A teenager from Swindon who promoted antisemitic and racist views has been convicted of terror offences.
Yesterday, after a two-week trial, Malakai Wheeler, 18, was found guilty at Winchester Crown Court of six offences relating to the possession and dissemination of terrorist material.
Mr Wheeler was arrested in 2021 following an investigation, which was conducted by Counter Terrorism Policing North East, into users in a Telegram group whom police suspected to be sharing extreme far-right content.
Following his arrest, police found the Terrorist Handbook in Mr Wheeler’s bedroom. The Terrorist Handbook is a publication which instructs readers on how to make bombs and other explosives.
Mr Wheeler was found to be frequently sharing material in the chat, including antisemitic content and instructions on how to make explosives.
The defendant said in court that he had downloaded the explosives instructions as they would be useful should there be a case of “social disorder”.
He added: “Weapons could be useful if there was a serious emergency. Covid showed things could come out of the blue. It could be an economic problem or a foreign invasion, things can just pop out of nowhere.”
Mr Wheeler told the court that he downloaded material with the intent to make an archive if the documents were deleted from Telegram. He also said that he had obtained videos, which show people being murdered, from ISIS out of “morbid curiosity”.
The court heard that the defendant was interested in Nazism and anti-Zionism. Mr Wheeler also told the court that he had a swastika as part of his profile picture on Telegram and admitted to being in a photograph whilst doing a Nazi salute in a skull mask.
Detective Chief Superintendent James Dunkerley, Head of Counter Terrorism Policing North East, said: “Although only sixteen at the time of his arrest, Wheeler was deeply entrenched in a Telegram chat group committed to extreme right-wing ideology. He was not simply curious, or a passive observer within the group. He clearly shared the same mindset as other members and was very active when it came to promoting racist and antisemitic views and propaganda. It is important young people recognise the potential impact of their online activity, before they cross a line into criminality, or engage in harmful or dangerous behaviours.”
Mr Wheeler remains in custody until his sentencing in November.
A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism said: “Contrary to his assertions, Mr Wheeler’s obsession with violence went far beyond ‘morbid curiosity’. His anticipation of ‘social chaos’ is indicative of the very real threat that is posed by the far-right. Cases such as these shed light on the kind of rhetoric that is utilised to recruit young people and mobilise them against the Jewish community. We hope that Mr Wheeler’s sentencing will reflect the serious danger that he poses to society.”
Campaign Against Antisemitism closely monitors the far-right, which remains a dangerous threat to the Jewish community and other minority groups.
Image credit: Wiltshire Police