Oliver Bel: Maths graduate jailed for owning bomb-making book

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image captionOliver Bel posted racist and anti-Semitic comments online

A University of Cambridge maths graduate with an "extreme right-wing mindset" has been jailed for possessing a bomb-making instructional manual.

Oliver Bel was arrested after making racist and anti-Semitic comments online and posting on Facebook that he wanted to "go on a killing spree".

Police then searched his home and found a copy of the Anarchist Cookbook.

The 24-year-old, of Wilmslow, Cheshire, was jailed for two years at Manchester Crown Court.

Bel declined to give evidence in his trial and was convicted in April of collecting information useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.

The court was told he ordered the book after he had been in contact with a member of banned far-right group National Action, who he had asked for advice on how to network with other far-right individuals and how to take action.

'Arrogant young man'

He was reported to authorities in January 2019 while studying at Cambridge, after making anti-Semitic comments and posting about Nazi leader Adolf Hitler in a Facebook group.

He subsequently met with a counter-terrorism officer from the government's Prevent programme, but was subsequently reported again in July 2019 after posting on the social media site that he wanted "go on a spree".

Analysis of his phone found other racist and anti-Semitic comments and a statement about how he wanted "to go on a killing spree".

Police searched his then home in Salford four months later, shortly after anti-fascist group Hope Not Hate published an article which revealed Bel's beliefs, and found the manual.

At trial, his claim that he had the book for legitimate intellectual interest was rejected by the jury.

Sentencing him, Judge Alan Conrad QC told him the evidence heard had "showed your extreme right-wing mindset".

He said Bel's "pronouncements were abhorrent to all right-thinking people, as were the vile images that you kept on your mobile telephone".

He told Bel that he believed his diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome was "something upon which you play when it suits you" and said he was an "arrogant young man" who was "blessed with high intelligence [but] whose heart is filled with so much hatred".

Speaking after sentencing, Hope Not Hate's Matthew Collins said Bel threatened his organisation "with legal action and with violence" after they exposed him.

"His sentencing today is welcome, but should also be a reminder of the continued growth in the threat of far-right terror," he added.

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