British Teen Arrested, Owned The Anarchist Cookbook

Posted on October 9, 2007

A young man in Britain was arrested for possessing a text file of the book, The Anarchist Cookbook. He is being charged under the Terrorism Act of 2000.

The 17-year-old, who was arrested in the Dewsbury area of West Yorkshire on Monday, was given bail after a hearing at Westminster Magistrates' Court. It is alleged he had a copy of the "Anarchists' Cookbook", containing instructions on how to make home-made explosives. His next court hearing has been set for 25 October.

The teenager faces two charges under the Terrorism Act 2000. The first charge relates to the possession of material for terrorist purposes in October last year. The second relates to the collection or possession of information useful in the preparation of an act of terrorism.

The 17 year-old was released on bail, pending another hearing. At first glance, this case looks pretty shocking -- how can someone be arrested for just owning a book? We know several thriller authors that read all kinds of horrible books as research. Subjects such as bomb-making, serial killings and the like are the norm for them and they have them lying all over their houses and offices. A desk reference for poisons is essential reading for any mystery author, for example.

But after some more research, it appears that the police found bomb-making materials in the teen's room, who had just returned from a visit to Pakistan.

[Prosecutor Piers] Arnold said: "During the search approximately 500g of potassium nitrate were found under the defendant's bed in the room he shares with his younger brother. "Potassium nitrate is a critical oxidising component of gunpowder. Also recovered was a file on a computer in the defendant's bedroom entitled the Anarchist's Cookbook.

"There are 17 references to potassium nitrate in the 'Improvised Explosives' section of the document which contains clear instructions on how to make explosives." The prosecutor alleged 250g of calcium chloride was also found which features in the chapter "How to Make a Plastic Explosive". Videos including the devil's face made in smoke following the 9/11 attacks, beheadings and references to jihad were also allegedly found at the address.

It appears that the teen (who can't be named because he is underage) really was planning some act of terrorism. He wasn't just reading about it, he was actually building an explosive and had dangerous chemicals in the same room where his little brother slept. Nice.