15-year-old British given life sentence over Australia terror plot, but could be free in five years
A 15-year-old boy has been given a life sentence but could be free in just five years despite admitting plotting an Anzac Day parade terror “massacre” in Australia.
The youngster, from Blackburn, Lancashire, is believed to be the youngest Brit convicted of a terror offence after pleading guilty to inciting a person to commit an act of terrorism.
In March last year, the teenager – who cannot be named for legal reasons – exchanged more than 3,000 encrypted instant messages with Australian teenager Sevdit Besim in which they discussed the terror plot.
Over the course of nine days in March this year the then 14-year-old boy took on the role of “organiser and adviser” to the alleged Australian jihadist.
A “major terrrorist plot in its late stages” was thwarted when authorities in Britain and Australia intervened and Besim was arrested in possession of a knife a week before the annual war remembrance event.
The British teenager encouraged Besim to carry out a practice beheading in the hours before the proposed attack on April 25 last year.
He told Besim: “Suggest you break into someone’s house and get your first taste of beheading. I’m talking a proper lonely person.”
Besim replied he thought the practice beheading would be “a bit risky” before saying he wanted to murder a police officer in an apparent copycat killing of tragic soldier Lee Rigby.
He said: “If I can’t get a weapon, I wanna jus (sic) drive find a cop walking run him over… and leave his head a few metres from his body.”
The pair also discussed a large machete Besim said he wanted to use in the attack.
He said: “(The) handle is perfect for tearing through throat.”
The British boy, then aged 14, was arrested in April.
When counter-terror police raided the 14-year-old’s house they found a carved, wooden Box with ‘Islamic State’ written on the front and an Islamic State magazine called ‘Dabiq: The Return of the Khalifah’.
Officers also found the 14-year-old had changed his mobile phone background to a picture of militants holding the Islamic State flag.
The youth had found an online jihadist community through his first smartphone which “filled a void” caused by problems he was having at school and at home as well as a degenerative eye condition.
Within two weeks of setting up a Twitter account he had 24,000 followers as he constructed a fantasy image of himself and “quickly became a celebrity” within the jihadi Twitter community.
His contact with Besim was instigated by a well-known Isis recruiter and propagandist named Abu Khaled al-Cambodi, himself an Australian, who has promoted the idea of terrorist attacks in his homeland, the court was told.
The judge ruled that reporting restrictions which ban the identification of the Muslim defendant should remain.
The bespectacled teenager, wearing grey trousers, a grey shirt and patterned tie, hugged his parents and family members in turn after sentence was passed down before he was led from the courtroom to begin his sentence.
The discovery of the boy’s actions sparked a massive police operation in Melbourne, which led to the arrest of five teenagers who were planning an Islamic State-inspired attack on an event to mark the centenary of the Gallipoli landings.
Besim, 18, has been charged by Australian police with conspiring to commit a terrorist act in connection with the alleged terror plot in Melbourne.