Army recruits feared to have links to extremism were kicked out after failing a test asking: “Have you ever been involved in terrorism?”
Up to 15 hopefuls had passed the initial selection phase but fell foul of a 66-page vetting questionnaire .
Questions in the Counter-Terrorism Check include: “Have you ever been involved in actions to overthrow or undermine parliamentary democracy by political, industrial or violent means?”
Another says: “Have you ever been involved in terrorism, espionage or sabotage?”
Further queries then try to establish whether applicants have supported terrorist groups or whether they or their families have a close association with anyone linked to extremism.
The wannabes were feared to have links to the far right, jihadis and other groups. But none faced legal action.
A senior defence source said: “Military skills are attractive to extremist groups from ultra right-wing groups in the UK to jihadists or people with extremist tendencies.
“A lot of these characters will be immediately identifiable but some will not.
“The CTC is a means of digging deep into someone’s background to make sure their motives for wanting to join the armed forces are sincere.”
Freedom of Information Act figures show “up to 15” potential recruits were refused entry into the forces between 2016 and 2020. The exact number is not given for data protection reasons.
The MoD said it works with counter-terrorist teams in the Home Office and police to fight the threat of extremists.
Senior personnel have a guide on how to spot right-wing extremists in their ranks. Leaders are advised to look out for troops expressing views on racial conflict, making generalisations about muslims and jews, talking about “white-only communities” – and even having XRW (Extreme Right Wing) tattoos.
In 2018 a soldier was discharged after taking a selfie with ex-English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson. And former Corporal Mikko Vehvilainen was jailed for eight years for being a member of far-right group National Action.
The Army said: “All personnel are subject to vetting as part of the recruitment process to establish if they have any criminal convictions or links to extremist or proscribed organisations.”