A Met police officer, Benjamin Hannam, has been found guilty of membership of the banned right wing terrorist group National Action (NA), lying on his application, and possession of a bomb making guide. He also plead guilty to possessing child pornography. Hannam was caught thanks to user data from the online far right forum Iron March, which was leaked by anti-fascist activists.
National Action was banned in 2016, although its members have tried to get around the ban by working under a variety of different group names. Several members of National Action were convicted in 2018, with the most serious charge being a plot to kill Rosie Cooper, a member of parliament.
While Hannam is the first British police officer to be convicted on terrorism charges, he is unlikely to be the last. The extreme right has attempted to infiltrate or recruit from police forces in America, Germany, and Greece. Getting members into the police force provide far right groups with the potential to subvert the organisation that is supposed to investigate their activities, as well as giving their members the ability to abuse police powers to their own ends.
The far right has also attempted to infiltrate and recruit from the armed forces, which gives them access to training and weaponry as well as positions of power. Nation Action itself had previously recruited from the British Army, with Lance Corporal Mikko Vehvilainen of the Royal Anglian Regiment being convicted of being a member in 2017. Vehvilainen was actively attempting to recruit other soldiers into National Action.
Organisations like the police and army provide a fertile recruiting ground for the far right. Both these jobs place a high emphasis on obedience and service to the nation while also granting opportunities to do violence to those the government considers it’s enemies. This is an environment that is attractive to existing members of the far right and encourages views that align with far right ideas.
The increase in far right attacks across Europe and America, combined with the far right groups’ attempts to infiltrate the government organisations supposed to protect their targets, highlight the need for grass roots anti-fascist action. Without such action Hannam would never have been exposed in the first place. ■