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May 11, 2012

Radical English Defence League Emerges in U.S.

The English Defence League (EDL), a UK-based right-wing, anti-Islamic and self-described “Counter Jihad movement,” has launched a chapter in the United States.

The newly created United States of America Defence League (USADL) claims to be “a human rights organization that was founded in the defense of our nation and to stand in unison with the EDL and other such organizations, to halt the spread of Sharia law.”

The organization, which officially launched its website on May 7, 2012, states that a central tenet of its mission is public education and the need to ensure that the public is provided with a “more realistic and less sanitized view of Islam…” While its mission statement warns against assuming that all Muslims are guilty of committing acts of terrorism, it goes on to say that “the Islamic book of worship calls for all Muslims to participate in Jihad, in one form or another.”

USADL’s National Director is Bill Turner, who is known for his anti-government and conspiratorial writings, which have been published on a number of right-wing websites and disseminated through his Twitter handle, “JihadiHunter.”

Bill Turner

While anti-Muslim bias has been a primary theme in his writings as well, Turner’s role in launching the USADL suggests that he is gearing up to advance a more conspiratorial anti-Muslim agenda.

USADL’s website indicates that membership is open to all who “recognize the threat that Sharia Law poses to free people everywhere.” Although it is still too early to confirm the size and viability of the new organization, it already claims to have approximately 60 members.

Earlier this year, EDL announced plans to form a new political party in the UK.

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March 28, 2012

Radical English Defence League To Form Political Party

The English Defence League (EDL), a UK-based right-wing, anti-Islamic and self-described “Counter Jihad movement,” announced plans to form a new political party in the coming months. EDL’s foray into politics is influenced by the success of other similar political parties in Europe, most notably the Dutch Freedom Party, the political party led by radical Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders.

An EDL spokesman stated that the organization’s party will be named the Freedom Party, and its official launch will take place in May at the EDL Luton demonstration, an annual protest that began with the organization’s founding in 2009. In the past, EDL demonstrations have been marked by violence, with some bordering on full riots resulting in numerous arrests, property damage and injuries to law enforcement.

Members of the Welsh Defense League raising their hands in a Nazi salute
The group has also been accused of being a haven for right-wing racists, a charge the group denies. However, EDL has been linked to various racist English groups, such as the Welsh Defence League, an EDL division that has many local white supremacists in its ranks.

According to the organization’s mission statement, EDL’s mission is “to oppose what it considers to be the spread of Islamism, Sharia law and Islamic extremism in England.” Stephen Lennon, head of the EDL, said that the Freedom Party will be an anti-Islamist political party “that gives everyone an option in a non-racist way.”

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