A white supremacist teen who planned a copycat attack on mosques in West Yorkshire was today (March 30) found guilty of a terrorism offence following a three-week trial at Leeds Crown Court.
The 16-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons due to their age, took inspiration from the Christchurch terrorist after jurors agreed that he intended to carry out an act of terrorism before counter-terror police intervened and arrested them.
Earlier this year, the teen pleaded guilty to six offences, a majority of which were terrorism-related, including four offences contravening Section 2 of the Terrorism Act 2006 (disseminating terrorist publications), a Section 1 offence of the Terrorism Act 2006 (encouraging terrorism) and finally, possession of a knife, a Section 139 offence of the Criminal Justice Act 1988.
Sky News detailed how they had stolen their father’s car for a “dry run” on the mosques targeted in the early hours of June 5, 2022, only to crash the vehicle in an embankment upon returning home.
A day after googling the interior of a mosque in Keighley, counter-terror police made their arrest, The Times reported on March 13.
At the time of the arrest in June last year, they were aged 15, plotted to murder his former girlfriend and attack two mosques near Bradford with a gun procured online whilst dressed as a police officer, The Times reported during the trial weeks earlier, quoting the prosecution who outlined, “His plan was to attack mosques and kill the Muslims worshipping there.”
If they could not procure a gun online, they intended to have a knife decorated with far-right slogans and a vehicle as a weapon.
The guilty verdict demonstrates the dangerous, enduring influence of the terror attacks four years ago in Christchurch, New Zealand, on those convicted of far-right-related terror offences in the UK.
Tell MAMA published research last summer identifying at least sixteen individuals convicted of far-right terror offences in the UK between September 2019 and June 2022, where they had accessed the Christchurch screed, live stream, or taken inspiration from it. In the months ahead, we included the convictions of Daniel Harris and Elliot Brown. With today’s guilty verdict, we increase that figure to 19 individuals.
In October 2021, neo-Nazi Sam Imrie, 24, guilty of various terrorism offences, threatened to burn down Fife Islamic Centre, in a chilling example of those who wanted to recreate that infamous act of terrorism and stream it.
Further revelations from Sky News revealed how the teen spent hours imbibing racist and homophobic material on apps like Telegram. In addition, they dehumanised Muslim and Jewish communities as “invaders” who did receive a Prevent referral, but details of their involvement (or lack thereof) are unclear.
The teen will later face sentencing for all seven offences at Leeds Crown Court.
In a statement, Chief Superintendent Rob McCoubrey of Bradford District said: “We recognise that the details of this case will cause understandable concern, particularly for those from our Muslim communities”.
“Officers from our Neighbourhood Policing Teams will continue to be visible locally and will be on hand to speak to people regarding any concerns they may have.”