Egyptian court gives life term to Muslim Brotherhood leader

A senior leader of Egypt’s outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group was convicted on terror charges and sentenced to life in prison, the country’s state-owned news agency reported.

According to the Middle East News Agency, a Cairo court found Mahmoud Ezzat, the acting supreme guide of the country’s oldest Islamist organisation, guilty of terror acts that followed the 2013 military overthrow of Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsi.

Last summer, 76-year-old Ezzat was arrested after police found him hiding in an apartment on the outskirts of Cairo.

According to authorities at the time, a search of the apartment uncovered computers and mobile phones with encrypted software that allowed Ezzat to communicate with group members in Egypt and abroad.

Documents with “destructive plans” were also found, police said.

Ezzat had been at large since the summer of 2013, after the military removed Mr Morsi, who hailed from Brotherhood ranks.

Mr Morsi’s short-lived rule proved divisive and provoked mass protests nationwide.

Mr Morsi died after collapsing in court during one of his trials in June 2019.

Ezzat was believed to have fled the country along with many of the group’s leaders following the crackdown on their organisation.

He was named the group’s acting leader in August 2013.

He was convicted of several terror-related crimes and sentenced twice to death in absentia.

Following his arrest, he was retried, as Egyptian law dictates.

Credit: PA News

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Categories: Egypt, Mahmout Ezzat, Morsi, Muslim Brotherhood, News

Egyptian court gives life term to Muslim Brotherhood leader

A senior leader of Egypt’s outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group was convicted on terror charges and sentenced to life in prison, the country’s state-owned news agency reported.

According to the Middle East News Agency, a Cairo court found Mahmoud Ezzat, the acting supreme guide of the country’s oldest Islamist organisation, guilty of terror acts that followed the 2013 military overthrow of Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsi.

Last summer, 76-year-old Ezzat was arrested after police found him hiding in an apartment on the outskirts of Cairo.

According to authorities at the time, a search of the apartment uncovered computers and mobile phones with encrypted software that allowed Ezzat to communicate with group members in Egypt and abroad.

Documents with “destructive plans” were also found, police said.

Ezzat had been at large since the summer of 2013, after the military removed Mr Morsi, who hailed from Brotherhood ranks.

Mr Morsi’s short-lived rule proved divisive and provoked mass protests nationwide.

Mr Morsi died after collapsing in court during one of his trials in June 2019.

Ezzat was believed to have fled the country along with many of the group’s leaders following the crackdown on their organisation.

He was named the group’s acting leader in August 2013.

He was convicted of several terror-related crimes and sentenced twice to death in absentia.

Following his arrest, he was retried, as Egyptian law dictates.

Credit: PA News

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Categories: Egypt, Mahmout Ezzat, Morsi, Muslim Brotherhood, News

Woman, 18, arrested in France over ‘plot’ targeting church

French anti-terrorism investigators said that an 18-year-old woman arrested over the Easter weekend was suspected of planning an attack on a church.

New details have emerged about the teen, who was living in Beziers, in southern France, and is suspected of plotting an attack targeting nearby Montpellier over Easter.

On Thursday, anti-terrorism officials said that during a search of her home they found a photo of the schoolteacher beheaded by a radical Islamist in October.

Samuel Paty was murdered after showing caricatures of the prophet of Islam to his class.

Officials also said that bomb-making materials were found in the apartment, as well as photos of “armed jihadists”, a diagram of a nearby church and handwritten notes referring to the Nazis and the Islamic State group.

The teenager, who has not been identified, was not previously known to authorities.

Authorities stressed that no constructed explosives were found.


Read more: New arrest by French investigators probing church attack in Nice

Students helped killer find teacher who was beheaded, says French prosecutor

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Categories: armed Jihadists, Beziers, France, News, Samuel Paty

Muslim engineer wins religious discrimination claim after bogus extremism referral

A Muslim engineer at a supply plant for nuclear reactors received a £3,500 payout for direct religious discrimination after a false rumour spread from staff to management resulted in counter-terror police visiting Mo Master at his home.

Master, who had worked at Springfields Fuels in Preston for 28 years, had taken a voluntary redundancy payment of around £70,000 in February 2018, citing allegations about the loss of flexible working to attend Friday prayers and that a colleague had said: “we live in a Christian country who has given you permission to go and pray during working hours” which the tribunal ruled were out of time.

An extension, however, was given so Mr Master could appeal the discriminatory Prevent referral, which occurred after Simon Johnson, the plant’s head of security, contacted the external regular, the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), after spurious rumours persisted that Master had said that British soldiers based in the Middle East “should die”.

Plain-clothed officers attended the address of Mr Master three months later in May 2018, who was unaware of any referral. The ninety-minute meeting, described in the documentation as being respectful on both sides, included questions about Master’s religious observance, whether his children were required to fast, and his friendship networks, which he accepted the police were entitled to ask and that he should respond. His wife and father had been present throughout the meeting, which caused the latter distress, as this was the only time police had visited their property. The police were satisfied that the matter required no further action, and according to evidence submitted by Mr Master, officers allegedly expressed that the matter was a “waste of their time”. Police had also expressed ‘disquiet‘ about waiting until to May to investigate a report submitted in January.

The 25-page judgment made clear that the rumour arose from “an unknown source that was allowed to persist and circulate and was now being passed up the management chain”.

The judgment added no context, explanation, or evidence of when the rumour began or even who made the report to management, nor could the respondent explain its origin.

Judge Mark Leach noted: “Had the claimant not been Muslim, this rumour would not have persisted to the extent that it did”.

The call made to the ONR was deemed “little more than a kneejerk reaction to being presented with unsubstantiated allegation” about an “employee making an extremist comment and information about the same employee displaying behaviour of greater religious observance” as no efforts were made internally to investigate before contacting the ONR, or even after that.

Nor had the ONR in this referral been told that the rumour had an unknown source and that it was unsubstantiated – or that no such issues had arisen during Mr Master’s long years of employment.

Judge Leach expressed surprise that no documents or email to the ONR had were generated, or even what the ONR had said in response before making their Prevent referral.

The unfavourable and potential for less favourable treated concerned the persistence of the false rumour about the British troops comment and the passing of their personal data (including their home address), his religion, and attributing the false comment which would lessen their standing with others, even though such comments were baseless.

The tribunal found that a significant factor in the rumour persisting was that Mr Master was Muslim, as had a non-Muslim employee made this comment (the hypothetical comparator), the rumour would not have persisted, and, therefore, they concluded, the climate of a difficult management issue to one of security would not have existed.

Master, however, must pay his former employers £7,622 in costs after making a series of other claims that the tribunal dismissed, including disability discrimination and constructive dismissal.

Tell MAMA continues to document a rise in discrimination reports, notably in workplaces in recent years and provides a free tool kit to download, produced in partnership with the Yorkshire & North Derbyshire branch of the GMB trade union.

Other case studies highlighted by Tell MAMA include other forms of discrimination towards Muslim individuals under a broader securitisation framework. And the misuse of safeguarding protocols regarding children, as highlighted in previous annual reports.

 

 

 

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Categories: discrimination, Discrimination at work, News, Prevent

5 women arrested in southern France in suspected attack plot

Police in southern France have arrested four women and a girl as part of an anti-terrorist investigation into a suspected attack plot targeting the city of Montpellier.

A police official in the Herault region confirmed the overnight arrests in the city of Beziers, and said the DGSI domestic intelligence service and national anti-terrorist prosecutor’s office are handling the investigation.

Investigators centred on an 18-year-old woman living in a housing project in Beziers who is suspected of plotting an attack targeting nearby Montpellier, according to mayor Robert Menard. The 18-year-old’s mother and three sisters were also arrested, including one who is a minor, he said.

The 18-year-old had “boasted” to neighbours about watching Islamic State videos, Mr Menard told The Associated Press, though he said he did not know whether she or her family had been on authorities’ radar for radicalism.

Mr Menard, who was alerted by police to the operation, said he spoke with rattled neighbours at the scene.

“They’re horrified. They fear it gives a bad image of this neighbourhood, and the Muslim community here,” he said.

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Categories: Attack Plot, Montpellier, News, Robert Menard

Benjamin Hannam: A Revealing Portrait of a young man turned Nazi

Young, white and socially-awkward, Benjamin Hannam was a prime target for neo-Nazi group National Action (NA).

Frustrated at being rejected by his Muslim girlfriend’s family, Hannam was swallowed up by a dangerous online world.

It led him to join NA’s London branch, seduced by free stickers, outdoor activities and the friendship of a “cool” big brother-type figure.

Even after it was banned in December 2016, Hannam – who has autism – continued to associate with some of the same people.

He was filmed spray painting fascist graffiti just weeks before he applied to join the Metropolitan Police in July 2017.

Hannam, now aged 22, of Enfield in north London, was brought up by his single parent mother along with two sisters and a younger bother.

Since his father left, he referred to himself as having “control of the house”, the Old Bailey heard.

Hannam said his “gay” grandfather tried to provide a “fatherly” role, but he had more recently suffered from cancer.

During the pandemic, it was his Jewish step-grandfather “pops” who was the “pillar” of the family, he said.

Despite purporting to have friends with different ethnic backgrounds, Hannam appeared to foster “intolerant” views at Winchmore School in Enfield.

History teacher Lisa Hughes told the court that during a Brexit debate in 2016, in which he spoke for leaving the European Union, Hannam made “inappropriate” anti-immigration comments and “came across as offensive to students”.

In May 2017, she refused to submit an A-level politics dissertation because of his “intolerant” view of Islam.

Hannam was referred to guidance adviser Hafida Zitouni, who described him as “respectful” and “polite” even though he avoided the issue.

Over the course of around 15 sessions, he spoke instead about his frustrations that his Mauritian Muslim girlfriend’s parents did not accept him.

Ms Zitouni also noted he appeared to lack self-confidence around Valentine’s Day and exams.

Giving evidence, Hannam described the difficulties in his three-and-a-half-year secret relationship, which began in 2014.

He said his girlfriend’s parents were “really strict” and “hated” him, even though he tried to study Islam.

At the time, his interests ranged from Japanese anime, Dungeons and Dragons and languages – including the Lord of the Rings’ Elvish.

From the age of around 16, he also developed a darker fascination with fascism, which he was exposed to online through 4Chan, an anonymous bulletin board.

He said he was drawn into it through the artwork and imagery of fascism, which he likened to Star Wars Stormtroopers.

Hannam told jurors: “It was the look and aesthetic of fascism that started it. The bold look of the images.”

The defendant said he went in search of friends he could talk about politics with, because he “struggled socially”.

He told jurors: “It makes sense now I know I’m autistic. I struggle reading people’s faces.

“As I’ve grown older, I’ve become better at communication skills.

“My interests were always vastly different from everyone else’s. When I was at secondary school, after my dad left I got stuck with a behavioural team.

“At secondary school my interests were fantasy and Dungeons and Dragons. It’s really Big Bang Theory-esque.

“I could not discuss politics with anyone. I felt very lonely.”

In 2014, he said he downloaded mass killer Anders Breivik’s extreme right wing manifesto because it was “free”.

He claimed only to have read the first 20 pages, finding it “boring”, although he kept the copy.

Hannam, who had Nazi-style posters by his bed, said he first became aware of NA through discussions on 4Chan.

He said: “Originally the long-term thing was the social isolation and the short-term thing I was on 4Chan and they were pumping out these good quality pictures and I thought these are really professional.”

He emailed the London branch of NA after watching co-founder Benjamin Raymond saying he wanted “university educated young men” on the television, he said.

During his first meeting at a pub in Paddington, Hannam was impressed by the organiser Ivan, who handed out free stickers and NA badges.

Afterwards, he wrote in his diary they were a “good bunch of lads” and that he “cannot wait to get more involved”.

Hannam said he was instructed to join fascist web forum Iron March, where he found more extremist literature and images.

Hannam said: “I had not heard of Iron March until Ivan told me.

“At the meeting I was really really impressed by Ivan. Handsome, confident, intelligent. He seemed really happy I showed up. He was giving me free stuff.

“He said if you want to come and hang again you have to make a post on Iron March, a right wing website.

“The purpose was to increase the clout. At the time I do things without questioning them and that’s really obvious when you ask my sergeant in the police.

“Ivan just told me to do it. I thought he was really cool. I said OK.

“He said mention (NA co-founder) Alex Davies and mention some Nazi stuff and I thought it was just an introductory post.

“He said after you’ve been approved you have to keep posting otherwise your profile is closed.

“You’ve got to say things in the website that fit in with the ideology.

“I was desperate for his approval. I just felt he was a much cooler older guy.”

Hannam went on to attend the NA conference in Liverpool and went to boxing and graffiti events even after NA was banned.

But he insisted he had never been a member of NA because he did not go to demonstrations or banner drops.

He said: “I stuck to social activities. Most of the time was going to the pub and going for walks.

“Other times camping or going boxing. Often it was just young men meeting up getting some snacks and some food and going for a walk.”

Towards the end of his association with NA, Hannam said he had been beaten up and the last straw was hearing a “Satanist” talk about the rape of women, he claimed.

Describing the alleged incident, he said: “One guy had a machete, literally frothing from the mouth talking about raping women and I said ‘how can you say that, you have a mum, how would you feel if your mum heard you say this’.

“I was sick of hate. I was fed up. They kept giving me things for free. I just wanted to hang out with them. In the end it got too sick. That was it. I left.”

Hannam denied he had ever been a member either before or after NA was proscribed.

He also claimed that NA was “not similar to the BNP” as it was not a political party.

But when he launched the organisation, Mr Davies was quoted as saying: “We are like the BNP but more radical.”

Professor Matthew Feldman, Director of the Centre for the Analysis of the Radical Right, was asked for his assessment of how far Hannam had been radicalised.

The expert on post-war right wing extremism said: “The physical and digital items possessed or communicated by Mr Hannam is consistent with engagement with right-wing extremism, in particular adherence to fascist ideology and potentially veiled but none-the-less evident neo-Nazi mindset.”

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Categories: Benjamin Hannam, Enfield, Far Right groups, Muslim girlfriend, National Action, Nazi, News

Rohingya camp fire in Bangladesh kills three

A fire has destroyed more than 20 shops in a makeshift market near a Rohingya refugee camp in southern Bangladesh, killing at least three people.

Local police chief Ahmed Sanjur Morshed said they recovered the bodies from the debris after it took firefighters several hours to bring the blaze under control.

The fire broke out early on Friday when residents of the sprawling Kutupalong camp for Myanmar’s Rohingya refugees were asleep.

Sayedul Mustafa, the owner of a shop, confirmed those killed were his staff.

Emdadul Haque, an official with the Fire Service and Civil Defence, said they had to struggle for more than three hours to get the fire under control. He said several others were also injured.

It was not clear how the fire began. It came after another devastating fire last month in the camp left 15 people dead, 560 others hurt and about 45,000 homeless.

Aid agencies and the government said they started rebuilding the shelters after the massive fire last month.

Authorities have sent about 13,000 refugees to an island in recent months, promising a better life for them. The island has been prepared by the government to accommodate 100,000 refugees. Officials said their effort to send more refugees would continue.

Bangladesh has sheltered more than a million Rohingya Muslims, the vast majority having fled Myanmar in 2017 in a major crackdown by that country’s military.

The UN has said the crackdown had a genocidal intent, which is a charge Myanmar rejects.

Bangladesh has hosted the refugees in crowded refugee camps and is eager to begin sending them back to the Buddhist-majority Myanmar, but several attempts failed because the Rohingya refused to go, fearing more violence in a country that denies them basic rights including citizenship.

The repatriation effort was made even more uncertain in February, when Myanmar’s military staged a coup and replaced the elected, civilian government that had been in office since 2016.


Read more: Fire destroys hundreds of homes in Rohingya refugee camp

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Categories: Bangladesh, Camp fire, News, Rohingya, Rohingya refugees

Neo-Nazi conviction is a ‘unique’ case

Rookie Ben Hannam’s conviction for belonging to an extreme right-wing group is a “unique” case, according to Scotland Yard’s counter terrorism chief.

Commander Richard Smith moved to reassure the public after it emerged that Hannam joined the Metropolitan Police after lying about his association with banned neo-Nazi organisation National Action.

Hannam had been working as a probationary officer for nearly two years when a list of users of the extreme right-wing forum Iron March was leaked online.

Once his email was linked to the forum, investigators uncovered his association with National Action up to the same month he applied to join the police in July 2017.

Mr Smith, who is head of the Met’s counter terrorism command, said: “We were investigating individuals linked to the Iron March forum, which carries extreme right-wing material.

“We were shocked to find one of the individuals we were seeking to identify turned out to be a serving probationary police officer.

“Ben Hannam obviously lied on his application form to join the Met.

“He would never have been able to join had we known then of his interest in the extreme right wing and his previous membership of National Action.

“Once we identified his involvement with that organisation, we took immediate steps to arrest him and put him before the court.”

He said there was no evidence that Hannam was part of a “deliberate” attempt by the extreme right to infiltrate the force.

A review of his work has not revealed any sign that he tried to draw others into his extreme ideology.

Mr Smith said: “We found no evidence that he used his position as a police officer to further his extremist views.”

During his time in the force, Hannam had no direct access to the Police National Computer, although he could have asked others to do checks on cases he was dealing with.

The Met’s vetting process for new recruits is “proportionate”, Mr Smith said.

“The processes we have to vet potential members of the police service are proportionate, that’s not to say they cannot be absolutely exhaustive.”

He declined to “speculate” on whether a face-to-face interview, rather than a vetting form, would have exposed Hannam’s views.

The officer said a reference from the university Hannam attended in the autumn of 2017 did not raise any issues.

Mr Smith added: “To the best of my knowledge this is a unique case.

“I’m not aware of any other police officer ever facing prosecution for membership of a terrorist group.

“I would reassure the public by pointing out how swiftly we acted, as soon as he was identified, to arrest and prosecute him.

“Ben Hannam had been in the Metropolitan Police less than two years when we got this information and we acted immediately.

“People join the Met Police Service with the intent of keeping people safe from harm.

“The views Ben Hannam expressed online and was interested in online are totally incompatible with being a police officer.”

The court had heard that Hannam, who has autism, was radicalised online and joined National Action’s London branch before it was banned.

On the threat posed to vulnerable people, Mr Smith said: “Radicalisation can take place through many routes. We have a clear concern about extremist material available online and we act robustly when we find it.

“I would urge anyone with concerns about somebody vulnerable to radicalisation who may be accessing this abhorrent material online to report the matter to the police there is specialist help available.”

The College of Policing’s Vetting Authorised Professional Practice (APP), which is national guidance and sets the standards for police forces in England and Wales on vetting, is being updated but not as a result of any specific case.

The national application form previously contained a question specifically about BNP membership, according to a spokesman for the College of Policing.

It was updated in December last year and now asks candidates whether they are or have been a member of a proscribed terrorist organisation or group.

This includes organisations which are “politically, religiously, racially or environmentally disruptive”.

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Categories: Ben Hannam, counter-terrorism, Far Right groups, Metropolitan Police Service, National Action, Neo-Nazi, News, radicalised

TalkRADIO, the Daily Express, and Daily Star remove false story about mosque

TalkRADIO, the Daily Express, and Daily Star have all removed content after the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) had “no reason to believe” allegations made on a radio broadcast that a paramedic had been denied entry to treat a heart attack patient at mosque due to their sexual orientation, following an internal investigation.

The TalkRADIO interview appeared on their Twitter account on March 27, before removal, and read: “Gay paramedic Tom says he was stopped from entering a mosque in Oldham to render assistance to a heart attack victim and lives in constant fear after death threats.” The original tweet had gained over 300 retweets before its removal.

Various far-right websites and Facebook pages had shared the content or reposted it on their websites, adding further layers to their ideological bivouacs, an issue long-highlighted in Tell MAMA’s reports and research. To not give undue attention further, we are not naming these examples.

A day later, the Express newspaper embedded a segment of the TalkRADIO interview under the headline, “Gay paramedic says he was ‘refused entry’ to a mosque” but did not expand the story further.

That same day, however, a more detailed variation of the falsehood appeared on the Daily Star, headlined: “Gay paramedic says he was refused entry to a mosque to treat heart attack patient” as the sub-heading placed the mosque in Manchester, not Oldham, as TalkRADIO has tweeted, though on its official Facebook, TalkRADIO had listed the mosque’s location as Manchester (as confirmed by the URL link) in a now-deleted post.

The Daily Star article quoting from the interview claims that the caller who identified as a pracademic had made a complaint to the North West Ambulance Service, who had, in turn, ‘spoken to the Imam’. Other comments transcribed from the interview perpetuated anti-Muslim and Islamophobic falsehoods about ‘no-go zones‘, which continues to endure.

Given the serious nature of the allegations, the North West Ambulance Service investigated, and in a statement published on March 29, the thorough investigation concluded that “the local management team have not been informed of any such exchange taking place”.

The statement added: “we therefore have no reason to believe that the allegations made by someone maintaining to be an NWAS member of staff are true,” adding that they maintain good relations with faith leaders across the region and do not see the comments as ‘representative of the situation’ in their local communities. The NWAS tweeted the statement two additional times in reply to TalkRADIO and the interview host, Cristo Foufas.

The Official NWAS LGBT Network Twitter account tweeted, “We’ve been made aware of this incident and are confident this was not a member of our staff,” adding how they value the work of faith leaders in the local area, and “look forward to renewing these Positive relationships very soon.”

The Daily Star also deleted tweets that had shared the falsehood on March 28.

Credit: Twitter.

As of writing, neither the Daily Star nor the Daily Express has acknowledged the removal nor apologised.

Cristo Foufas, however, during a segment yesterday on TalkRADIO, stated that they had made multiple attempts to contact the caller but had yet to receive a response, saying: “That it could be that we’ve been duped. It could be that his story was an absolute load of rubbish, and the trust I have, when people call this show, was broken, and that I was and my team were duped by that call, and if we were, I’m really sorry.”

He added that an ‘immediate decision’ had been taken from management to remove all content of the interview from social media following the tweet from the NWAS as they could not verify the details further.

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Categories: Daily Express, Daily Star, Media, media framing, mosque, News, TalkRadio

Former leader of Britain First to stand against First Minister

The former leader of Britain First is standing for election in the same constituency as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar.

Jayda Fransen was confirmed as an independent candidate in Glasgow Southside when nominations closed on Wednesday.

Ms Fransen had announced earlier this year that she planned to stand against the “SNP commie, Marxists, naughty people”.

Although a member of the British Freedom Party, documents from Glasgow City Council show Ms Fransen will be running as an independent.

She has previously been convicted of a number of religiously-aggravated crimes, including harassment in both 2016 and 2018 – the latter of which saw her sentenced to 36 weeks in prison.

Ms Fransen has also been pictured outside the constituency office of Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf holding a sign saying “It’s okay to be white” and “All lives matter”.

Speaking outside the city chambers in Glasgow, Ms Fransen, along with Joe Finnie – described as the Glasgow organiser of the British Freedom Party who will be standing in Glasgow Pollok against Mr Yousaf – said: “We can’t wait for this election, we’re really excited and now we can really kick-start the campaign.

“There’s a lot coming guys and as Joe said: Bring it on.”

Ms Fransen was the deputy leader and leader of Britain First before her departure from the party in 2019.

She stood in the Rochester and Strood Westminster by-election in 2014, winning 56 votes.

Meanwhile Jim Dowson, a founding member of Britain First, is standing in the Airdrie and Shotts constituency.

In a video on the British Freedom Party channel of online video platform Purged.tv, Mr Dowson said: “I’m really looking forward to the people of Airdrie at last having the chance to vote for one of their own, because I don’t mince my words and I’m not there to represent everybody, which all the politicians say, I’m there to represent our people, British people, everybody else can go and take a run and jump.”

Mr Dowson will be standing against former SNP MP Neil Gray, who has vacated his Westminster seat to run for Holyrood.

In a request for funding during the video, Mr Dowson described himself, Ms Fransen and Mr Finnie as “machine guns” and donations as “bullets”.

He added: “Your pound notes equate into weapons of war against our enemy.

“Against the people who are trying to destroy our country and in turn our people themselves.

“We have to get behind this and we have to get wired into this.”

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Categories: Britain First, British Freedom Party, Glasgow, Glasgow Southside, Jayda Fransen, News, Scottish First Minister