Bomb disposal unit called to Leeds as counter-terrorism police arrest 11 far-right group members

Oak Avenue, GarforthOak Avenue, Garforth
Oak Avenue, Garforth
A bomb disposal unit was called to a Leeds house today alongside counter-terrorism police as part of a major operation.

Police were called to Oak Avenue in Garforth, as part of an investigation into banned extreme right-wing group National Action.

A 26-year-old Leeds man has been arrested on suspicion of membership of a proscibed organisation along with a 23-year-old man from Sowerby Bridge in West Yorkshire.

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A YEP reader sent in this footage of the bomb disposal team in Oak Avenue this afternoon.

Across the country, 11 men in total have been arrested. Two of the men are from West Yorkshire.

Officers from Counter Terrorism Policing North East and North West, supported by Wales Extremism and Counter Terrorism Unit and Wiltshire Police conducted the arrests, a spokesman for Greater Manchester Police said.

The arrests on Wednesday result from two separate investigations and follow activity earlier this month by West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit. The men from the North West are a 24-year-old from Seaforth, a 23-year-old from Newton-le-Willows, a 33-year-old from Prescott, a 31-year-old from Warrington, and a 35-year-old from Warrington.

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They have all been arrested on suspicion of preparation of a terrorist act, funding terrorism, and membership of a proscribed organisation.

Assistant Chief Constable Russ Jackson, who is responsible for counter-terrorism policing for the North West, said: "Individuals involved in proscribed organisations who support extremist ideologies bring damaging consequences to local communities but, with the help of the public and our partners, we will do everything we can do bring these people to justice."

Eleven properties are also being searched, police said. The arrests follow several others in connection with National Action earlier this month.

National Action became the first extreme right-wing group to be banned under terrorism laws in December 2016. The proscription meant that being a member of or inviting support for the organisation is a criminal offence carrying a sentence of up to 10 years' imprisonment.

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In the official list of proscribed groups, it is described as a ''racist neo-Nazi group'' that was established in 2013 and has branches across the UK which ''conduct provocative street demonstrations and stunts aimed at intimidating local communities''.

The document adds that the group is ''virulently racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic'' and says its activities and propaganda materials are particularly aimed at recruiting young people.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, the senior national co-ordinator for counter-terrorism policing, said: "CT (counter terrorism) policing is committed to tackling all forms of extremism that threatens public safety and security.

"Investigations relating to alleged extreme right-wing activity are pursued with the same level or resource and vigour as other ideologies, in order to bring suspected offenders before the courts. "Today's arrests, while resulting from two separate investigations, have been coordinated by our officers across a number of forces.

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This maximises operational effectiveness for police and minimises disruption for the local communities." Mr Jackson added: "We are committed to taking positive action such as this to remove those connected to organisations, such as National Action, from our communities.

"All information received will be dealt with in the strictest confidence and can be passed to us anonymously by calling the anti-terrorism hotline on 0800 789 321"