Published: 07/01/2022- 18:44
Updated: 07/01/2022- 18:49
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A man who was previously convicted of terror offences and nicknamed the “ginger jihadi” has been jailed for 16 months after brandishing a knife and threatening teenagers in Blaenau Gwent, South Wales.
Nathan Saunders, 28, shouted “Allahu akbar”, repeatedly made a so-called Islamic State salute, and told youths “we cut people’s heads off”, during the incident on September 15 last year.
Saunders was found guilty in May 2017 of five charges of downloading terror-related documents, which included manuals on how to carry out “lone-wolf” attacks and make improvised explosive devices (IEDs,) and was sentenced to 28 months in prison at the Old Bailey in London.
Having converted to Islam, he is believed to have radicalised himself online from his home in the Welsh Valleys.
On Friday, Cardiff Crown Court heard how Saunders had been attacked on Sycamore Avenue in Tredegar by a group of young men who had punched him twice and called him a “terrorist”.
After a neighbour intervened and allowed him to get away, he returned to the scene with a bread knife and, according to witnesses, began waving it and making slashing gestures towards the group.
Some of the young men armed themselves with house bricks and one began filming Saunders, who appeared to be concealing the weapon in his jacket pocket, while others yelled at him to “put the knife down”.
Judge Tracey Lloyd-Clarke said it was clear Saunders had been motivated by “some kind of revenge”.
When Saunders was arrested and taken for questioning he denied having a knife and said he was trying to reason with the youths.
Sentencing Saunders, Judge Lloyd-Clarke said: “Although you were initially the victim of hostility and even violence by others because of your beliefs, by the time you were armed in the street with a knife that incident was over, and you had been out of harm’s way, safely indoors in a relative’s house.
“You should, of course, have reported that incident to the police and let them deal with it. But you didn’t.
“You chose to arm yourself with a large knife and you went out into the street to confront your former assailants when members of the public and young children were present.
“Your offending in my view is seriously aggravated by your previous conviction. You seemed to be referring to that type of behaviour and interest when in possession of the knife.”
“On the recording I have seen you appear to be concealing something in your pocket. More than once you say ‘we chop heads off’ and you point your finger up to the sky and repeatedly said ‘Allahu akbar’.”
Saunders, who has been in custody since his arrest, was sentenced to 16 months in prison. He will serve half the term before being released on parole.
Stephen Donoghue, prosecuting, applied for a criminal behaviour order which would allow the police to monitor Saunders more closely upon his release.
The defendant is already the subject of a 10-year counter-terrorism notification order following his 2017 conviction, however Mr Donoghue argued it did not go far enough to address the concerns authorities have about any future offending.
Defence counsel Alex Greenwood said the order should be made more specific so as not to interfere with his client’s Article 8 rights to privacy and his right to freedom of expression in terms of his religion.
A hearing to determine if the order will be granted will be held on February 18.