Academic who posted racist hate found guilty of terror offence

Oliver Bel Credit: MEN Media

A man from Salford who posted racist hate online has been locked up after being found guilty of a terrorism offence.

Oliver Bel, 24, bought the notorious 'bomb-making manual' The Anarchist Cookbook over the internet and claimed he had it for an 'academic interest'.

But a jury rejected that claim and unanimously found him guilty of possessing a document containing information useful to terrorism.

Bel, who has Asperger's Syndrome, came to the attention of the Counter Terrorism Unit when he was studying in Cambridge after his tutor reported anti-Semitic remarks he posted online.

After being convicted, a judge remanded Bel in custody and told him a prison sentence was likely.

Manchester Crown Court Credit: Press Association

The trial heard that in one online post, Bel said: "I just want to go on a killing spree."

In another post, which emerged following a leak from a right-wing forum, he said: "Extermination is the best option for [Jews]."

Police raided Bel's then-home on Eccles Old Road, Salford, and found books about Adolf Hitler.

After finding those books, Bel told police: "I’ve got more extreme material than that, I’ve got The Anarchist Cookbook on my shelf."

The book includes 150 pages of an instruction manual on how to kill people, and information about explosives which would have an 'obvious benefit' to anyone wanting to make a bomb, the court heard.

Oliver Bel leaving court. Credit: MEN Media

During the raid, officers seized Bel's phone which revealed he had been communication with Alex Davies, co-founder of the banned neo-Nazi group National Action.

Bel asked him for advice on networking and ‘how to take action’.

Bel did not give evidence at his Manchester Crown Court trial.

He previously told an officer from the Prevent strategy that he had bought The Anarchist Cookbook out of 'mere curiosity and intrigue'.

Abigail Bright, mitigating, claimed the prosecution had ‘mischaracterised’ Bel, and instead described him as a ‘deeply academic person’ and a ‘complicated conspiracy theorist’.

After more than two hours of deliberations, the jury returned a guilty verdict.

Sentencing was adjourned until May 21.

Bel was remanded in custody, having previously been granted bail during the trial.