British police issued public warnings this week about the possibility of a major neo-Nazi terrorist attack in England. Various extremist groups are suspected of plotting attacks in order to fuel tensions between different racial and religious groups.
Muslims and Jews are among the groups that have been warned to be on the alert. Several ethnic and religious minorities also could be at risk, senior police officials say.
Neo-Nazis “are not choosy about which community” they target, explained Commander Shaun Sawyer of the Metropolitan Police's counter-terrorism command (SO15). Whichever group they target, they will hope to cause serious injury or loss of life, he said.
Police believe British neo-Nazi groups are more likely to target Muslims than Jews, whose communities have reported an increase in the frequency of neo-Nazi style attacks on their institutions in recent years.
The warnings were issued shortly after police announced that they had uncovered a major extremist network. Officers in a counter-terrorism unit found that a group of far-right extremists had access to 80 bombs and hundreds of other weapons. Dozens were questioned in connection to the affair, which police believe involved a plot to bomb mosques.
Senior police detectives said departments would need to channel more funds towards preventing neo-Nazi attacks. The money is likely to come from funding currently used to monitor Islamic extremism, although detectives warned that Muslim terrorist groups remain a threat as well.
"The big bad wolf is still the Al-Qaeda threat,” said senior police official Norman Bettison. “But my people are knocking over right-wing extremists quite regularly.”