Islamic State supporter from Bury planned lone wolf terrorist attacks
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- Hisham Muhammad Hisham Muhammad is an Islamic State supporter who attempted to remodel...[+]
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An alleged supporter of so-called Islamic State researched modifying a drone to be used in a terrorist attack, possibly targeting the British Army or police, a court has heard.
Officers found a number of weapons, including a tomahawk and a machete, inside a three-bedroom house rented by Hisham Muhammad, the Old Bailey heard.
Prosecutors allege that the 26-year-old was planning a “lone-wolf attack” using knives and other weapons, with the armed forces or police as possible targets, and had been researching and developing a drone to drop a “harmful device”.
Anne Whyte QC, prosecuting, told the Old Bailey that the defendant held “strong extremist views” and had researched and downloaded extremist content online that “glorifies violence and martyrdom”.
Muhammad, of Victoria Avenue, Whitefield, denies engaging in conduct in preparation for acts of terrorism.
His cousin Faisal Abu Ahmad, 25, of the same address, denies failing to alert authorities of the alleged attack plan.
The Old Bailey heard the two defendants, who lived together in the property, received a visit from their landlord in 2018 as they had fallen behind with their rent.
Attending the property on June 1, the court heard that the landlord felt “uneasy” after spotting items including knives, a tub with wires and a soldering iron.
Jurors were told that officers found a number of weapons in a search of the house, including a tomahawk, a machete and two grip claws, as well as wooden lollipop sticks attached together with a battery and electrical component.
These items allegedly corresponded to sketches in a notebook seized during the search, which had details for modifying a drone in order to drop a device from it, the court heard.
“Whilst this research and development was by no means complete, it was not unsophisticated,” Ms Whyte told the jury.
Giving evidence on Tuesday, landlord Onkar Singh told the court he had felt “uncomfortable” upon entering the property on his own, and returned with his brother-in-law and friend on June 4.
He took photos of some of the items inside, which he showed to police when reporting his concerns that day.
Two painted eggs containing a mixture of crushed chilli seeds and shards of glass were also found in the search, which prosecutors claim could be used as a “blinding disorientation device”.
Officers also recovered cardboard boxes with stab marks and two items of clothing, a jacket and polo shirt, which were damaged with “slash-type cuts”.
Ms Whyte said this was “relevant” to the case, telling the court: “(Muhammad) had been practising stabbing and slashing movements on whatever he could get his hands on, as a dress rehearsal for the real thing.
“This, we say, is entirely consistent with his intention to use knives to harm or kill.”
A video called My Revenge was viewed a number of times on Muhammad’s tablet in the week leading up to May 30 that year, the court was told.
Ms Whyte said the video was published by an IS media wing and is a “type of recruitment and propaganda tool” which encourages “lone wolf attacks”.
Jurors also heard that analysis of the internet search history found that by mid-March, Muhammad had allegedly researched British armed police and military bases in Manchester online.
The court heard that on May 23, Muhammad attended an army recruitment event at Kay Gardens, in Bury, where he approached the stall and expressed an interest in signing up.
After attending the event, prosecutors said that Muhammad walked to the nearby Castle Armoury Barracks, where he was allowed entry and again showed interest in joining.
It is claimed that, later that day, he searched online for “points of the human body for assault purposes”, as well as search terms about types of police, which Ms Whyte claimed were “all acts of preparation”.
During his police interview, Muhammad denied being involved in any plan to commit any terrorist act, telling officers he “liked to invent and innovate”.
The court heard he had accepted conducting searches about UK armed police and military bases, while also suggesting he did not believe that the Manchester Arena bombing or the Westminster Bridge attack had occurred.
He also questioned whether the video of the killing of the soldier Lee Rigby was real, according to the prosecution.
In his interview with police, Abu Ahmad told officers that he and Muhammad were not close and did not often engage in conversations.
He denied knowing of any intention on the part of his cousin to commit a terrorist act, or having discussed this with Muhammad, describing him to officers as a “quiet person”.
The court also heard that both Muhammad and Abu Ahmad had admitted to setting up a bogus escort agency online, in which customers were asked for an upfront payment as a “gesture of goodwill”.
Ms Whyte alleged that money paid into fraudulently opened accounts was used to purchase items “relevant” to the case, including “axes, face masks and knife-sharpening stones”.
The trial continues.
Source: Bury Times