Youngest ISIS prisoner could be freed after police beheading plot
Inmate known only as RXG was ordered to serve at least five years for inciting terrorist attack at the age of 14
Britain’s youngest ISIS prisoner could be freed next month, five years after encouraging an extremist to behead a police officer at a parade in Australia to commemorate fallen servicemen.
The man – known only as RXG – was aged 14 when he sent thousands of messages to an Australian extremist and later spoke of preparing for a massacre.
The teenager was groomed by propagandists online and turned into a deeply committed radial extremist dedicated to the cause of ISIS, his trial heard.
RXG, who has been given anonymity to help his rehabilitation, is among 110 prisoners whose cases have been referred to the UK’s Parole Board for consideration for release.
The board will examine their case files and usually hold a personal hearing with the prisoner, said an official. Most of the 110 on the list have served at least two-thirds of their sentence, a trigger-point for considering their continuing detention.
RXG was jailed for life in October 2015 and was told he would be only considered for release after serving a minimum of five years and if he was no longer a danger to the public.
RXG, now aged about 20, will go before the board next month, which will decide if he can be released from prison. The case had been due to be heard last month but his lawyers asked for more time.
RXG had pretended to be an older person when he contacted an Australian extremist Sevdet Besim who he instructed to carry out an ISIS-style attack. The pair had been put in touch by a well-known ISIS recruiter. His trial in 2015 heard that the plot was shocking in its “brutality and scope”.
The plot unravelled after police found details of their messages on RXG’s phone and alerted the Australian police. Besim was jailed for ten years over a plan to run down a police officer and behead him in the attack on ANZAC Day, which commemorates soldiers from Australia and New Zealand killed in war.
The trial judge said he remained a significant risk to the public and one professional who assessed RXG said that he had never encountered such “entrenched extremist views”.
His school had previously raised concerns after RXG, who was said to come from a ‘normal’ family in Blackburn, north-west England, had threatened to cut the throat of a teacher. He had cited Osama bin Laden as his hero.
But he is said to have responded well to de-radicalisation efforts while in custody. A psychologist’s 2018 report found that he appeared to have “left his ‘terrorist identity’ behind and he is well on the way to developing a new stable and pro-social identity”.
A High Court judge last year said that a later diagnosis of autism went a long way to explaining why was “particularly vulnerable to exploitation by others”.
The UK government has tightened up the rules on allowing early releases following attacks by inmates who had been released automatically half-way through their sentences.
Usman Khan, 27, stabbed two people to death at a conference on rehabilitation in November last year before being shot dead by police. He was released early after being jailed in 2012 for a plot to bomb the UK’s stock exchange.
Other inmates who could be released soon include inmates who have downloaded ISIS propaganda and those who have received weapons training in Syria.
“There are about 110 terrorist offenders in our current case load,” said a spokesman for the Parole Board. “They have all been in prison for a period of time. They are not new offenders.”
Updated: November 9, 2020 05:05 PM