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Far-right extremists in UK military

Saeed Pourreza
Press TV, London

Far-right extremists continue to be inducted into the British military. This week, reports of several serving members of the UK armed forces referred to a controversial anti-extremism scheme has rekindled fears and reignited calls on the country’s Ministry of Defense to increase its auditing and vetting processes.

The UK armed forces’ allure for far-right extremists is believed to be as old as British fascism’s earliest incarnations. At least 16 members of the country’s armed forces, investigated over the past two and a half years, have been referred to the UK’s so-called Prevent scheme, a controversial terrorism prevention program. 

The UK Ministry of Defense is yet to release exact figures. But it says the number of investigations in 2020 was “less than 10” and those so far this year “less than five.”

Critics say despite the MoD’s stated commitment to zero-tolerance for far-right extremists operating within the armed forces, its strong words have not always led to strong action.

Of the 14 investigations carried out in 2019 into serving armed forces personnel, a staggering eleven stemmed from far-right concerns.

And those concerns have been fueled by images such as the one from 2019; British paratroopers using pictures of former Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn for target practice. Or a video from a year earlier of notorious far-right English Defense League founder known as Tommy Robinson surrounded by a group of young infantrymen.

Britain’s top counter-terrorism officer says the fastest-growing UK terrorist threat is from the far-right. Government critics say it’s not taking the threat posed by violent right-wing extremists seriously enough.

Last year Britain's top counter-terrorism officer said the fastest growing UK terrorist threat was from the far right. A year later, the threat is still there, with critics saying the UK government is not taking it seriously enough.

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