Ben Raymond: Co-founder of neo-Nazi terrorist group National Action convicted of terror offences

‘Puppet master’ created propaganda for National Action factions that formed under new names to evade terror laws after 2016 ban

Lizzie Dearden
Security Correspondent
Tuesday 30 November 2021 18:18
<p>Ben Raymond, centre, speaking at a National Action demonstration in Liverpool in February 2016</p>

Ben Raymond, centre, speaking at a National Action demonstration in Liverpool in February 2016

The co-founder of the National Action neo-Nazi terrorist group has been convicted of remaining a member after it was banned.

Ben Raymond was also found guilty of possessing information useful to a terrorist on Tuesday.

The 32-year-old denied all offences, but was convicted of membership of a proscribed organisation by a majority of 10 to two jurors following a trial at Bristol Crown Court.

He was found guilty of two counts of possessing terrorist documents – the manifesto written by Norway shooter Anders Breivik and a manual on making explosive detonators – and cleared of four more counts of the same offence.

Judge Christopher Parker QC remanded Raymond, who had been on bail throughout the trial, in custody ahead of a sentencing hearing on Friday.

The court heard that he was an international neo-Nazi terrorist who coined the term “white jihad” and forged links with groups including Atomwaffen Division in the US.

Raymond created violent National Action propaganda before it was banned by the government in December 2016, then continued his design work for successor groups that tried to evade the law by operating under different names.

He remained in online chat groups with his fellow neo-Nazis and attended the trials of those later prosecuted for continued membership.

Prosecutor Barnaby Jameson QC said he had been “forwarding the National Action cause before and after proscription”, when leader Christopher Lythgoe vowed the group would “just shed one skin for another”.

Raymond emailed senior figures saying he was “super excited about working on all new projects” on 16 December 2016 – the day National Action officially became a terrorist group.

Evidence shown to the court indicated that he remained in contact with leaders of the new factions that were formed, and was the only member of a chat group named “Inner” who had not been convicted of membership.

Summarising the prosecution’s evidence to the jury, Judge Parker QC called the defendant a “puppet master” who worked mainly off-stage after the ban, “pulling the strings and promoting the cause without himself personally attending so many of their rallies and meetings”.

Mr Jameson said Raymond had an “entrenched terrorist mindset” and created “sick and disturbing” material, including posters glorifying Adolf Hitler, from his flat above a dog grooming salon in Swansea.

Ben Raymond being interviewed by the BBC in 2015, before National Action was banned as a terrorist group

Raymond wrote a book, called Attack, in 2015 that vowed to “continue the battle for the final victory of our race”.

“We are done mincing words, now we need something to fan the flames,” he wrote. “We are the faithful soldiers of the National Socialist idea … what are you going to do white man when is the time to stand up?”

The jury was played footage of the defendant threatening to “gas traitors” at a 2016 protest in Liverpool, and shown a video he created including clips of executions.

“He was careful not to stockpile weapons or carry out physical attacks himself,” Mr Jameson told the jury. “He fought his holy war with words and images. He was, like Joseph Goebbels of the original cabal of Nazis, the natural head of propaganda.”

An internal National Action document detailing the group’s structure shortly before the ban named Raymond as the third-most senior member, and an “adviser/diplomat/intermediary”.

It gave him responsibility for areas including strategy, propaganda and legal issues.

Matthew Collins, head of intelligence at the counter-extremist group Hope Not Hate, said its researchers believed that “Raymond’s actions are almost singlehandedly responsible for a new generation of ‘bedroom terrorists’”.

“Ben Raymond is a Nazi who has consistently shown admiration for terrorism, and propagated an extremist politics that glorifies racism, antisemitism and misogyny,” he added.

“A growing number of young men have become radicalised by Ben Raymond and are now obsessed with carrying out terror attacks in the name of Raymond’s ‘white jihad’ philosophy.”

He denied all charges but did not give evidence in his defence, and when questioned by police described National Action as a “silly protest group”.

Defence barrister Barra McGrory QC said Raymond accepted that National Action existed after the ban “with hindsight” but was unaware at the time.

“Just because an individual may be sympathetic with the aims and rationale of an organisation it doesn’t mean they belong to it,” he added.

“To hold views which are repugnant to many, obnoxious and offensive, in itself is not an unlawful act.”

Mr McGrory said Raymond had a reasonable excuse to possess the manifesto published by Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik, and was not aware of the contents of other terrorist documents found on his hard drives.

They included manuals on how to make bombs, molotov cocktails, firearms and silencers as well as on conducting “ethnic cleansing operations”.

Only two out of five documents alleged to amount to terror offences by the prosecution resulted in convictions.

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