14-Year-Old Arrested for Terrorism Offence

Jun 12, 2024 | Threat Analysis, Threat Landscape

Author: Oliver Hair ASyI,
Threat Analyst

Read Time: 3 minutes 

On 22 May 2024, a 14-year-old was arrested in London following an investigation related to Extreme Right-Wing terrorist material. The teenager was arrested on suspicion of possessing information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism. The individual was later released on bail until August pending further inquiries. The investigation remains ongoing {1}.

Event Assessment

    • The arrest of a 14-year-old for a terrorism offence demonstrates a continuing trend of children and young adults being drawn towards terrorism-related activity in the UK. Recent data released by the UK Home Office shows that 2023 saw the highest number of terrorism arrests of young people since records began on 11 September 2011 {2}.
      • It is almost certain that Extreme Right-Wing terrorism will continue to emerge as a significant terrorism threat in the UK in the long term. However, it is highly likely that the Extreme Right-Wing terrorism threat has continued to evolve away from structured groups, such as the proscribed organisation National Action, to a more disparate online threat.
        • Children and young adults adhering to an Extreme Right-Wing ideology have previously demonstrated the intent and capability to conduct attacks in the UK, including:
          • 2024 – Brighton – A 19-year-old who adhered to an Extreme Right-Wing ideology was convicted of 11 terrorism offences after he reportedly plotted to conduct an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attack against worshippers at a synagogue in East Sussex. The individual had allegedly annotated diagrams of the synagogue on his phone and held “racist and white supremacist” views, which he planned to act on when the synagogue was most busy {3} {4}.
          •  2023 – Keyleigh – A 17-year-old who adhered to an Extreme Right-Wing ideology was sentenced to 10 years in prison for offences including plotting a terrorist attack against a mosque. The perpetrator had conducted hostile reconnaissance at a mosque in Keighley, contacted a UK-based individual in order to buy a weapon, and written a “detailed plan for carrying out a terrorist attack” {5}.
          •  2023 – Derbyshire – A 19-year-old who adhered to an Extreme Right-Wing ideology was sentenced to 11-and-a-half years in a young offender’s institution for encouraging terrorism and possession of material for terrorist purposes. The individual published a significant amount of Extreme Right-Wing terrorist material online. One of the individual’s followers later conducted a racially motivated mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, and had reportedly given the UK-based individual a shoutout before conducting the attack {6} {7}.
        •  It is highly likely that any Extreme Right-Wing terrorist attack would target sites and individuals associated with the UK government, online and traditional media companies, and minority groups with protected characteristics. E.g., LGBTQIA+, migrant communities, religious minorities, and more.
          • It is almost certain that any Extreme Right-Wing actor would have the capability to conduct a low-sophistication in the UK at this time. E.g., Bladed or Blunt Force Weapon, Vehicle as a Weapon, Fire as a Weapon.
          Intelligence Cut-Off Date: 28 May 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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