“Andrew Tate Admirer” Jailed Following University Attack Plot

Feb 13, 2024 | Threat Analysis, Threat Landscape


Author: Oliver Hair ASyI,
Threat Analyst

Read Time: 3 minutes 
On 12 February 2024, an individual was sentenced to six years in prison after revealing that he wanted to attend his university “in full military-style get-up to shoot everyone for the lols”. The individual was found guilty of making and having an explosive substance and possession of a bladed article.{1} Reporting suggests that the individual was an admirer of the controversial social media personality, Andrew Tate, and showed resentment towards women. On one occasion, the individual reportedly gave a noose made out of yarn to a female student who he was attracted to, but who he thought had reported him to the police.

According to the prosecutor, the individual had grown increasingly resentful of other students at his university, females, his doctors, people in authority, and the police. In a phone conversation with a West Yorkshire Police Detective Constable, the individual reportedly said he would give officers “three warnings to him alone or in self-defence he would use weapons”.{2}

The individual was later arrested whilst reportedly lying next to a firearm on his bed. The prosecutor stated that the items found in the possession of the individual, inclduing a starting pistol, ammunition, and chemicals including sulphur, magnesium, iron oxide, and a copper pipe, were “mainly to attack students on campus or the police”, and that by February 2023, the individual had been seen carrying a firearm in the communal areas of university halls. The individual later visited two separate shooting clubs.{3}

Psychiatric evidence concluded that the individual had a mixed personality disorder, ADHD, and “mental and behavioural disorders due to multiple drug misuse”.{4} The individual was not convicted of any terrorism offences, most likely due to a lack of evidence of intent to advance a political, religious, racial, or ideological cause by conducting an attack, as well as the evident mental health issues of the individual.

Assessment

    • In the medium term, it is highly likely that certain individuals in the UK would move away from traditional terrorism ideologies (E.g., Islamist, Extreme Right-Wing, etc.) and adhere to ideologies that overlap, converge, or even in some cases contradict, as a result of their own perceived frustrations and injustices.
        • E.g., In the year ending 31 March 2023, the category , “vulnerability present but no ideology or CT risk”, accounted for the largest proportion of referrals to the UK government’s Prevent programme. The Prevent programme is intended to stop people from becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism.{6}
        • In the long term, there is a realistic possibility that individuals in the UK adhering to an incel ideology could mature to violence that is considered terrorism. Short for involuntary celibate, incels can broadly be defined as a group of people who are unable to find sexual partners despite wanting them. A subsection of those who adhere to incel ideology openly express hostility towards women.
        • Whilst, at this time, there has not been a designated terrorist attack related to incel ideology in the UK, individuals affiliated with incel ideology have previously demonstrated the intent and capability to conduct acts of violence globally, including:
            • 2023 (Canada) An individual was sentenced to life imprisonment for conducting a Bladed Weapons attack against a massage parlour. The individual reportedly used a machete to target women at the facility. There was one fatality. The attack was the first officially prosecuted act of terrorism motivated by the online incel subculture in the history of Canada.{7}
            • 2021 (UK) Although not officially designated as terrorism, an individual conducted a marauding firearms attack in Plymouth. There were five fatalities. An inquest later found that the individual had “explored on numerous occasions mass killings and referred to people idolised in the incel community for perpetrating mass killings”, including Elliot Rodger, the perpetrator of a 2014 US mass killing.{8}
            • It is almost certain that terrorist actors would have the intent to conduct firearms attacks in the UK. However, it is highly likely that UK firearms and ammunition legislation, and the actions of police and intelligence services have significantly reduced the capability of terrorist actors to access firearms in the UK.
              • It is highly likely that terrorist actors in the UK would have the intent to conduct attacks against universities due to the large number of young adults that gather at university sites and the major media coverage any such attack would receive.
                • There is a realistic possibility that individuals attending university in the UK could have links to terrorist groups and facilitate activity on their behalf, including the radicalisation of other students. There is a realistic possibility that certain individuals could become inspired to conduct attacks. UK university students have previously demonstrated the intent and capability to conduct terrorism-related activity, including:
                    • 2023 (Birmingham) A PhD student was convicted of preparing acts of terrorism after building a drone with the intention of supplying it to Islamic State. Counter Terrorism Police stated that “conversations on his devices clearly demonstrate his support for ISIS as well as extremist material and violent propaganda videos”.{9}
                    • 2012 (London) A former University College London (UCL) student was sentenced to life imprisonment for attempting to conduct an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attack on a US-bound flight on Christmas day in 2009. The explosive failed to successfully detonate. The individual was reportedly acting on behalf of al-Qa’ida.{10} The individual had previously been the leader of UCL’s Islamic society and allegedly sought to popularise his views among fellow students.
                    • 2007 (Glasgow) An individual involved in a 2006 plot to use liquid explosives to blow up transatlantic airliners was a graduate of London’s City University and had reportedly previously held the position of president of the Islamic society at the University.{11}
                    • It is highly likely that any terrorist attack conducted in the UK at this time would be conducted by an individual or small cell using a low sophistication methodology. E.g., Bladed or Blunt Force Weapons, Vehicle as a Weapon, Fire as a Weapon, etc.
                      • There is a realistic possibility that terrorist actors in the UK could have the capability to conduct a high-sophistication attack in the UK. E.g., Improvised Explosive Devices (IED), Person Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (PBIED) or a marauding attack with Firearms. The complicated nature of plotting a high-sophistication terrorist attack makes it highly likely that there will be greater opportunity for UK police and security services to disrupt potential attacks.

                          Intelligence Cut-Off Date: 13 February 2024

                        PHIA Scale

                        The “Probability Yardstick” (below) is a standardised instrument used to provide professional intelligence assessments. Judgements made using the yardstick are relative and reflect the analyst’s confidence in their findings and assessments.

                          • Almost Certain: An event is assessed to have a greater than 90% chance of occurring.
                          • Highly Likely: An event is assessed to have a 76% to 90% chance of occurring.
                          • Likely: An event is assessed to have a 55% to 75% chance of occurring.
                          • Realistic Possibility: An event is assessed to have a 40% to 54% chance of occurring.
                          • Unlikely: An event is assessed to have a 25% to 39% chance of occurring.
                          • Highly Unlikely: An event is assessed to have an 10% to 24% chance of occurring.
                          • Remote Chance: An event is assessed to have a less than 10% chance of occurring.

                          Time Spans

                            • Short Term: 0 – 6 Months.
                            • In the next 12 months.
                            • Medium Term: 12 months – 5 Years.
                            • Long Term: 5+ Years.

                        Author: Oliver Hair ASyI,
                        Threat Analyst

                        Read Time: 3 minutes

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