National action
National Action

Four British soldiers have been arrested on suspicion of terror offences for allegedly being members of the banned neo-Nazi group National Action.

Four men, a 22-year-old from Birmingham, a 32-year-old man from Powys, a 24-year-old from Ipswich and a 24-year-old from Northampton, have been arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the commission, preparation and instigation of acts of terrorism.

The suspects are accused of being members of the white supremacist group National Action, which was labelled a banned terrorist organisation by the government in December 2016.

Announcing the ban, home secretary Amber Rudd described the group as a "racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic organisation which stirs up hatred, glorifies violence and promotes a vile ideology."

The Ministry of Defence also confirmed all four suspects are serving members of the Army.

A spokesperson said: "We can confirm that a number of serving members of the Army have been arrested under the Terrorism Act for being associated with a proscribed far right group.

"These arrests are the consequence of a Home Office Police Force led operation supported by the Army. This is now the subject of a civilian police investigation and it would be inappropriate to comment further."

All four men are being held at a police station in the West Midlands following their arrests, which were carried out with West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit in conjunction with the Wales Extremism Counter Terrorism Unit and the East Midlands CTIU.

A number of properties are also being searched in connection with the arrests. A West Midlands Police spokesperson said: "The arrests were pre-planned and intelligence-led; there was no threat to the public's safety."

National Action, who became the first far-right group in the UK to be banned by the government, first gained attention in 2015 after staging a series of "White Man Marches" in UK cities.

One such march in Liverpool resulted in 20 members of the group being locked inside a lost luggage depot at Lime Street station for their own protection after being confronted by local residents and anti-fascist groups.

Following the ban by the government, it became illegal for anyone to recruit for and be a member of National Action, or in any way support for the group, including displaying National Action flags, posters or banners.

The group have previously found to have praised the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox by the white nationalist Thomas Mair, including tweeting a picture of him before the EU Referendum with the caption "VoteLeave, don't let this man's sacrifice go in vain. Jo Cox would have filled Yorkshire with more subhumans."

One of its members, Garron Helm, was also jailed after being found guilty of sending anti-Semitic tweets to Labour MP Luciana Berger, including a picture of her with a yellow Star of David on her forehead along with the hashtag "Hitler was right".