Britain's Youngest Terrorist Sentenced to Life

A 15-year-old British boy who plotted from his bedroom in the U.K. to behead police officers at an Anzac Day parade in Australia, has been sentenced to life in prison.

The boy, from Blackburn, Lancashire, was 14 at the time he was arrested, making him Britain's youngest convicted terrorist. In March this year he used his smartphone to contact Australian Sevdet Besim, an alleged jihadi, sending him advice about how to behead police officers during the World War I commemorations, Manchester crown court heard. The judge has ruled the boy will remain anonymous due to his age, according to the BBC.

The teenager must serve a minimum of five years before he becomes eligible for release. Yesterday The Guardian newspaper reported that the boy had come within days of seeing the plot successively completed. Prosecuting QC, Paul Greaney said that "a number of deaths was thwarted," as a result of British and Australian authorities foiling the attack.

Besim and the British boy exchanged more than 3,000 encrypted messages, after the defendant became radicalized by Islamic State propaganda online, and set up a Twitter account where he quickly amassed a large jihadi following, according to The Guardian. The two were put in contact through a well-known ISIS recruiter and propagandist named Abu Khaled al-Cambodi, who is also an Australian.

After Besim suggested an attack on Anzac Day in one message, the defendant wrote "sounds good" and Besim replied, "Make sure the dogs remember this as well as their fallen 'heroes,'" according to The Guardian. The defendant also suggested that Besim should "break into someone's house and get your first taste of beheading," as well as approving a picture of a knife Besim had acquired to carry out the beheading.

During the trial James Pickup QC, the barrister representing the British teenager, argued that the boy had not had a major role in the plot, saying, "It is apparent that [the defendant] provided no more than emotional support, guidance to a limited degree, to someone who was well versed in the preparation of terrorist attacks," Pickup told the judge, "He accepts his crimes were barbaric, immoral and wholly wrong."

The prosecution described him to the court as an individual who was "thoroughly and dangerously radicalized and committed to Isis and the idea of violent jihad, and who was, moreover, wired into the Isis network,", according to ITV news.

The court also heard that while the defendant was in custody, he told a psychiatrist that he "would become notorious" if the crime succeeded. Handing down his judgement, the judge, Mr Justice Saunders, said it was "chilling" that someone so young could have become "so radicalized that he was prepared to carry out this role intending and wishing that people should die."