The alleged killer of British lawmaker Jo Cox was a “dedicated supporter” of a neo-Nazi group based in the United States, a civil rights group reported Thursday (16 June).
The Southern Poverty Law Centre said that the man named by British media as the attacker, Thomas Mair, had a “long history with white nationalism”.
“According to records obtained by the Southern Poverty Law Center Mair was a dedicated supporter of the National Alliance (NA), the once premier neo-Nazi organization in the United States, for decades,” the legal advocacy group said on its website.
Cox, a 41-year-old lawmaker with the opposition Labour Party who was known for campaigning for refugee rights, was killed in a daylight attack Thursday in her home constituency in Yorkshire in northern England.
Police said an investigation was underway to establish the motive for the murder, which halted campaigning a week before Britain’s referendum on whether to leave the European Union, a debate marked by divisions over immigration.
The Southern Poverty Law Center reported that Mair had spent more than $620 on reading material from the National Alliance, a group which called for the creation of an all-white homeland and eradication of Jewish people.
Images of two invoices published on the advocacy group’s website appeared to show orders for magazines from Thomas Mair, with an address in West Yorkshire.
One handbook Mair purchased included instructions on building a gun from everyday materials, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
British media reported witnesses of the attack as saying that the assailant had used a gun of “old-fashioned” or “homemade” appearance.
One witness, cafe-owner Clarke Rothwell, told the Press Association that the gunman had shouted “put Britain first” repeatedly during the attack.
“Britain First” is the name of a far-right anti-immigration group, which released a statement saying it was “obviously not involved” and “would never encourage behaviour of this sort.”
Mair’s brother, Scott Mair, told the Daily Telegraph that Thomas “is not violent and is not all that political”.
“He has a history of mental illness, but he has had help,” Scott Mair said.
Separately, the newspaper reported that Mair was a subscriber to S.A. Patriot, a South African magazine published by a pro-apartheid group with an editorial stance against multiculturalism.
Jo Cox, who was killed in her constituency on Thursday, was considered to be a rising parliamentary star.
The 41-year-old, who leaves behind a husband and two young children, represented the area she grew up in and had the plight of refugees close to her heart.
Before standing for parliament, Cox had been the Oxfam aid agency's policy chief and her killing ends what looked to be a promising political career.
Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron led tributes, describing her as a "bright star, no doubt about it".
On Twitter, Cox described herself simply as: "Mum. Proud Yorkshire Lass. Labour MP for Batley and Spen. Boat dweller. Mountain climber. Former aid worker."
She was due to celebrate her 42nd birthday next Wednesday.
Her husband Brendan Cox was an adviser to Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and they lived with children Lejla and Cuillin on a converted barge on the River Thames in London.
Cox was also the national chair of Labour Women's Network for four years and worked with Brown's wife Sarah on galvanising international action to stop babies dying during pregnancy and childbirth.
In a tribute, Gordon Brown said his memory would be "forever scarred" by her killing.