Teenagers ‘groomed into neo-Nazi groups by activists their own age’, report warns

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Teenagers ‘groomed into neo-Nazi groups by activists their own age’, report warns

New Kings College London/CST report suggests the idea of young people being lured into far-right groups by older leaders is now largely a myth

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Nazi memorabilia in the bedroom of a teenager who made a pipe bomb, in a separate case 

(Photo credit: North East CTU/PA Wire)
Nazi memorabilia in the bedroom of a teenager who made a pipe bomb, in a separate case (Photo credit: North East CTU/PA Wire)

Teenage neo-Nazis, some of whom have been convicted of terror offences, are increasingly being groomed into far-right groups by activists their own age, rather than by older leaders, a new report has warned.

The study, published by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation & Political Violence (ICSR) at Kings College London, suggests the image of passive young radicals being groomed by elderly far-right leaders is largely a myth.

Looking at the growth of 10 neo-Nazi youth movements, the report concludes that teenagers are themselves the groomers, the propagandists, the recruiters, the plotters and the convicted perpetrators of extreme-right terrorism – and they do so independently of older activists.

The report’s author Hannah Rose says: “Young people are both vulnerable to online grooming through manipulation by seasoned extreme-right extremists and, increasingly they are themselves the groomers, the propagandists, the recruiters and the plotters, and the convicted perpetrators.”

It also suggests that young extremists have succeeded in bypassing social media companies’ content moderation algorithms, posting explicitly neo-Nazi content and using mainstream social media sites as a tool for recruitment and spreading racist ideologies.

The platforms included in the report, titled We Are Generation Terror!, are Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and Telegram.

Through analysis of material put out by 10 youth movements,of which two are UK-specific and three others have a UK presence, the report, published jointly with the Community Security Trust, coined the term “youth-on-youth radicalisation” .

“With very limited exceptions, all groups in the sample demonstrate antisemitic beliefs, demonizing the Jewish community and often depicting them as the root of various problems. This includes promoting antisemitic conspiracy theories and occasionally inciting violence against the Jewish community,” the report states.

“Islamophobia and xenophobia are also common.”

The other groups in the report are based in Spain, Germany, Switzerland and Finland.

They reveal for the first time the group behind the terrorism conviction of a 16-year-old boy in Newcastle, Blutkrieg Division, and present exclusive data on rapidly growing Spanish neo-Nazi group Bastión Frontal.

The extreme-right youth groups investigated have been active since 2018, have an average membership age of under 25, and are linked to arrests for hate crimes,
incitement to violence and planning of terrorist attacks.

They spread ideologies of racial nationalism by stoking conspiracy theories, like the belief that governments, elites and Jew are engaged in a deliberate effort to erase the white race by bringing immigrants, and predominately Muslims, to the West.

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