Teen terrorist jailed for life over plot to attack soldiers, police in UK

Mathews King, a teenage Islamic State fanatic, has been jailed for life for plotting a terror attack on British police officers and soldiers.

In a televised judgement held at Old Bailey, Judge Mark Lucraft KC, on Friday, handed King a discretionary life sentence with a minimum term of six years

A new convert, King, 19, who was radicalised online during the pandemic, was said to have expressed a desire to kill military personnel in Britain as he discussed his plans and shared a “gory fantasy” with an online girlfriend with whom he struck up an adolescent flirtation.

His desires to launch an attack in Britain or travel to Syria to join the so-called Islamic State were thwarted when his mother reported him to the Prevent counter-terrorism programme.

British authorities were also tipped off through an anti-terrorist hotline after he posted a video on a WhatsApp group on April 13 last year.

While in custody, King had made violent threats to “behead an imam” and “kill and chop up staff,” the court was told.

In January, King pleaded guilty to the preparation of terrorist acts between December 22, 2021 and May 17, 2022.

In his sentence, Judge Lucraft praised King’s mother for taking the steps to thwart her son’s terrorist ambition.

“She took the very bold step of alerting when she had concerns for her son. That cannot have been an easy thing to do in the first place and my view, she absolutely did the right thing.”

Lucraft said King is a dangerous offender who carries a risk of future harm to the public.

“I note that it would have been much easier for you to attack a police officer in the street than it would be for you to join ISIS in Syria and so, of the two terrorist acts you intended to carry out, the former was more likely than the latter on the evidence.”

The judge said King was “motivated by hostility towards non-believers”, was in contact with other extremists, used aliases to hide his identity, and failed to heed warnings from his family and others in mosques.

In mitigation, his lawyer, Hossein Zahir KC said King is “immature” and the prospect that he would carry out either of his terrorist plans is “remote.”

Zahir argued that, despite incidents of “offensive and abusive” behaviour in custody, King is “slowly and steadily” disengaging from the excesses of extremism.


King was arrested at his home on May 18 of last year by officers from the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command.


In May 2021, King’s family noticed he had become more extreme and his mother became concerned he was watching material online promoting hatred.

Prosecutors, during the trial, revealed that King had developed a friendship with a girl, identified in court only as ‘Miss A,” whom he met online.

He spoke of wanting to get his hands on an American or British Marine and told the girl, “I just wanna die a martyr.”

When Miss A appeared to support and encourage him, King responded, “I guess jihadi love is powerful. I just want to kill people.”

In further graphic chat, Miss A talked about torturing, mutilating and beheading a soldier and then cutting up the body parts.

As part of his terror attack planning, King set up an online account with the retailer Knife Warehouse, searched for ISIS tactical training videos in the use of knives and bought “tactical gloves” and goggles.

On one occasion, he went into his sister’s bedroom dressed in his combat outfit and asked if she liked his clothes.

King made videos as he checked out potential targets, including Stratford Army barracks, police officers outside Stratford Magistrates’ Court, and the railway station.

Some of his hostile reconnaissance videos were overlaid with nasheeds—Islamic chants—and he posted them on Snapchat.

King also searched the internet for terrorist killers, including the Manchester Arena bomber and Jihadi John.

While he was planning acts of terrorism in Britain, he also expressed a desire to join the Islamic State in Syria and sought advice on a WhatsApp group about the best way to get there.



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