Matthew King, 19, will serve a minimum of six years in prison after planning to commit a terrorist attack in London. The Islamic State fanatic, who was self-radicalised online during lockdown, had planned to attack British police officers or soldiers in a twisted terror plot. The Essex teenager was eventually caught after his own mother reported him to the anti-extremism agency Prevent.
He was sentenced earlier today at the Old Bailey, having already pleaded guilty to the preparation of terrorist acts between December 22, 2021, and May 17, 2022.
The sentencing was the first terrorism hearing in England and Wales to be broadcast on live television.
King was radicalised during lockdown at an “alarming speed,” according to Commander Dominic Murphy, who leads the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command.
The Old Bailey heard how the teenager had expressed a desire to kill military soldiers in a “gory” attack and “become a martyr.”
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Footage retrieved from his phone revealed King had carried out reconnaissance trips to a British Army barracks in Stratford, east London.
He also filmed unsuspecting British Transport Police officers in railway stations and photographed police officers standing outside a court building, adding the caption “target acquired.”
He told an online girlfriend about his desire to travel to Syria to join ISIS fighters, adding: “I just want to kill people.”
At one point, King changed his WhatsApp status to “kill the non-Muslims, wherever you see them.”
However, his mother, concerned by her son’s radical transformation, reported him to the counter-terrorism programme and he was soon placed under police surveillance.
Authorities had also been tipped off through an anti-terrorist hotline after King posted a video of ISIS propaganda on a WhatsApp group.
Judge Lucraft praised King’s mother for acting, saying: “She took the very bold step of alerting Prevent when she had concerns for her son.
“That cannot have been an easy thing to do in the first place and in my view she absolutely did the right thing.”
He said the 19-year-old, from Wickford, was a danger to the public.
Detectives believe King selected his target and the attack was “imminent”.
While in custody, King had made violent threats to “behead an imam” and “kill and chop up staff.”
Commander Murphy said: “King was a committed, self-initiated terrorist who we believe was close to carrying out an attack. He will now spend a long time in jail, where he doesn’t pose a risk to the public.
“It is notable that this investigation started as a direct result of calls to police from members of the public who were concerned about King’s extremist mindset, and this case is a powerful example of how vitally important information from the public is to counter-terrorism investigations.
“The calls made to us from members of the public about King led directly to police stopping him committing a deadly attack.”