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European “Counter-Jihad” Meeting: A dangerous New phase in extremist politics


The English Defense League (EDL) is a far-right anti-immigration, anti-Muslim organization comprised overwhelmingly of young white men deeply pessimistic about the future.

Since its founding in 2009, the group has held a series of street demonstrations deliberately targeting neighborhoods with significant Muslim populations. The protests have often been marred by violence, racism, virulant Islamophobia, and frequest arrests.

Outreach is increasingly sophisticated, and their mission is global in scope. Next month’s meeting in Denmark may usher in a dangerous new phase in their quest for a fascist, worldwide “counter-jihad.”


by Kevin Rawlinson & Paul Cahalan, The Independent

They achieve notoriety through a mix of combustible characters and often ugly protests, yet are kept on the political margins due to infighting and ill thought-out policies. But, next month, at a meeting in Denmark, some of Europe’s most notorious right-wing groups will meet for the European Counter-Jihad Meeting.

Those attending could witness the birth of a right-wing movement, the European Defence League – and the beginning of a dangerous new phase in extremist politics.

Representatives from defence leagues in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, the USA, Italy, Poland and Finland are due to attend, along with the anti-Muslim groups Stop Islamisation of Europe, Stop Islamisation of the World and the far-right European Freedom Initiative. It is feared the new umbrella organisation could co-ordinate right-wing activities across Europe while politicising and unifying disparate groups. The idea, which is being championed by the English Defence League (EDL), could be modelled on the European Union – with delegates from participating countries meeting regularly.

Weyman Bennett, spokesman for pressure group Unite Against Fascism, said the meeting in Denmark’s second city, Aarhus, was the first meaningful meeting of such groups – which were looking at the EDL model and to mimic successful right-wing political parties in Eastern Europe, some of which have made it to government. He said:

The Euro-leagues are a new danger. We should not forget that it was the Norwegian Defence League that gave us Anders Breivik. The growth of a Euro-league in a time of economic crisis threatens to resurrect fascist street armies such as those that destroyed European democracies in the 1930s. The development of this network allows fascists and right-wing populists to share ideas, finance and experience in a way that should worry us all.

Mr Bennett added the groups would be using the euro crisis as a way to pull in new members, particularly from the middle classes.

He added: “We used to have a number of disparate groups. Now we are moving to a stage where we have fewer groups but they are more organised and sophisticated.”

Some 50 EDL leaders – whose members have been involved in violent clashes with anti-fascist groups in the past – will travel to the meeting. “This is the first proper European Defence League meet. We have been building bridges for the last two years and this is going to be the launch pad,” said Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, the leader of the EDL, who is also known as Tommy Robinson.

He added the leader of each national defence league would sit on a panel and would meet “every three to four months”. He said: “We will discuss tactics. Each country’s delegates will get time to describe the problems they have. We will try to pool resources. For example, if another defence league wants to run a demonstration in their own country, they are unlikely to get as much media interest as if we were involved, so we would go over there and lend some support.”

Dr Matthew Goodwin, an expert on the far-right at Nottingham University, said a Continent-wide far-right alliance would help extremist groups organise demonstrations, which carry the possibility of violence and provide access to better-resourced and organised groups in eastern and central Europe.

He said:

The strategy is to organise large marches for the media attention and to provoke anti-fascist and Muslim groups, as well as the local population. Wherever these movements go, there is a possibility of violent clashes. With the EDL, there are question marks over where the movement is heading, if not towards elections. This would be an indication of where it sees itself going.

Dr Goodwin added that, historically, the far-right has often tried to build alliances on the Continent. “If there is anything the Breivik experience taught us, it is that the European-level movements, which share ideas and resources, are very dangerous.”

Farooq Murad, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) said the move was “worrying”. He added the MCB was trying to bring together Muslim groups to counter an increase in Islamophobia.

Last year, Mr Yaxley-Lennon announced that negotiations to set up a political wing of the EDL were at an advanced stage. An alliance with the far-right British Freedom Party was discussed and Mr Yaxley-Lennon said he hoped to stand candidates in the next round of local elections. That deal has not yet been concluded and it is thought that it has met with some resistance among the EDL’s grassroots.

Yesterday, about 600 people travelled to Hyde, Greater Manchester, to take part in an EDL protest against an alleged attack by Asian youths on two white teenagers in the town. Eleven were arrested for minor public order offences.

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  • Sir David Illuminati membership number 16.69

    The so called by the press “radical” muslims were ran out of Luton not by the EDL but by muslims who had enough of there anti community activities .
    The EDL are interested in three things
    fighting and
    talking rubbish with false bravado

  • templar

    What did the moderate Muslims think was going to happen if they sit on there hands and allow radical Islam to go unchecked? None Muslims will only tolerate so much before they will push back.

  • Kieran

    Actually you’re wrong, this is a meeting to counter extreminism, it is not a meeting of extremnists. You are the only loon I see here.

  • Benjamin Taghiov

    Moscow’s Muslims find no room in the mosque; Moscow becomes major Muslim city

  • nick

    Your assessment of the EDL is deliberately dishonest. they were established in 2009, as you say, but in response to rising levels of militant Islamism in the town of Luton, and from there there quickly grew into a national movement due to fears of people throughout the UK, along with disgust that such genuine and well founded fears had not been even addressed, let along dealt with, by any of the major political parties. the final straw that launched the EDL into being was the disruption of a soldiers homecoming parade by Islamists. further, under what basis do you describe them as being ‘right-wing’, or anti-immigrant etc. they are against radical Islam and they have members from various political persuasions.

  • TomS

    Here’s a new article which mentions the “European Defence League” meeting and includes some more information:

    Dr Matthew Goodwin and a British thinktank, Chatham House, are going to release a major report this week confirming that the EDL includes a “significant level of support for armed conflict” and “planned violent attacks”. There is a particular risk of numerous EDL members following in Breivik’s footsteps.

    Here are a couple of quotes from the article:

    “Significant numbers of far-right supporters in the UK consider violence and “armed conflict” a legitimate form of political expression, experts will warn this week.

    The first audit into the attitudes and beliefs of Britain’s rightwing extremists, collated in a report by the thinktank Chatham House, will reveal that there is a “significant level of support” for planned violent attacks.

    [ ]

    On 31 March the EDL will stage an international demonstration in Aarhus, Denmark’s second largest city. The “counter-jihad” summit will discuss the formation of a European Defence League. Representatives from defence leagues in Italy, Poland, the United States, Finland, Sweden and Norway are expected to attend, along with the anti-Muslim group, Stop Islamisation of Europe.

    The ramifications of a well-organised, European-wide far-right movement, able to share violent ideologies and pool resources, has triggered concern from anti-fascist campaigners. Last week the Czech government warned that extreme rightwing groups were becoming more sophisticated and that neo-Nazis might resort to terrorism.

    [Dr Matthew] Goodwin said: “If the EDL links up with similar organisations in Germany and central and eastern Europe, that is quite worrying. Many of the grassroots groups in Germany are often called ‘autonomous nationalists’, but are very, very closely networked with neo-Nazi groups and organisations that engage quite openly in violence.””

  • Weasel-Hunter

    “Steve” appears to be an apologist for the EDL using weasel words, & not taking the “real world” context but abstract isolated statements at face-value, rather than judging the deeds of funders, leaders & most marchers.

    Did Hitler admit the genocide policy?

    At the very minimum, a useful idiot

  • TomS

    More recent developments involving EDL founder Alan Ayling (

    “A key strategist and funder behind the English Defence League has been suspended from his management post at a major international development bank.

    The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development suspended Alan Ayling after he was named as the EDL founder who uses the alias ‘Alan Lake’.

    The powerful bank was set up by international treaty to fund development and privatisation schemes in Eastern Europe and Central Asia following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

    We can reveal that Ayling is the manager in charge of the team that runs the EBRD’s Oracle databases – a post in which he is believed to earn around £70,000 a year, plus bonuses.

    He was suspended after his ‘Lake’ identity became public at the end of last year.

    ‘Lake’ was named in the Sunday Times in December as 57-year-old Alan Ayling, who until January 2011 was a director of City investment fund Pacific Capital Investment Management, which was wound up in August.

    He lives in a plush £500,000 flat in London’s prestigious Barbican development.

    But Ayling has a well paid City job as well as his former company directorship – and his political activity as a key figure in the shadowy network of far-right and Islamophobic groups who call themselves ‘counterjihadists’.

    Ayling is no stranger to multiple identities. In 2009, he told a seminar organised by leading members of the fascist Sweden Democrats party:

    “You’ve got to have pseudonyms, you’ve got to have, you know, five email addresses, one for your friends, one for your counterjihad, one for your really extreme counterjihad comments, and all the rest of it.”

    As ‘Alan Lake’, Ayling has hosted and spoken at EDL demos. He has admitted funding the EDL, telling Norway’s TV2 channel: ‘I have given some money to help some EDL things happen.’

    It was at Ayling’s Barbican flat that the EDL was established in 2009, according to disaffected founder member Paul Ray.

    The founding meetings brought together Lake and the counterjihadists together with Ray, Stephen Yaxley Lennon – AKA ‘Tommy Robinson’, the former BNP member who now leads the EDL leader – and his cousin Kevin Carroll.

    Ayling has also been interviewed as a witness as part of the Norwegian police investigation into the massacre by fascist gunman Anders Behring Breivik.

    Although Ayling/Lake denies having met Breivik, he has admitted meeting the deeply Islamophobic Norwegian blogger ‘Fjordman’ – real name Peder Jensen – who is cited repeatedly in the manifesto issued by Breivik.

    ‘Alan Lake’ has described Breivik’s massacre of 76 people, mainly members of a socialist youth camp, as chickens ‘come home to roost’ on his 4Freedoms website – remarks that sparked a bust-up with EDL leaders in August.

    He has also used the site to issue predictions that the UK would fragment into ‘Islamic enclaves’ in 20 to 30 years’ time and discussed the possibility of executing prime minister David Cameron, his deputy, Nick Clegg, and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

    Ayling’s employer, the EBRD, has a sensitive position as an international agency charged with a political remit to encourage democracy as well as privatisation and market development.

    The database manager’s suspension comes as the bank takes steps to expand into Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco – all with mainly Muslim populations.

    A spokesperson for the bank said:

    “The EBRD became aware of various allegations made about a member of the bank’s staff in mid December.The bank immediately launched an investigation into these allegations. The member of staff was suspended from duties pending the outcome of this investigation. The investigation is still ongoing.”

  • Sir David ( Illuminati membership number 5:32) Warning Contains Irony

    Thanks for that Tom
    So I take it you are not a member then 😉

  • TomS

    Here are some quotes from the Sunday Times investigation exposing some of the EDL’s wealthy backers (

    “A property tycoon and a City-based financier quizzed by police over his links to the gunman who slaughtered 69 people in Norway are exposed today as key figures behind the rise of the far-right English Defence League (EDL).

    A Sunday Times investigation has revealed that Ann Marchini, a mother from Highgate, north London, and Alan Ayling, a former director of an investment fund, have sought to mould the thuggish anti-Muslim group into a credible political force. They are both linked to the murky world of the online “counter-jihad” movement from which Anders Behring Breivik drew ideological inspiration before committing his massacre in Norway in July. They have remained in the shadows until now by using aliases on the internet to mask their true identities.

    [ ]

    Marchini, who is thought to be in her fifties, runs a buy-to-let property empire from her £1.6m mock-Tudor home in Highgate, a leafy suburb usually associated with liberals…She is said to have helped organise a “pivotal” meeting between EDL figures and anti-jihad thinkers in July 2009 and recently attended a discussion where the EDL agreed to consider an electoral pact with the right-wing British Freedom party (BFP).

    [ ]

    Ayling, 57, has been operating under the alias “Alan Lake”. He is an IT expert and was a director of Pacific Capital Investment Management until January this year. The fund was dissolved in August. Last month Ayling was interviewed by officers from Scotland Yard at the behest of Norwegian police who were investigating whether he was a possible “mentor” of Breivik. Paal-Fredrik Kraby, an Oslo police prosecutor, confirmed that “the man known as Alan Lake” had been questioned.

    [ ]

    In an interview with a Norwegian newspaper nine days ago, Lake denied having any contact with Breivik. However, he admitted to having met a prolific anti-Islam blogger called “Fjordman”. “People ought to read him, he is good,” Lake said. Breivik named Fjordman 111 times in his manifesto.”

  • TomS

    Here’s a really good summary of the EDL: It’s a very recent article, and includes quite a lot of information from the documentary that filmed Stephen Lennon and was shown on British television a couple of days ago.

    More information about Stephen Lennon’s allies: The BFP’s leader Paul Weston has been a regular author for Gates of Vienna; they even published his article ranting about the “ethnic cleansing of the English”. Yep, that’s the same Gates of Vienna that Anders Breivik approvingly mentioned nearly 90 times in his manifesto. Weston takes absolutely no responsibility for the real-world impact of that kind of hatred-inciting propaganda; believe it or not, he blamed the BBC and what he calls “the entire political/liberal left” for the Breivik massacre and any similar terrorist attacks that happen in future. Weston wrote this in an article that the EDL also published on their primary website. Here are more details:

    A couple of the EDL’s shadowy wealthy backers, Ann Marchini and Alan Ayling, were publicly unmasked last December, after a Sunday Times investigation:

    Marchini, a millionaire, is a friend of Paul Weston and played a big part in arranging the BFP’s alliance with the EDL. Marchini was recently fired by a Turner prize-winning artist after he found out about her involvement with the EDL:

    Alan Ayling was previously known by his online alias, “Alan Lake”. An investigation by the Guardian last year found out that that he wrote a horrifying Final Solution focusing on Britain’s Muslim community, published on his own website ( It also included threats to kill anyone non-Muslim who sympathises with Muslims, including Britain’s Prime Minister, David Cameron. Here’s a screenshot of Ayling’s Final Solution:

    There’s video footage of Ayling at a meeting of senior EDL leaders here: Stephen Lennon was present too.

  • TomS

    “English Defence League (EDL) leader Stephen Lennon revealed his true colours last night when he was filmed telling a Muslim security guard that he was from Norway and he will “shoot him”.

    In a late night drinking binge in Luton town centre, Lennon was caught on camera telling a security guard to “f*** off”. When the man, who was simply walking past, said that not all Muslims were bad, Lennon replied “No I know they’re not all bad, just most of them.”

    Then, as Lennon was about to walk away he said “I’m only joking … Other than Breivik coz he’ll shoot ‘em al.”

    Smiling into the camera Lennon boasted “I’m from Norway and I’ll shoot you” – a clear identification with Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik.”

    Yes, and it’s all been caught on camera. Right at the end of the documentary, Lennon also spoke directly into the camera and made the threat that there would be “bombings” if the EDL was banned. He’s made the same threat during interviews at least twice before, first on CNN ( and then later on the same day on the BBC (; both of those interviews took place a couple of days after Breivik murdered all those people and the links to the EDL surfaced.

    Lennon was also interviewed by Norwegian journalists last September and directly said that he shares Breivik’s opinions and feelings:

  • TomS

    Last November, the EDL declared an alliance with the British Freedom Party, a racist white supremacist political party formed by ex-members of the BNP. Here’s a good article about it:

    The BFP leaders have invited Stephen Lennon to join their senior executive committee. Members of the EDL (potentially including Lennon) will be able to get more directly involved in the British political process by representing the BFP as candidates for election.

    The BFP’s leader is Paul Weston. Go to this article:, and click on “ethnic cleansing of the English” in the penultimate paragraph. It’ll take you to a long article written by Weston on his own website; Weston’s meandering rant tells you everything you need to know about his racist views. It’s pretty nasty stuff. Weston’s article also indicates that as far as he’s concerned, everyone non-white is “Muslim”, whom he repeatedly caricatures in the worst possible terms.

    There’s now a North American connection too. Weston has recently been interviewed on television in Canada (, and he’s also arranged to address the Tennessee State General Assembly in the United States (

  • TomS

    Stephen Lennon has also made it extremely clear that he hates all Muslims, not just “radical Islam”. Here is the relevant extract from his speech at the EDL’s major demonstration in London in September 2011 (

    “Every single Muslim watching this on Youtube, on 7/7 you got away with killing and maiming British citizens, you got away with it. You had better understand that we have built a network from one end of this country to the other end, and we will not tolerate it, and the Islamic community will feel the full force of the English Defence League if we see any of our citizens killed, maimed or hurt on British soil ever again.”

    That’s a clear accusation of collective guilt and a direct threat of EDL-led violence against Britain’s entire Islamic community.

    Aside from the question of exactly how Stephen Lennon and the rest of the EDL would actually identify someone as a Muslim in that scenario, his other statements indicate that their real targets are the whole South Asian population in Britain.

  • TomS

    Here are some statements by the EDL’s leader, Stephen Yaxley Lennon, once again making it clear that he’s actually motivated by race.

    1. From an interview in January 2010 (

    “Within 30 or 40 years in this country we are a complete minority to Muslims, because of the Muslim demographics…Our culture and our race will disappear in this country.”

    2. From an interview in October 2011, when he described Islam as a “race” and also claimed that the three communities in the British city of Birmingham are “black”, “white”, and “Islamic” (

    “The black community and the white community in Birmingham are treated with iron fists. The Islamic community are treated with kid gloves and that’s just the way it is. And it’s not on, You can’t have a two-tier policing system. There can be no master race. And I’m sorry, but there is a master race in certain areas of this country and it’s Islam !”

    Birmingham famously has a large population of South Asian Sikhs and Hindus. The city’s Muslim population also includes a large minority of white Muslims (especially from Eastern Europe) and black Muslims. So Stephen Lennon is clearly using the word “Islamic” as a thinly-veiled cipher for “South Asian”.

  • TomS

    The EDL’s leadership have already dropped their “non-racist” mask and stated outright that their mission is motivated by race. Last November, the EDL released this statement on their official Facebook page:

    “In the last 66 years we as a nation, as a race have had our national identity stolen from us by politicians who have forced us to accept multiculturalism. They have and still are practicing cultural genocide on their own people, despite warnings that we will not accept it. They have forced us to accept the dilution of our heritage and history by the implementation of laws which will stop us from rising up, even if that’s just to voice an opinion.

    Any action which has the aim or effect of depriving us of our integrity as distinct peoples, or of our cultural values or ethnic identities. Any form of population transfer which has the aim or effect of violating or undermining any of the rights of the native or indigenous people. Any form of assimilation or integration by other cultures or ways of life imposed on us by legislative, administrative or other measures is cultural genocide.

    And unless we find our backbone and stand up to the ones who are committing crimes against the English people we shall continue to be subjected to slavery by a British elite aided by outside influences whose only intention is to destroy us from within and wipe us out as a race.”

    Here’s a screenshot of the EDL’s statement:

  • tarig

    @Jack, sorry I don’t post here often, but I felt a need to address a point you just made. I don’t think Anjem is honest in the slightest. This is a guy who proclaims himself a ‘spokesperson’ for the Muslim community of the UK (if the Muslim community consisted of 10 people I might believe him, otherwise this is a barefaced lie). But other than that, if he was interested in the well being of the Muslim community, he would at least act in their best interests. within hours of 9/11, before anything was known, he was on BBC talking with certainty about how these were Muslim extremists and it was blowback for US actions abroad. How could he come to this conclusion within hours of the event? The only logical explanation is he is nothing more than a paid shill. He has no firm conviction in what he says, he just says it because he gets paid to, nothing more nothing less. In fact I would gladly wager (if I was a betting man), that in private he still calls himself Andy, drinks like a fish and smokes like a chimney!

    If he was genuine in his convictions, and not a mere puppet on a string, believe me he would be on the receiving end of a fair bit of good old torture right now, not paid thousands of pounds to talk nonsense for a media establishment that struggles to find people with these genuine convictions and therefore needs to create them. He’s the stick to bash us over the head with.

  • Sir David ( Illuminati membership number 5:32) Warning Contains Irony

    Tell andy you are a reporter for the press I am sure he will speak to you then .
    One assumes you meant trash Luton, thrash Luton seems more a comment on the state of Lutons football team. :-) Since Andy and both his followers I am advised ,were run out of Luton by Muslims I found it ironic that the EDL wanted to march there .
    I am surprised at the idea of this joint meeeting by the loons on a european level as usually they have more splits than the extream left . Lets see who their feurer … sorry leader is after the meeting.
    I am also assuming the usual level of security at these meetings so details will be available about ten mins after it finishes .

  • Steve

    To be fair whenever the EDL gather the UAF (Unite against fascism) are usually to be found too so trouble starts. Neither group is much more than a load of idiots spoiling for a fight.

  • Seadert

    This article forgets to mention of the most important tenets of the organization which is ZIONISM.

  • Jack Cope

    Interesting that there is a comparison between Andy Choudary (who still hasn’t replied to my emails) and the EDL.

    While Andy struggles to pull up more than a handful of followers for any of his ‘protests’ (who are carefully photographed to make look bigger), the EDL often manage to cause chaos with their ‘street demonstrations’ and have a member pool in the thousands ready to do some damage, get pissed and waste police time in protecting their ‘demonstrations’/drunken street parties.

    Which are we concerned about here? Andy and his stickers on some lampposts or the guys who thrashed Luton?

    Also, at least Andy is honest about his intentions while the EDL say one thing and let their members do something else, there be no smoke without a fire as they say. I think Andy is a fool and a publicity whore but I’ll grant him his honesty in stating his intentions.


  • Zakariya Ali Sher

    Steve laughs about ‘shariah law’ being implemented in Hindu majority India; apparently he is unaware that India actually DOES have separate Muslim civil courts based on shariah law. Polygamy is also legal for Muslims, and only Muslims, and there have been several instances of Hindus and Christians nominally converting to Islam for that reason (incidentally, Buddhists, Christians and some animist Adivasi tribes all have higher polygamy rates than us Muslims, particularly us Shi’ites; in the overwhelmingly Christian northeast you have plenty of Nagas and Mizos who have dozens of wives).

    Contrary to popular belief, of course, there is still criminal law and it applies to ALL Indians whether Hindu, Muslim, Sikh or whatever. Muslim citizens cannot (and I most emphatically stress DO NOT) run around committing murder or robbery or arson. That sounds more like your typical EDL thug. Whenever someone commits a crime, they are charged for it in accordance with Indian law. However, for issues such as marriage, divorce, inheritance and the like, there are separate Muslim courts based on Islam. And no, this obviously cannot be imposed on non-Muslims. I’m not even sure how one would go about trying that, or why. Make Christians take the nikaah? Yeah… doesn’t work, or make sense.

    Of course, India has a much, much larger Muslim minority than the UK, both in terms of numbers (175 million) and percentage (15%), not to mention Islam having a much longer history on the subcontinent (and correspondingly, a much bigger impact on Indian culture). In fact, India’s huge size means that the Muslim minority is the largest in the world, exceeding the population of quite a few Muslim-majority nations like Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Somalia. India’s Muslim minority even exceeds the entire population of Muslims in Europe altogether. By contrast, Britain’s Muslims number less than 3 million, and only account for maybe 4% of the total population. I don’t see them forcing ANYTHING on a country where three-fourths of the total population still proclaims itself Christian…

  • Steve

    How can he be deported? He is English

  • JD

    Yes Anjem Choudrey the token muslim radical extremist who has like 10 followers and has said stuff 20x worse then other people who have been deported from UK like he is some kind of “useful fool” for the goverment and media to push there muslims are trying to take over the UK and political policies

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