Published on 2 Oct 2015 Sections

Anzac day terror plot: British teenager given life sentence

A British teenage boy has been given a life sentence with a minimum term of five years for plotting a “chilling” Anzac Day parade terror attack in Australia.

The 15-year-old boy, from Blackburn, Lancashire, pleaded guilty in July to inciting terrorism overseas as he planned the deadly attack with an alleged Australian jihadist.

The youngster, who became swiftly radicalised by online Islamic State propaganda, was aged 14 at the time of the terror plot. He wanted police officers to be beheaded at the Anzac Day celebrations in Melbourne in April.

‘Organiser’

Manchester Crown Court heard how the teenager acted “organiser and adviser” to 18-year-old Sevdet Besim, who he instructed to carry out the planned attack.

The pair exchanged more than 3,000 messages over the course of nine days in March in the run-up to the memorial parade commemorating the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps’ WW1 battle in Gallipoli on 25 April.

The court was told, the two ran through their plans, with the boy emphasising he was in charge.

Besim: “So far the plan is to run a cop over on the Anzac parade and then continue to kill a cop…and run to shahadah (martyrdom).”

Boy: “I’ll give the orders soon but it’s looking that way.”

The court heard, the teenager had become “thoroughly and dangerously radicalised” and “quickly became a celebrity” within the jihadi Twitter community.

British and Australian authorities thwarted the “major terrorist plot in its late stages” and Besim was arrested in possession of a knife in the week before the remembrance event.

Handing the sentence to the boy, now 15, Mr Justice Saunders said the defendant’s life term meant he would not be released until he is considered not to be dangerous.

‘Chilling’

“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.

“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.” he said.

The boy’s family said they were “shocked and devastated” when the youngster was arrested as they had been “completely unaware of his activities”.

In a statement they said: “The family were shocked and devastated when he was arrested, as until that point they were completely unaware of his activities. They are, of course, relieved that no one was injured as a consequence of his behaviour.”

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