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Luca Benincasa was sentenced to nine years and three months for terror offences and possessing indecent images of children

Luca Benincasa was sentenced to nine years and three months for terror offences and possessing indecent images of children

The self-styled “UK cell leader” of a banned neo-Nazi group has been locked up for terror offences and possessing indecent images of children.

Luca Benincasa, 20, from Cardiff, was sentenced to nine years and three months at Winchester Crown Court after admitting a range of offences.

He had instructions on bomb making and was a recruiter and “prominent member” of Neo-Nazi group Feuerkrieg Division.

He also downloaded indecent images of children as young as four.

Benincasa, from the Whitchurch area of the city, pleaded guilty to terrorism offences and possession of indecent images of children.

After he was arrested he scrawled satanic and far-right messages on his prison cell, and said on social media: “Told my mum I want to be a terrorist for 2022.”

The court heard the Feuerkrieg Division “grew out of” National Action and other banned, far-right groups.

National Action was co-founded by Alex Davies, from Swansea, who was sentenced in June 2022.

Prosecutors said Benincasa was 19 when he committed the offences and was the self-described “UK cell leader” of the Feuerkrieg Division, and “one of its key recruiters”.

The Feuerkrieg Division primarily existed online and promoted violence and mass murder in the pursuit of a so-called race war.

Benincasa admitted belonging to the white supremacist group after it was proscribed in July 2020 and four counts of collecting information likely to be useful to a terrorist.

When police searched his bedroom, they found a Nazi dagger and flags, airsoft rifles, tactical clothing and documents on how to make explosives and poisons.

The prosecution said Benincasa had manuals on how to make improvised explosive devices, pipe bombs and plastic explosives.

He became increasingly involved with far-right ideologies during lockdown, which was described by the prosecution, as a “watershed moment”.

The court heard he “became increasingly detached”, spent a lot of time speaking to “friends in America” and asked his mother to order him an SS flag, which she refused.

The court heard the Feuerkrieg Division group “directly appeals to boys and men who feel they are disempowered”.

Benincasa described himself as an “incel”, which stands for involuntarily celibate and has been linked to mass-killings in the United States.

Feuerkrieg Division "grew out of" National Action, another banned far-right group co-founded by Alex Davies

Feuerkrieg Division “grew out of” National Action, another banned far-right group co-founded by Alex Davies

He held at least 33 one-to-one conversations with potential recruits, some as young as 14 and the court heard he was “actively recruiting individuals”, asking potential recruits to put up five so-called, “propaganda posters” in their area.

In January 2022 Benincasa spoke to a 14-year-old boy called Jurgen from Germany and said: “The minimum age for recruits is 15, sorry. This is a real life group, you know that.”

Benincasa’s defence barrister said the Feuerkrieg Division was “entirely online without any real world meetings”.

Benincasa also previously pleaded guilty to possessing indecent images of children, including multiple counts of possessing an indecent image of a child and possessing an extreme pornographic image.

The ages of the children in the images were four, five and seven years old.

Benincasa used Google to search for terms such as “rape games”, and “child porn T-shirt”.

Officers found a Nazi dagger, airsoft rifles and tactical clothing alongside Nazi flags in Benincasa

Sentencing, judge Jane Miller KC said: “You see yourself in a high position and the rules do not apply to you. You do present a serious risk of harm to the public.”

Benincasa was sentenced to a total of nine years and three months in a young offender institute.

BBC News

Luca Benincasa, 19, is the first person to be convicted of belonging to the Feuerkrieg Division (FKD) since the far-right organisation was banned.

A “prominent member” of a banned white supremacist group has pleaded guilty to terrorism offences.

Luca Benincasa, 19, is the first person to be convicted of belonging to the Feuerkrieg Division (FKD) since the far-right organisation was banned in July 2020.

A Nazi dagger and Schutzstaffel (SS) officer’s hat were among items discovered in his bedroom in Cardiff when police raided his separated parents’ respective homes.

Appearing at Winchester Crown Court in Hampshire on Friday, the teenager pleaded guilty to membership of the FKD and four counts of collecting information likely to be of use to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism on or before February 1 2022.

The banned terrorist group, which primarily exists online, is said to promote violence and mass murder in the pursuit of a race war.

Prosecutor Dan Pawson-Pounds said: “The defendant fits into the lower end of a prominent member role as opposed to merely an active member.”

Judge Jane Miller QC remanded Benincasa in custody as she adjourned sentencing to September 20.

A flag depicting the logo of the SS, Adolf Hitler’s paramilitary organisation, was hanging on Benincasa’s bedroom wall alongside a fascist Italian flag when police conducted a raid on February 1 this year.

Parts of an SS officer’s uniform, including a hat and Swastika armband, were also seized along with items of camouflage clothing, a tactical vest and masks.

Benincasa’s laptop was found to contain extreme right-wing literature and documents, including instructions on security and how to make explosives and poisons.

An unfinished “The Feuerkreig Division Handbook” was also discovered, as were handwritten notes linked to Benincasa’s extremist ideology.

The teenager appeared in court by video-link from Chelmsford prison in Essex, wearing glasses, and rosary beads over a blue polo shirt.

Belfast Telegraph

A boy from Cornwall is the youngest person in the UK to commit a terrorism offence. The teenager pleaded guilty to 12 offences and was given a two-year youth rehabilitation order instead.

His actions, carried out from his home in the South West, invite two immediate questions.

How and why?

The how is relatively easy to answer. He downloaded a bomb-making guide, while aged only 13, the first of many such documents he would own or share with others.

The why is more complicated.

He was active in online neo-Nazi networks – spaces where he could mask his age and real identity.

In this way, he was able to lead and recruit others.

After first joining extremist forums in 2018, the teenager followed the digital signposts into more private chat groups occupied by people from around the world.

Within months, he was creating the UK version of a neo-Nazi group called Feuerkrieg Division, which – unknown to him – was led by an even younger boy from Estonia.

FKD, since banned as a terrorist organisation in the UK, is one of several similar groups to first emerge online.

The neo-Nazi ideology promoted by FKD is at the furthest end of the extreme right.

It mocks far right organisations which engage in democratic politics or rallies, saying instead the only way forward is to trigger a race war and societal collapse through terrorist violence.

To this end, it glorifies various killers responsible for racist mass murder and provides practical instructions to its members, such as information on how to make and use weapons.

In court, the boy’s lawyers said he was home-schooled by his grandmother, socially isolated, and emotionally undeveloped after experiencing a “simply dreadful childhood” which resulted in him having no contact with his parents.

But, online, rather than seeming passive and lacking in confidence, he was assertive and confident enough to command others.

As a recruiter for FKD, he would send prospective members a list of questions and then vet them for suitability – he recruited five people in this way, although one was an undercover police officer.

He was more at home online than he was in the real world.

However, there is not a binary division between the internet and normal life.

A series of extreme right-wing terror attacks have been spawned online and carried out with an online audience watching, including the Christchurch attack in New Zealand that killed 51 Muslim worshippers.

FKD, despite having such young leading figures, has generated a series of prosecutions around the world involving older people.

  • A Lithuanian member jailed for attempting to detonate explosives in the capital city.
  • In Germany a member convicted of planning violence that posed a threat to the state.

In the UK, a teenager from Rugby called Paul Dunleavy – who was recruited by the Cornish boy – was jailed last year for planning a terrorist attack.

The very nature of these quickly constructed organisations, which employ encrypted apps to communicate and recruit, allows such disparate individuals to come together.

This danger comes from having such groups of people encouraging one other’s worst tendencies.

‘Extreme hatred’

Indeed, the culture of groups like FKD is to make people feel guilty and worthless if they do not act on their violent beliefs.

The Cornish boy, for example, praised the Christchurch attacker.

He encouraged members to be “active” and said that “failure of activity will result in expulsion”.

He continuously posted violent and hateful material. One document stated that “every resistance group uses assassination (murder) and torture (rape) as weapons against the agents of the State”.

Following the boy’s sentencing at the Old Bailey, Ch Supt Jim Pearce, from Devon and Cornwall Police, said: “The young age of the offender combined with the extreme hatred displayed and the quick progression of his role within the worldwide extremist group brings into sharp focus the real and clear danger of online radicalisation.”

BBC News

Boy from Cornwall whose offending began at 13 and who founded UK branch of FKD will be sentenced next week

The teenage leader of a neo-Nazi group has been convicted over offending that began at the age of 13, making him the youngest person in the UK known to have committed a terrorist offence.

The boy, from Cornwall, who cannot be identified, appeared before the Old Bailey in London via video link on Monday and admitted 12 offences – two of dissemination of terrorist documents and 10 of possession of terrorist material.

At 13 he downloaded a bombmaking manual and began gathering terrorist material. Later in the same year he joined the neo-Nazi cult Fascist Forge, and at 14 he went on to share far-right extremist ideology in online chatrooms.

The court heard that the youth, now 16, led the British branch of the now banned neo-Nazi terrorist organisation Feuerkrieg Division (FKD). The group idolises mass murderers such as those who carried out far-right terrorist attacks in Norway, the US and New Zealand in recent years. FKD encourages so-called “lone wolf” attacks.

Between October 2018 and July 2019, the boy collected a significant amount of far-right material and was active on online platforms, expressing racist, homophobic and antisemitic views. He talked about gassing Jewish people, hanging gay people and wanting to “shoot up their parades”, the court heard.

Naomi Parsons, prosecuting, said police searched the property where the boy lived with his grandmother following reports that he was constructing a weapon. No weapon was found but officers discovered a Nazi flag and well-known Nazi slogan on the garden shed, as well as several manuals about making weapons and instructions on how to kill people on his phone and computer.

“The age is the alarming factor and his conduct betrays a maturity beyond his chronological age,” Parsons said.

In a police interview, the defendant said he had made racist, homophobic and antisemitic comments “to look cool”.

It was claimed that he was in touch with a 14-year-old Estonian boy who founded the FKD and was responsible for vetting and recruiting members and propaganda. They used encrypted messages to discuss their hatred of particular groups.

The defendant then set up FKD GB and recruited five British members from online platforms, including Paul Dunleavy, 17, from Rugby, who was jailed last year for preparing acts of terrorism.

The cell wanted to enact “white jihad” and the genocide of people who were not white, the court heard.

In mitigation, Deni Matthews said the defendant had a “simply dreadful childhood”, and everything he did was in order to “seek approval” from others online.

The judge Mark Dennis said he would need to consider whether the teenager had been immature or naive before passing sentence. He said: “I need to assess a person of this age who sends these messages, [and] whether this is true beliefs or the product of firstly grooming but then self-aggrandisement and the other matters.”

The boy was granted bail subject to strict conditions including residing at his home and attending youth offending services, along with a ban on using computers without police permission and bans on using any private browsing mode, encryption software or virtual storage devices such as the cloud.

The boy will be sentenced on 8 February.
The Guardian

A one-man neo-Nazi “propaganda machine” who encouraged racist mass murder has been jailed for a string of terror offences.

Luke Hunter, 23, from Newcastle, created extremist material and ran accounts on multiple online platforms.

Hunter, the son of a former counter-terrorism officer, was arrested in 2019 at his home address.

He was affiliated with a now-banned terrorist organisation called the Feuerkrieg Division (FKD).

Hunter, of High Callerton, was sentenced at Leeds Crown Court to four years and two months in prison.

Hiding behind an alias, he posted extremist material to several online platforms, including his own website, podcast, and a channel on the Telegram messaging application.

He used the accounts to promote racial hatred and murder, telling followers that the “eradication” of Jewish people was a “moral and racial duty”.

Death threat film

On the Telegram channel, which had more than 1,000 subscribers, he posted violent neo-Nazi imagery and glorified various terrorists, including the London nail bomber and the man who murdered 51 Muslim worshippers in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The channel was affiliated with FKD, which was banned in the UK as a terrorist organisation earlier this year.

Hunter, who communicated with the group’s young leader, produced video propaganda for FKD, with one film including death threats to the chief constable of the West Midlands. The force had charged an FKD member with planning a terrorist attack.

One of Hunter’s podcast guests was Alex Davies, co-founder of the banned extreme right-wing group National Action.

But Hunter was not only active online and travelled to Glasgow to deliver a speech at a far-right conference.

In October last year detectives searching the house where he lived with his mother found a large hunting knife and a life-size dummy covered in stab marks, prosecutors said.

‘Promoted killing techniques’

A preliminary court hearing heard Hunter’s father, with whom he did not live at the time of his arrest, spent years as a Metropolitan Police counter terrorism officer before transferring to a civilian role.

Hunter pleaded guilty earlier this year to four counts of encouraging terrorism and three of disseminating terrorist publications.

The prosecution argued that Hunter, who has been diagnosed with autism, was “deeply radicalised” and that his activity “smacks of a propaganda machine which has been designed to function over a number of platforms”.

Hunter admitted four counts of encouraging terrorism and three of disseminating terrorist publications

Det Ch Supt Martin Snowden, head of counter terrorism policing north east, said that Hunter’s online activity “glorified terrorism, promoted killing techniques and encouraged the killing of Jews, non-white races and homosexuals.”

He added: “Luke Hunter represents a threat to our society, not simply because of his mindset, but because of the considerable lengths he was prepared to go to in order to recruit and enable others in support of his cause”.

BBC News

Paul Dunleavy was jailed for five years and six months, after a trial at Birmingham Crown Court

A teenager who was part of a banned neo-Nazi group has been jailed for preparing acts of terrorism.

A judge ruled 17-year-old Paul Dunleavy can be named but described his efforts to commit the act as “inept”.

Dunleavy had admitted nine counts of possessing 9 terror manuals and also had videos of the New Zealand terror attack in 2019, in which 51 people died.

At Birmingham Crown Court, Judge Paul Farrer QC jailed the defendant for five years and six months.

Dunleavy, who had denied preparing an attack, had joined a neo-Nazi group called Feuerkrieg Division (FKD) in July last year, the court was told.

The group was created by a 13-year-old Estonian and was outlawed in the UK this summer after being linked to terrorism cases around the world.

Notepads made by the teenager and a gun were recovered from his room

Judge Farrer said Dunleavy had offered practical advice on firearms to other FKD members, some of whom have gone on themselves to be convicted of terrorism offences in other countries.

The judge told the defendant he harboured an intention to commit an act of terrorism, but added it was unlikely the he would have followed through, describing his preparations as “inept”.

He added: “Your autism impacts on your maturity and understanding.”

Dunleavy had an “unhealthy interest in other attacks across the world”, police said

Prosecutors said FKD’s aim was to overthrow the liberal democratic system by bringing about a race war through individuals carrying out acts of mass murder.

After joining FKD’s online chat group, Dunleavy unwittingly began communicating with an undercover police officer, telling him: “I’m getting armed and getting in shape.”

The court was told Dunleavy had researched how to convert a blank-firing gun and asked an adult friend for advice on where to buy one.

Following his arrest at his home in September 2019, West Midlands Police said detectives seized his phone, finding over 90 documents on firearms, explosives and military tactics, right wing material and online chat conversations.

They also found several knives, air rifles, face coverings, camouflage face paint, shotgun cartridges and bullet casings.

Dunleavy had named Adolf Hitler as one of his heroes, West Midlands Police said

“This boy had an unhealthy interest in other attacks across the world and he knew exactly what online platforms to join to share his extreme views,” said Det Ch Supt Kenny Bell, head of West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit.

“He believed he had the skills to convert a blank firing weapon into a viable firearm and was willing to help others with his abilities.”

BBC News

The teenager, who cannot be named because of his age, told police he was “a nine to 10” on a scale with “full on Nazi Hitler” as a 10

A 17-year-old youth has been found guilty of preparing for acts of neo-Nazi terrorism after researching how to convert a blank-firing gun into a live weapon.

The teenager, who cannot be named because of his age, told police he was “a nine to 10” on a scale with “full on Nazi Hitler” as a 10.

Jurors at Birmingham Crown Court deliberated for more than 15 hours over four days before unanimously convicting the boy of preparing for terrorist acts between April and September last year.

The defendant closed his eyes as the verdict was delivered, then sat down with his head propped on his hand as members of his family wept in the nearby public gallery.

The youth, from Rugby, Warwickshire, told the court he had not intended any act of terrorism, and “had existed in an echo chamber” of far-right chat rooms.

At the start of a month-long re-trial, prosecutor Matthew Brook said the evidence showed the teenager wanted to create a firearm capable of “smashing heads” after joining the so-called Feuerkrieg Division (FKD).

The youth, who was convicted on Friday, saw his original trial halted in March due to the national Covid-19 lockdown.

In his opening speech to jurors, Mr Brook said the boy had praised the terrorist who carried out a mass shooting last year in Christchurch, New Zealand, killing 51 people at two mosques.

Mr Brook told the jury panel: “In this case, the evidence will prove that the defendant became radicalised so he fully believed in extreme right-wing ideology.

“He came to believe an ideology which thinks a race war is coming, an ideology which believes its followers should bring about a race war, should accelerate its start, so that the white race can become supreme.

“He came to believe in an ideology which praises terrorists who carry out mass shootings, like the Christchurch shootings in New Zealand, and called the perpetrators of such terrorist massacres ‘saints’.”

The court was told that the boy, who had admitted possessing documents likely to be useful to a terrorist, researched how to convert a blank-firing gun and had offered advice to members of neo-Nazi chat groups.

Jurors also heard the youth was admitted to an online neo-Nazi grouping after completing a “test” survey in which he expressed a hatred for Jews.

In one series of chatroom messages, the defendant said he was an administrator for a group named League of Nationalists, which was “probably” not going anywhere, but added: “Whatever happens I’m going to have a local unit.

“I’m working on the propaganda and the weapons. I need men.”

Following the youth’s arrest last September, it emerged he had asked an adult friend for advice on where he could buy a blank-firing gun.

In interviews conducted around a fortnight after his home was raided, he was asked to explain gun-making instructions found on his phone, and knives and a home-made gun stock seized from his bedroom.

A rubber “practice” knife, a face-mask featuring an image of a skull, and a piece of aluminium pipe were also recovered, along with sketches of gun designs.

Mr Brook said of the boy’s exchanges with other members of neo-Nazi forums: “They had discussed their extreme dislike for some racial groups and he had also talked to them about making firearms and specifically about using blank-firing guns as a basis to build functional weapons.

“He said to the police that he had held right-wing views for a number of years, but he had recently been talking to more extreme people.

“He claimed that, although he had been discussing with these people about converting guns, it had in fact all been a fantasy and he had not done anything in the real world.

“When asked to put himself on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being, in the police’s words, ‘full-on Nazi Hitler’ – when asked to put himself on that scale – he said he was a nine to 10.”

Judge Paul Farrer QC remanded the defendant in custody until a sentencing hearing on November 6.

He told the boy’s barrister: “There’ll have to be a sentencing exercise to embrace not only this count but also the other nine charges he pleaded guilty to in relation to the nine expedient documents – the terrorism documents, as within the Terrorism Act.

“He’s still only 17 years old, he was 16 at the relevant time.

“While the nature of the sentence may be inevitable, the court is going to benefit from having some input from the youth offending team.”

Birmingham Mail