A new report by the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) warns military intelligence organisation MI5 requires funding in order to stave off a worrying growth in extreme right-wing terrorism.
The study points to worrying signs that these groups are looking to recruit members from the military and police forces in the UK.
The ISC, responsible for the oversight of the UK intelligence and security community, highlights the threat posed by the far-right is on an “upward trajectory”.
It says young men are being radicalised by online material and groups exploiting grievances and outlandish conspiracy theories, which may intensify as household budgets are squeezed.
The ISC, which comprises a group of cross party MPs and peers, stressed it is now “seriously concerned” that despite threat levels being heightened, MI5 has not received any additional financial resources.
MI5 took on responsibility of tackling far right extremism in 2020.
According to official figures, a third of the attacks prevented by the intelligence community and Counter Terrorism Policing (CTP) between 2017 and 2020 were masterminded by the extreme right.
Out of 20 children arrested by CTP last year, 19 were linked to extreme right wing fanaticism.
The study warns that they are predominantly young men who are being radicalised online, often on messaging and gaming sites.
But some right-wing groups are actively seeking to recruit from within the military and police service.
Terrorists are from a mixed demographic with inconsistent and “unstable” ideologies.
Earlier this year, the Head of Counter Terrorism Policing raised concerns about violent narratives chosen by such followers.
A CTP spokesman told Politics Home: “The terrorist threat is sadly real and is ever-evolving. Our core mission at Counter Terrorism Policing is to keep the public safe, and our officers and staff work tirelessly to do so.
“As a global leader in countering terrorism, collaboration with the UK Intelligence Community and HMG is vital to the development of our activities and response to the terrorist threat.”
Prevent is the government’s current counter-terrorism strategy and an independent review of the programme has been ongoing since 2019, with its Chairman Sir William Shawcross having missed several reporting deadlines.
Sir William’s impartiality has been questioned while human rights and Muslim organisations have nnot co-operated, due to alleged comments made previously on Islam.
Anti-fascism pressure group HOPE not hate’s CEO Nick Lowles urges the Shawcross review to take heed of the ISC’s findings.
Go to HOPE not hate
He said: “The report by the Intelligence and Security Committee is based on extensive investigation into the facts and is built on interviews by governmental and non-governmental experts.
“The leaks we have seen to the Prevent review have suggested it is ideologically driven and we can only hope the final version of the review takes a more well-rounded approach to the issue, taking into account the findings of the ISC.”
The government, while acknowledging it takes the threat from terrorism seriously including the threat from the far right, said it will consider the ISC’s findings in full and respond in due course.
But it stopped short of agreeing to the committee’s call to provide immediate additional funding to MI5 to enable them to effectively tackle extreme far right terror threats.
A government spokesman said: “The government takes the threat from all forms of terrorism seriously, including the warped ideology of the extreme right-wing. We are committed to tackling those who spread views that promote violence and hatred against individuals and communities in our society, and that radicalise others.
“In April 2020, MI5 took over full primacy for ERWT. This demonstrates the seriousness with which we take this threat and we will always ensure the UK Intelligence Community have the resources they need to keep us safe.”