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Anzac Day Terrorism Plot: U.K. Teen Sentenced To Life

| by Jared Keever
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A U.K. teenager has been sentenced to life in prison for plotting to assassinate Australian police officers when he was just 14. 

Now 15, the boy, who has not been named for legal reasons, is believed to be the youngest convicted terrorist in the United Kingdom, The Guardian reports. 

The boy pleaded guilty in July to inciting terrorism overseas by sending thousands of messages to a Melbourne, Australia, man and hatching a plot to kill police during an Anzac Day parade. 

Anzac Day, held on April 25 each year, is similar to Memorial Day in the United States. 

The plot was for the 18-year-old Australian contact to run over at least one officer during the parade then behead the officer, according to BBC. Both teens were reportedly influenced by the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist organization and its propoganda on social media.

The 14-year-old and 18-year-old were said to have exchanged more 3,000 messages over a nine-day period in March. 

The 14-year-old encouraged the Australian to “break into someone’s house and get your first taste of beheading,” as practice for the Anzac Day attack, according to The Guardian. 

James Pickup, the teen's defense attorney, argued during mitigation that his client could not have been the driving influence behind the alleged plan because the Australian teen was already involved in online jihadi rhetoric before the two came into contact. 

Pickup also argued that his client was showing progress in becoming deradicalized. 

“He accepts his crimes were barbaric, immoral and wholly wrong,” Pickup said in court.

The attorney added that the “void that was filled by the extremist propaganda of ISIS no longer exists” and that the boy was being supported by his family during the deradicalization process. 

But Justice Saunders did not appear to be swayed by the arguments, saying that the defendant's young age was "chilling" and that the teen had been “hoping and intending that the outcome would be the deaths of a number of people.”

“In March 2015 he would have been pleased if that had happened,” the judge said. “He would have welcomed the notoriety that he would have achieved.”

Saunders added that the teen remains a “significant risk,” according to the BBC.

A five-year minimum sentence was also implemented, and it is intended as a “window of opportunity” to determine if the teen can be deradicalized before he is placed in the adult prison system. It is possible, however, that he may never leave custody.

Sources: The Guardian, BBC News

Photo credit: bloomsberries/Flickr, Brian Turner/Flickr