Boy spared jail after becoming UK's youngest terrorism offender

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LONDON (Reuters) - A boy who headed a neo-Nazi group and carried out his first offence aged just 13 was spared jail on Monday after becoming the youngest person in Britain to be convicted of terrorism offences.

The teenager, now 16, who told police he had just wanted to look cool, pleaded guilty to two counts of disseminating terrorist publications and 10 counts of possessing such publications.

In June 2019, when he was 14, the boy became head of a now-banned British cell of a far-right international online group called Feuerkrieg Division (FKD). FKD_GB had six members when he was arrested.

Prosecutors said he had also downloaded material on making explosives, petrol bombs and napalm and how to build an AK-47 assault rifle using readily available supplies.

"People will rightly be disturbed that a 13-year-old should hold the most appalling neo-Nazi beliefs and start collecting manuals on bomb-making and firearms," said Jenny Hopkins from the Crown Prosecution Service.

"He claimed not to have racist views and just wanted to appear ‘cool’, but the body of evidence led to him pleading guilty to possession and dissemination of terrorist material."

When he was arrested, officers found that the boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had a Nazi flag in the house in Cornwall, southwest England, where he lived with his grandmother.

Officers found "1488" painted on the garden shed at his home - references to a Nazi rallying cry and to the eighth letter of the alphabet, HH, meaning "Heil Hitler".

Prosecutors said he had posted messages on far-right chat forums about killing gay people, Jews and non-whites using nail bombs, firearms and other methods.

He was sentenced to a 24-month youth rehabilitation order, a non-custodial punishment that comes with strict requirements.

(Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Catherine Evans)