A man from Newcastle, U.K. has been sentenced to four years and two months in prison for terrorism offenses at Leeds Crown Court.
Luke Hunter, 23, admitted seven charges of encouraging terrorism and disseminating terrorist publications.
Hunter was arrested last October as part of an investigation into right wing terrorism, led by Counter Terrorism Policing North East with support from Northumbria Police.
Searches of Hunter’s home address revealed an obsession with Hitler and neo-Nazism and resulted in the seizure of a large number of white supremacist texts, military training manuals and guides on surveillance, guerrilla warfare, weapons and explosives. Officers also recovered Nazi memorabilia and a machete from his bedroom.
Hunter’s media devices were found to contain thousands of documents, videos and audio files of an extreme right wing nature, in addition to the manifestos of previous mass murderers and recordings of Hunter himself, expressing his deeply disturbing views.
Evidence from the digital review demonstrated the extent of Hunter’s online activity. He was persistent and prolific in his efforts to promote right wing terrorism, utilizing a variety of platforms and accounts to spread his hateful ideology and encourage others to do the same. He also created content and established his own website through which to disseminate his vile white supremacist, anti-Semitic and homophobic views. Through this site he avidly promoted violent right wing propaganda, terrorist handbooks and instructional material.
Worryingly, Hunter had a significant online reach, particularly among young people. His Telegram channel alone had more than 1200 subscribers and was affiliated to the Feuerkrieg Division (FKD), for whom Hunter produced video content and encouraged support. In reality, the public nature of his online settings meant a much wider audience were able to view and share his content.
While FKD was not proscribed at the time of Hunter’s arrest, it was still recognized as an extreme right wing group, which advocated the use of violence to further its cause. Hunter openly supported FKD objectives and was instrumental in maintaining its online footprint and gathering more followers.
Head of Counter Terrorism Policing North East, Detective Chief Superintendent Martin Snowden said:
“Hunter invested a lot of effort in maintaining his website, his online presence and his status among like-minded individuals. He saw himself as an influencer and even sought to widen his following by speaking at a right wing conference in the U.K.
“These actions are not simply the result of a young person simply seeking to explore and express their social or political views. Hunter promoted neo-Nazism to the widest possible audience and was reckless about the consequences.
“Through his pleas, Hunter accepts he was responsible for the hateful posts on his accounts, posts which glorified terrorism, promoted killing techniques and encouraged the killing of Jews, non-white races and homosexuals.
“Luke Hunter represents a threat to our society, not simply because of his mindset, but because of the considerable lengths he was prepared to go to in order to recruit and enable others in support of his cause”.