UK boy radicalised by smartphone before Anzac plot

An attack on the Anzac Day parade would have provided a major publicity coup for the terrorists. Picture: Getty Images

An attack on the Anzac Day parade would have provided a major publicity coup for the terrorists. Picture: Getty Images

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A 14-year-old British boy came within days of successfully plotting an Anzac Day terror “massacre” in Australia after he was radicalised by online Islamic State propaganda, a court has heard.

The youngster, from Blackburn, Lancashire, 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.

Thought to be the UK’s youngest terrorist, the teenager then went on to plot an attack on an Anzac Day memorial parade in Melbourne this April from the bedroom of his parents’ suburban home.

Over the course of nine days in March this year he took on the role of “organiser and adviser” to an alleged Australian jihadist named Sevdet Besim to murder police officers by beheading, Manchester Crown Court was told. His contact with Besim – in which more than 3,000 encrypted messages were exchanged – 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, said the Crown.

Within hours of the pair first making contact not only had the plotters determined that the attack was to take place in Australia but also the idea of an attack upon police officers was taking hold, Mr Greaney told the court.

In the early hours of 18 March, Besim suggested an attack on Anzac Day, the court heard.

The youth, who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty in July to inciting terrorism overseas.

Mr Justice Saunders will sentence him today.

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