen, her constituency.
“Our communities have been deeply enhanced by immigration, be it of Irish Catholics across the constituency or of Muslims from Gujarat in India or from Pakistan, principally from Kashmir,” she said during the speech. “While we celebrate our diversity, what surprises me time and time again as I travel around the constituency is that we are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.”
Cox, who previously worked in international aid, had also called on the U.K. to accept 3,000 child refugees from Syria. While this was plan was ultimately defeated, Prime Minister David Cameron later agreed to take in more unaccompanied child refugees.
The reports of Mair’s possible connections to white supremacist groups points to the danger of so-called “lone wolves” and the process of their radicalization. In a 2009 report, the Department of Homeland Security warned that “white supremacist lone wolves pose the most significant domestic terrorist threat because of their low profile and autonomy — separate from any formalized group — which hampers warning efforts.”
Earlier this year, SPLC found that the number of hate groups in the United States increased by 14 percent in 2015 compared to the previous year — and it was the first time in three years the number had grown. As ThinkProgress’ Jack Jenkins and Dylan Petrohilos previously reported, Google searches for terms and phrases often used by white supremacists — like white genocide, pro-white, black on white crime, and European nationalism — have also significantly increased in frequency in the United States since 2008.