Former soldier found guilty of planning attack

A former soldier from West Bridgford, Nottingham has been found guilty go preparing to commit a terrorist attack.

William Howitt wrote a comprehensive and detailed plan to commit an arson attack at an independent bookstore in Nottingham city centre.

His phone was seized when he was stopped by Counter-Terrorism officers at East Midlands Airport on 5 January 2023 and officers found Plan A’, which detailed an attack on the bookshop in Nottingham.

There were also anti-Semitic, anti-Marxist and pro-Nazi messages on the phone, which he started to send to friends in 2020.

'Plan A' was written in the notes section of his iPhone, during the evening of 7 September 2020. The 27-year-old claimed he was under the influence of drink and drugs at the time and that the messages he sent were to create a persona and for bravado, and not a true representation of his views.

The plan set out steps to be taken to set fire to the location, and then escape, avoiding detection, using Howitt's military knowledge and training.

The same day the plan was written, he went online and purchased the tools outlined he would need. A glass hammer and tarpaulin sheet were found at his address when officers from CTPEM searched the property.

Howitt identified the bookstore as a target, as it strongly opposed his own views.

Howitt was originally arrested on Tuesday 14 March 2023, and charged with preparing an act of terrorism (under Section 5 of the Terrorism Act 2006)

A jury found him guilty after a three-week trial at Birmingham Crown Court.

Detective Inspector Chris Brett, from Counter Terrorism Policing East Midlands, said: “Howitt is a dangerous individual, who had written a comprehensive attack plan.

“This attack would have been terrorist in nature, as it would have served to intimidate those who hold different views to William Howitt. In doing so, he would have been seeking to advance an opposing ideology or political cause.

“In text conversations with his friends and acquaintances, Howitt viewed media and expressed and endorsed views commonly associated with the extreme right wing, in particular pro-Nazi, anti-Semitic, and anti-communist sentiments.

“Howitt believed that his beliefs were not only acceptable, but even cool, and something that if he acted on, would make him seem like even more of the ‘tough guy’ who so desperately wanted to be regarded as.

“This is never the case. His plan showed a clear intention to make a targeted attack on a business, and thus people, he deemed held differing views to himself. Lives could have been lost for the sake of intolerance.

“In Counter Terrorism Policing we work hard to root out those who hold such damaging ideologies and pose risk of committing potentially deadly actions and will bring them before the courts.”

Photo © David Stowell (cc-by-sa/2.0)


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