National Action UK: Far-Right Extremists

National Action is an extremist far-right organisation and the first of its kind to be classed as a terrorist organisation by the UK Home office. It operates under a white supremacist ideology and connects to a series of violent incidents.

1. National Action Origins

National Action UK was founded by 22-year-old Alex Davies and 27-year-old Ben Raymond. They originally formed the group from members of the British National Party’s (BNP) youth section. (source) Additionally, National Action describes itself as a “Socialist youth organisation”. They state that their purpose is to provide a scene “for young nationalists to network, engage socially, and be creative at a time when there is no prospect for political success” (source). In reality, however, they promote anti-Islamic, anti-Semitic, anti-BAME, and anti-LGBTQ+ views. 

National Action trains its members in hand-to-hand combat (source) and utilises social media to spread their hate. Furthermore, NA organises street campaigns to harass political opponents and minority groups. Correspondingly, they describe themselves as the “white jihadist group” and have developed a moderate following. At its height, National Action had a membership of up to 100 young men, mostly drawn from universities (source). Another key point is that members come from all across the UK (source).

2. Ideology and Inspiration

2.1 White Supremacy

White supremacy ideology, which encompasses National Action, is based on a belief system in which whites should have dominance over people of other backgrounds (source). Correspondingly, they believe that Jews control ‘non-whites’ and that this is a danger to the white race’s extinction. They demand that imminent action is needed to save the white race.

2.2 Hitler’s Nazi Party

Hitler’s Nazi party is a major inspiration for the group. Much of their propaganda features references to Nazism and ethnic cleansing (source). They claim that the ‘successful’ rise of Hitler’s Nazi party is something that they should aspire to as a political movement. The group’s logo is very similar to that of the Sturmabteilung, a Nazi paramilitary organisation. The Sturmabteilung was an integral component to the rise of Hitler (source). Sturmabteilung provided military support for Hitler and his party and is therefore associated with violence.

Logo of the Sturmabteilung group; Credit to WikimediaCommons.org

The group will hold banners such as “Hitler was right” showing the powerful influence of the Nazi ideology.

3. Key Figures of National Action

3.1 Alex Davies

Co-founder of National Action, Alex Davies, is from Swansea. Firstly, he began his far-right career in the British National Party. Even as a teenager, a teacher referred Davies to the government’s Prevent de-radicalisation scheme at the ages of 15 and 19. Indeed, whilst at University in 2013, Davies founded National Action. In May 2022, a court found Davies guilty of terrorism offences and consequently sentenced him to eight and a half years in prison (source).

3.2 Ben Raymond

Ben Raymond, from Bognor, is another founding member of National Action. Raymond was responsible for grooming young people into becoming members (source). As previously mentioned, “White Jihad” is a term used by Raymond to describe the work of National Action members. In December 2021, a jury convicted Ben Raymond of being a member of the group and for possessing far-right radical material (source). For instance, the material included the manifesto by Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik and a manual on making bombs.

3.3 Christopher Lythgoe

Lastly, Christopher Lythgoe, from Warrington, was a leader of National Action. Similarly, the court sentenced him to eight years in prison in July 2018 (source).

3.4 Jack Renshaw

In 2016, Renshaw replaced Ben Raymond as the ‘speaker’ of the group (source). Police arrested Renshaw after two public speeches, in which he described Jews as vermin. Furthermore, police charged Renshaw for sex offences and a court convicted him for the attempted murder of Labour MP Rosie Cooper.

4. The Ban on National Action

The Home Office designated National Action a terrorist organisation in 2016 (source). Significantly, for the first time in British history, the British government, under the Terrorism Act, banned a far-right organisation (source). After this ruling, it became illegal for anyone to support or hold membership to the organisation. It is also against the law in Britain to wear clothing that has any sort of NA symbol on it (source). So far, the UK Justice system has convicted 28 people for being members of National Action (source).

5. Connected Organisations

When the Home Office proscribed National Action in 2016, they tried to avoid conviction by operating under a number of different names. Known aliases of National Action include:

  • Scottish Dawn
  • National Socialist Anti-Capitalist Action (A.K.A. NS131) 
  • System Resistance Network 

Alex Davies also set NS131 up and used the same colours, encrypted internet provider, and ideology as National Action (source). It is therefore fair to say that they are a regional version of the group.
The group also has links to the Polish nazi group, the NOP (National Rebirth of Poland) (source). This ultranationalist far-right political party also have followers in the United States (source).

6. Recruitment

National Action were known to target their recruitment at specific audiences (source). National Action would primarily target males due to their view of women as the lesser sex who are only good as “breeding stock” (source).  

For the most part, institutes to be targeted for recruitment were:

  • Universities
  • Military Institutes
  • Mixed Martial Arts Centres 

NA would put up propaganda around educational institutes from time to time, including Warwick University and Aston University in Birmingham (source). This explains why most members of NA are under 30. An older man who would act as a mentor to their radicalisation would often contact young men who showed interest. 

National Action is known to recruit members straight from the British army (source). Cpl Mikko Vehvilainen served in Afghanistan whilst also acting as a recruiter for National Action. Four members of the armed forces have been convicted for membership of National Action (source)

National Action would often organise training camps styled as Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) training (source). Camps would teach judo, kickboxing and street fighting. This would not only provide training for current members but would serve as an incentive for recruits who had an interest in fighting. One of the camps was led by Russian MMA fighter Denis Nikitin (source).

National Action Propaganda; Credit to: Bedfordshire Police

7. Events of Violence

7.1 Zak Davies

Driven by Neo-Nazi ideology, Zack Davies attempted to behead Sikh man Dr Sarandev Bhambra at a Tesco supermarket in January 2015 (source). Zak Davies was in possession of an abundance of National Action material in his home (source). Whilst carrying out the attack, witnesses reported that Davies shouted “White Power” and “This is for Lee Rigby” (source). A politically motivated attack killed Lee Rigby, a British soldier, in February 2014.

7.2 Murder of Jo Cox MP

The Murder of Jo Cox was a pivotal moment for the group and led to their designation. 41-year-old MP Jo Cox was on her way to meet with her constituents when Thomas Mair shot her three times (source). When police searched the home of Muir after the killing, they found a series of far-right books and Nazi memorabilia. He had a deep hatred for liberal politicians, who he deemed as a traitor to his race. 

Although they did not directly link Thomas Muir to NA, the aftermath saw the group openly celebrating the killing (source). Members of National Action also used the event to instil fear amongst other MPs. Members of National Action made several threats to MPs after the killing of Jo Cox (source).

8. Recent Events

In February 2023, journalists reported new activity by National Action. Individuals claiming to be from the ‘London Cell’ of National Action, sent letters to transgender broadcaster India Willoughby and British-Nigerian activist Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu (source). The letter to Dr Mos-Shogbamimu threatened to kill her and her family. They included personal details of the activist to instil fear.

Letter to Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu in February 2023. Letter is claimed to be from the National Action London Cell. Credit to: Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu Official Twitter Account

Although the letter had the National Action symbol at the top, it is difficult to verify whether it linked the individuals involved to the original National Action group, or whether this ‘London Cell’ are new actor. It is plausible that a recent ITV drama of the group, ‘The Walk In’ inspired new individuals to use the National Action symbols for notoriety.

9. Hope Not Hate

Hope not Hate founded their organisation in 2013 with a mission to expose and oppose far-right extremism (source). In April 2017, Hope not Hate recruited a mole inside National Action (source). Robbie Mullen, who was a member since 2015, became an ‘informer’ after feeling hopeless at the prospect of leaving the ‘cult-like’ organisation. Mullen and Hope Against Hate spoiled Jack Renshaw’s plan to murder Labour MP Rosie Cooper. 

10. Conclusion

National Action UK is a far-right extremist group that gathers to incite violence against minority groups. The group follows a white supremacist ideology and train in martial arts to instil fear in other communities. After celebrating the death of MP Jo Cox, the UK Home Office banned the group under the Terrorism Act. After being disbanded, National Action continued to meet and formed regional sub-groups to operate undetected. Organisations such as Hope Not Hate work to eliminate the threat of far-right groups. Recent letters have been sent to public figures in London showing that National Action may still pose a threat to society.

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