ANZAC Day plot: ‘Youngest terrorist’ freed in stunning move
A teenage terrorist who ordered a Melbourne man to behead a police officer during an Anzac Day parade will be freed five years into a life sentence.
Terror experts have warned there was an "element of risk" in releasing the British prisoner who, for legal reasons, can only be referred to as RXG.
"It's difficult, it's not an exact science … clearly he can't be monitored 24 hours a day so they must consider that the restrictions in place are enough," Dr Steve Hewitt, a terrorism expert from the University of Birmingham, said.
"There's always an element of risk in these situations."
The British man was 14 when he sent 3000 messages over messaging service Telegram encouraging Sevdet Besim, then 18, to attack the Melbourne parade in 2015.
One of the messages from Besim said: "I'd love to take out some cops."
Police in Britain were monitoring RXG's communication from his bedroom in Blackburn, Lancashire, 50 minutes north of Manchester.
The plot was foiled when Scotland Yard told Australian police, who swooped in and arrested him on April 18, 2015, with a team of 200 heavily armed officers.
Prof Hewitt said police had been successful at stopping large scale attacks in recent years because of improved monitoring, but warned lone wolves were still a concern.
"What you are left with are these amateurish attacks that are really hard to stop using everyday items," he said.
"If someone buys a knife or gets in a vehicle and drives into people then it's almost impossible."
Questions are now being asked about how the UK Parole Board can be sure the teenage terrorist, now 20, would not reoffend.
Slain terrorist Usman Khan lied to jailers for seven years, claiming he had reformed, only to kill Jack Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, in an attack at London Bridge in 2019.
Khan was at a function for a Learning Together deradicalisation program, where he was being acknowledged for what people thought had been a change in his ways.
He would have killed more people except that he was stopped when he was downed by a narwhal tusk.
Government employee Darryn Frost chased him out of the historic Fishmongers' Hall building, which had the tusk as a decoration on the wall, onto the bridge.
Police shot Khan dead because it was feared he was wearing a bomb.
A British court declared that the Blackburn terrorist would have anonymity for life and only be known as RXG, in a move that was previously used for the killers of James Bulger's killers Jon Venables and Robert Thompson.
The 10-year-olds shocked the world when they led the two-year-old away from his parents and tortured and murdered him in 1993.
A Parole Board statement, released on Monday, revealed that RXG had been diagnosed with autism after he was jailed and now had some awareness of his actions.
He was put before the Parole Board in person in September and then via video link on January 4, 2021.
"No one at the hearing considered there to be a need for further time within the custodial estate," a summary of the Judgement said.
The Parole Board said that he "worked well with others" now, compared to when he was plotting the attack on Melbourne when he was "not coping well with feelings of anger, being manipulative," and "not being open and honest with people."
"In 2017, RXG received an Autism diagnosis (ASD) which the panel noted had a relevance to his obsessional behaviour, social isolation and social Interactions," the summary said.
"The panel was told that RXG had developed an understanding of what ASD means for him."
RXG must wear an electronic tag, submit to a curfew and has had limits placed on his social media use and contact with people linked to Islamic extremism.
Besim, who was sentenced to 10 years jail in Victoria, but was later extended to 14 years after concerns he had received a soft sentence.
Originally published as ANZAC Day plot: 'Youngest terrorist' freed in stunning move