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Australian neo-Nazis stand with convicted British terrorist

Dec 17, 2021 | AIJAC staff

Telegram screenshot
Telegram screenshot

Australian neo-Nazis have staunchly defended Ben Raymond, a Brit who was jailed earlier this month for eight years for his involvement in the banned terrorist group, National Action.

In 2016, National Action was the first far-right group nominated as a terrorist entity in the United Kingdom. In December, Raymond was convicted of being a member of a proscribed organisation and of two counts of possessing documents of use to a terrorist.

Prior to Raymond’s conviction, Australian Thomas Sewell, a leading figure among Australian neo-Nazis, praised the British extremist. Sewell himself was released on bail this month and faces two sets of charges over violent offences.

On an encrypted social media app, Sewell wrote that Raymond’s arrest was a political act by a government that silences anyone who does not agree with “government replacing whites with nonwhites in their own homeland.”

“We must show solidarity with Ben Raymond and all of the British, Australian and global political prisoners who are being imprisoned for standing up against Jewish power,” Sewell told his followers.

Jacob Hersant, a leader of Australia’s National Socialist Network who, like Sewell, faces violence charges, also posted a long defence of Raymond and National Action to his social media followers prior to the conviction. Hersant said that the National Action members who have been convicted of crimes “didn’t do anything illegal, they’re basically just getting persecuted for their national socialist views.”

The Australian Government and law enforcement agencies continue to warn about the presence of far-right extremists in Australia. In 2021, the Australian Government proscribed two far-right groups – Sonnenkrieg Division and The Base – for the first time.

Raymond has expressed violent antisemitic views over a number of years, calling in various online and physical forums, for the extermination of Jews and all non-whites in various online and physical forums. His fellow National Action members have a history of despicable racist attacks, with members responsible for unceasing antisemitism against former British MP Luciana Berger and a National Action follower jailed for life for using a machete to try to murder a British-Sikh man.

It goes without saying that it is alarming that Raymond, who has a long history as a neo-Nazi, is being idolised by local extremists.

According to research by Associate Professor Chris Allen at Leicester University’s Centre for Hate Studies, Raymond was instrumental in establishing National Action in 2013.

National Action was established as a more extreme – and violent – nationalist version of existing far-right movements in Britain. Dr Allen adds: “Citing and admiring Hitler and the Third Reich was a recurrent feature” to justify the group’s antisemitism, racism and other abhorrent views.

After the group’s proscription in 2016, Dr Allen said there had been a “relatively high” number of arrests and convictions of National Action members. The investigations leading to these convictions revealed that “a number of the group’s activists had undergone a trajectory towards a willingness to use and enact violence. For example, activists are known to have collectively fantasised about killing Jews and turning Chinese and black people into biofuel.”

In 2019, Dr Allen warned that National Action was influencing militant far-right groups beyond Britain.

While not directly related to the Raymond case, recent research by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at King’s College, London and Britain’s Community Security Trust, has illustrated how neo-Nazi figures are using increasingly sophisticated methods to groom young people.

The report “‘We are Generation Terror!’ Youth-on-youth radicalisation in extreme-right youth groups,” focuses upon Europe but is likely equally applicable to Australia. It confirms that young people are not just passively consuming extremist messages on social media, but that these messages are inspiring them to commit violent acts and hate crimes.

The report also finds that young people are recruiting their peers to far-right causes in what the authors call “youth-on-youth radicalisation”. Existing far-right groups have realised this and are “reframing” their narratives to become more youth-friendly and social media focussed, it said.

One method being used is to post relatively moderate content on mainstream social media platforms, such as TikTok or Instagram, where there is some regulation. Extremists then “funnel” followers to unregulated social media platforms where they can display more extreme content without risk of removal or ban.

The authors write: “The agency that young racial nationalists have, in addition to social media and propaganda tools, and organisational and recruitment capacity, generates a concerning possibility of violence.”

Meanwhile, despite being released on bail, Sewell has not stopped promoting his extremist views telling his followers: “I’ve got a lot of projects on the go, there is a lot of things I want to achieve. [Prison] has been a really good holiday, a good reset.”

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