Two bailed after arrests on terror preparation in national investigation

Two men who were among 11 arrested by counter-terror officers as part of an investigation into neo-Nazi group National Action have been released on bail.

Oct 2, 2017

Two men who were among 11 arrested by counter-terror officers as part of an investigation into neo-Nazi group National Action have been released on bail. The men, aged 35 and 24, were detained on suspicion of preparing terrorist acts, funding terrorism and membership of a proscribed organisation. Officers initially arrested 11 men on Wednesday (September 27) across England and Wales. The following day five men aged between 23 and 30 were released pending further investigation. The men who have been released are: a 35-year-old man from Warrington; a 24-year-old from Seaforth; a 28-year-old man from Swansea; a 23-year-old man from Sowerby Bridge; a 23-year-old man from Swansea; a 26-year-old man from Leeds; and a 30-year-old man from Wiltshire. All are bailed until Thursday, October 26. Four remain in custody. National Action became the first far-right group banned as a terrorist organisation in December, with Home Secretary Amber Rudd citing its “virulently racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic” ideology. On Thursday (September 28), the Government announced it is banning Scottish Dawn and NS131, both aliases of National Action. Membership or encouraging support of these organisations will be a criminal offence, carrying a sentence of up to ten years’ imprisonment. Home Secretary Amber Rudd said: “By extending the proscription of National Action, we are halting the spread of a poisonous ideology and stopping its membership from growing – protecting those who could be at risk of radicalisation.” Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, the head of UK Counter-Terrorism Policing, welcomed the move, “which will help us disrupt and tackle the growing threat from the extreme right-wing and make the UK a more hostile place for terrorists”. Campaigners had reportedly warned that members were evading authorities by splitting into regional factions and operating under different names. National Action promotes the idea that Britain will inevitably see a violent “race war” and has been linked to the murder of Jo Cox and a pipe bomb plot. The senior national coordinator for counter-terrorism policing, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu of the Metropolitan Police Service, said: “Counter-terror policing is committed to tackling all forms of extremism that threatens public safety and security. “Investigations relating to alleged extreme right wing activity are pursued with the same level or resource and vigour as other ideologies, in order to bring suspected offenders before the courts. “The arrests, while resulting from two separate investigations, have been coordinated by our officers across a number of forces. This maximises operational effectiveness for police and minimises disruption for the local communities.” It comes as three men, including two British soldiers, will stand trial in March next year charged with terror offences over their alleged membership of National Action. Lance Corporal Mikko Vehvilainen, 32, Private Mark Barrett, 24, and 22-year-old civilian Alexander Deakin, stand accused of being members of the banned group and other offences. All three appeared on September 21 at the Old Bailey via videolink. They will appear via videolink at a plea hearing due to take place at Birmingham Crown Court on January 3, with the trial date set for March 5 at the same court. West Midlands Police initially arrested five men in what was described as a “pre-planned and intelligence-led” operation with no threat to public safety. The case prompted calls for the Government to launch an inquiry into possible extremism within the military but the Ministry of Defence said it had no plans.

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