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Ben Raymond: National Action co-founder had links with Atomwaffen terrorists in US, court hears

Defendant met American neo-Nazi who was later convicted of explosives offences in London, court hears

Lizzie Dearden
Security Correspondent
Friday 05 November 2021 01:32 GMT
Ben Raymond, centre, speaking at a National Action demonstration in Liverpool in February 2016
Ben Raymond, centre, speaking at a National Action demonstration in Liverpool in February 2016 (Bitchute)

The co-founder of a British neo-Nazi terrorist group had links with Atomwaffen Division terrorists in the US, a court has heard.

Ben Raymond, 32, is on trial accused of seven terror offences including remaining a member of National Action after it was banned in December 2016.

Bristol Crown Court heard that he met a member of Atomwaffen Division, a militant American neo-Nazi organisation that has been listed as a terrorist group by the British government, in London and was in contact with others online.

Mr Raymond allegedly admitted meeting up with leading figure Brandon Russell, who was later jailed for possessing high explosives, in 2014 or 2015.

Jurors were shown records of messages Russell sent to a different National Action member in 2015, saying: “I have learned a TON from you guys.”

Prosecutor Barnaby Jameson QC told the jury that Mr Raymond was then in contact with Russell over Skype between October 2016 and April 2017.

In an exchange in January 2017, after National Action was banned as a terrorist group, Russell asked “how is NA doing?”.

The defendant replied: “I have to keep prefacing myself - NA is disbanded, and to identify with it is an offence under the terrorism act. I do have to emphasise the importance of this. If you are asking about the guys they are all doing fine.”

Mr Jameson questioned whether Mr Raymond was “being candid” or made the statement because he was “suspicious of being overheard on Skype”.

“You may think that was a good example of his saying what he wanted any listening ears to hear – and doing the opposite,” he told the jury.

The defendant’s address book on Skype also contained a contact listed as “Kekman”, whose real name was Devon Arthurs.

The court heard that Arthurs had been a member of Atomwaffen Division but then converted to Islam, and months later murdered two roommates who were also in the group.

When asked about Atomwaffen Division by police, Mr Raymond described it as a “fun social club for people who like to do pranks in Florida”, the court heard.

But the court heard the defendant had downloaded court documents detailing the explosives charges against Russell and murders committed by Arthurs.

Mr Raymond also described National Action as a “silly protest group” in a police interview.

Mr Jameson told the jury: “These were both armed terrorist groups, armed with rifles, crossbows, ice- picks, knives and daggers and when those are stockpiled no-one is laughing.”

The jury was told that Mr Raymond was also linked to other convicted neo-Nazis such as Jack Renshaw, who is serving a life sentence for plotting to murder Labour MP Rosie Cooper in 2017.

Mr Jameson said messages sent by the defendant showed he “plainly approved of Renshaw's violently antisemitic views”, and that he failed to notify police after another National Action member warned him of his terror plot.

“Why, you may ask, did the defendant - who told police in interview he was unequivocally opposed to any form of terrorism or political violence - contact [a senior National Action member] and not the police?” he asked.

“An MP’s life was in danger. What was stopping him? Unless, of course, he was still a member of a banned terrorist group.”

Mr Raymond, who denies all charges, is accused of remaining a member of National Action after the ban and possessing documents useful for a terrorist.

The court heard that he used his skills as an illustrator and digital designer to create propaganda for National Action and successor groups, including the subsequently banned terrorist groups NS131 and Scottish Dawn.

Jurors were shown images found on his electronic devices appearing to show multiple versions of different logos and designs for posters and stickers.

Mr Jameson said Mr Raymond was “not just a member but a leader, a direction finder and a decision maker” after National Action was proscribed as a terrorist group.

“The ideology of the group never changed,” the prosecutor added.

“If anything it hardened after the ban ... the bonds of hate are strong, and it was the group’s unfaltering extremist ideology that in inspired it to flout the ban and come into open conflict with the terrorism legislation.”

Mr Raymond, of Swindon, denies remaining a member of National Action after it was proscribed as a terrorist group in December 2016.

He has also pleaded not guilty to six counts of possessing documents useful to a terrorist, including the manifesto of Norway shooter Anders Breivik, and manuals for making explosives and homemade guns. The trial continues.

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