Anzac Day Terrorist Plot

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Teenager Jailed for Life



A 15-year-old boy from Blackburn has been sentenced after encouraging a man in Australia to commit an act of terrorism at a national day of remembrance.


The boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was found guilty of inciting another person to commit an act of terrorism overseas at Manchester Crown Court Crown Square.


He was sentenced to life in a youth detention centre with a minimum of five years.


On 25 March 2015, the boy, who was then 14, was initially arrested by Lancashire police at his home in Blackburn on suspicion of threats to kill his teachers at school.


His Samsung mobile phone was seized and examined by police. The phone contained extreme images, including a screen saver of ISIS militants and references to Jihad. There was also evidence of internet searches for making explosives and how to create a detonator from scratch.


A message between the boy and someone called ‘Illyas’ was also discovered on a messaging service where they discussed a plan to ‘run a cop over’ at the Anzac Day parade in Melbourne on 25 April 2015.


Officers from the North West Counter Terrorism Unit (NWCTU) were contacted and the boy was arrested on 2 April 2015 on suspicion of preparing for an act of terrorism under Section 5 of the Terrorism Act 2006.


Further investigations revealed there had been continuous contact between the boy and ‘Illyas’ via a messaging service that used an encrypted code and could not be read. However, an officer from NWCTU developed a specialist computer program which was able to crack the code and enable the messages to be read.


Once examined, officers established the boy had been messaging a man in Australia between 16 March and 25 March 2015. During that nine day period, in excess of 3000 messages had been sent.


Detective Chief Superintendent Tony Mole from the North West Counter Terrorism Unit said: “After the information was discovered on the boy’s phone, it was clear he was encouraging another person to commit an act of terrorism and innocent lives were going to be in danger. A swift investigation was launched and we, alongside the relevant authorities in the UK and Australia, acted quickly.


“From the early communication we could read, it was obvious the Anzac Day memorial service was going to be a target. However, we did not know the specifics due to the messaging service he used contained an encryption code. If officers from the hi-tech unit of the NWCTU had not been able to develop a bespoke program to read the boy’s messages, it is likely someone would have been seriously injured or killed.


“The chains of events are clearly disturbing and residents will be shocked that such activity can take place behind closed doors. However, while these investigations took place, there was no suggestion the boy was looking to target his local community or those in the UK.”

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