Former British Soldier Found Guilty of Preparing Right-Wing Terrorist Attack

Nov 20, 2023 | Right Wing Terrorism, Threat Analysis

Author: Becca Stewart ASyI, 
Threat Analyst 

Read Time: 3 minutes 

On 17 November 2023, a former British soldier was found guilty of preparing to commit a terrorist attack. Counter Terrorism Police (CTP) found details on the individual’s phone about a plot to target a bookshop identified by the individual as holding differing views to his own e.g. left-wing and social issues such as the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement. The individual planned to paint a swastika and ‘white lives matter’ on the walls and smash the windows of the bookshop, before soaking the site in petrol and using Fire as a Weapon. On 7 September 2020, the individual purchased a glass hammer and tarpaulin, both of which had been mentioned in the plot.[1] The individual had expressed and endorsed Extreme Right-Wing, pro-Nazi and anti-Semitic views in his online and text communications. CTP also found evidence that the individual had attempted to acquire a firearm.[2]

Event Assessment

    • It is almost certain that Extreme Right-Wing terrorism will continue to pose a significant threat to the UK in the long term.
      • It is likely that the Extreme Right-Wing terrorism threat has continued to evolve away from structured groups, such as the proscribed organisation National Action, to a more disparate online threat, further complicating the detection of affiliated actors and plots.
        • It is almost certain that Extreme Right-Wing terrorist actors would have the capability to conduct a low sophistication attack in the UK at this time. E.g., Fire as a Weapon, Bladed or Blunt Force Weapons, Vehicle as a Weapon.
          • There is a realistic possibility that Extreme Right-Wing terrorist actors could have the capability to conduct a high-sophistication attack in the UK. E.g., Improvised Explosive Devices or Firearms. The complicated nature of plotting a high-sophistication terrorist attack makes it highly likely that there will be greater opportunities for UK police and security services to disrupt potential attacks.
            • It is highly likely that any Extreme Right-Wing terrorist attack would target sites and individuals associated with the UK government, online and traditional media companies, and minority groups with protected characteristics e.g. LGBTQIA+, migrant communities, religious minorities and more.
              • Terrorist actors in the UK have previously demonstrated the intent and capability to use Fire as a Weapon in an attack:
                  • 2022 – Dover – An individual targeted a migrant processing centre in Dover using Fire as a Weapon in an Extreme Right-Wing terrorist attack. Two individuals were injured and there were no fatalities. The perpetrator was found dead at a nearby petrol station immediately following the attack.[3]
                    • 2019 – Durham – A teenager was convicted for planning to conduct an Extreme Right-Wing terrorist attack using Fire as a Weapon to target synagogues and other buildings in the Durham area.[4]
                      • 2018 – Exeter – An Individual inspired by an Extreme Right-Wing ideology set fire to a synagogue in Exeter on Holocaust memorial day. The perpetrator was treated for burns but there were no other injuries. The individual admitted committing arson and two terrorism-related charges, and was sentenced to an indefinite stay in hospital.[5]
                        • 2017 – London – Following the London Bridge and Borough Market Islamist terrorist attack, it was discovered that the terrorists’ abandoned van, which had been used to ram pedestrians, contained a stock of unused Molotov cocktails. It is highly likely that the perpetrators had intended to use these devices in the terrorist attack.[6]

                      Intelligence Cut-Off Date: 20 November 2023

                        PHIA Scale

                        The “Probability Yardstick” (below) is a standardised instrument used to provide professional intelligence assessments. Judgements made using the yardstick are relative and reflect the analyst’s confidence in their findings and assessments.

                          • Almost Certain: An event is assessed to have a greater than 90% chance of occurring.
                          • Highly Likely: An event is assessed to have a 76% to 90% chance of occurring.
                          • Likely: An event is assessed to have a 55% to 75% chance of occurring.
                          • Realistic Possibility: An event is assessed to have a 40% to 54% chance of occurring.
                          • Unlikely: An event is assessed to have a 25% to 39% chance of occurring.
                          • Highly Unlikely: An event is assessed to have an 10% to 24% chance of occurring.
                          • Remote Chance: An event is assessed to have a less than 10% chance of occurring.

                          Time Spans

                            • Short Term: 0 – 6 Months.
                            • In the next 12 months.
                            • Medium Term: 12 months – 5 Years.
                            • Long Term: 5+ Years.

                        Author: Becca Stewart ASyI,
                        Threat Analyst

                        Read Time: 3 minutes

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