Terrorist, aged 15, gets life sentence for Anzac plot
The 15-year-old will serve at least five years for inciting terrorism and will only be released once he is no longer considered to be dangerous.
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 an alleged Australian jihadist in a plot to murder police officers by beheading in Melbourne the following month.
The youngster, of Blackburn, Lancashire, exchanged more than 3,000 encrypted mobile app messages with 18-year-old Sevdet Besim after he became swiftly radicalised by online Islamic State propaganda.
A “major terrorist 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 remembrance event.
Mr Justice Saunders at Manchester Crown Court said the defendant’s life term meant he would not be released until he is considered not to be dangerous.
He said: “Thanks to the intervention of the police in this country and in Australia, that attack and the deaths which were intended to follow never happened.
“Had the authorities not intervened, [the defendant] would have continued to play his part hoping and intending that the outcome would be the deaths of a number of people.
“In March 2015 he would have been pleased if that had happened. He would have welcomed the notoriety that he would have achieved.”
He continued: “The revelation in this case that someone of only 14 could have become so radicalised that he was prepared to carry out this role intending and wishing that people should die is chilling.” The judge ruled reporting restrictions which ban the identification of the Muslim defendant should remain.
He hugged his parents after sentence was passed down before he was led from the courtroom to begin his sentence.
The youth 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 named Abu Khaled al-Cambodi, himself an Australian, said the Crown.