LONDON – At least 16 members of the British armed forces have been referred to the country’s terrorism prevention program, largely over concerns about far-right activity, The Guardian reported in an exclusive on Monday.
The military personnel were among those investigated over the past two and a half years under Prevent, which is part of the national counter-terrorism strategy and aims to stop people being drawn into or supporting terrorism, The Guardian reported.
“The referrals of so many serving military personnel to Prevent, and the general rise in violent far-right extremism in society as a whole, should act as a reminder of the ever present threat of (far-right) extremism and the need for the Ministry of Defence to increase its internal education and enforcement of its publicly stated rules,” the reported quoted Nick Lowles, Hope Not Hate’s chief executive, as saying. Hope Not Hate is a UK-based advocacy group that campaigns against racism and fascism.
Stuart McDonald, Scottish National Party MP and a member of the House of Commons home affairs committee, said these figures are “really concerning.” He noted that “there have been warnings in the recent past that the threat posed by violent rightwing extremists is not being treated seriously enough by the UK government.”
“It is still far from clear that this lack of focus and action has been rectified,” he added.
In 2018, British Army Lance Corporal Mikko Vehvilainen was convicted of being a member of the banned neo-Nazi group National Action.