Claim gunman linked to UK group
THE BRITISH CONNECTION: SEARCHLIGHT, THE London-based anti-fascist magazine, last night said it would today release information to prove that links exist between Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik, now charged with Friday’s massacre, and the British far-right organisation the English Defence League.
The declaration by the magazine last night came after it had questioned the Home Office’s view that there were no known links between the Norwegian killer and the far-right group, which was first established in Luton.
The magazine, which has reported on far-right activity for 25 years, said the information, “that even Breivik doesn’t know that we have”, will detail his contacts with the British group and will be posted on their website, hopenothate.org.uk.
“We had to wait for proof, but we have the proof now. We are not going to get involved in sensationalism. We want the British government to place the EDL on the same level as Islamic extremists,” said Searchlight’s Matthew Collins.
In London, prime minister David Cameron ordered the Home Office, police and the security services to focus urgently on the threat posed by far-right terrorism in the UK, which has, up to now, not been considered a priority.
Fourteen people are in British jails for far-right-inspired terrorist offences, including a number of former British National Party members such Robert Cottage, who was imprisoned for possessing the largest cache of explosives ever found in Britain.
The Home Office’s anti-terror strategy, published earlier this month, judged that violent far-right extremists were unlikely to pose a security threat in the UK but if they did they would not “pose as high a risk to our national security as terrorism associated with al-Qaeda”.
In its second statement in two days, the English Defence League said it was “shameful” that they had been linked to “this murderous creature” solely on the basis of his own claims in his blog.
“We can categorically state that there has never been any official contact between him and the EDL. Our Facebook page had 100,000 supporters and receives tens of thousands of comments each day. And there is no evidence that Britvic [sic] was ever one of those 100,000 supporters.”
The English Defence League, which is planning a major march in London in early September, claimed that anyone who “expresses any extremist beliefs of any kind, be it white supremacist, Christian fundamentalist or Islamic extremists” are all banned from its website.
The group acknowledged its ties with the Norwegian Defence League, though it rejected claims that Mr Breivik’s alleged links with this organisation are evidence of co-operation between Norwegian and British extremists. The Norwegian group has ejected significant numbers from its ranks: “It did a fine job of quickly acting and banishing such unwanted fascists and putting the record straight that fascists are not welcome in the defence leagues,” it said.
Describing Breivik as “a sicko”, the group’s leader, Stephen Lennon, said he had never heard of him before Friday’s attack, but warned: “I’ve been saying in my speeches, I think we’re five years away from that happening here, or 10 years, of English lads doing that because of the desperation they’re in.”
The group said it was criticised by Breivik’s own manifesto as “anti-fascist, anti-violent and anti-extremist”, while it said he also disparaged the organisation for “harshly condemn[ing] any movement that uses terror as a tool”.
Postings online in recent days indicate that Breivik, who claims that he was recruited by two far-right extremists during a visit to London in 2002, attended two English Defence League rallies in London and Newcastle last year.