A 16-year-old boy from Cornwall, U.K. was sentenced on February 8 to a 24-month youth rehabilitation order at the Old Bailey court in London for offenses against the Terrorism Act.
The boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, appeared via video link and was sentenced by Mr Justice Dennis having previously pleaded guilty to two counts of disseminating a terrorist publication under section 2 of the Terrorism Act 2006 and 10 counts under section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000 of collecting material of use to a terrorist.
The court previously heard how the boy was first arrested by officers from Devon and Cornwall Police and Counter Terrorism Policing South West in July 2019 having posted concerning comments online about trying to make a firearm.
As part of the subsequent investigation several digital media devices were seized by police and on review, officers identified a number of instructional manuals including bomb making and firearms manufacture, as well as over 50 detailed ideological texts.
There were also a significant amount of extreme right wing, white supremacist, homophobic and racist images and videos recovered as well as chat logs containing details of explicit extremist discussions.
Further investigation identified the boy as the leader of the U.K. cell for the worldwide online extremist group Feuerkrieg Division (FKD), which he had been a member of since the age of 14.
The boy was responsible for U.K. recruitment and vetting in order to admit others of a similar mind-set to the group. One of those that he recruited went on to be convicted of planning a terrorist attack in the U.K.
Cornwall Commander, Chief Superintendent Jim Pearce said: “Officers from Counter Terrorism Policing South West and Devon and Cornwall Police carried out a detailed investigation into the materials found on the teenagers’ devices and uncovered the extent of his involvement within this extremist group.
“The young age of the offender combined with the extreme hatred displayed and the quick progression of his role within the worldwide extremist group brings into sharp focus the real and clear danger of online radicalization.
“Whilst there was no risk to our local area, extremist groups like this and their hateful agenda have no place in our society and threaten the safety of our communities and our children. We will continue to relentlessly pursue them using specialist teams within our force area and across the wider South West region.”
Detective Inspector Mark Samuel from Counter Terrorism Policing South West said: “The story of this individual and the impact those choices have had serves as a timely reminder of the potential extremism that can lie beyond every computer and phone screen, which creates a risk for the young and vulnerable. This is especially true during lockdown where young people spend more time online, often alone and unsupervised.
“We would encourage those who care for young persons to have honest and frank conversations about online activity, to look out for the signs that indicate a potential shift in beliefs or attitude and to be intrusive on occasion to ensure they are safe online. The Act Early website has a wealth of information for anyone with concerns to help them understand what radicalisation looks like and provides advice on what to do in the first instance. The site also includes details of organizations outside of policing which can offer support.”