**Suspected killer of British lawmaker had ties to neo-Nazi group, watchdog says
LONDON — The man detained by police in connection with the killing of a rising star of British politics had longstanding ties to a U.S.-based neo-Nazi organization and, in the past, had ordered a how-to guide for assembling a homemade gun, according to a watchdog group that tracks extremist behavior.
The revelation came as police on Friday continued to investigate the motive behind the killing of the British lawmaker, Jo Cox, who was stabbed and shot midday Thursday in an attack that stunned the nation and led to a suspension of the European Union referendum campaign just a week before the vote. Cox had been a strong advocate of an inclusive and multicultural Britain amid a wave of hostility toward immigrants that is helping to fuel the anti-E.U. campaign.**
Cox’s suspected killer was not named by police but was identified in the British media as 52-year-old Tommy Mair, a local resident whom neighbors described as quiet and devoted to his mother. Family members said that Mair had never expressed strong political views, but that he had an obsessive personality. He was arrested shortly after the attack.
**According to documents obtained by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the U.S.-based organization that tracks extremist groups, Mair was a long-time supporter of the National Alliance, a once-prominent white supremacist group. In 1999, Mair bought a manual from the organization that included instructions on how to build a pistol, the center said.
Cox was shot by a weapon that witnesses described as either homemade or antique.
In all, Mair sent $620 to the group’s publishing imprint for titles including “Incendiaries,” “Chemistry of Powder and Explosives” and “Improvised Munitions Handbook,” the law center said.
The Daily Telegraph also reported that Mair had subscribed to a South African magazine published by the White Rhino Club, a pro-apartheid group.**
Officials have not commented on a possible motive for the killing. But British media organizations including the Guardian, the BBC and Sky News quoted witnesses as saying that the assailant shouted “Britain first!” during and after the attack.
Britain First is the name of a far-right group that stages provocative anti-Muslim demonstrations. After Thursday’s attack, the organization posted a statement on its website denying involvement and saying it “would never encourage behavior of this sort.”
People from around the world on Thursday and Friday paid tribute to the 41-year-old Cox, a politician from the center-left Labour party who was widely-respected across the political spectrum for her fierce advocacy on behalf of Syrian war victims and who campaigned to allow 3,000 child refugees to resettle in Britain. Before her election to Parliament last year, Cox had a career in humanitarian work.
Leading Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said in a statement that Cox had "celebrated the diversity of her beloved Yorkshire constituency, and passionately made the case that there is more that unites us than divides us. It is cruel and terrible that her life was cut short by a violent act of political intolerance."
The killing was of the sort that has become all too common in the United States, but is virtually unheard of in Britain: without warning, hyper-violent and ultimately, perhaps, inexplicable.