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Soldier sentenced for terror charges

Soldier sentenced for terror charges

Categories: Latest News

Monday December 01 2014

There has been significant coverage on the sentencing of British soldier, Ryan McGee, for building a nail bomb and possessing a copy of the Anarchist Cookbook (see BBC NewsChannel 4 NewsThe Daily ExpressThe IndependentThe GuardianThe Daily MailDaily MirrorThe TelegraphThe ScotsmanHerald ScotlandDaily Record and Manchester Evening News).

McGee, 20, was sentenced at the Old Bailey last week to two years’ imprisonment after he pleaded guilty to possessing a document between 31 May and 29 November 2013, which contained information likely to be useful to committing or preparing an act of terrorism and to a second charge of making an explosive device between 1 and 3 September 2013. He was sentenced to 12 months for each charge to run concurrently.

Although the Manchester Evening News points out that McGee remains a member of the armed forces, an Army spokesman revealed that “an application will be made for his discharge from the Army.”

McGee built the nail bomb using a glass jar with 181 metal screws as well as glass fragments, which officers found in a search of his home. They also found a collection of weapons including an air pistol, axes, knives, potentially lethal chemicals and improvised booby traps.

Officers further discovered McGee’s journal which contained references to right-wing groups such as the National Front, KKK and the BNP. The journal contained drawings of weapons such as machetes, guns, knuckledusters and images of paramilitary soldiers. McGee also wrote of his disdain of migrants writing things like “millions of immigrants flooding the streets of Europe” and vowing “to drag every last immigrant into the fires of hell with me.”

Other books that were discovered included the US Army Guerrilla Warfare Handbook and the controversial racist book, The Turner Diary, relating to violent revolution in America and the extermination of ‘impure’ people.

McGee was found not to be a member of the English Defence League although he possessed considerable items bearing the EDL logo. “He had attended an EDL rally and had a “No Surrender” EDL flag and an EDL T-shirt and jumper – all bought for him by his mother for his 18th birthday,” according to The Guardian.

Furthermore, McGee’s internet search history revealed he viewed graphic, racist footage and downloaded extreme videos including EDL marches against Muslims and of Nazi youth.

On Facebook, McGee posted racist rants calling for violent action to be taken against immigrants. He suggested on the BNP’s Facebook page that “Hitler was the best immigration officer Europe ever seen”. He also posted pictures of himself in EDL clothing, beside EDL flags and dressed in a Ku Klux Klan costume.

Despite the overwhelming evidence indicating McGee’s proclivity towards terrorism and far right extremism, the Guardian reports that the Crown Prosecution Service concluded that “it was never McGee’s intention to use the device for any terrorist or violent purpose, and that he had no firm intention to activate the device.”

The prosecutor’s remark that McGee was not a ‘terrorist’ but an ‘immature teenager’ has attracted criticisms of double standards with Imran Khan, solicitor for Mohammed Nawaz, who was imprisoned for four and a half years for travelling to a terrorist training camp in Syria, expressed “It seems that if you are a Muslim, justice is not blind.”

“Such decisions bring the system into disrepute and steps must be taken to remedy it. Most significantly, if the government, police and the courts wanted to send a message out to those British Muslims who have gone to Syria to come back then I fear that this has hampered that cause greatly.”

Indeed, Detective Superintendent Simon Barraclough, from the North West Counter Terrorism Unit, noted that “It mirrors to some extent what we are seeing from the Islamic fundamentalist point of view from the other end of the spectrum. He has effectively self-radicalised himself and he has done that through the internet through his own devices rather than working with others.”

A further point worthy of note is the ‘conveyor belt’ theory which seems so popular in relation to ‘Islamist extremism’ that the Government has widened its remit from tackling violent extremism to tackling ‘non-violent extremism’. In relation to far right extremism, the lexicon changes considerably. The ‘non-violent’ ideas and affiliations that could potentially lead to radicalisation are not regarded in the same way nor is membership of certain far right groups brought under scrutiny. Compare this to the treatment of Muslim groups like Hizb ut-Tahrir and repeat attempts to proscribe it.

While there is an awareness of McGee’s interest in far right groups, the role of such groups and their ideologies in radicalising individuals seems consistently to be overlooked. The lenient sentencing in this case reflects the wider lack of attention to the threat posed by far right extremism in the UK which continues to be underestimated, as highlighted by a Home Office advisor.


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