Teenage ISIS follower jailed for life over plot to kill UK soldiers and police officers

Matthew King was thwarted when his mother reported him to authorities

Matthew King, 19, from Wickford in Essex, has been sentenced to life behind bars with a minimum term of six years. PA
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A teenage ISIS member has been jailed for life for plotting to kill soldiers and police officers in the UK.

Matthew King, 19, carried out reconnaissance on police stations, railway stations and an army barracks before he was arrested.

He discussed his plans and shared a "gory fantasy" with an online girlfriend with whom he struck up an adolescent flirtation, the Old Bailey criminal court in London heard.

In one message he said “I just want to get my hands on an American marine or British marine” and expressed a desire to “die a martyr”.

While in custody, King made violent threats to "behead“ and "kill and chop up staff".

King also searched online for ISIS knife tactical training videos and made notes on his phone about detonating homemade bombs.

Prosecutor Paul Jarvis said King had developed an "entrenched Islamist extremist mindset".

In his early teens, King "dabbled with drugs" and was expelled from school after becoming aggressive, eventually leaving education entirely at the age of 16.

Some time in 2020 he became interested in Islam, began to attend mosques and watched Muslim videos on YouTube.

By May 2021, his family noticed he had become more extreme and his mother became concerned that he was watching material online promoting hatred, Mr Jarvis said.

Matthew King was arrested after posting a video of himself holding a knife. PA

His desire to launch attacks in Britain or travel to Syria to join ISIS were thwarted when she reported him to the UK’s Prevent counter-terrorism programme.

Authorities were also tipped off through an anti-terrorist hotline after he posted a video on a WhatsApp group holding a knife and he was arrested in May last year.

After pleading guilty earlier this year he has now been handed a life sentence with a minimum term of six years, in the first terrorism sentencing in England and Wales to be televised.

Judge Mark Lucraft KC praised King's mother, 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 did absolutely the right thing."

His defence lawyer, Hossein Zahir, described King as immature and said the prospects that he would have carried out a terrorist attack or travelled to Syria to join ISIS were remote.

After the sentencing, Scotland Yard described King as a "committed, self-initiated terrorist" who became "self-radicalised" online during the Covid pandemic lockdown.

Its head of anti-terrorism, Commander Dominic Murphy, said: “I genuinely believe this was an imminent terrorist attack.”

Matthew King was seen carrying out reconnaissance outside an army barracks. PA Wire
Updated: June 02, 2023, 1:44 PM