Matthew King: How a teenage Islamic State fanatic plotted to torture and kill Met Police officers
Matthew King, 19, was sentenced to life in prison at the Old Bailey for terrorism offences, with a minimum of six years.
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Matthew King had a normal upbringing in Wickford, Essex, in a house full of girls.
But during lockdown his mother and sisters noticed a change in his behaviour.
While other teenagers had taken up new hobbies during the pandemic, King immersed himself in extremist Islamic content online.
Within just a few months the self-radicalised teenager’s curiosity escalated into action as he started to talk online about his plans to commit a terror attack in London. He talked about targeting police officers and a member of the armed forces, and started to carry out hostile reconnaissance of locations.
King was arrested by counter terrorism officers on May 18, 2022. Today (June 2), the 19-year-old was sentenced at the Old Bailey to life imprisonment, with a minimum of six years, less time served, for the preparation of terrorism offences.
An investigation into King was launched in April 2022 after police received information about concerns over his extreme Islamist mindset.
While he was held in custody, officers conducted digital forensic analysis of his devices. They found evidence of his extremist beliefs including Daesh propaganda videos, as well as videos he took at various locations during hostile reconnaissance visits between March and May 2022, and conversations about attack planning.
Officers found a picture taken by King on his phone, which showed police officers standing outside a court building with the caption “target acquired”. He also filmed an army barracks in Stratford and Stratford police station, as well as recording officers at train stations.
In the week leading up to his arrest, he talked to a female friend online and expressed an intention and desire to travel to Syria to take part in violent jihad, and referenced becoming a martyr on several occasions.
In one excerpt, King states that he is “training for jihad” and later states: “I just want to kill people.”
During their investigation police, found that he took steps to buy a knife online in December 2021 and planned to travel abroad to join Daesh.
During their analysis of King’s devices officers found that he had searched online the names of well known terrorists including the Manchester Arena bomber.
He joined an online group discussing killing non-Muslims and had been researching Isis knife training.
King visited several mosques around London, trying to build support for his cause, but was rejected.
It is believed that it was members of mosque communities who reported him to the police.
King, who had no previous convictions, pleaded guilty to preparation of terrorist acts (contrary to Section 5 of the Terrorism Act 2000) on January 20 2023.
The Met Police investigation into King, supported by the Eastern Region Specialist Operations Unit, was built on evidence drawn from his online searches; social media activity and chats; cell site data; CCTV; witness accounts; and physical evidence recovered by officers.
Nearly 80 officers and staff from across SO15 were involved in the investigation.
‘Speed of King’s self-radicalisation was alarming’
Commander Dominic Murphy, who leads the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, said: "King was a committed, self-initiated terrorist who we believe was close to carrying out an attack.
“He will now spend a long time in jail, where he doesn’t pose a risk to the public.
“It is notable that this investigation started as a direct result of calls to police from members of the public who were concerned about King’s extremist mindset, and this case is a powerful example of how vitally important information from the public is to counter-terrorism investigations.
“The speed at which King self-radicalised and then began to start planning an attack was alarming, and the calls made to us from members of the public about King led directly to police stopping him committing a deadly attack.
“This case shows that people can and should have confidence in reporting concerns linked to terrorism to us – those calls really do make a difference, and police will act on the information to keep people safe.
“I would like to commend the work of the investigation team, who built the strong foundations of the case in the two weeks after his arrest, and worked in challenging circumstances to secure the evidence needed to charge King and ensure he remained in custody from the time of his arrest.”