(New York, N.Y.) – Last week, the British government designated the neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division (AWD) and its successor group, the National Socialist Order (NSO), as terrorist organizations. Under the ban, membership or invitation of support into the group will be considered a criminal offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The AWD is the first U.S. group to be added to the United Kingdom’s terror list, which currently includes more than 70 international terrorist organizations and 14 from Northern Ireland.
The terror group proscription is the latest action by British government officials to outlaw membership in far-right neo-Nazi movements, following bans on National Action, Feuerkrieg Division, and Sonnenkrieg Division. Despite claims of disbanding, AWD has influenced the creation of sub-movements of the neo-Nazi group that continue to promote violent, radical ideologies in both the United States and Europe. AWD has inspired a number of terror acts, including at least five murders in the U.S.
In December 2016, Home Secretary Priti Patel’s predecessor, Amber Rudd, banned the neo-Nazi group National Action, officially outlawing membership and support of the group and classifying the group as a terrorist organization. The classification marked the first time that membership of a far-right group had been prohibited in the U.K. In July 2020, the government banned AWD’s British offshoot, the violent, white supremacist group Sonnenkrieg Division. Also in July 2020, the U.K. banned Feuerkrieg Division (FKD), an Estonia-based European offshoot of AWD created in approximately 2018. Far-right extremist activity continues to pose a threat to the U.K., however, and homegrown groups such as Patriotic Alternative continue to operate in the country.
To read the CEP’s Atomwaffen Division / National Socialist Order resource, please click here.
To read CEP’s United Kingdom: Extremism and Terrorism resource, please click here.