A Muslim teenager who was planning to commit a terrorist attack in London has been given a discretionary life sentence.
Matthew King, 19, from Essex, spoke online about committing an attack for several months, and carried out “hostile reconnaissance” at various locations.
He talked about targeting police officers and a member of the armed forces. Officers found a picture taken by King on his phone, which showed police officers standing outside a court building, with the caption “target aquired” (sic).
King appeared at the Old Bailey on Friday where he pleaded guilty to preparation of terrorist acts (contrary to Section 5 of the Terrorism Act 2000).
He was sentenced to life imprisonment, with a minimum term of six years (less 367 days already spent on remand) before he can be considered for release.
Commander Dominic Murphy, who leads the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, 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 speed at which King self-radicalised and then began to start planning an attack was alarming, and the calls made to us from members of the public about King led directly to police stopping him committing a deadly attack.
“This case shows that people can and should have confidence in reporting concerns linked to terrorism to us – those calls really do make a difference, and police will act on the information to keep people safe.”
An investigation into King was launched in April 2022 after information was received about concerns over his “extreme Islamist mind-set.” Further enquiries were carried out and King was arrested at an address in Essex on May 18, 2022.
While he was in custody, officers conducted enquiries, including digital forensic analysis of his devices. They found evidence of his “extremist beliefs” including ISIS propaganda videos, as well as videos he took at various locations during reconnaissance visits between March and May 2022, and conversations about attack planning.
He had filmed a London army barracks and a police station, as well as recording officers at railway stations and outside a criminal court.
In the week up until his arrest, he talked to a female friend online and expressed an intention and desire to travel to Syria and take part in violent jihad, and referenced becoming a martyr on several occasions.
In one excerpt, King states that he is “training for Jihad” and later states “I just want to kill people.”
Enquiries also found that he had taken steps to buy a knife online in December 2021.