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Four British soldiers have been arrested on suspicion of being members of a neo-Nazi terror cell.
Police announced that they took four men into custody – three in their twenties and one aged 32 – on suspicion of being part of the far-right National Action group.
National Action recently became the first right-wing organisation to be officially banned by the government, which means that being a member of the group is itself a terror offence.
It was outlawed in December 2016 by Home Secretary Amber Rudd, who has the power to ban groups under UK terror laws. At the time she said: “National Action is a racist, antisemitic and homophobic organisation which stirs up hatred, glorifies violence and promotes a vile ideology.
“It has absolutely no place in a Britain that works for everyone.”
West Midlands Police announced the arrests on Tuesday morning. Shortly afterwards the Army confirmed to Business Insider that all four men are serving soldiers, but declined to provide any information on their units or ranks.
The men are being held on suspicion of “being concerned in the commission, preparation, and instigation of acts of terrorism under Section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000.”
Police said at this stage they only believe that the men are members of the group, rather than planning any specific attacks.
— West Midlands Police (@WMPolice) September 5, 2017
None of the suspects were named. Police said they are a 22-year-old from Birmingham, a 32-year-old from Powys, a 24-year-old from Ipswich, and a 24-year-old from Northampton.
They are all being held at one police station in the West Midlands, police said. West Midlands Police said the arrests were pre-emptive, and that there was no specific threat to the public.
A spokeswoman for the Army said: “We can confirm that a number of serving members of the Army have been arrested under the Terrorism Act for being associated with a proscribed far-right group.
“These arrests are the consequence of a police-led operation supported by the Army. This is now the subject of a civilian police investigation and it would be inappropriate to comment further.”