A former British soldier has been found guilty of preparing to commit a terrorist attack.

William Howitt, of West Bridgford, Nottingham, wrote a comprehensive and detailed plan to commit an arson attack at an independent bookstore in Nottingham city centre.

The 27-year-old’s phone was seized when he was stopped by Counter-Terrorism officers at East Midlands Airport on 5 January 2023.

The tarpaulin and it's packaging. It is grey in colour, placed next to the white packaging.On it, officers from Counter Terrorism Policing East Midlands (CTPEM) found ‘Plan A’, a plan that detailed an attack on the bookshop in Nottingham.

Also on the device were a number of anti-Semitic, anti-Marxist and pro-Nazi messages, pictures and videos, which Howitt has started sending to friends from 2020.

‘Plan A’ was written on a note on his iPhone, and was created during the evening of 7 September 2020.

Howitt claimed he was drunk and under the influence of drugs when this was written, and that the messages he sent were to create a persona and for bravado, and not a true representation of his views.

It took a jury just two-and-a-half hours to find him guilty, following a three-week trial at Birmingham Crown Court. Howitt was originally arrested on Tuesday 14 March 2023, and charged with preparing an act of terrorism (under Section 5 of the Terrorism Act 2006).

The bookstore was identified as a target by Howitt, as a reflection of his strongly opposing views – namely left-of-centre political and social issues, such as the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement.

The glass hammer purchased by Howitt, it is orange in colour and wrapped in bubblewrap.The plan remained on his phone.

Using his former military knowledge and training, it set out steps Howitt would take in order to set fire to the location, and then escape, avoiding detection.

In the hours around the writing of the plan, Howitt went online and purchased the tools outlined he would need.

A glass hammer and tarpaulin sheet were found at his address when officers from CTPEM searched the property.

From Counter Terrorism Policing East Midlands, Detective Inspector Chris Brett said:

“Howitt is a dangerous individual, who had written a comprehensive attack plan. This attack would have been terrorist in nature, as it would have served to intimidate those who hold different views to William Howitt. In doing so, he would have been seeking to advance an opposing ideology or political cause.

In text conversations with his friends and acquaintances, Howitt viewed media and expressed and endorsed views commonly associated with the extreme right wing, in particular pro-Nazi, anti-Semitic, and anti-communist sentiments. Howitt believed that his beliefs were not only acceptable, but even cool, and something that if he acted on, would make him seem like even more of the ‘tough guy’ who so desperately wanted to be regarded as.

This is never the case. His plan showed a clear intention to make a targeted attack on a business, and thus people, he deemed held differing views to himself. Lives could have been lost for the sake of intolerance. In Counter Terrorism Policing we work hard to root out those who hold such damaging ideologies and pose risk of committing potentially deadly actions and will bring them before the courts.”

Head of CTPEM, Superintendent Steve Riley, said:

“This was a long and complex operation, with officers and staff working long hours and at times under pressure to secure this conviction. This was a real collective effort from the entire East Midlands Region, all working with the same goal: To keep the people of Nottingham safe. At CTPEM we are committed to doing just that across the region.

If you think someone you know is developing radical views, please report it to us. Arrest isn’t always the first option, we can engage with individuals to prevent these extreme views from developing. You won’t be wasting your time, but what you tell us may prevent an attack from ever happening.”

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George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 months ago

Pretty naive.

MrSatyre
MrSatyre
3 months ago

Ah, the old “views commonly associated with the extreme right wing, in particular pro-Nazi, anti-Semitic, and anti-communist sentiments” trope.

In the US, at least, Democrats, aka the Left, founded the KKK, created the Lynch Laws, were against abolition long before that, and are ardent socialists (the Nazi Party was socialist, hence the name). The Democratic Party’s hero is FDR, who was both anti-Semetic and developer of racist US internment camps.

George
George
3 months ago
Reply to  MrSatyre

Well said.

English Brigadier
English Brigadier
3 months ago
Reply to  MrSatyre

The Democrats that founded the KKK and were in support of the Confederacy were a different party than the one today. Indeed the US has been through several party systems since then. The Democrats of the KKK era were right wing and the Republicans of Lincoln’s time were very different than the party today. It would help you immensely if you knew what you were talking about instead of posting nonsense that is well-known to be false.

Tim
Tim
3 months ago

The dems held them views long after the civil war up to the 1930s at least

Something Different
Something Different
3 months ago
Reply to  MrSatyre

The views are associated with the 1930s German regime and would by commonly attributed to the far right now. Your point does not detract from the extremism and threat posed by this individual or sadly that such views seem to be surfacing more and more.

AlexS
AlexS
3 months ago

The views are associated with the 1930s German regime and would by commonly attributed to the far right now. Really!? who wanted to do eugenics in 1930’s and wants to do now? The progressive movement. The Left.today, in USA the Democratic Party, the mayor of Boston says things like this “I’m getting used to dealing with problems that are expensive, disruptive and white” after sending a mail for a party for elects of color that erroneously were sent also to white ones… And lets not talk about what many of them say about Jews. It is the Left that says… Read more »

Clay'
Clay'
3 months ago

Ohhh so being “anti-Semitic” is a problem again this week. I know he was arrested some time back but based on tens of thousands of people weeks on end calling for the extermination of the Jews whilst defiling British war memorials and generally doing as they pleased including threats of harm, actual physical attacks and widespread intimidation of anyone they perceived to not be taking the knee to their cause, demands and beliefs meant doing so was not only not illegal but defacto sanctioned by MetPol and HM Gov via it’s policy of “We’ll turn thw other check, apart from… Read more »

Clay'
Clay'
3 months ago

For clarity on my initial post sat in moderation currently and lest someone misses the points being made and accuses me of something wrong – OBVIOUSLY the guy was a Muppet and had some stuff going on upstairs I’d wager.

Tom
Tom
3 months ago

I am just putting it out there, so keep your wigs on ok. So a (presumably) white dude wrote/made notes on how to set fire to a bookshop, and is arrested, tried, and found guilty of preparing to commit a terrorist attack.
Non white dudes, are regularly seen on the streets of certain UK cities, chanting death threats, and demanding Britain becomes a Muslim state.

I do not recall hearing about them being arrested, and tried for their activities?

Am I missing something here?

AlexS
AlexS
3 months ago
Reply to  Tom

I did not saw a BBC journalist and BBC chiefs being arrested after the journalist defending violent attacks to combat “global warming” in a TV programme.

AlexS
AlexS
3 months ago

Since Marxism is anti-semitic – just go read what Karl Marx himself said what will happen to Jews that don’t abandon their culture and religion –
That Nazis were Socialists , actually some of most murderous regimes in history like Nazism and USSR had Socialism in their names we have here the Counter Terrorism Policing East Midlands, Detective Inspector Chris Brett engaging in making politics. Promotion awaits those that say the right things…
That said good on have catch the guy.

JognG
JognG
3 months ago

Not really “terrorism” is it. If they keep using this word for things like this it will loose even more meaning than it already has. More a case of planned arson if you ask me… But I imagine they pushed for “terrorism” as easier to prosecute for etc