Man found guilty of terrorism after online mosque attack plot

Sam Imrie, 24, posted messages on social media claiming he was planning to attack Fife Islamic Centre in Glenrothes. 

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A man has been found guilty of terrorism and other offences after he threatened to set fire to an Islamic centre in Fife.

Sam Imrie, 24, was arrested after detectives discovered in July 2019 that he had been posting messages on social media claiming he was planning to attack Fife Islamic Centre in Glenrothes. 

Police who searched his home at Colliston Avenue in Glenrothes also made a number of other discoveries.

Officers found Imrie had acquired an arsenal of weapons, which included a combat knife, nunchucks, an axe, a knife, a hammer, a rifle scope and a wooden-handled lock knife.  

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Prosecutor Lisa Gillespie QC told the court how the police also recovered a “manifesto” entitled the “Great Replacement” by far right terrorist Brenton Tarrant, who murdered 51 people when he attacked two mosques in New Zealand in March 2019.

They also recovered a manifesto written by Anders Breivik, another fascist who slaughtered 77 people in attacks in Norway in 2011. 

Detectives found computer equipment containing thousands of images glorifying far-right terrorism attacks and Nazi ideology. 

Some of the images referred to Tarrant and Breivik as “saints” and one image was of pop star Taylor Swift, which had been photoshopped – the lenses of sunglasses she was wearing had been doctored to include swastikas.

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They found he possessed copies of Adolf Hitler’s work Mein Kampf, indecent images of children and extreme images that showed dead mutilated women being subjected to sexual acts. 

Imrie also possessed copies of the video that Tarrant had made of himself carrying out the shootings.

The 24-year-old was caught after officers in the Metropolitan Police tipped off Police Scotland counterparts. 

English officers had been scrutinising a group called ‘FashWave Artists’ on Telegram, an instant messaging app. 

The group hosted images and memes glorifying fascism but Imrie posted a series of messages in which he said he was planning to “burn down” a mosque. 

He also said he had written to Breivik. 

Detectives found CCTV footage of Imrie trying the door at the mosque before driving away. 

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A jury heard how armed police officers swooped on Imrie’s home at 2am and took him into custody. 

On Wednesday, Imrie, who denied any wrongdoing, was convicted on two charges of breaching the terrorism act, wilful fireraising, possessing child and ‘extreme’ indecent images and drink driving.

Moments after Ms Gillespie said the Crown were considering seeking a Serious Crime Prevention Order against Imrie, Lord Mulholland remanded the first offender in custody.

Imrie was told that the judge needed a background report before he could be sentenced.

Lord Mulholland also warned Imrie: “Be under no illusion – you have been convicted of very serious offences including gathering information about terrorism and encouraging terrorism, child pornography and extreme pornography. 

“You will not be surprised to know that you will be receiving a sentence of some length.”

Lord Mulholland spoke moments after jurors returned guilty verdicts to two terrorism charges. 

The first terrorism charge stated that Imrie made statements on Telegram and Facebook that encouraged acts of terrorism. 

The second charge he was convicted of stated that Imrie made a “record of information” that would be useful to somebody who was committing acts of terrorism. 

He was acquitted of a terrorism charge that stated he engaged in conduct in “preparation” of terrorism acts. 

Following his conviction, Pat Campbell, Police Scotland’s assistant chief constable for organised crime, counter terrorism and intelligence, said: “Sam Imrie was a socially-isolated-individual who displayed hateful intentions and the potential consequences of his actions do not bear thinking about. Police Scotland welcomes the outcome of the trial, which brings to a close what was an extremely complex investigation.

“I am grateful for the hard work and diligence of the officers who carried out the fast moving inquiry, as well as the support of our colleagues in the Metropolitan Police and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.

“It should be stressed that cases such as Imrie’s are rare in Scotland and our officers remain absolutely committed to working with our partners to protect our communities.

“I want to take this opportunity to appeal directly to the public that if you become aware of anyone, including a family member or friend, displaying extremist views, or are concerned that they could be radicalised or involved in extremist or terrorist activity, not to hesitate to contact the police.

“Advice is available at the ACT Early Counter Terrorism Policing website and anyone with concerns should contact Police Scotland or the confidential anti-terrorist hotline 0800 789 321.”