British police have arrested three alleged neo-Nazis on suspicion of terror offenses. It is understood that the suspects are believed to be part of Sonnenkrieg Division, which has links to a violent U.S. neo-Nazi group responsible for the murder of five people.
Police arrested a 17-year-old from London, an 18-year-old from Portsmouth and a 21-year-old from Bath. The operation was led by the North East Counter Terrorism Unit, and a spokesperson said they were part of an “ongoing investigation into extreme right-wing activity.”
According to the BBC, which obtained chat logs from the group, the suspects talked online about how police officers should be raped and killed and that Prince Harry was a “race traitor” who should be shot. The chats also include senior members of the American group Atomwaffen Division (AWD).
AWD is an American neo-Nazi terrorist organization which believes that extreme violence is the only way to destroy the government and bring about the creation of a National Socialist state. The decentralized group has been tied to five murders in three states, including the January murder of 19-year-old Blaze Bernstein, who was stabbed nearly two dozen times. Atomwaffen — which means “nuclear weapons” in German — cites Hitler, Charles Manson and William Pierce, author of the Turner Diaries, as influences.
In January authorities arrested Sam Woodward, a former high school classmate of Bernstein’s for his murder. ProPublica then linked Woodward to AWD, causing a flood of media and law enforcement attention which lessened the group’s abilities and appeal. However, in July new graphics, similar to the type that AWD used, started appearing advertising the Sonnenkrieg Division. They included graphics praising Norwegian mass-murderer Anders Behring Breivik and calling for the murder of “race-mixers.”
The BBC reported that the leader of the arrested British members of the Sonnenkrieg Division, 21-year-old Andrew Dymock, had made plans to travel to the U.S. to meet members of AWD.
British security services are increasingly concerned about the growing threat of far right extremism in the U.K. In September police arrested five men on suspicion of being part of the banned neo-Nazi terrorist group National Action. Last September four members of the British Army were arrested for being part of the same group, which had openly praised the murder of Labour Member of Parliament Jo Cox.
“The right-wing terrorist threat is more significant and more challenging than perhaps the public debate gives it credit for,” Mark Rowley, former Scotland Yard assistant commissioner, told Sky News in February.
In October, it was revealed to the Guardian that MI5, Britain’s domestic intelligence agency, would take the lead in monitoring far-right terrorism. MI5’s usual portfolio includes Islamic extremism and paramilitary activity in Northern Ireland, so the fact that far right extremism is being examined by the agency indicate the seriousness of the threat.