Four members of the British army have been arrested for alleged membership in a banned neo-Nazi group and for planning terrorist acts.
“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,” an army spokesperson said.
The men, aged 22 to 32, were detained on suspicion of being involved in the commission, preparation and instigation of acts of terrorism and of being members of the National Action group.
“These arrests are the consequence of a Home Office police force led operation supported by the Army. This is now the subject of a civilian police investigation and it would be inappropriate to comment further,” he added.
A U.K. government official confirmed that three of the four men arrested in the U.K. were soldiers, while the other was a civilian. A fourth serving member of the military was detained in Cyprus.
According to anti-extremist group Hope Not Hate, which closely monitors extremist groups, National Action was “the most notorious Nazi group operating in the U.K. during 2016.”
Last December, National Action became the first far-right group to be outlawed in the U.K. after the murder of a member of parliament Jo Cox, whose killing the group had praised.
The police said a number of properties were being searched in connection with the arrests, and there had been no threats to public safety.
This is not the first time that serving military personnel have been connected with alleged terrorism offenses. In July, former Royal Marine Ciaran Maxwell was sentenced to 18 years in prison after admitting a series of terror charges related to dissident Irish republican terrorism.
West Midlands Police said in a statement that four arrests were made by counter-terrorism officers in the cities of Birmingham, Ipswich and Northampton and in Powys, Wales.
“The arrests were pre-planned and intelligence-led; there was no threat to the public’s safety,” the police said.