UK's youngest convicted terrorist can be freed, says Parole Board


A man whose conviction aged 15 made him Britain’s youngest terrorist, is safe to be freed despite his key role in a plot to kill police officers, the Parole Board has decided.

The man who cannot be named, was jailed in 2015 for a transnational plot to murder police officers in Australia on Anzac day, which commemorates Australians and New Zealanders killed in wars.

The man from Blackburn, Lancashire sent a flood of encrypted messages to fellow jihadists in Australia, having been groomed online in his bedroom by a terrorist recruiter.

He is now aged 20 and a legal order prevents him being publicly identified. He is known only as RXG.

He was sentenced at the Old Bailey in 2015 to the equivalent of a life sentence in the youth justice system, with a minimum of five years to be served.

He admitted sending thousands of online messages to contacts in Australia and was arrested by British police when he was aged just 14.

Sentencing him in 2015, Mr Justice Saunders said: “The victims were to be police officers who were to be killed either with a car or by being beheaded.”

In prison he was diagnosed as having autism spectrum disorder and received treatment for that as well as undergoing a deradicalisation scheme.

He is understood to have been tutored by imams on what Islam permits and forbids as well as having psychological support.

He was a quiet, shy child prior to his conviction, and was radicalised online via his smartphone.

He became prominent in the online jihadist community, and was linked to 89 Twitter accounts with 24,000 followers.

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RXG sent thousands of messages to 18-year-old Sevdet Besim, encouraging him to kill police officers at the Anzac remembrance parade in Melbourne.

Explaining its decision that release was safe, the Parole Board on Monday said: “After considering the circumstances of his offending, the progress made while in detention, and the evidence presented at the hearings, the panel was satisfied that RXG was suitable for release.”

The 20-year-old will have strict licence conditions, including having to live at a specified address, monitoring via an electronic tag, regular appointments to check he is not relapsing, and restrictions on his movement, human contacts and access to technology and the internet.

The Parole Board said that when he fell into terrorism the factors driving his offending included “not coping well with feelings of anger, being manipulative, not being open and honest with people, his lack of maturity, obsessional behaviour, the influence on him of associates, unhelpful beliefs and extremist views, his radicalisation and his affiliation with Isis”.

The Parole Board said: “No one at the hearing considered there to be a need for further time within the custodial estate.”

Public faith in the Parole Board was shaken when it decided to release serial rapist John Worboys early, which sparked an outcry and which triggered a police investigation that resulted in the former London taxi driver being jailed for other offences.

Faith in de-radicalisation was shaken after a former convicted terrorist staged an attack at London Bridge in November 2019, killing two people who had tried to help his rehabilitation. That was followed a few months later, in February 2020, by an attack on Streatham High Street by another released terrorist, who was shot dead by police.

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