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Wickford teenager bought 'special ops' clothing as he plotted terror attack

Aug 07, 2023Aug 07, 2023

A TEENAGE Islamic State fanatic from Wickford bought a terror attack on British police officers or soldiers after being radicalised online in the pandemic.

Muslim convert Matthew King, 19, expressed a desire to kill military personnel as he prepared to stake out a British Army barracks in Stratford, east London.

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

His desires to launch an attack in Britain or travel to Syria to join so-called Islamic State were thwarted when his mother reported him to the counter-terrorism programme Prevent.

Commander Dominic Murphy, who leads the Metropolitan Police's counter terrorism command, said members of the public who reported Matthew King's extremist behaviour helped police foil an "imminent terrorist attack".

Authorities were also tipped off through an anti-terrorist hotline after he posted a video on a WhatsApp group on April 13 last year.

King had also bought "special ops" clothing, police say, such as "tactical gloves" and goggles, and registered with an online knife retailer, Knife Warehouse.

He had searched for a sword and a knife online but there was no evidence he bought either, Mr Murphy said.

"He largely self-radicalised based upon his use of the internet and we became aware of Matthew King's behaviour and plot as a direct result of calls from members of the public," Mr Murphy added.

In January, King, from Wickford, pleaded guilty to preparation of terrorist acts between December 22, 2021 and May 17, 2022.

On Friday, he was handed a discretionary life sentence with a minimum term of six years in the first terrorism sentencing in England and Wales to be televised.

Mr Murphy said King was a "committed, self-initiated terrorist," who "had radicalised himself in his room using the internet" before conducting "hostile reconnaissance" of various locations in London and of army personnel and police officers.

"He was really committed to conducting a terrorist attack," Mr Murphy added.

"During his online engagement, he made it clear that he had decided that he was going to conduct a terrorist attack, that he wanted to kill non-believers and members of the public and that he had particularly focused on targeting police officers."

During a media briefing on Wednesday, Mr Murphy said: "I know that public confidence is a real challenge for the Metropolitan Police at the moment but this is a story about people being saved from a terrorist attack by the public, their own vigilance and our ability to act on the information they provided to us."