Suspect in Murder of British MP Jo Cox Had Ties With Neo-Nazis
The murder of British politician and Member of Parliament Jo Cox, 41, shocked Britain on Thursday. Now police are investigating whether the assailant was a white supremacist, supporter of an anti-Islam right wing group Britain First, or just a mentally disturbed loner.
Jo Cox of the British opposition Labour party was leaving a meeting with constituents in northern England on Thursday, when a man armed with what has been described as an antique or handmade gun and a knife attacked her. She later died in the hospital. The killing came as a shock in a country where attacks on politicians are very rare, and gun laws very strict. She leaves behind her husband and two small children.
— Human Rights Watch (@hrw) June 17, 2016
The suspect Thomas Mair, 52, was arrested a few blocks from the crime scene. Early witnesses reported hearing the assailant shout “Britain First” as he shot and repeatedly stabbed Cox. This is the name of a far right wing group that wants to ban Islam, stop immigration, abolish the human rights act, and advocates for Britain to leave the EU.
Jo Cox was an active advocate for Syrian immigrants, known for her passion for human rights and refugees, as well as her campaigning against Brexit. Britain First released a video denying all involvement with the attack.
— Britain First (@BritainFirst) June 16, 2016
American White Supremacists
Now reports from the Southern Poverty Law Center, a US based organization that tracks hate groups, claim that Mair bought a book about how to make a homemade gun. He reportedly bought the manual online in 1999 from the American Neo-Nazi group National Alliance, and subscribed to the group’s magazine and an apartheid magazine from South Africa.
Mair also bought a copy of the Nazi handbook “Ich Kampfe,” which is a reference to the infamous “Mein Kampf” by Adolf Hitler and was handed out to new members of the Nazi Party in 1940’s Germany.
British Prime Minister David Cameron expressed his condolences on Twitter.
As a mark of respect for Jo Cox MP our flag is flying at half-mast over Number 10 today pic.twitter.com/vpiOEBXOKH
— UK Prime Minister (@Number10gov) June 17, 2016
A Quiet Man
But neighbors and family describe Mair as a quiet gardener who’s never been in trouble. His half-brother told ITV News “he wouldn’t hurt a fly”. This raises questions of whether Mair was deeply mentally ill, and whether the attack could have prevented with proper mental care. Mair spoke to a local newspaper in 2011 about how his volunteer work for a county park helped him with mental issues:
I can honestly say it has done me more good than all the psychotherapy and medication in the world. Many people who suffer from mental illness are socially isolated and disconnected from society, feelings of worthlessness are also common mainly caused by long-term unemployment.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn paid a tribute to Cox on Friday.
Today I travelled to Birstall to pay tribute to Jo Cox along with her colleagues, friends & the community she servedhttps://t.co/rnBoaCFif0
— Jeremy Corbyn MP (@jeremycorbyn) June 17, 2016
Neighbor David Pickles also described Mair as a peaceful man who kept to himself.
He’s just quiet. He kept himself to himself. He lived by himself. He’s been on his own for about 20 years. I’ve never seen a lot of people visiting or anything like that, but he likes gardening. He did a lot of people’s gardens round here. But he did it quietly.
In the wake of the murder of Jo Cox, the campaigning for the referendum on Brexit is suspended, but the voting will take place as planned on June 23.