Burnley 'internet geek' sold Al-Qaeda training manual

Niall Florence

Niall Florence

First published in News
Last updated

AN internet geek from Burnley who was caught with an Al-Qaeda manual and the Anarchist’s Cookbook has been told he should spend less time online.

But Mr Justice Fulford, sitting at the Old Bailey, ruled that Niall Florence, 21, was not a terrorist but a ‘young and naive computer addict’.

Florence was auctioning off copies of the Anarchist’s Cookbook, the infamous 1971 guide to bomb-making, lock-picking and credit card fraud, on the e-Bay website.

And he sold 25 copies, at £1 each, before police swooped on his parents’ home in St Cuthbert’s Street in December 2011.

The heavy metal fan, who used the online nickname ‘Metal Nail’ told investigators he thought he could make extra cash by selling off digital copies of the manual.

Police also found an Al Qaeda jihadist training manual, during the raid, and instructions on how to make the poison ricin.

And the recovered publications like ‘Expedient Homemade Firearms’, ‘Black Medicine: The Dark Art of Death’ and ‘21 Techniques of Silent Killing’.

Florence admitted five charges of collecting a record of information for terrorist purposes and one count of disseminating terrorist publications.

He was given an 18-month prison sentence, suspended for a year, during which time he will be supervised by the probation service.

Prosecutors said they also found a copy of Hitler’s Mein Kampf and literature praising the far-right group Combat 18 when they searched the bedroom where he spent most of his time.

Passing sentence, Mr Justice Fulford said: 'This defendant is a young and naive computer addict. I accept he has no terrorist connections or interests.

“He has not been radicalised or indoctrinated or groomed by others - he simply hoped to make some money.”

Addressing Florence, he added: 'Computers are undoubtedly wonderful, useful machines but you should perhaps consider spending a little more time away from the flickering screen.

“As you know only too well, there is life to be lived beyond online gaming and social networking sites.”

Florence, who had worked previously as a telecoms engineer, told police he had seen others making money by selling special interest publications on e-Bay and wanted to do the same.

The court heard that he also sold more innocent manuals on bee-keeping.

Mr Justice Fulford added: “One of the most serious aspects of the case is that these documents enable the resourceful reader to manufacture viable improvised explosives capable of causing extensive damage to property and serious injury to those nearby.'

But the high court judge added: “I consider this defendant poses no threat to the public in the future, certainly in this context.”

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