Boy, 14, started making bombs during lockdown after watching Isis propaganda, court hears

Boy attempted to make ‘bottle bombs’ while filming videos to inspire others, prosecutors say

Lizzie Dearden
Security Correspondent
Tuesday 29 September 2020 14:02 BST
The boy is believed to have been radicalised within months while viewing Isis propaganda online
The boy is believed to have been radicalised within months while viewing Isis propaganda online (Dabiq)

A teenage boy started trying to make bombs during the coronavirus lockdown after becoming radicalised by Isis propaganda online, a court has heard.

The defendant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was 14 when he allegedly tried to create “bottle bombs” and filmed his own videos saying he would “carry out jihad”.

Leicester Crown Court heard that the boy carried out experiments in his bedroom wardrobe at home in Eastleigh, Hampshire.

He is charged with preparing acts of terrorism after rapidly developing “extreme views” associated with Isis at the start of the year.

Prosecutor Anne Whyte QC said: “This is an unusual case and it concerns the activities of a young person who, we will be suggesting, felt isolated and angry about his personal circumstances.

”He is facing an allegation of preparing acts of terrorism.

“In summary, it is said that, even though he was young, he had developed extremist views, radical views, associated with the terrorist organisation, Islamic State. This probably happened in early 2020, so this year.”

Mr Whyte said the boy had researched how to make different kinds of potentially deadly devices and had been experimenting with the idea of using shrapnel.

The teenager, who is now 15, was arrested after social workers contacted police with concerns.

Officers who searched his home found the boy had put components and weapons inside a wardrobe fitted with an alarm system.

Jurors were told it contained a knife, prayer mat, a copy of the Quran, a prayer cap, tin foil, bleach, pressure sprayer, pesticide, screws and containers.

Ms Whyte said the boy had been working on making “bottle bombs” and had experimented with adding rusty nails to them as shrapnel.

“He had researched how to make devices which were designed to harm or kill other people and had evidently been experimenting with the idea of using shrapnel in such devices,” she added.

The boy was arrested by counter-terror police

”He had made a series of videos about the construction of basic devices using the context of his faith and beliefs.”

The teenager also allegedly possessed diagrams relating to improvised explosive devices, switches and detonators.

It is also alleged the defendant had researched and made basic drawings of a “dead man's switch”, which enable bombers to detonate devices after being shot by police or incapacitated.

Jurors were told he had used his mother’s Amazon account to make purchases and had more items saved on a wishlist.

The boy allegedly made several videos setting out his “wish to be a martyr” and aiming to teach others how to make bombs and carry out their own attacks.

The court heard that he told a social worker he had converted to Islam in May, but that evidence of his online activity suggests it occurred several months before.

The boy is accused of creating a note on his iPhone in February, which was later deleted, calling for Muslims to follow Sharia law and calling Western culture a “cancerous tumour”.

The note said Isis would “rise again stronger” after its territorial defeat in Syria and Iraq, and “rape” the countries involved in fighting the terrorist group.

It called women “tools, an object to be used a sex slave” and lashed out at homosexuality, calling for the “extinction of the western race”.

Other notes referred to the former Isis leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and the court heard the boy had searched online for official Isis propaganda outlets.

He also allegedly searched for Isis “nasheeds” - Arabic songs it used for propaganda purposes - as well as for beheading videos, and news articles on Isis attacks.

“There is no evidence that any one individual was responsible for pointing him towards radical Islam and you may think, after viewing all the evidence in the case, that much of his radical views came from his own activity online, accessing extremist material and absorbing its basic message,” Ms Whyte said.

“He had plainly absorbed this intolerant and offensive type of message from somewhere but it is quite possible that we will never know from precisely where. The important point is that he seems to have been responsive to it and, in his own immature way, to have embraced it.” 

The teenager, from Eastleigh, denies one count of preparing acts of terrorism. The trial, expected to last two weeks, continues.

Additional reporting by PA

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