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Monday, April 22, 2024

Lengthy Jail Term for British Teenager Who Inspired Buffalo and Colorado Attacks

“Harris could see the reaction his videos were getting. This was not a one-off, this was not a game, this was a concerted effort to generate a following and influence people."

A British teenager, whose extreme right-wing videos were cited by a man who murdered 10 people in a terrorist attack in the U.S., has been jailed for encouraging terrorism. Daniel John Harris also tried to make a gun with a 3D printer.

The 19-year-old made and uploaded five videos to an online channel, between February 2021 and March 2022. In the clips, he praised the 2019 terrorist attacks in New Zealand, criticized peaceful protest, produced how-to guides and called for the death of those who work in the criminal justice system.

Harris’ clips were commented on and referenced seven times by the man who murdered ten people in a racially-motivated attack at a supermarket in Buffalo, U.S., in May last year. Further evidence shows another was used on the website of a man accused of killing five people at a gay club in Colorado in November.

A sixth charge related to the possession of the 3D printer, with intent.

Harris was arrested by officers from Counter-Terrorism Policing in the East Midlands (CTP EM) at his home in Glossop Derbyshire on May 16, 2022 – two days after the attack in Buffalo – and subsequently charged with a number of offenses.

In December, following a trial at Manchester Crown Court, he was found guilty of five counts of encouraging terrorism (contrary to Section 1 of the Terrorism Act 2006) and one count of possession of material for terrorist purposes (contrary to Section 57 of the Terrorism Act 2000).

On January 27, 2023), Harris was jailed for 11-and-a-half years, plus three further years on license on his release, when he will also be the subject of a five-year Serious Crime Prevention Order.

‘Highly dangerous’

On sentencing, Judge Field KC acknowledged Harris’ mental health issues and unconventional upbringing ‘may impact his ability to talk to others and understand boundaries’, but added that there was ‘no evidence of any such condition affecting your culpability’.

He referenced his previous offending, including the defacing of a George Floyd statue, and described his offenses as ‘calculated, deliberate and sophisticated, demonstrating high level of intelligence and competency’.

He described him as ‘highly dangerous and a significant risk to members of the public’, adding that the attacks in the U.S. were ‘not only appalling, but no more than what you intended others to do’.

CTP EM Detective Inspector Chris Brett said: “On the face of it, Harris presents as an unassuming, quiet young man, but scratch the surface and it’s a more sinister picture. While efforts were made to support him – with a referral to establish if he had been groomed, and attempts to engage with him through the Prevent program – the extent of his views and intentions were exposed through his continued efforts to post and create online content of an extreme nature throughout.

“Harris was ultimately deemed not to have been groomed, rather his provocative words and inflammatory films were potentially radicalizing others.

“The threat he posed became such that we had to act in order to ensure the safety of the wider public. The reference to one of his videos in the prelude to the Buffalo attack is a case in point. The level of risk was laid bare when we found evidence of an intention to create a gun from parts printed from a 3D printer, kept in a room used for storage. Granted, it was a crude attempt.

“Harris could see the reaction his videos were getting. This was not a one-off, this was not a game, this was a concerted effort to generate a following and influence people.

“Even once arrested, Harris continued to be obstructive to our investigatory efforts.”

Brett acknowledged the work of the investigation team, supported by colleagues at Derbyshire Constabulary and in CTP North East, on what he said has been an extremely challenging, but sadly not unique, investigation.

“It’s no secret that across the country we are seeing more and more young people hitting the radar of counterterrorism police, especially those who are displaying extreme right-wing views.

“Anyone who downloads, shares or creates extreme content online risks being arrested under terrorism legislation. And don’t think you can hide behind usernames, avatars and other technical blockers, as we have teams of highly-skilled digital investigators with a track record for getting to the source.

“As we have seen in this case against Daniel Harris, such irresponsible and hateful behavior can have deadly consequences. Not only did he create and share offensive posts and videos, he tried (and failed) to make a gun. And while not all individuals have the means to act upon their words, in the online space, they can easily spread to inspire others who do.

“Today Harris has been made accountable for his actions. I hope his story and lengthy sentence acts as a deterrent to anyone else considering treading a similar path.”

Read more at Counter Terrorism Policing

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Homeland Security Today
The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.
Homeland Security Today
Homeland Security Todayhttp://www.hstoday.us
The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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