Left-Wing Anarchist Guilty of Preparing Acts of Terrorism

Feb 28, 2024 | Threat Analysis, Threat Landscape


Author: Oliver Hair ASyI,
Threat Analyst

Read Time: 3 minutes 

On 23 February 2024, an individual was convicted of preparation of terrorist acts. In a document titled “My Plan”, the individual claimed he wanted to kill at least 50 people by attacking government buildings and politicians’ houses.{1} The individual had told police that he was “left-wing”, but “more like an anarchist”, and had become motivated by both a hatred of the government and ecological concerns including: pollution, the destruction of forests, and the exploitation of natural resources.{2}

According to Counter Terrorism Police, the individual had collected a large number of manuals and publications, including instructions for the manufacture of firearms, ammunition, and explosives.{3} The manuals possessed by the individual spanned traditional ideologies and included documents including the “Mujahideen Handbook” and the “White Resistance Manual”.{4} The individual had reportedly bought a number of chemicals on the internet and conducted experiments with explosives in his back garden. He also possessed computer files outlining how to make a 3D-printed assault rifle and a printer on which to make it.{5}

The individual had also created a manual, entitled the “Freedom Encyclopaedia”, that outlined how to build weapons, including shotguns, nail bombs, and explosives. The prosecution argued that the individual intended to use the manual to assist others in committing their own acts of terrorism and had reportedly sent instructional documents to online contacts previously.{6}

In a video made in his bedroom on 09 August 2023, the individual reportedly said: “If terrorism is standing up for what you think is right… there needs to be someone to fix this problem. It is my responsibility to do this.”{7}

The individual was convicted of the following offences:

    • Preparation of terrorist acts, contrary to Section 5(1)(b) of the Terrorist Act 2006.
    • Two counts of dissemination of terrorist publications, contrary to Section 2 of the Terrorism Act 2006.
    • Four counts of possession of material likely to be useful to a terrorist, contrary to Section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000.{8}

Event Assessment

      • Although Left Wing, Anarchist and Single-Issue Terrorism (LASIT) currently represents a significantly smaller terrorist threat to the UK in comparison to Islamist and/or Extreme Right-Wing terrorism, there is a realistic possibility that individuals adhering to a LASIT ideology could mature towards violence in the next 12 months.{9}
        • It is almost certain that there is currently a heightened terrorism threat to politicians in the UK amidst heightened political tensions in the UK and the ongoing conflict in the Middle East. On 28 February 2024, Home Secretary James Cleverly announced that security guards would be deployed at events held by MPs as part of a 31 million pound effort to protect politicians.{10}
          • Terrorist actors in the UK have previously demonstrated the intent and capability to conduct attacks against politicians, including:
            • 2021 – An Islamist terrorist murdered Sir David Amess MP during a Bladed Weapons attack at his constituency surgery.{11}
            • 2019 – An Extreme Right-Wing terrorist was sentenced to life imprisonment for plotting to murder Rosie Cooper MP. The individual reportedly admitted to preparing an act of terrorism and wanted to “replicate” the murder of Jo Cox MP. The individual had purchased a machete to conduct the attack.{12}
            • 2016 – Jo Cox – An Extreme Right-Wing terrorist conducted a Bladed Weapons and Firearms attack against Jo Cox MP. The individual shouted “Britain First” in the attack and was later sentenced to life imprisonment for her murder.{13}
          • In the medium term, it is 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. This is demonstrated in the above case by the individual’s use of both Extreme Right-Wing and Islamist instructional materials, as well as his own sense of affiliation to both Left-Wing and Anarchist ideologies.
            • It is likely that the construction of homemade weapons would continue to emerge as a vector of terrorism threat in the UK in the long term. The UK has witnessed a growing number of incidents and arrests linked to the production of 3D-printed firearms in recent years.
              • E.g., In 2022, authorities seized 17 3D-printed firearms, an increase from three in 2021.{14}
              • E.g., Since 2020, there have been at least eight terrorism-related cases in the UK involving attempts to manufacture of acquire 3D-printed weapons. Seven of the eight cases related to the construction of 3D-printed firearms, another involved the construction of a drone.{15}
            • 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: 28 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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