An investigation by the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command has led to a 19-year-old man being jailed for sharing a bomb-making manual online.
Connor Burke, from south east London, pleaded guilty to disseminating a terrorist publication – linked to a manual that he had shared on a social media platform, which contained information on how to create improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
Burke also pleaded guilty to four counts of possession of a document likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.
He was sentenced at Woolwich Crown Court on Friday, 4 February to a total of 42 months’ imprisonment and an additional 12 months on licence.
Commander Richard Smith, head of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, said: “Burke had an unhealthy interest in extreme right wing terrorist ideology, and this led to him sharing extremely dangerous material with others online.
“Increasingly, we’re seeing young people being drawn into extremist ideologies, some of whom – like Burke – then go on to commit serious terrorism offences.
“I would urge anyone who comes across any terrorist-related material online to report this to us. I would also ask friends and family to get in touch if they have concerns about a loved-one being drawn into any form of extreme ideology – ACT early before it’s too late.”
Every year, thousands of reports from the public help the police keep communities safe from terrorism. If you see or hear anything suspicious or of concern, then it can be reported to police, in confidence, via 0800 789 321 or online. Or use the iReportIt app.
In November 2020, Counter Terrorism officers became aware of a social media account where the user posted a file containing detailed information on how to create IEDs.
From there, detectives set about establishing the real-world identity of the user. Their investigation revealed that he was a student at a London University. The officers contacted the university and after further enquiries, were able to identify Burke as the potential suspect.
Police attended his address in February 2021 where they arrested Burke. When they searched his room, officers found various items indicating his extremist mind-set, such as Nazi Germany memorabilia – including daggers, rings and uniform items – as well as a copy of ‘Mein Kampf’. Officers seized his electronic devices and found evidence linking the social media account to Burke. Detectives also identified a further three terrorist-related documents on the devices as well as the manual he had shared on social media.
On 1 March 2021, Burke was charged with the above offences. He pleaded guilty to all the counts at a hearing in July 2021 – but claimed that the dissemination of the bomb-making manual was done so on a reckless basis.
However, this was disputed by the prosecution and a Newton hearing took place in December 2021.
Following this, the judge rejected Burke’s basis of plea insofar as recklessness; determining that Burke posted the manual in the knowledge it could directly or indirectly be used by others members of the group in which it was posted and assist in the preparation or commission of terrorist acts.