A teenage neo-Nazi has been jailed for eleven years after using the social media platform Telegram to plot terrorist acts.
Matthew Cronjager, 18, was found guilty of preparing for acts of terrorism and disseminating terrorist publications on Telegram after it emerged that he had planned to kill his former friend, who is Asian, for allegedly sleeping with white women.
The Old Bailey heard that Mr Cronjager had attempted to obtain a 3D-printed gun or a sawn-off shotgun to commit the murder. The court also heard that Mr Cronjager had joined a right-wing terror cell, positioning himself as the “boss”, and created an online library to disseminate right-wing propaganda and explosives-making manuals. Mr Cronjager posted messages on a Telegram group called “The British Hand”, where he was unknowingly talking with an undercover policeman.
Last year, we reported that teenage members of The British Hand were using Telegram to recruit and promote propaganda. The group uses a skull and crossbones logo combined with rifles over a Union Jack as its logo and launched in July 2020 on the popular social media platform, Instagram, which is owned by Facebook. The official account has been shut down multiple times, but members continue to use their personal accounts to disseminate the group’s message. Once recruited, the members join an encrypted Telegram chat room where, as of last year, it was believed that there were fifteen core members in their teenage years or early twenties.
It was said that Mr Cronjager wanted a “revolution” to carry out fascist beliefs, and wanted to become the leader of the UK division of an extreme right-wing group. During his arrest on 29th December 2020, police discovered a large amount of material that indicated his dedication to an “extreme right-wing cause”.
During his trial, Mr Cronjager initially tried to deny that he ever harboured far-right views by claiming that he was an undercover member of the anti-fascist group Antifa, but later admitted that he did at one point hold the views of which he was accused, for which he claimed to be “ashamed and disgusted”.
Judge Mark Lucraft noted that Mr Cronjager was “bright and intelligent”, which made the messages that he sent “all the more troubling”. Judge Lucraft sentenced the teenager to a total of eleven years and four months in youth detention, adding: “In my view you are someone who played a leading role in terrorist activity where the preparations were not far advanced.”
Concerns have previously been raised over the alleged increase in neo-Nazi content on Telegram. Earlier this year, the far-right group Patriotic Alternative was found to have created neo-Nazi channels dedicated to sharing vile messages, antisemitic conspiracy theories, and images glorifying Hitler.
Campaign Against Antisemitism has been monitoring and acting against the threat from the far-right for years and continues to support the authorities following suit.
Image credit: Counter Terrorism Policing North East