But police and anti-fascist sources counsel against seeing the attacks as evidence that the extremists have suddenly acquired the expertise and the arsenal to conduct large-scale, sustained paramilitary operations. The more likely scenario is that a small faction has embarked on a bombing campaign that is rudimentary, although alarming and dangerous,
Several far-right groups sought responsibility for the attack on Brixton, south London on Saturday 12 April, one of the first claims being made by the neo-Nazi Combat 18, which takes its name from Adolf Hitler's initials, the first and eighth letter of the alphabet. But there was also a call from an organisation hitherto unknown to the public, the White Wolves, and after the Brick Lane blast its activities are now under intense scrutiny.
Four years ago, a 15-page booklet by the White Wolves was circulated among the fascist fringes. It admitted the much-expected "race-war" simply was not " about to happen. So we must start it ourselves ... Our main line of attack must be the immigrants themselves, the black and Asian ghettos. If this is done regularly, effectively and brutally, the aliens will respond by attacking the whites at random, forcing them off the fence and into self- defence". The cycle of friction and violence would, they believe, ultimately lead to the hoped-for racial civil war.
The booklet begins with a Rudyard Kipling poem, The Beginnings, containing the line: "Time shall count from the date, That the English begin to hate". It advises "nationalists" to form themselves into cells of two or three and instructs on how to make a bomb timer with a clock, battery and lightbulb. It does not suggest the use of nail bombs, but the bombs at Brixton and Brick Lane are believed to have involved similar timers.
Black, Asian and Jewish politicians, public figures and organisations have had recent threats from the White Wolves saying" " Notice is hereby given that all non-whites and jews (defined by blood not religion) must permanently leave the British Isles before the year is out. Jews and non- whites who remain after 1999 has ended will be exterminated." It is signed "Hail Britannia".
The content of the White Wolves booklet bears similarities to the jargon of white supremacist and survivalist cultures in the US. White Wolves is a name used by a Serbian paramilitary organisation involved in ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, and The Gray Wolves are an extreme right Turkish nationalist group that has been accused of involvement in the assassination attempt on the Pope. Police sources say it would be wrong to assume a sophisticated, international organisation has been born. Instead, the White Wolves could be a very small body inciting violence and offering advice for "nutters" to commit it.
Combat 18 has also been disseminating instructions on bomb-making. One recent leaflet, adorned with pictures of Hitler and swastikas, shows how to build a timer and electronic detonator. The group sees itself as the hard soldiers of the white race, and they are contemptuous of others such as the National Front for being "too soft". But in reality Combat 18 is now more involved in drug-dealing and selling skinhead records than in leading the race war.
The C18 leader, Paul "Charlie "Sarjeant is serving a life sentence for the murder of a fellow member, Christopher Castle, and the group recently split, with a faction forming the National Socialist Alliance.
Combat 18 has also been heavily infiltrated by Scotland Yard's Special Branch and the security services, and used, at one time, to gather intelligence on the extreme-right and loyalist paramilitaries in Ulster, with whom the group had forged links.
The Northern Ireland connection was loosened when the Ulster Volunteer Force, whose leadership was alarmed at the racism and criminality of the British group, ordered it to shut down its office in Belfast. Attempts have been made to re-establish the links recently, with members of the Ulster Defence Association and Ulster Volunteer Force visiting the mainland.
Among the other extreme-right groups, the National Front and the British National Party are now trying, without much success, to follow a broadly political agenda, although members are still engaged in routine violence. They are not immediate suspects for the Brixton and Brick Lane bombs. One group that does maintain close links with European terrorist organisations is the International Third Position, founded by dissident National Front members and Italian fascists who live here, including one suspected of the Bologna bombing. The group has not claimed responsibility for the London bombings.
Mike Whine, of the Board of Jewish Deputies, said: "The organisation probably consists of only half-a-dozen people, but you do not need many to carry out acts of violence."