Excuses and distractions offered as far right hate preachers refuse to accept their influence on murderous terrorist's actions.
It took the jury less than an hour to determine that Darren Osborne was guilty of the Finsbury Park terrorist attack.
Apologists and even supporters of the “evil and cowardly” killer were no less prompt in offering up excuses for a man clearly radicalised by online far right polemicists.
Let’s just quickly recap the Osborne case.
The evidence presented was clear. His estranged partner told the court that the father of four became radicalised in just three short weeks. He had, she said, been “brainwashed.”
The trigger came when he watched the BBC’s acclaimed drama, Three Girls, a powerful and disturbing account of the grooming and sexual abuse of young girls in Rochdale, largely by Pakistani men.
Anyone who watched that programme (and/or has read the first hand account of events in Girl A) can’t help but have been both moved and angered. It was a harrowing watch.
A springboard into the far right
But for Osborne it provided a springboard into the far right which, as ever, was quick to seize the opportunity to promote its own narrative in the same way it has done with recent terrorist atrocities.
As the UK’s counter terrorist authorities have finally realised, the relationship between Islamist terrorists and the extreme far right is symbiotic. They need each other.
The court heard that in particular Osborne became obsessed with the online outbursts of Stephen Yaxley Lennon (aka Tommy Robinson) and Britain First. Osborne had subscribed to Lennon’s Rebel Media mailing list, receiving in return a message in his name which said:
“There is a nation within a nation forming beneath the surface of the UK. It is a nation built on hatred, on violence and on Islam.”
One of Lennon’s tweets was found on the dashboard of the van which Osborne used to mow down innocent Muslims.
Even before the case had concluded, Lennon was seeking to distance himself, to reject the court evidence which implicated him in that brainwashing. He’s continued since, ignoring his own daily deluge of inflammatory anti-Muslim (not simply anti-terror) social media rants.
Thus the murder of an elderly Muslim and the injury to nine other innocent people is not apparently inspired by the kind of virulent Islamophobia he champions.
In time honoured tradition he launched an appeal for funds so, he says, he can sue the Crown Prosecution Service and media. If you’ve donated, I’d recommend you don’t hold your breath for any legal action.
Airtime for extremists
Having not learned its lesson with Anjem Choudary the BBC then yet again gave Lennon airtime. This time it was Newsnight on which he got to rant at speed and without logic.
It was a performance which won’t have convinced the vast majority of the television audience. But as he knows, that doesn’t matter. His core audience will have lapped it up and shared it on social media.
Indeed we know that has happened.
Osborne, he said, is a “brave man” and a hero”.
It has been reported that Gordon has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and, as with Osborne, there’s a suggestion of mental health issues. As you can see, he’s also appears fond of waving around a machete. This is one of three such images I found on his social media accounts.
He’s also retweeted other far right figures such as Mark Collett, Anne Marie Waters and Paul Weston.
You might say that he bears all the hallmarks.
He is, of course, not the only one to dismiss or disparage the actuality of the Osborne case.
I’ve reported before on the antics of ‘BNP Granny’ Angela Holbrooks and her daughter Louise.
Angela has in particular become increasingly well known, having been a card-carrying BNP member who has hung around with various nasties in her native North West.
These include the North West Infidels and, at a Bolton protest, the now proscribed National Action.
But it’s Louise whose made her mark this time. She took to her gang’s little “community group”, TEAM TIMPERLEY, to suggest that as the gentleman Osborne killed had been ill, then it wasn’t murder.
Meanwhile the new splinter group, the Anti Terror Alliance has excelled itself in rationalising Osborne’s actions.
My colleague Mathew Collins reported recently on how this group was formed as a breakaway group from the increasingly broken Football Lads Alliance.
At its helm is Eddie Stampton (below left), a particularly unhinged neo-Nazi.
His new gang are just as unstable. Earlier this week they stormed a Greenwich Council meeting to demand that a permanent memorial be placed on the site where Lee Rigby was brutally murdered.
They knew that, for very understandable reasons, his mother had specifically asked for this not to happen. But that didn’t stop them loudly and abusively pushing their own agenda. Such respect.
So no surprise then that their reaction was exceptionally foul.
In one dialogue in their supposedly closed group, Colin Hawkins struggles to understand why Osborne’s atrocious act was deemed to be one of terror. He cites his mental health, forgetting perhaps that one of Lee Rigby’s killers was also diagnosed with a serious mental disorder and his murderous actions also deemed to be of terrorist intent. It’s one rule for all Hawkins.
As you can see, Stampton is quick to help with a further explanation. It’s all about appeasing Muslims and to “help build the lie” of far right terrorism.
That “lie” Eddie, is in fact now the considered if overdue opinion of the UK’s counter terrorism services. The UK may have a small and highly fractured far right, but there is nonetheless an ongoing threat from those, like Osborne, who are susceptible to the online spewings of the likes of Fransen, Golding and Lennon, and the few hardline violent and would-be neo-Nazis and fascists that lie below the surface of decent society.
There are, for example, fellow members of Stampton’s ATA force who like to claim that the murder never happened and that “it’s time to bring back P*** bashing”
I guess the regional Counter Terror units have these guys on their radar despite the so-called secrecy of the group. But a quick heads up to them anyway. The administrator, Dean Matt, is set to press delete. He thinks it may have been infiltrated by a “leftie.”
What the Osborne case teaches us, is that whilst the preachings of Lennon et al may fall within UK law, they are nonetheless dangerous. As are the rabid rantings of the likes of Eddie Stampton. They help normalise hate in a way we’ve not seen before. They provide those with an anger at society, a disposition to violence and, yes, mental health issues, with a personal justification to commit extreme acts.
We call it radicalisation but in the rarefied atmosphere of a social media “bubble” it’s no longer rare. It’s normal. That is what is frightening.