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Former university student jailed for terrorism offence

A former Cambridge University student who was found with a document on how to prepare explosive devices has been jailed.

Oliver Bel, (02/08/1996), of Cherry Tree Close, Wilmslow, was jailed today (21 May 2021) at Manchester Crown Court for two years after being found guilty of possession of documents or records likely to be useful to a person preparing, or committing, an act of terrorism (section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000).

Bel first came to police attention in early 2019, while he was a student at Cambridge University. Complaints relating to Bel’s online activity including social media posts expressing anti-Semitic and extreme right wing views were received by police.

On 15 November 2019, a search warrant was executed at Bel’s address following a number of extreme right wing posts made by him appearing in a news article from ‘Hope not Hate’ – an advocacy group campaigning against racism.

During this search warrant, a number of media devices along with books were seized, including the ‘Anarchist Cookbook’. Assessment of this document showed it contained numerous instructions on how to prepare viable explosive devices, as well as instructions on how to use knives to kill a person.

Bel was subsequently arrested on 19 February 2020, by officers from Counter Terrorism Policing North West. During his police interview, Bel denied the allegations but was later charged on 2 April 2020 with one count of possession of a document or record likely to be useful to a person preparing, or committing, an act of terrorism, contrary to Section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000.

During his trial in April this year, Bel declined to give evidence but was found guilty. Today he was jailed for two years with an additional year on licence.

Superintendent Will Chatterton, Counter Terrorism Policing North West, said: “Although Bel pleaded not guilty to the charges, the evidence presented to the court by the investigations team lead to him being jailed and I hope this shows the determination we have to eradicate this type of extremely dangerous terrorist activity.

“We are committed to bringing anyone who poses a risk to our communities to justice and I would urge the public to report any concerns they have of suspicious behaviour to us straight away.

“Reporting won’t ruin lives, but it could save them.”

Every year thousands of reports from the public help police tackle the terrorist threat. If you see or hear something that doesn’t seem right, trust your instincts and ACT by reporting to police in confidence at gov.uk/ACT.

Remember, in an emergency, always dial 999.

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