LONDON (Reuters) - A 14-year-old British boy has been charged with encouraging a beheading and inciting a terrorism attack on an ANZAC Day parade in Australia, thousands of miles from his home, Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said on Thursday.
Police said the boy was arrested on April 2 in Blackburn, northern England, after counter-terrorism officers examined “a number of electronic devices” which revealed communication with a man in Australia.
This sparked an operation which culminated in hundreds of Australian police carrying out raids in Melbourne on Saturday and the arrest of five teenagers who Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said were planning an Islamic State-inspired attack on a World War One commemorative event this week.
Deborah Walsh, CPS deputy head of counter-terrorism, said the boy would face two charges of inciting terrorism overseas.
“The first allegation is that, between 15 and 26 March 2015, the defendant incited another person to commit an act of terrorism, namely to carry out an attack at an ANZAC parade in Australia with the aim of killing and/or causing serious injury to people,” she said in a statement.
“The second allegation is that on 18 March 2015, the defendant incited another person to behead someone in Australia.”
The boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is due to appear at London’s Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Friday.
More than 200 officers took part in the Australian raids, which police said followed a month-long sting operation and resulted in the arrest of five men aged 18 and 19.
Abbott said the authorities believed the group were involved in planning an attack at an event to mark the centenary of the landings at Gallipoli taking place on ANZAC Day, a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand.
Australia has sent hundreds of soldiers to Iraq to help train forces fighting Islamic State insurgents, heightening concerns about reprisal attacks, and believes at least 70 of its citizens are fighting with the militant group which has seized swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq.
Likewise, British security services estimate some 600 Britons have joined the conflict in the region, including Mohammed Emwazi, dubbed “Jihadi John” by media, who has appeared in several beheading videos.
Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Stephen Addison