sTeve* and their 16-year-old son Tom* were on a flight from Britain to a family funeral when they heard their names being read at Tannoy at Bristol airport.
Two days after receiving the news of the death of a loved one, they had arrived early for some food and left long before their flight.
“They just said ‘Will you please go to gate number one’, which was not our gate,” Steve tells Granthshala. “We went there and there were police officers and they explained that they were doing Schedule 7 port stops under the Terrorism Act.”
The power is used to prevent people on UK borders from entering or leaving the country, and “determines whether they are involved in commission, preparation or incitement to acts of terrorism”.
Unknown to Steve, counter-terrorism police were monitoring his son’s online activity as he delved into the online neo-Nazi networks.
He became one of dozens of children to be prosecuted for terrorist crimes in Britain, warning of a “new generation of extremists” radicalized by online content.
About 13 percent of terrorist suspects are now under the age of 18, and most of them are linked to right-wing extremism.
Tom began watching extreme and violent channels on platforms including Discord and the encrypted messaging app Telegram, linked to a US terrorist group that was later banned as a terrorist organization.
Police took her and her father to the airport for separate interviews, searched their luggage and confiscated their phones and electronic devices.
Even at the time, Steve says he believed it was a “random check”, thinking: “We’ve just arrived at the airport. Maybe a little early, you’re bored with police officers sitting in an office. – They’ve got some time, they’re going to use it.”
Police released the pair just before their flight and allowed them to go to the funeral, but Tom told his father that the officers would “find something on my phone that shouldn’t be there”.
The teenager admitted that he had a copy of the Anarchist cookbook, with instructions on how to make explosives, and other “things like this.”
“We had no idea there was a law here that you can’t have certain books,” says Steve.
“It was impossible for me, so I told him ‘Okay, you probably have some books but you’re not in a terrorist group,’ and obviously he wasn’t in a group or movement and didn’t plan anything. .
“I said ‘man, we can come back, they’ll probably chat with you, give you a slap on the wrist, don’t do it again and you’ll be fine’. He has no bad intentions and doesn’t want to do anything Has any plan.”
But when they returned to the UK, police waited at the airport and arrested Tom on suspicion of collecting documents that could be useful to a terrorist.
They take the teenager into custody and tell Steve that they will search their house.
“It was a total shock, I felt like my whole world was falling apart,” he says. “I was coming back from a bloody funeral with my son and now I need to call my wife to tell them they’ve arrested her and they’re going to come home and search it. That’s all. It was kind of unreal.”
The father arrives home to find officers searching his family’s home, taking air guns and books, and taking photographs of Tom’s books, games, and Warhammer statues.
Inspection of the teenager’s bedroom revealed neo-Nazi symbols, including a lynching of the swastika, SS runes, a noose, and the “Race Traitors” engraved on her table.
He had a skeleton mask, popularized by terrorist groups including National Action and the Atomwaffen Division, which he wore in a series of photographs found on his mobile phone.
Tom was photographed wearing camouflage, holding an ax and firing replica weapons, as well as saluting Hitler.
In another photo, which he claimed in court was a joke, he carried a slogan urging people to read an infamous neo-Nazi text that incites “lone wolf” terrorist attacks.
Examination of his electronic equipment revealed that he had downloaded documents including Hitler’s I fight, the manifesto published by Christchurch mosque attacker Brenton Tarrant and a neo-Nazi satanic text calling on people to “catch the useless, scum by being a vigilante”.
He was later not included in criminal charges brought by the police – 11 counts of possessing information useful to a terrorist – including how to make bombs, incendiary devices and poison and how to kill using knives and other weapons, A separate series of manuals instructing readers on this were included. .
Tom was released in the early hours of the morning after his arrest, and Steve recalls telling his parents that he did not know that the downloads were illegal, and that he would not join any far-right group. was not.
He confides in his son, and says he thought the teen – who was 15 when he committed the crime – was “playing a game” while shooting air rifles in the garden.
“When I saw him running into the garden with his gun I thought ‘this f***ing kid, he’s still so immature’ but there was nothing to worry about,” he says.
Tom initially told police that he was not a neo-Nazi and created a false personality online to study the ideology, but admitted to his parents that he sympathized with it.
“Now that has changed, he said it is very serious because he has seen what the consequences can be even with active participation,” says Steve.
“He was never going to act on it, he never tried to belong to a group, it was mostly his way of seeing the world, seeing what’s happening and I personally think it’s kind of is a rebellion.”
The father insisted that his son did not fit the stereotype of an “isolated” teenage neo-Nazi, adding that he had an active social life, going out frequently with his girlfriend and friends.
He says that his school attendance was good, he completed GCSE when the court case was going on. He is now pursuing A-Level studies and hopes to go to university.
Tom pleaded guilty to all 11 offenses on the first day of his trial at Bristol Magistrates’ Court, but on the grounds that he was not a follower or advocate of neo-Nazi “siege” ideology, and had not read the documents in full or anyone Encourage them to take action.
The Chief Magistrate of England and Wales, Senior District Judge Paul Goldspring, told the court that he planned to send the teenager into custody, but changed his mind after receiving a letter expressing remorse.
Tom wrote that he was “stupid”, “childish” and did not realize that what he was doing was illegal, adding that he did not want to harm anyone.
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /