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Monday, October 25, 2021

Man accused of planning mosque attack had Hitler ‘infatuation’, says mother

A man accused of plotting to attack a mosque was described by his own mother as having an “infatuation” with Adolf Hitler, and boasted about writing to the convicted Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik, a court has heard.

Sam Imrie’s mother, Joyce Imrie, described her son as a “loner” and a “recluse”, giving evidence at the High Court in Edinburgh on Monday.

Imrie, 24, has been charged with posting statements on messaging app Telegram suggesting he was going to carry out an attack on the Fife Islamic Centre in Glenrothes, Fife. 

He has also been accused of planning to stream live footage of “an incident”.

Ms Imrie told police that she believed he had shaved his head “because of his infatuation with Hitler”, the court heard.

The jury was shown photos of swastikas drawn in a closet in Imrie’s bedroom, along with the number 1488, which is linked to white supremacism.

In her evidence, Ms Imrie said her son had been doing “some research” about the Nazi leader but denied that an “infatuation” inherently meant something positive. “An interest could be unhealthy as well,” she said.

She said she could not remember seeing the swastikas or the number 1488 in her son’s bedroom, and initially claimed in her live evidence that her son had shaved his head to imitate a star of the TV show Jackass.

‘Done something stupid’

Ms Imrie said her son had told her he had “done something stupid” by pretending to set fire to a mosque, while passing her on the stairs in the family home.

Asked about his demeanour at the time, she said: “Despair is the best word I could use. I think he was probably horrified by himself.”

Detective Constable Jonathan Leach, who works in counter-terrorism, told the court that Imrie had been a member of a pro-fascist group on Telegram.

On the app, which is similar to WhatsApp, the accused expressed support for Brenton Tarrant, who murdered 51 people in an attack on a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, as well as Breivik, who killed 77 people in a 2011 terror attack in Norway.

‘The savour of Europe’

On July 3, 2019, he described Breivik as “the savour of Europe” and said he hoped to one day meet him. “I wrote him a letter recently, just like Saint Tarrant did,” he added.

Among other charges, Imrie has been accused of being in possession of neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim material and extreme pornography, including indecent images of children and an image involving a human corpse.

He denies all of the nine charges against him, three of which come under the Terrorism Act.

The trial, before Lord Mulholland, continues.

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