Fears of increasing far-right terror threat mounting among UK MPs
Right-wing extremists are becoming a greater menace, UK legislators warned.
UK lawmakers urged the military and police Tuesday to tighten background checks in response to a growing threat from right-wing extremists.
The phenomenon has been progressively growing since 2017, according to the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee's annual report, and tech-savvy young males are driving the surge.
A growing number of people below 24 were now on the radar of the UK domestic security service MI5 investigating extreme right-wing terrorism (ERWT), it added. Of the 25 attacks that the security services and counter-terrorism police prevented between March 2017 and January 2020, eight were motivated by an ERWT ideology.
"The new ERWT threat is fragmented and complex, increasingly driven by the internet and characterised by a technologically aware demographic of predominantly young men, many of them still in their teens, who are typically 'Self-Initiated Terrorists'," the report said.
Few of the suspects belong to organized groups and are as a result difficult to identify and monitor. "Their motivation can be highly individualistic, according to their particular personal circumstances, the nature of their grievances and perceptions of their own capabilities," the MPs said.
"Determining how, why and when they may choose to attack is therefore particularly challenging," the report said.
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However, the MPs, who monitor the work of the intelligence agencies, said the military and police needed to look closer to detect actual and potential far-right followers. They often display an interest in military culture, weaponry, and the armed forces or law enforcement organizations and either join or try to recruit in their ranks.
However, the UK armed forces do not provide clear direction to service personnel regarding the membership of any organization, "let alone an extremist one", the committee said.
This "appears a somewhat risky approach," given the sensitive roles of many service personnel, it added. It also said there was "particular concern" about a similar risk in the police because of a "lack of thorough background checks."
Its chairman Julian Lewis said Tuesday it was "deeply disappointed" that the government failed to provide information on time for it to scrutinize. The delays had hampered its ability to provide statutory oversight, he added.
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