What’s the EDL gonna do now?

23/10/2013

Last week, co-founders of the English Defence League Tommy Robinson and Kevin Carroll quit the organisation, claiming they no longer wanted to be associated by the Nazi thugs who have joined the EDL. While I find their stated reason to quit being the top boys of the League as disingenuous/an obvious pack of lies, the resignations are interesting in themselves. They are indicative of the signs that the EDL are splintering and losing support. If we ignore the fluke upsurge of interest caused by the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby, killed by “Islamist extremists”,  interest in the EDL is waning, with too many mainstream members unhappy with the violence that seems to come with their demos.

Unite Against Fascism is confident that its actions are putting the EDL on the back foot. “The EDL were growing exponentially until they were met by a greater force,” said Weyman Bennett, joint secretary of UAF. “They would come with a few hundred and we would have a few thousand who didn’t want them in their town, and they didn’t know what to do.”

Eric Randolph, writing in the Independent, writes the opinion of a recently retired officer with the National Domestic Extremism Unit, that the English Defence League is likely to splinter into smaller regional units with some supporters shifting to more extreme movements. A terrorist-styled cell structure that will keep most members safe even if other cells are compromised. It’s a tried and tested approach that has helped extremists distance themselves from other cells that might have done something bad.

The same former cop says:

“The EDL may survive as separate regional organisations. Most of its activity was at a local level anyway. But prior to the murder of Lee Rigby, it was already seeing a marked decline. One of the reasons was the personal antipathy of regional leaders towards Tommy Robinson – he was not terribly well liked but was accepted as the best leader because he had a certain amount of charisma and cunning.”

The Domestic Extremism Unit is by no means suggesting that a power struggle within the EDL might lead to terrorist or other attacks on the public. They do admit there’s a slight risk of terrorism by right-wing extremists but add: there is a “risk of terrorism” but that’s  limited to individuals or very small groups that are not terribly sophisticated”.

“There have been about 15-18 arrests of people with terrorist paraphernalia and the wherewithal to put them together. Often they have bought the components, but haven’t actually put them together. They see the race war as a matter of time, and want to be prepared.”

Big brave EDL supporters pick on a young Muslim woman.

Big brave EDL supporters pick on a young Muslim woman.

As for Tommy Robinson, he plans to continue talking about the dangers he thinks go hand in hand with Islamism. “I have a passion to combat Islamist ideology and I want to lead a revolution against that ideology, but I don’t want to lead a revolution against Muslims.”

Of course, some wonder what has brought this change in Robinson.  The EDL have always had a problem with Muslims. I reckon we should keep an eye on Robinson.  Leopards’ spots don’t change overnight.  And of course it will be interesting to see what the EDL do now.

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Bradford 5 win appeal against thought crime conviction

13/02/2008

 terror_lit_appeal1.jpg

from left to right: Awaab Iqbal, Aitzaz Zafar, Usman Malik, Mohammed Irfan Raja and Akbar ButtAt last the UK Appeal Court has ruled against Britain’s inequitable anti-terrorism law. The so-called “Bradford 5” – Awaab Iqbal, Aitzaz Zafar, Usman Malik, Mohammed Irfan Raja and Akbar Butt – were jailed last year for possessing and sharing extremist terror-related material, such as jihadi handbooks and guides to the manufacture of explosives. But 3 appeals court judges, including the Lord Chief Justice, ruled that mere possession of such materials is not illegal and quashed the convictions.

This action has dealt a serious blow to a major aspect of the UK’s anti-terror laws. Under the Terrorism Act (2000), “a person commits an offence if he possesses an article in circumstances which give rise to a reasonable suspicion that his possession is for a purpose connected with the commission, preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism.” Prosecution lawyers have argued that simply obtaining and sharing extremist literature was an offence under the law.

However, Lord Phillips, the Lord Chief Justice, has now ruled against this interpretation and said there must be “a direct connection between the object possessed and the act of terrorism.”

The government are not happy about this – they were very keen on having legislation that banned certain types of literature – and it’s possible the prosecution will appeal against this ruling. But human rights organisations, and freedom-loving people everywhere, are rejoicing. The Terrorism Act’s provisions against the possession of extremist material has been called a “thought crime”.

Imran Khan, solicitor for Mr Zafar, said: “My client is over the moon. He says it is surreal and he cannot see why he has spent the last two years in prison for looking at material which he had no intention of using for terrorism.

“Young people should not be frightened of exploring their world. There will always be people out there with wrong intentions, but we must not criminalise people for simply looking at material, whether it is good or bad.”

The conviction of the five young Muslim men was regarded as a test case, and is now set to lead to prosecutions against others being dropped. These include the conviction of 23-year-old Samina Malik – the so-called “lyrical terrorist”. She was the first woman to be convicted under the Terrorism Act and was given a nine months suspended sentence in December after being found guilty of possessing terrorist manuals.


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