LONDON: An international neo-Nazi group is using the coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity to recruit UK teenagers aged as young as 14, a new report has warned.
It comes as a record number of minors face arrests for terror offenses across Britain. The National Partisan Movement (NPM) uses social media to “regularly express antisemitism, Holocaust denial and support for mass murderers,” UK anti-racism charity Hope not Hate said.
In one NPM group chat seen by the charity, extremist posts viciously attacked Muslims and other minority groups.
The charity’s research has revealed that some NPM members are as young as 12 — part of an emerging strategy by “youth-oriented” extremist groups to target children.
Hope not Hate warned that some members had discussed acquiring weapons, including firearms, while there was also extensive interest in producing 3D-printed weapons and modifying non-lethal weapons.
Several posts across the group’s social media channels also glorified terrorists, including the Christchurch gunman who killed 51 people during a rampage shooting in a New Zealand mosque.
Patrick Hermansson, a researcher for Hope not Hate, said: “At the same time, these young people are victims themselves. Children as young as 12 or 14 do not have the agency or experience of adults, and, as in the case of NPM, are also partially fed ideology by older and more experienced individuals. ”
The Hope not Hate report warns that the techniques used by NPM are part of a growing trend amid the pandemic of more extremist activity taking place online.
Traditional groups and street movements are being “left behind by a younger, digital generation who recruit via online gaming, voice chats on social media, online film clubs and even home-schooling,” the charity said.