A UK teenager set up a social media channel to teach potential terrorists about hacking while on bail after he was caught trying to join a terror group in Syria.
The 16-year-old from the West Midlands, who cannot be named because of his age, was initially arrested last June after he attempted to join the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front in Syria. While on bail, he set up a channel on the messaging app Telegram and posted training manuals and video, including a clip of Michael Adebolajo, who murdered Fusilier Lee Rigby in 2013.
The teenager admitted four more terror charges when he appeared at Westminster Magistrate’s Court, sitting as a youth court. Prosecutor Matthew Brook told the court, “On 12 June last year he traveled to Birmingham Airport intending to travel to Syria to join a proscribed group who then had the name Nusra Front. He was arrested at the airport and appeared before the court having been charged under Section 5 of the Terrorism Act.”
The boy told a friend that he wanted to set up a “mujahideen channel to teach people how to hack.” The court heard that he subsequently posted 26 tutorials on that channel, including lessons on how to set up ransomware.
The court heard there were also videos “glorifying the Islamic State and showing somebody being executed.”
The case has been sent to the crown court after Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot decided that was appropriate for the offenses. “What worries me is a certain persistence that I have seen, admittedly over a short period of time, when he set up his own channel,” she said. “It does seem to me I’m looking at a sentence of substantially more than two years – I will therefore be sending this to the crown court.”
The teenager admitted one count of terrorist training, two counts of distributing terrorist publications and one count of possession of articles for a terrorist purpose, in addition to the charge of preparation of terrorist acts for attempting to travel to Syria, which he admitted in January.
Sentencing will take place at the Old Bailey on April 17.