Fourteen-Year-Old Boy Arrested for Alleged “Islamist” Terror Plot19 Jun 2020
Police in Eastleigh have announced that a 14-year-old boy has been charged with terrorism offences and remanded in youth detention. The boy was allegedly in the process was preparing a shrapnel bomb. Police have assured the local community that the boy, who has not been named for legal reasons, is not a threat to the wider community.
Some news outlets have reported that the boy has been charged for plotting “Islamic terror”. This is offensive, insensitive and plainly wrong. Plotting to kill or carry out terror attacks, or any other criminal activity, is not Islamic by definition and is so far removed from Islamic values.
The boy converted to Islam this year and was radicalised in the past month
The 14-year-old from Eastleigh in Hampshire was arrested last Friday and charged by the police on section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2006. According to the prosecutors, he had been researching ways to made homemade explosives and was filming bomb-making videos himself as he prepared a series of explosive devices containing shrapnel. It was also claimed that he made a video of himself expressing his wish to become a martyr.
According to the prosecutor, the boy was motivated by a “jihadist” ideology. He had converted to Islam earlier this year and allegedly developed a “jihadist mind-set” over the past month.
Appearing in the court on Thursday, the boy, who has not been named for legal reasons, has pleaded not guilty to terrorism charges. He has since been remanded in youth detention.
He is not a threat to the wider community
Counter Terrorism Policing South East (CTPSE) said that the boy appeared to be operating alone and reassured the public that he does not pose a threat to the wider community.
“Hampshire Constabulary have been working closely with colleagues in CTPSE on this investigation and we want to reassure you that we believe the investigation is isolated, and with no known wider risk to the community,” the CTPSE said.
The boy is not the youngest person to be charged with terrorism offences, but he is in the youngest age group. The youngest terrorism offender in the UK was first convicted five years ago when he was also 14. He was allegedly planning to behead a police officer. Since then, another 14-year-old, who was preparing to carry out bombings motivated by a Neo-Nazi ideology, has been arrested.
The incidents, and the age-pattern involved, raises questions about youth radicalisation and whether enough efforts are being taken by authorities to holistically understand disaffected or vulnerable youths and the range of factors that motivate them towards committing violent acts. Islam certainly does not encourage this behaviour. A preliminary hearing will be held at the Old Bailey on Monday.