The co-founder and chief propagandist of banned UK neo-Nazi group National Action was found guilty of being a member of a banned terrorist organisation on Thursday.
Ben Raymond, a 32-year-old from Swindon in southwest England, helped found the neo-Nazi group in 2013, which sought to foment a race war it referred to as “white jihad.”
He was convicted in the Bristol Crown Court of belonging to a proscribed organisation, after the jury found he had continued to remain a member of the group after it was banned. Raymond is the 17th person to be convicted of membership of National Action since it was banned in December 2016, becoming the first far-right group to be outlawed in the UK since the Second World War.
Prosecutor Barnaby Jameson QC told the court earlier in the trial that Raymond and other key figures had flouted the ban, as National Action morphed into underground cells that continued to operate.
Raymond, who denied the charges and did not give evidence in his defence, was also convicted on two counts of possesing information useful to a terrorist – the manifesto of Norwegian white supremacist terrorist Anders Behring Breivik, and a manual on homemade detonators.
While the court heard that National Action’s members hoarded weapons including firearms, a machete and crossbow, Jameson said that Raymond avoided plotting attacks and acted as the group’s propaganda chief.
“His jihad was fought with words and images. He was, like Joseph Goebbels of the original cabal of Nazis, the natural head of propaganda,” said Jameson, describing Raymond as the “public face” of the group.
“He gave media interviews, setting out the group’s virulent ethnic cleansing agenda to the media with sometimes transcendental calm.”
Raymond also reportedly had contacts with neo-Nazi groups elsewhere, including the US terror group Atomwaffen Division, meeting with the group’s leader in London in 2015. Raymond and his associates were heavily influenced by Islamic State atrocities, and sought to replicate their violent extremism in pursuit of their own “white jihad.”
UK antifascist campaign group Hope not Hate welcomed Raymond’s conviction, blaming him for influencing a new wave of white supremacist “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,” said Matthew Collins, the group’s head of intelligence.
“It is our sincere belief that Raymond’s actions are almost singlehandedly responsible for a new generation of ‘bedroom terrorists’, a growing number of young men who have become radicalised by Ben Raymond and are now obsessed with carrying out terror attacks in the name of Raymond’s ‘white jihad’ philosophy.”
Among Raymond’s associates who have been convicted in recent years were Jack Renshaw, a former National Action spokesman who was jailed for a terror plot to murder his local MP, Rosie Cooper in Lancashire. Another neo-Nazi associate, Zack Davies, was given a life sentence for attempting to murder a Sikh man in a supermarket in 2015.
Raymond was remanded in custody and will be sentenced on Friday.