The many faces of neo-Nazism in the UK

Beyond Nazi ideology, National Action took inspiration from the extreme violence enacted by others in the radical right, like Anders Breivik; but also from movements from seemingly opposing ideological strands, such as the genocidal Khmer Rouge in Cambodia led by Marxist dictator Pol Pot and even the Islamic State. In fact, Jack Renshaw (acquitted of being a member of National Action but associated with its ideology) referred to his plot to kill Labour MP Rosie Cooper in 2017 as an act of “white jihad”.

After National Action glorified extremist Thomas Mair’s killing of Labour MP Jo Cox in 2016, police grew increasingly concerned of the group, culminating in the arrest of 22 activists. In December 2016, National Action became the first radical right group to be proscribed as a terrorist organisation.

The splinters: Scottish Dawn, NS131 and System Resistance Network

After National Action was proscribed, members scrambled to regroup under new names, in a similar vein to how its Islamist counterpart Al Muhajiroun has tried to evade the law. Two main splinters quickly emerged: Scottish Dawn and National Socialist Anti-Capitalist Action (NS131). Scottish Dawn was heavily linked to National Rebirth of Poland, a violent offshoot of the Polish radical right with presence in the UK. NS131 bore extreme resemblance to the aesthetics of National Action. Both were swiftly proscribed by the government as splinters of National Action in September 2017.

Another more significant splinter was System Resistance Network (SRN), which emerged in the summer of 2017. Geographically, it started having a footprint in Scotland but quickly moved to target other regions of the UK, particularly Welsh communities. SRN is mainly linked to acts of racist vandalism — available evidence shows that they have been active in 10 UK cities. For example, a student who was recently jailed after filming himself spraying right-wing graffiti and swastikas around Cardiff had several SRN posters at home.

SRN’s ideology follows National Action’s blueprint: no tolerance to non-whites, Jewish or Muslim communities, and a belief that homosexuality is a disease. Yet SRN would mark the first time that international influences, including cultist elements and anti-system rhetoric, would blend with UK-born Nazism. This would become even more evident with the next permutation: Sonnenkrieg Division.

The hybrid: Sonnenkrieg Division – the US Atomwaffen

Sonnenkrieg Division is the latest iteration of National Action, although it takes inspiration from the US-based violent neo-Nazi cell Atomwaffen Division (in fact, they describe themselves as “Atomwaffen with less guns”). Atomwaffen (atomic bomb in German) grew from neo-Nazi website Iron March after some members started fantasising about infiltrating the US military and launching a fascist paramilitary insurgency to replace liberal democracy.

Atomwaffen is considered as part of a global accelerationist movement, whose main ideological doctrine is to bring about civilizational collapse through acts of violence. The group is linked to several murders in the US, including Nicholas Giampa’s assassination of his girlfriend’s parents after they convinced her to break up with him for being a neo-Nazi.

Sonnenkrieg Division has been linked to several recent trials in the UK, with many former National Action and SRN members becoming part of this new movement.

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