Five men were arrested today by anti-terror police on suspicion of inciting racial hatred on the internet.
All five are believed to be associated with the North West Infidels, a splinter group with links to the far-right English Defence League.
More than 100 of the group’s members protested in Rochdale earlier this year.
In a separate incident, members also climbed onto the roof of Bury Town Hall and staged a four-hour protest.
Raids at addresses were carried out early this morning by the North East Counter-Terrorism Unit.
All five men, who have not been named, were arrested on suspicion of offences under the Public Order Act, publishing or distributing written material which may stir up racial hatred.
It is understood that investigations are focusing on messages posted on social networking site Facebook.
Two houses are also being searched.
A 43-year-old man from North Tyneside, Northumbria, a 46-year-old man from County Durham, an 18-year-old man from Birkenhead, Merseyside, a 21-year-old man from Barnsley, South Yorkshire and a 56-year-old man from Holloway, London, were all arrested.
In a statement, a spokesman for the North East Counter-Terrorism Unit, said: “All five men have been arrested on suspicion of offences under the Public Order Act, publishing or distributing written material which may stir up racial hatred. They have been taken to local police stations for interviewing.
“Searches have now begun at the addresses, together with searches at an address in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire and in Leeds, West Yorkshire.”
Computers and mobile phones are believed to have been seized in the raids. The group says they ‘demonstrate against immigration, EU membership and multiculturalism’.