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Teenage neo-Nazi who wanted to kill Asian friend found guilty in England of terror plot

Matthew Cronjager wanted to use a gun to kill his target over boasts he slept with white women, a court heard.

Matthew Cronjager
Matthew Cronjager
Image: Counter-Terrorism Police Network/PA

A TEENAGE NEO-Nazi who wanted to shoot an Asian friend over boasts he slept with “white chicks” has been found guilty of plotting terrorist acts.

Matthew Cronjager, 18, tried to get hold of a 3D printed gun or a sawn-off shotgun to kill his teenage target who he likened to a “cockroach”, the Old Bailey was told.

He set up an online library to share right-wing propaganda and explosives-making manuals with like-minded people he had met on the web.

He also set himself up as the “boss” of a right-wing terror cell, the court was told.

But Cronjager, of Ingatestone in Essex, was sharing his plans with an undercover police officer who had infiltrated a Telegram group called The British Hand.

Cronjager, who is on the autistic spectrum, denied he ever meant to do anything and “renounced” his extremist views, saying they were borne out of loneliness and misery.

His lawyer Tim Forte told jurors that Cronjager fell down the “rabbit hole” of the internet in his bedroom and found a “buffet of loathing” based on misinformation and hatred.

While Cronjager accepted sending “vile” messages, in reality he was nothing more than a “keyboard warrior”, it was claimed on his behalf.

Cronjager created for himself a “superhero fantasy” like a Call Of Duty avatar, but it was all “make believe”, Forte asserted.

A jury deliberated for three and a half hours to find him guilty of preparing for acts of terrorism and disseminating terrorist publications on Telegram.

The jury had been told Cronjager admitted four charges of possessing terror documents on the first day of his trial.

The defendant who made no reaction as the verdicts were delivered was remanded into custody to be sentenced on 18 October.

The court had previously heard how the defendant wanted a “revolution” based on his fascist beliefs, including hatred of non-white people, Jews, Muslims and those with a different sexual orientation to his.

He had offered to lead the UK division of an extreme right-wing group calling itself Exiled 393, telling members that his time as an army cadet had given him the necessary skills.

In November last year, Cronjager suggested setting up a collective PayPal account to buy weapons and other items for the group.

In one message, he wrote: “I was thinking more of having it to buy things like big tents or a 3D printer maybe for creating bits of ‘art’”, said to be code for guns.

The court was told that he said he wanted to arm the group but give them a few months before launching an attack to “get over the stress of being illegal and being unable to go back from that point”.

In further messages to the undercover officer on 13 December, he and Cronjager discussed arranging a drop-off location for 3D printed guns, the court heard, and of the supplier needing more money to pay for materials.

On the same day, Cronjager formulated his plot to kill his former friend after he boasted to him of sleeping with three white women.

The defendant told the undercover officer: “I’ve found someone I want to execute.”

“I know it’s an overall target and he’s a sand n***** that f***** a white girl,” he said.

“In fact I think three of them. I figure we could just ‘find’ a double barrel shotgun and saw it down for things like this.”

Cronjager then added: “They’re like cockroaches”, the court heard.

When asked if his former friend had raped the girls, he allegedly replied: “Nope, but it’s a violation of nature.

“We’re not supposed to mix race … it’s not rape by legal definition but it’s kind of like rape if that makes sense.

“Violation at least.”

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On his arrest at his Essex home on 29 December last year, police seized a large amount of material demonstrating his commitment to an “extreme right-wing cause”, jurors heard.

He attempted to explain his behaviour by claiming to police he was a member of anti-fascist organisation Antifa, that had infiltrated various right-wing groups to disrupt and undermine them.

But giving evidence, he accepted he had held extreme far-right views, saying he now felt “ashamed and disgusted” by them.

The defendant, whose hobbies included computer gaming, karate, football and cricket, described his teenage years as lonely, isolated, quite depressed and anxious, with his negative feelings starting around the age of 16.

His lawyer told jurors that Cronjager was “curious” about guns and weapons and his “fixation” became the “obsession of a loner”.

Forte said: “He was the outsider, he was the other. He retreated in his own mind and that took him down the rabbit hole that is the internet.

“Children like him 30/40 years ago unhappy, alone, unwelcome, did not have the internet to lure them and ensnare them with misinformation and hatred but today it is all there laid out on a platter like a buffet of loathing.”

He turned to hate in a “spiral of despair” but not “horrendous acts”, the lawyer said.

But prosecutor Alistair Richardson told jurors: “What you have here, in the defendant’s interview and you may have felt during his evidence, was pretty close to a full admission of the offences, faced with the overwhelming evidence of his own messaging, his own words.”

The jury was told that the defendant was on the autism disorder spectrum, with a mild level of severity, and had a high IQ.

Detective Chief Superintendent Martin Snowden, who is head of Counter-Terrorism Policing North East, said: “Online extremism continues to be a real threat to our communities, as young people can potentially gain access to harmful and toxic material designed to stoke hatred.

“Thanks to the work of specialist officers and staff, Cronjager did not get the opportunity to put his plans into action.

“The earlier we know about dangerous and radical behaviour like his, the earlier we can act to disrupt and intervene.”

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