A 16-year-old girl from Manchester has been charged with two terrorism offences following an investigation by the North West Counter Terrorism Unit. The offences are in connection with a planned attack which aimed to target Memorial Day services in Australia, which counter terrorism officers say posed a “credible terrorist threat”.
The girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was arrested at her house in Longsight, Manchester, on 3 April following investigations into a 14-year-old boy from Blackburn in relation to the same plot. He was held on the 2nd April after an examination of a number of electronic devices.
Five men were also arrested by Melbourne police in Australia in a related operation; counter terrorism officers say that communications between Australia and the UK with regards to a terrorist threat were uncovered and posed a “credible terrorist threat”, the Manchester Evening News has reported.
The girl will appear before Westminster Magistrates Court on Wednesday July 22nd charged with two offences under Section 58 of the Terrorism Act. According to The Guardian, Section 58 relates to offences of collecting or making a record of information likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing for an act of terrorism, or possessing a document or record containing information of that kind.
The 14-year-old boy has already appeared in court in the UK accused of two counts of inciting terrorism in Australia.
Figures released in May show a surge in counter-terrorism arrests across the UK this year, with 338 people held in connection with terrorism offences. The number represents a 33 per cent increase on last year. Around 56 per cent of those detained were under the age of 20.
Scotland Yard’s Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley warned of a “startling” trend for young and vulnerable people being lured into terrorism by “recruiters and marketeers”.
He said: “I won’t discuss live intelligence but you see a continuing picture of individuals who want to travel to Syria and individuals who want to stay at home and commit terrorism acts. There are significant numbers of each.”