Eddie Marsan: ‘Young people need to know what antisemitism is’

Ridley Road starts on BBC One on Sunday, October 3.

It’s the Swinging Sixties in London’s East End, and far-right fascism is on the rise.

Enter Vivien Epstein, a young Jewish hairdresser from Manchester who finds herself embroiled in an undercover movement against racism, after following her lover, Jack Morris, to the capital.

This sets the scene for a new four-part BBC thriller called Ridley Road, written by Sarah Solemani and based on the book of the same name by British author Jo Bloom.

It’s a vivid, romantic, and inspiring series, which is rising star Aggi O’Casey’s first television role (she plays Vivien) and also stars Rory Kinnear, Eddie Marsan, Tracy-Ann Oberman, Tamzin Outhwaite, and Tom Varey.

What makes it more poignant is how it’s inspired by real events; Jack (played by Varey) is a member of the 62 Group – a coalition of Jewish men who formed in 1962, largely in response to the National Socialist Movement, which was created by Colin Jordan (played by Kinnear in Ridley Road).

Here, O’Casey, Marsan, and Oberman tell us more about the characters and timely themes explored in the drama.


Ridley Road was O’Casey’s first audition after graduating from The Lir Academy in Dublin, and she admits she found the script “really encouraging”.

It also feels relevant, because we are living in times when we are seeing the rise of fascism again. “It’s just as alive, just rebranded – and just as ignored,” suggests O’Casey.

“We see Vivien make decisions about how to take control and look after her community and the ones she loves,” she says.

“It’s a really important story for now because people feel really disempowered and they’re not sure how to go about things that they believe in and there’s so much fear. Vivien is scared all the time, but she fights through that.”


Londoner Marsan, 53, plays cab driver Soly, the leader of the 62 Group. Discussing his research ahead of filming, the actor – best known for crime drama Ray Donovan – says he watched documentaries and read books. But he also already had a historical understanding from his childhood.

“I grew up with men like Soly; tough, Jewish, working-class men,” he notes. “It’s a very important story to tell, because of the rise of antisemitism in both the left and the right, and I think young people need to know what antisemitism is.

“It’s very insidious, and I know it’s a strange word, but it’s almost a ‘seductive’ racism. It’s sold as egalitarianism. People can make you feel like you’re trying to create an equal world.”

He adds: “I was brought up in Tower Hamlets which is the most multi-racial borough in the country. I’m not religious in any sense – the only value I can pass on to my children are the values of the celebration of diversity that I was blessed to be raised with. And so, it’s very personal for me to do something like this.”


Playing Soly’s wife Nancy is 55-year-old Oberman. Having grown up in a Jewish family in Stanmore, North London, the former EastEnders and Friday Night Dinner star could also draw on her own experiences for the part.

She says Nancy reminds her of her great grandmothers and great aunts from the East End “who had come off the immigrant boat with nothing and whose sheer determination, grit, toughness, love of fashion got them through it”.

She recalls: “One of my great grandmothers was called Sarah Portugal; she lived in the East End, she smoked a pipe, but she wore a slash of red lipstick no matter what was going on.

“These women were very fashion-conscious, and I like to think Nancy had a bit of that as well. She worked in a fabric emporium, and she marries a man like Soly; she’s his right-hand woman and I love their relationship, the equality. He’s the brawns, and she’s his hands in the back and the brains.”


Over the past four years, Oberman has been standing up to what she sees as a “huge rise of antisemitism on social media”.

And she hopes that Ridley Road reminds people of the anti-Jewish hatred in British history, which has “been forgotten in the annals of time”.

“When people talk about Jews as if they’re all rich and controlling, they have to remember that the Jewish socialist background came from the East End, from these working-class boys like Eddie represents, like Nancy represents,” she explains.

These working-class people, she says, came over as immigrants around 1905, fleeing the pogroms. “They came to Britain thinking it was a beacon and a haven of tolerance, but were treated like complete outsiders; ‘no blacks, no Jews, no dogs’ was on the list of all boarding houses and hostels.

“Jews have always been othered. And we have very conveniently forgotten this little piece of history that Ridley Road is going to tell so beautifully, and that fascism is there lurking under the surface, and that the Jews had to look after themselves because the authorities weren’t helping them.

“I’m hoping there won’t be a backlash on Twitter to this because this tells the true story.”


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Categories: Antisemitism, Eddie Marsan, Fascism, News, Swinging Sixties, Tracy Ann Oberman

Taliban official speaks of strict punishment and says executions will return

One of the founders of the Taliban has said the hard-line movement will once again carry out executions and amputations of hands, though perhaps not in public.

Mullah Nooruddin Turabi dismissed outrage over the Taliban’s executions in the past, which sometimes took place in front of crowds at a stadium, and warned the world against interfering.

Mr Turabi was the chief enforcer of its harsh interpretation of Islamic law when they last ruled Afghanistan

“Everyone criticised us for the punishments in the stadium, but we have never said anything about their laws and their punishments,” he told The Associated Press, speaking in Kabul. “No one will tell us what our laws should be. We will follow Islam and we will make our laws on the Quran.”

Since the Taliban seized control of the country in August, Afghans have been watching to see whether they will recreate their harsh rule of the late 1990s. Mr Turabi’s comments suggest the group’s leaders remain entrenched in a deeply conservative, hard-line worldview, even as they embrace video and mobile phones.

In his early 60s, he was justice minister and head of the so-called Ministry of Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice — effectively, the religious police — during the Taliban’s previous rule.

At that time, the world denounced the Taliban’s punishments, which took place in Kabul’s sports stadium or on the grounds of the Eid Gah mosque.

Executions of convicted murderers were usually by a single shot to the head, carried out by the victim’s family, who had the option of accepting “blood money” and allowing the culprit to live. For convicted thieves, the punishment was amputation of a hand. For those convicted of highway robbery, a hand and a foot were amputated.

Trials and convictions were rarely public and the judiciary was weighted in favour of Islamic clerics. Mr Turabi said that this time, judges — including women — would adjudicate cases, but the same punishments would be revived.

“Cutting off of hands is very necessary for security,” he said.

Taliban fighters have revived a punishment they commonly used in the past — public shaming of men accused of small-time theft.

On at least two occasions in the past week, Kabul men have been packed into the back of a pickup truck, their hands tied, and been paraded around to humiliate them.

In one case, their faces were painted to identify them as thieves. In the other, stale bread was hung from their necks or stuffed in their mouth. It wasn’t clear what their crimes were.

Wearing a white turban and a bushy, unkempt white beard, Mr Turabi limped slightly on his artificial leg. He lost a leg and one eye fighting Soviet troops in the 1980s.

Under the new Taliban government, he is in charge of prisons. He is among a number of Taliban leaders, including members of the all-male interim Cabinet, who are on a United Nations sanctions list.

During the previous Taliban rule, he was one of the group’s most ferocious and uncompromising enforcers. When the Taliban took power in 1996, one of his first acts was to scream at a woman journalist. In this week’s interview with the AP, Turabi spoke to a woman journalist.

“We are changed from the past,” he said.

He said the Taliban would allow television, mobile phones, photos and video “because this is the necessity of the people, and we are serious about it”.

Mr Turabi dismissed criticism over the previous Taliban rule, arguing that it had succeeded in bringing stability. “We had complete safety in every part of the country,” he said of the late 1990s.

Even as Kabul residents express fear over their new Taliban rulers, some acknowledge grudgingly that the capital has already become safer. Before the Taliban takeover, bands of thieves roamed the streets, and crime had driven most people off the streets after dark.

“It’s not a good thing to see these people being shamed in public, but it stops the criminals because when people see it, they think ‘I don’t want that to be me’,” said Amaan, a storeowner in the centre of Kabul. He asked to be identified by just one name.

Another shopkeeper said it was a violation of human rights but that he was also happy he can open his store after dark.

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Categories: Ministry of Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, Mullah Nooruddin Turabi, News, Punishments, Taliban

Female employees for Kabul city government told to stay at home

Female employees in the Kabul city government have been told to stay home, with work only allowed for those who cannot be replaced by men, the interim mayor of Afghanistan’s capital said, detailing the latest restrictions on women by the new Taliban rulers.

The decision to prevent most female city workers from returning to their jobs is another sign that the Taliban, who overran Kabul last month, are enforcing their harsh interpretation of Islam despite initial promises by some that they would be tolerant and inclusive.

In their previous rule in the 1990s, the Taliban had barred girls and women from schools, jobs and public life.

In recent days, the new Taliban government issued several decrees rolling back the rights of girls and women.

It told female middle- and high school students that they could not return to school for the time being, while boys in those grades resumed studies this weekend.

Female university students were informed that studies would take place in gender-segregated settings from now on, and that they must abide by a strict Islamic dress code.

Under the US-backed government deposed by the Taliban, university studies had been co-ed, for the most part.

On Friday, the Taliban shut down the Women’s Affairs Ministry, replacing it with a ministry for the “propagation of virtue and the prevention of vice” and tasked with enforcing Islamic law.

On Sunday, just over a dozen women staged a protest outside the ministry, holding up signs calling for the participation of women in public life.

“A society in which women are not active is (sic) dead society,” one sign read.

“Why are they (the Taliban) taking our rights?” said one of the protesters, 30-year-old Basira Tawana.

“We are here for our rights and the rights of our daughters.”

The protest lasted for about 10 minutes.

After a short verbal confrontation with a man, the women got into cars and left, as Taliban in two cars observed from nearby.

Over the past months, Taliban fighters had broken up several women’s protests by force.

Elsewhere in the city, interim Kabul mayor Hamdullah Namony gave his first news conference since being appointed by the Taliban.

He said that before the Taliban takeover last month, just under one-third of close to 3,000 city employees were women, and that they had worked in all departments.

Mr Namony said on Sunday the female employees have been ordered to stay home, pending a further decision.

He said exceptions were made for women who could not be replaced by men, including some in the design and engineering departments and the attendants of public toilets for women.

Mr Namony did not say how many female employees were forced to stay home.

“There are some areas that men can’t do it, we have to ask our female staff to fulfil their duties, there is no alternative for it,” he said.

Mr Namony also said the new government has begun removing security barriers in Kabul, a city that has endured frequent bombing and shooting attacks over the years.

Such barriers, erected near ministries, embassies and private homes of politicians and warlords, had been commonplace in Kabul for years.

The mayor said private citizens would be charged for the work of taking down the barriers.

While he said most barriers had been removed, reporters touring the city noted that barriers outside most government installations and embassies had been left in place.

The Taliban have tried to present themselves as guarantors of security, in hopes that this will win them support from a public still widely suspicious of their intentions.

Under the previous government, a rise in crime had been a major concern for ordinary Afghans.

Perhaps the toughest challenge faced by the new Taliban rulers is the accelerated economic downturn.

Even before the Taliban takeover, Afghanistan was plagued by major problems, including large-scale poverty, drought and heavy reliance on foreign aid for the state budget.

In a sign of growing desperation, street markets have sprung up in Kabul where residents are selling their belongings.

Some of the sellers are Afghans hoping to leave the country, while others are forced to offer their meagre belongings in hopes of getting money for the next meal.

“Our people need help, they need jobs, they need immediate help, they are not selling their household belongings for choice here,” said Kabul resident Zahid Ismail Khan, who was watching the activity in one of the impromptu markets.

“For a short-term people might try to find a way to live, but they would have no other choice to turn to begging in a longer term,” he said.

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Categories: Female employees, Kabul, News, Stay at home, Taliban

Afghanistan women’s football players arrive in Pakistan after fleeing Taliban

Members of the Afghan women’s football team and their families have arrived in Pakistan after fleeing their country following the Taliban takeover, local media said.

It is unclear how many players and family members were allowed to enter in Pakistan.

According to Pakistan’s information minister Fawad Chaudhry, the players entered Pakistan at the north-western Torkham border crossing, holding valid travel documents.

“We welcome Afghanistan women football team,” he tweeted, providing no further details.

Pakistan’s English-language newspaper The Dawn said the footballers were issued emergency humanitarian visas after the Taliban takeover of Kabul.

The Taliban have not commented, but an official confirmed that under the government’s interpretation of Islam, women are not allowed to play any sports where they could potentially be exposed.

Last week, the Taliban announced an all-male interim government for Afghanistan stacked with veterans of their hardline rule from the 1990s and the 20-year battle against the US-led coalition.

The move seems unlikely to win the international support the new leaders need to avoid an economic meltdown.

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Categories: Afghan Women's Team, Flee, News, Pakistan, Taliban

MI5 boss issues terror warning over Afghanistan

There is “no doubt” that events in Afghanistan will have “heartened and emboldened” extremists, the boss of MI5 said as he warned of the potential return of “al Qaida-style” terrorist plots.

Director-general Ken McCallum said that, although the Government has pledged to judge the Taliban by their actions, the UK security service and its partners will plan for the chance that “more risk, progressively, may flow our way”.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “There is no doubt that events in Afghanistan will have heartened and emboldened some of those extremists and so being vigilant to precisely those kinds of risks (is what) my organisation is focused on along with a range of other threats.”

While “inspired” acts of terrorism are “by volume” the largest number of threats that MI5 and their partners face in the UK, Mr McCallum also warned of the “potential regrowth of al Qaida-style directed plots”.

He said that although more directed plots from terrorist organisations take time to organise and carry out, psychological boosts for their causes can happen “overnight”.

“Terrorist threats tend not to change overnight in the sense of directed plotting or training camps or infrastructure – the sorts of things that al Qaida enjoyed in Afghanistan at the time of 9/11.

“These things do inherently take time to build, and the 20-year effort to reduce the terrorist threat from Afghanistan has been largely successful.

“But what does happen overnight, even though those directed plots and centrally organised bits of terrorism take a bit longer to rebuild… overnight, you can have a psychological boost, a morale boost to extremists already here, or in other countries.

“So we need to be vigilant both for the increase in inspired terrorism which has become a real trend for us to deal with over the last five to 10 years, alongside the potential regrowth of al Qaida-style directed plots,” Mr McCallum said.

His comments follow warnings he made during his annual address in July that terrorists will “seek to take advantage” of chances to “rebuild” as troops withdraw from Afghanistan, suggesting it could be “challenging” to disrupt potential threats without “having our own forces on the ground”.

Almost 20 years on from the 9/11 terror attacks in the US, Mr McCallum said it was “difficult to give a simplistic answer” as to whether the UK was safer, or less safe now from the threat of terrorism since 2001.

He said a consequence of the success of reducing large-scale terror events had been the growth of “inspired terrorism”. The so-called Islamic State had “managed to do something that al Qaida did not” in inspiring lots of people to attempt smaller scale acts of terrorism through online grooming.

“The number of plots that we disrupt nowadays are actually higher than the number of plots that were coming at us after 9/11, but on average they are smaller plots of lower sophistication,” Mr McCallum added.

He warned the threat of terrorism in the UK remains “a real and enduring thing”, describing how security services and police had disrupted 31 late-stage attack plots in Britain in the last four years.

Over the past two years during the coronavirus pandemic, six late-stage attack plots have been disrupted, he added, as he warned it would be “reckless” of him to claim that a terror attack would not happen on UK soil “on his watch”.

But he insisted those at MI5 “spend our lives” working to mitigate such threats.

One of the hardest things about being the boss of MI5 is the “prioritisation” of threats, Mr McCallum said, adding: “While we have, I can confidently say, saved thousands of lives across the last 20 years, we cannot always succeed.”

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Categories: Al Qaeda, Coronavirus, MI5, News, Taliban

New Zealand attacker radicalised by neighbours, mother says

The mother of an extremist inspired by so-called Islamic State who stabbed shoppers in a New Zealand supermarket said her son was radicalised by neighbours from Syria and Iraq who helped him recover from an injury.

The attacker, Ahamed Aathil Samsudeen, was a 32-year-old Tamil Muslim from Sri Lanka.

He arrived in New Zealand 10 years ago on a student visa, and applied for refugee status on the basis of being persecuted in his home country.

Samsudeen was shot and killed by police, who said five people were stabbed and two injured in last week’s attack.

His mother, Mohamedismail Fareetha, said his descent into extremism began after he fell several storeys from a building in 2016 while at university.

“Because he did not have anyone there, it was people from Syria and Iraq who helped him.

“It looks like they brainwashed him. Then he started posting on Facebook,” she said in a phone interview on Saturday with a local TV station from her home in eastern Sri Lanka.

“He changed only after going abroad,” she added.

Police first noticed Samsudeen’s online support for terrorism in 2016, and the following year he was arrested at Auckland Airport.

He was heading for Syria, authorities say, and was later released on bail.

“After being arrested in 2017 he talked less with us, it was about once every three months,” his mother said, adding that two of her other sons “were angry with him and scolded him”.

In a statement Saturday, her son Aroos said his brother “would hang up the phone on us when we told him to forget about all the issues he was obsessed with.

“Then he would call us back again himself when he realised he was wrong. Aathil was wrong again yesterday. Of course we feel very sad he could not be saved.”

In 2018, Samsudeen was jailed for three years after he was found with IS videos and knives, and the following year his refugee status was cancelled after authorities found evidence of fraud.

Immigration authorities tried to argue he should remain behind bars, but in July, Samsudeen was released.

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Categories: Act of terrorism, Ahamed Aathil Samsudeen, New Zealand, News, radicalised, Stabbing attack, Tamil Muslim

‘Radical Islam’ still a first-order security threat, says Blair

“Radical Islam” continues to represent a “first-order security threat” 20 years after the 9/11 terror attacks on the United States, Tony Blair has warned.

The former prime minister urged leaders from around the world to come together to develop a common strategy to counter the menace to their societies.

In a speech to the Royal United Services Institute military think tank, he said there was a danger extremist terror groups could develop biological weapons.

“Covid-19 has taught us about deadly pathogens,” he said.

“Bio-terror possibilities may seem like the realm of science fiction; but we would be wise now to prepare for their potential use by non-state actors.”

Mr Blair, who first committed British troops to Afghanistan in 2001, said that it was clear “Radical Islam” had not declined as a force in that time.

He said its ideology, turning religion into political doctrine backed if necessary by armed struggle, inevitably brought it into conflict with open, modern culturally tolerant societies.

Likening it to revolutionary communism in the 20th century, he said that it remained the principal cause of destabilisation across the Middle East and Africa.

“In my view, Islamism, both the ideology and the violence, is a first order security threat; and, unchecked, it will come to us, even if centred far from us, as 9/11 demonstrated,” he said.

“Like revolutionary communism, it operates in many different arenas and dimensions; and like it, its defeat will come ultimately through confronting both the violence and the ideology, by a combination of hard and soft power.”

He said while initial efforts to counter the threat would inevitably centre on Western nations, it was important to bring in Russia and China as well Muslim countries which opposed the extremists.

Mr Blair said it represented a particular challenge to European nations given that it was now clear following the withdrawal from Afghanistan that the US had “a very limited appetite for military engagement”.

He said: “Europe is already facing the fallout from Libya, Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East.

“And for these purposes Britain is part of Europe, like it or not.”

Mr Blair said that a strategy based on responding to direct terrorist attacks through drone strikes and special forces had “limitations”.

While he said there would always be a need for “boots on the ground”, Western nations had become “deeply adverse” to casualties among their own armed forces.

“This is not a problem of the armed forces themselves, who are brave and extraordinary people.

“But it is now an overwhelming political constraint to any commitment to Western boots on the ground, except for special forces,” he said.

“Yet the problem this gives rise to, is obvious: if the enemy we’re fighting knows that the more casualties they inflict, the more our political will erodes, then the incentive structure is plain.”

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Categories: 9/11, Islamism, News, Radical Islam, Security threat, Tony Blair

Extremist views widespread in England’s classrooms, say teachers

Extreme views like racism, homophobia and conspiracy theories are widespread in classrooms across England, a study suggests.

Schools lack the resources and training to teach pupils how to discuss or reject dangerous views, according to academics from the University College London (UCL) Institute of Education.

Their report, published days before the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks in the United States, suggests schools’ efforts to build resilience to extremism in young people are “highly varied” due to limited space in the curriculum – and in some cases their approach to the issue is “tokenistic”.

Researchers, who spoke to 96 teachers in English schools as part of the study commissioned by education charity Since 9/11, found that staff are concerned about the increase in pupils looking at hateful online content online.

The findings come after the boss of MI5 revealed that agents are investigating teenagers as young as 13 linked to extreme right-wing terrorism.

In July, director-general Ken McCallum said the presence of teenagers is a “rising trend in MI5’s counter-terrorist case work” and is becoming more so in extreme right-wing investigations.

The majority of teachers spoken to by the researchers said they have heard pupils express far-right extremist views in their classroom, as well as “extremist views about women” or Islamophobia.

Nearly nine in 10 teachers have heard conspiracy theories being discussed by students – including the theory that American business magnate Bill Gates “controls people via microchips in Covid vaccines”.

Teachers raised concerns about pupils’ exposure to extremist views online, often claiming that this has been “exacerbated by the pandemic and lockdowns” – and the report suggests that conspiracy theories and online disinformation “is an emerging area that needs consideration”.

The study also found that many teachers do not talk about issues related to extremism in the classroom out of fear that they will get it wrong, “especially on matters related to race”.

Researchers carried out in-depth interviews with English and Religious Education teachers and safeguarding leads in schools, as well as a survey of teachers, and assessed a literature review of research examining how schools build resilience to extremism in students in England as part of the study.

Almost all the teachers surveyed had encountered “hateful extremism” in the form of racist views in the classroom, according to the report.

Dr Becky Taylor, from the UCL Centre for Teachers and Teaching Research, said: “This report shows that some schools fail to move beyond surface-level explorations of violence, extremism and radicalisation; however, it is without doubt that schools can play an important role.”

She added: “Education policies must consider the fact that some schools may need more help than others to build on what they already have in place.

“Engaging well with their local communities and ensuring that schools and teachers are supported and appropriately resourced can help young people to problematise ‘hateful extremism’.”

The study calls for teachers to be given better training to lead open discussions in the classroom about extremism so they can teach pupils how to reject, and respond to, dangerous ideologies.

The report concludes: “Much anti-extremism work is well-meaning but is stymied by overcrowded curricula, a lack of resources, a desire to perform policy for Ofsted, and a mandate to detect and report vulnerability to radicalisation rather than necessarily stamp out its root causes.”

Kamal Hanif, a trustee of Since 9/11 and executive principal of Waverley Education Foundation in Birmingham, called the research “a wake-up call”.

He said: “We urgently need to equip schools with the tools to teach pupils how to reject extremist views. Dangerous ideologies must never be swept under the carpet.

Mr Hanif added: “The findings of this study are particularly pertinent as we approach the 20th anniversary of 9/11. Children in school today were not yet born when the attacks took place.

“Indeed, many of their teachers were themselves only children at the time. It’s vital that we all learn about the attacks themselves and their ongoing impact.”

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said: “Schools have an important role to play in educating young people about the false premises and dangers posed by extremist ideologies, but they cannot do this alone and more support is needed.

“The reality is that schools have to juggle multiple demands on their time in the context of packed timetables and severe funding constraints, all at a time when our society has undergone a digital revolution which allows people to spread hateful views at the click of a button.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “As this report shows, schools and teachers are generally confident teaching about issues related to extremism.

“The new Relationships, Sex and Health Education curriculum requires secondary age pupils to be aware of laws relating to terrorism and hate crime, and the Educate Against Hate website features over 150 free resources to help pupils, teachers and parents tackle radicalisation in all its forms.

“We continue to look at what further support we can provide to schools, and will shortly launch further resources specifically focused on harmful online content.”

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Categories: Antisemitism, Extremist views, far right extremism, homophobia, MI5, News, schools

Teenage neo-Nazi who wanted to kill Asian friend found guilty of terror plot

A teenage neo-Nazi who wanted to shoot an Asian friend over boasts he slept with “white chicks” has been found guilty of plotting terrorist acts.

Matthew Cronjager, 18, tried to get hold of a 3D printed gun or a sawn-off shotgun to kill his teenage target who he likened to a “cockroach”, the Old Bailey was told.

He set up an online library to share right-wing propaganda and explosives-making manuals with like-minded people he had met on the web.

He also set himself up as the “boss” of a right-wing terror cell, the court was told.

But Cronjager, of Ingatestone in Essex, was sharing his plans with an undercover police officer who had infiltrated a Telegram group called The British Hand.

Cronjager, who is on the autistic spectrum, denied he ever meant to do anything and “renounced” his extremist views, saying they were borne out of loneliness and misery.

His lawyer Tim Forte told jurors that Cronjager fell down the “rabbit hole” of the internet in his bedroom and found a “buffet or loathing” based on misinformation and hatred.

While Cronjager accepted sending “vile” messages, in reality he was nothing more than a “keyboard warrior”, it was claimed on his behalf.

Cronjager created for himself a “superhero fantasy” like a Call Of Duty avatar, but it was all “make believe”, Mr Forte asserted.

A jury deliberated for three and a half hours to find him guilty of preparing for acts of terrorism and disseminating terrorist publications on Telegram.

The jury had been told Cronjager admitted four charges of possessing terror documents on the first day of his trial.

The defendant who made no reaction as the verdicts were delivered was remanded into custody to be sentenced on October 18.

The court had previously heard how the defendant wanted a “revolution” based on his fascist beliefs, including hatred of non-white people, Jews, Muslims and those with a different sexual orientation to his.

He had offered to lead the UK division of an extreme right-wing group calling itself Exiled 393, telling members that his time as an army cadet had given him the necessary skills.

In November last year, Cronjager suggested setting up a collective PayPal account to buy weapons and other items for the group.

In one message, he wrote: “I was thinking more of having it to buy things like big tents or a 3D printer maybe for creating bits of ‘art’”, said to be code for guns.

Another member of the group said “a shipment” of art would be arriving next year, saying: “Whilst printed art is good, art that is actually painted by professionals is always better.”

Cronjager responded: “I don’t want to start anything too soon.”

The court was told that he said he wanted to arm the group but give them a few months before launching an attack to “get over the stress of being illegal and being unable to go back from that point”.

In further messages to the undercover officer on December 13, he and Cronjager discussed arranging a drop off location for 3D printed guns, the court heard, and of the supplier needing more money to pay for materials.

Cronjager replied: “Once we’ve got them we’re illegal.

“There’s no real going back.”

He continued: “We either go full send it or we pussy out and end up like every other British nationalist group believing we are going to fix this legally.”

On the same day, Cronjager formulated his plot to kill his former friend after he boasted to him of sleeping with three white women.

The defendant told the undercover officer: “I’ve found someone I want to execute.”

“I know it’s an overall target and he’s a sand n***** that f***** a white girl.

“In fact I think three of them.

“I figure we could just ‘find’ a double barrel shotgun and saw it down for things like this.

“Two blasts will kill all but the strongest man and (there’s) no rifling.

“So no tracking ballistics.”

Cronjager then added: “They’re like cockroaches”, the court heard.

The defendant continued: “Do you know what’s weird?

“I was friends with him for ages and I can just kill him like that.

“I have no hang ups about doing it.

“He crossed the line.”

When asked if his former friend had raped the girls, he allegedly replied: “Nope, but it’s a violation of nature.

“We’re not supposed to mix race … it’s not rape by legal definition but it’s kind of like rape if that makes sense.

“Violation at least.”

On his arrest at his Essex home on December 29 last year, police seized a large amount of material demonstrating his commitment to an “extreme right-wing cause”, jurors heard.

He attempted to explain his behaviour by claiming to police he was a member of anti-fascist organisation Antifa, that had infiltrated various right-wing groups to disrupt and undermine them.

But giving evidence, he accepted he had held extreme far-right views, saying he now felt “ashamed and disgusted” by them.

The defendant, whose hobbies included computer gaming, karate, football and cricket, described his teenage years as lonely, isolated, quite depressed and anxious, with his negative feelings starting around the age of 16.

His lawyer told jurors that Cronjager was “curious” about guns and weapons and his “fixation” became the “obsession of a loner”, a miserable, isolated young boy in his bedroom.

Mr Forte said: “He was the outsider, he was the other.

“He retreated in his own mind and that took him down the rabbit hole that is the internet.

“Children like him 30/40 years ago unhappy, alone, unwelcome, did not have the internet to lure them and ensnare them with misinformation and hatred but today it is all there laid out on a platter like a buffet of loathing.”

He turned to hate in a “spiral of despair” but not “horrendous acts”, the lawyer said.

But prosecutor Alistair Richardson told jurors: “What you have here, in the defendant’s interview and you may have felt during his evidence, was pretty close to a full admission of the offences, faced with the overwhelming evidence of his own messaging, his own words.

“He accepts setting up the library.

“He accepts that at the time he had neo-Nazi, fascist, far-right views.

“He accepts he was angry and that made him feel violent.

“He accepts that at times he wanted to hurt people.

“He accepts that the guns were to be used for violence.

“For violent change.

“In reality, for terrorist attacks.”

The jury was told that the defendant was on the autism disorder spectrum, with a mild level of severity, and had a high IQ.

The post Teenage neo-Nazi who wanted to kill Asian friend found guilty of terror plot appeared first on TELL MAMA.

Categories: Asian, Exiled 393, Far Right groups, Matthew Cronjager, Neo-Nazi, News, Terror Plot

British IS ‘Beatles’ terrorist facing life behind bars after guilty pleas

A British terrorist who conspired to abduct and behead Western hostages for the so-called Islamic State is facing spending the rest of his life behind bars after pleading guilty to multiple charges in a US federal court.

Alexanda Amon Kotey, 37, was one of the gang of four IS militants nicknamed “the Beatles” by their captives due to their British accents.

The cell – said to be made up of ringleader Mohammed Emwazi, known as Jihadi John, Aine Davis, El Shafee Elsheikh and Kotey – was allegedly responsible for the brutal killings of a number of Western and Japanese captives, including Britons Alan Henning and David Haines.

The slayings sparked outrage and revulsion around the world after being broadcast in graphic detail.

Kotey, who grew up in London, attended a two-hour change of plea hearing at US District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, on Thursday and pleaded guilty to eight charges.

They were four counts of hostage taking resulting in death, conspiracy to commit hostage taking resulting in death, conspiracy to murder United States citizens outside of the United States, conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists – hostage taking and murder – resulting in death and conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organisation resulting in death.

Kotey has agreed to fully co-operate with authorities as part of his plea agreement, the court was told.

Diane Foley, mother of slain US hostage James Foley, said it was “chilling” being in court with Kotey, and urged the Briton to give up information about the Beatles’ atrocities.

She told the Today programme on BBC Radio 4: “I didn’t get any indication he’s interested in (making amends) but I hope in time he might, just because the extent of the evil he has committed is – I just don’t know how any soul could live with all that.

“All of us would like to know where the remains of our children are.”

Kotey addressed the court to outline his involvement in the atrocities. He was repeatedly interrupted by District Judge TS Ellis who told him his statement was more suitable for the sentencing hearing.

In a prepared summary, he said he left the UK for Syria in August 2012 alongside Emwazi.

He said he left in order to “engage in the military fight against the Syrian army forces of president Bashar Assad”.

Kotey said when he departed the UK he held “the belief and understanding that the Islamic concept of armed jihad was a valid and legitimate cause and means by which a Muslim defends his fellow Muslim against injustice”.

He admitted his role in capturing hostages and said when his involvement in that came to an end, he worked in IS’s recruitment division, as a sniper and in the terror group’s “English media department”.

Kotey said while working for IS he came into contact with Mr Henning, Mr Haines and John Cantlie, a British war correspondent who disappeared in 2012 and who remains missing.

He told the court: “Upon the orders of the Islamic State senior leadership, I, along with others, opened up channels of negotiation with the authorities, families and representatives of those captured and held by the Islamic State.

“This involved me visiting the detention facilities where the foreign captives were being held and interacting with them in every capacity that would further the prospects of our negotiation demands being met.”

Kotey said his job would be to “extract” contact details for loved ones of those taken hostage.

The terrorists would then demand the release of Islamic prisoners held by the West or large sums of money in return for the hostages’ freedom.

Kotey said: “I had no doubt that any failure of those foreign governments to comply with our demands would ultimately result in the indefinite detention of those foreign captives or their executions. ”

He said he was not physically present at any of the killings of the Western captives.

Kotey was captured alongside Elsheikh in Syria in 2018 by the US-supported Syrian Democratic Forces while trying to escape to Turkey.

Details of Kotey’s plea agreement were read out in court, revealing the Briton has agreed to fully co-operate with the US government.

He will provide “full, complete and truthful” evidence to not only the US but all foreign governments.

Kotey will provide all relevant documents, meet with victims’ families if they wish to do so and voluntarily submit to a lie detector test.

However, the terrorist will not be compelled to give evidence in court against co-defendant Elsheikh, the hearing was told.

As part of the plea agreement, Kotey could be transferred to the UK after spending 15 years behind bars in the US in order to face justice in the country of his birth.

The court was told Kotey would plead guilty in the UK and would likely be handed a life sentence for the deaths of hostages including Mr Henning and Mr Haines.

However, if he is not given a life term, Kotey will complete his life sentence handed down in the US, either in America or in the UK.

Prosecutor Dennis Fitzpatrick, of the United States Attorney’s Office read out the evidence against Kotey, outlining his role in the atrocities, including subjecting the hostages to brutal treatment.

They were terrorised with mock executions, shocks with tasers, physical restraints and other brutal acts.

Kotey and Elsheikh were brought to the US last year to face charges on the condition they would not be given a death sentence.

While Kotey has now pleaded guilty, there was no update on Elsheikh, who is scheduled to stand trial in January.

Emwazi was killed by a US drone strike in 2015 while Davis is serving a sentence in a Turkish jail.

Former aircraft engineer and humanitarian Mr Haines, 44, from Perth in Scotland, was beheaded in Syria in 2014 after being held prisoner for 18 months.

Cab driver-turned-aid worker Mr Henning, 47, from Lancashire, was also beheaded in 2014 after being captured by extremists in Syria.

Kotey was also charged in relation to the killings of four American hostages – journalists Mr Foley and Steven Sotloff and aid workers Peter Kassig and Kayla Mueller.

Family members of the American victims were in court to hear details of the charges and watch Kotey plead guilty.

Kotey and Elsheikh had taken part in and been arrested during a demonstration outside the US embassy in London in 2011 in support of the 9/11 attacks.

They travelled to Syria the following year.

Kotey will be sentenced on March 4 next year.

The post British IS ‘Beatles’ terrorist facing life behind bars after guilty pleas appeared first on Faith Matters.

Categories: Aine Davis, Alexander Kotey, Beatles, David Haines, El Shafee Elsheikh, Islamic State, Jihadi John, Mohammed Emwazi, News