Claims by those involved in the Football Lads Alliance that the group is about protesting all forms of extremism, and not just another bunch of Islamophobes, have been broadcast long and loud since the gathering and march in London recently. Organisers have sought to distance themselves from the likes of Stephen Yaxley Lennon, who styles himself Tommy Robinson. But all this has already been in vain.
Lennon has declared that, as he claims to be a journalist - not sure many real journalists will agree with that one - he will continue to turn up at FLA gatherings, whether they like it or not. Worse for them, he has already shown that the FLA is riven with Islamophobia, Tweeting “Every lad that I spoke to yesterday was there to oppose Islam”.
And it wasn’t just Lennon and his anti-Islam views: there was also the Pie And Mash Squad. Who they? Well, this is yet another anti-Islam group. To quote Rational Wiki, “Officially, it is non-racist and peaceful; in practice, it is ultimately just the English Defence League all over again … The group is closely tied to football fandom, identifying itself as ‘uniting the UK’s football tribes against the Jihadists’ … The Casuals United blog praises Enoch Powell: ‘Who still thinks Enoch Powell was wrong? Only left wing anti white morons’, it says”. They were at the FLA gathering, too.
We know this as their Twitter feed has posted several images from the day, including one with the comment “FLA Veterans Against Terrorism Whitehall London”. The Cenotaph is clearly visible in the right background. Can it get worse still? Sadly, yes it can.
Far Right Watch has identified a genuine neo-Nazi as having participated: “A key 'name' in ‘We're not violent’ @lads_alliance is Frank Portinari, convicted weapons smuggler to Irish terrorists & member of Combat18”. Portinari was part of the Loyalist paramilitary UDA. He ran a website supporting former terrorists. So what has the FLA done after being informed that those outside its ranks know the kinds of people involved?
They have at least come clean and admitted he was involved, but now claim he has been “removed”. But what about his presence, and all the others, in the first place, as well as the Islamophobic hatred on their Facebook group? This was the reply: “All our platforms are managed appropriately … We will have 100,000 on the next one … People are simply fed up buddy. Realise that Jesus”. We realise who Combat 18 are, thanks.
Well, considering they claimed there had been 70,000 in London, where it turned out to be more like 10,000, those numbers can be taken with the proverbial pinch of salt. But what is already clear is that the FLA is already riven with infiltration - by individuals and groups who have an agenda that is variously Islamophobic, racist, neo-Nazi … and not at all peaceably minded. The protestations of innocence will just not wash.
Thanks to Far Right Watch, and those who have already infiltrated the FLA, we now know the exact nature of this beast. And so does anyone thinking of joining their cause.