Reports from a Home Office official have highlighted the threat to the UK from domestic right-wing extremists in this period. The source asserted that the expansion of IS in the Middle East has fuelled organization of several new networks in the UK. Domestic issues that had also increased general levels of anti-Islamic sentiment – such as the allegations of a long-running child abuse ring in Rotherham, which prompted an EDL march in the town – have also provided fertile recruiting ground for the developing movements. Although the reports suggested that focus on the threat of Jihadist “tourists” returning from fighting in Syria had come at the expense of considering this form of threat, the danger posed by right-wing extremists has been a consistent feature of our reporting.
The example of Ukrainian national Pavlo Lapshyn – imprisoned for life following a murder and string of attempted mosque bombings in 2013 – remains the archetypal case of the threat. In that instance, Lapshyn’s intent and capability (his formal engineering training proving crucial in his ability to produce sophisticated devices that were only hindered by faulty timing mechanisms) proved a nearly dangerous combination. Though intent and capability respectively appear to have been absent in the more recent cases of British soldier Ryan McGee, 19, and Michael Piggin, 18, we assess that mosques and other sites of religious significance remain among the most likely locations to be targeted. This tactic is particularly relevant in the context of the nationalist Britain First movement’s “invasions” of mosques and other attempts to present the sites as legitimate targets for extremist activities. As we have previously argued in our coverage of this issue, individuals with military training remain of particular concern.