Firebomb attack on Dover immigration centre ‘motivated by extreme right-wing terrorist ideology’

Andrew Leak, later found dead, was named by police as the man suspected of carrying out the attack on the processing centre

Maryam Zakir-Hussain
Saturday 05 November 2022 15:27 GMT
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The firebombing of an immigration processing centre in Dover was motivated by an extreme right-wing terrorist ideology, police have said.

Andrew Leak, 66, from High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, is believed to have killed himself at a nearby petrol station after throwing two or three “crude” incendiary devices at the Western Jet Foil site in Kent last Sunday.

Counter Terrorism Policing South East (CTPSE) declared the attack a terrorist incident after discovering new evidence.

A man threw three firebombs at the immigration centre in Kent last Sunday

“A number of significant witnesses have been spoken to during the course of the investigation and a number of items of interest have been recovered, including digital media devices,” a statement said.

“Evidence from examining these items suggests there was an extreme right-wing motivation behind the attack.”

Police said there was no evidence that Leak was working with anyone else and there was no wider threat to the public.

Tim Jacques, senior national coordinator for counterterrorism policing, said: “This was clearly a very worrying incident and, although nobody was seriously hurt, two people did sustain minor injuries.

A man was caught on camera throwing devices from a car before driving off

Members of the military and UK Border Force extinguish a fire from one of the petrol bombs

“Increasingly in counterterrorism casework, across all ideologies, we are seeing individuals who have mental health concerns and a hateful mindset.

“Assessing when this crosses the terrorism threshold is a complex process and needs to be carefully considered on a case-by-case basis. These decisions need to be determined by the facts, as far as they can be established at any given time.

“After considering the evidence collected so far in this case, while there are strong indications that mental health was probably a factor, I am satisfied that the suspect’s actions were primarily driven by an extremist ideology. This meets the threshold for a terrorist incident.”

Home secretary Suella Braverman has faced criticism for her handling of the migrant crisis

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper tweeted: “Very serious that far-right extremism drove this attack.

“I remain concerned that it took so long for counterterror police to take lead on this case – something I urged home secretary to pursue on Monday.

“There must be highest vigilance on potential terror or extremist attacks.”

Two members of staff suffered minor injuries inside the Western Jet Foil facility after police were called at 11.22am last Sunday morning.

Facebook posts on a now-deleted account under the name of an Andy Leak from High Wycombe contain anti-Muslim sentiments and complaints about people claiming benefits if they do not speak English.

Ms Braverman during a visit to the migrant processing centre in Dover following the attack

One, shared on 9 August, said: “The next time the job centre sanctions your money for not looking for enough work ask them about the thousands of people getting benefits who cannot speak English and cannot write English; how are they looking for work?

“Unemployment benefits clearly state you cannot claim benefits if not looking for work; all of these people should be excluded from benefits.

“You can clearly not look for work if you cannot read English or speak English; they are breaking the law; time to stand up.”

After the incident, 700 people were moved to Manston asylum processing centre near Ramsgate for safety reasons.

Police said the investigation was ongoing, including work being carried out on behalf of the coroner.

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