Britain’s intelligence agencies are working with counterparts abroad to thwart a spike in Right-wing terrorist activity in the UK, sources said on Saturday night.
MI6 has launched an operation with colleagues in Germany, France and Spain following information that elements from terror cells in each are coordinating with British groups to plan at least one attack.
It follows a raid last December in which self-declared Prince Heinrich XIII, a 71-year-old aristocrat, was arrested in Mainz for allegedly plotting a coup in Germany with 25 other members of his “Reich Citizens” movement.
According to highly placed sources, one avenue being pursued by both MI5 and MI6 is the potential targeting of a major Ministry of Defence facility.
MI5 assumed responsibility for tackling Right-wing terrorism in 2020. Security at the Defence Munitions facility at Kineton in the West Midlands has already been tightened after intelligence that it is on the group’s list of targets.
The 2,200-acre site is the largest of eight hubs in Britain and Germany from which the UK is supporting military operations in Ukraine. Containing anything from small arms to guided missiles, it holds more than 60 percent of the entire MoD’s munitions.
Far-Right extremism is said to be on the rise, with the number of activists behind bars doubling in four years. The increased threat emerged during the pandemic and was driven among younger people by internet traffic – much of which took the form of conspiracy theories to undermine scientific data and the Government’s position.
In 2022, 59 prisoners were classed as holding “extreme Right-wing” views, up from 52 the previous year.
There were 28 recorded in 2018 and last year’s figure is the highest since records began in 2013, according to Home Office figures. In January a senior counter-terror police officer warned of a rise in the number of teenagers who are becoming involved with Neo-Nazi groups.
Det Supt Gareth Rees, head of the Counter Terrorism Policing National Intelligence Unit, said: “In terms of the ages, we’ve seen the low teens – and that is an incredibly alarming thing to see.”
Keeping track is becoming increasingly difficult because many activists eschew formal membership of groups and cells to pursue more individual “lone wolf” agendas.
On Saturday night, counter-terror expert Haras Rafiq said the term “Right-wing extremism” was becoming increasingly problematic because of its misuse.
“There is no doubt that Right-wing extremists are plotting, and that this is a cause for concern,” he said.
“However the term has been becoming increasingly meaningless since Jeremy Corbyn moved the political dial so far to the left that any position right of centre is seen as Right-wing and extremist.
“It is difficult to take the term seriously when you are told Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage are Right-wing extremists and Nazis.
“This has had a knock-on effect – incidents are being reported as Right-wing at schools when they are not. This is one of the reasons why many cases reported to the Prevent programme do not meet the threshold for interventions .”