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Britain is facing a new wave of far-right lone wolf terrorists competing to be 'saints and martyrs' on a computer game-style leaderboard.
Professor Matthew Feldman, who has given evidence in 40 convictions of extremists in the UK, warned of a heightened threat over the next six months amid a 'perfect storm' fuelled by the cost-of-living crisis and political instability.
He warned of the emergence of 'fringe platforms' online where far-right terrorists are hailed 'saints or martyrs' with memes of mass killers sporting halos.
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"This idea didn’t come out of nowhere but it has caught on like wildfire," he said.
"I think the real danger that poses is not just the lone wolf, not just a manifesto, but in conjunction with these two, you might take isolated, alienated white men between the ages of 15 and 25 who may not feel like they have a future.
"They decide, ‘I can either be a nothing all my life or I can go into martyrdom and sainthood. I can go on the leaderboard'."
Leaderboards rank far-right lone wolves by how many innocent people they have killed.
Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik sits at the top after his 2011 gun and bomb rampage left 77 dead. He is followed by Brenton Tarrant who killed 51 worshippers in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2019.
Professor Feldman said: "It’s called getting a high score.
"I think a lot of that gamification exists because of the way in which the Christchurch killer undertook his live-streamed terrorist act – like a first person shooter video game.
"The idea of saints and martyrs and of being a hero for your race today absolutely post-dates Christchurch.
"These memes circulate on a lot of fringe platforms."
He said the threat was immediate because far-right extremism thrives in times of political and social crisis.
"Right now the conditions in Britain are absolutely stark, indeed blinking red," he said.
"The political and social crises are only going to deepen over the next six months.
"Most desperate people suffer silently with anxiety or going to foodbanks, but we also know that desperate people can do desperate, horrible, things.
"My genuine concern is that we’re heading into a period of protracted crisis."
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