Mr Bel was originally reported to Cambridge’s Counter-Terrorism unit by his tutor, following social media posts from 2017LinkedIn

Content note: This article contains detailed discussion of terrorism and anti-semitism, and mentions of homophobia and violent intentions.

Cambridge graduate Oliver Bel appeared at Manchester Crown Court yesterday (13/04), accused of having possessed a bomb-making manual.

Mr Bel, who graduated from Cambridge with a degree in Mathematics in the summer of 2019, initially appeared at the Old Bailey Court on 24 April last year on two charges.

The first pertained to allegations that Mr Bel claimed in September 2017 that extermination was the “best option” for Jewish people on a neo-Nazi forum, in contravention of the Communications Act 2003. Meanwhile the second alleged that Mr Bel was found in possession of a bomb-making manual, the Anarchist Cookbook, in Salford on 15th November 2019.

Mr Bel was granted conditional bail on 24 April 2020 after confirming his name and nationality at the Old Bailey. He then pleaded ‘not guilty’ at a plea hearing at Manchester Crown Court on 1 July 2020, which indicted him on only one count of Collecting Information contrary to Section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000.

This section of the Terrorism Act concerns the possession of information and documents which “may be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.”

The trial which began this Monday (12/04) is in relation to the alleged possession by Mr Bel of the Anarchist Cookbook. Prosecutor John Allman proceeded to outline the contents of the book, highlighting that it contained information on how to make two “highly explosive” substances and that the “book contains information which was likely to be useful to someone committing or preparing to commit an act of terrorism.”

Mr Allman told jurors that “Mr Bel harboured, at that time and possibly still does harbour, extreme right-wing views,” and alleged that Bel had declared himself to be a National Socialist.

Bel’s behaviour was brought to the attention of Cambridge’s Counter Terrorism unit after his University tutor reported anti-semitic comments which Bel had posted online.

In one post, dated September 2017, the court heard, Bel referred to “Jews [as] parasites.” In a separate post, it is alleged that he expressed a desire to “go on a killing spree.”

Bel’s mobile phone was also found to have images of the Nazi swastika and conversations with others about racial superiority, the court heard.

Bel’s comments on homosexuality were also recounted in court yesterday. He was said to have referred to homosexuality as “perverse and unnatural,” and reported having “lost a homosexual friend because of my view on his behaviour.”

According to Cambridge News, Mr Bel’s defence lawyer Abigail Bright told the court: “Mr Bel does not deny possession of the book, he says he had a reasonable excuse for possession of the book, as part of academic interest in it.”

The trial is ongoing.