Teenage girl planned grenade and gun attack on British Museum
A teenager plotted with her mother and sister to launch ISIS-inspired terror attacks at the British Museum or in Westminster after she was prevented from becoming a jihadi bride in Syria, a court has heard.
In Britain’s first alleged all-female terror plot, 18-year-old Safaa Boular, from Vauxhall, south London, is accused planning an atrocity in the capital with her mother Mina Dich and older sister Rizlaine Boular, 21.
Her sister, of Clerkenwell, central London, has already admitted planning an attack in Westminster, allegedly involving knives, the Old Bailey was told.
Investigators bugged her mother’s home and taped conversations revealed Boular’s plans, the court heard.
The recorded conversations included some from the day of the Westminster Bridge attack on March 22 last year, when five people were killed using a car and knife.
Boular told her mother: ‘And UK were boasting about this will never happen to them. I am sorry but they were boasting. They can’t boast about it we’re all in danger.’
She asked ‘can we go there’, adding, ‘I wanna go take some flowers down there’ before laughing, the court heard.
Boular had initially planned to travel to Syria and become a suicide bomber with her ISIS-fighter fiance Naweed Hussain, and depart the world holding hands, and taking others with them,’ the Old Bailey was told.
But when Hussain was killed in Syria, she switched her plans to Britain, the court heard.
It is claimed that she had previously made plans to join Hussain in Syria and booked a flight to Istanbul.
Her support for him ‘would extend to each of them donning a suicide belt,’ Duncan Atkinson QC told the court.
‘Together they would, as Hussain put it, ‘depart this world holding hands and taking others with them’ in an act of terrorism,’ he said.
Boular allegedly struck up a friendship with an ISIS female recruiter, Umm Isa Al-Amriki, based in Aleppo, and would retweet ISIS material posted by her, and they later spoke on Telegram, the court heard.
Al-Amriki, who was married to an ISIS fighter, was killed in a drone strike in May 2016.
Boular had developed a group of contacts within ISIS through her, and received videos of executions and propaganda, jurors were told.
During one chat, Hussain asked Boular how she would kill President Barack Obama ‘if u had da choice’, the court heard.
She told him ‘shake my hand with Mr President’ and sent two images of explosions.
During one chat, on 16 August 2016, they discussed marriage, having children and the £3,000 Hussain had sent to fund their travel, the court heard.
Hussain told her that ‘belts are a must’, adding: ‘Don’t eva b hesitant 2 pull da pin… Ur honour is worth more than any kaafirs life.’
When Safaa asked ‘Does the pin make me go’, he replied: ‘Yes straight away.’
In a later message, she said: ‘When ur teaching me how to use it in sha Allah Don’t actually pull the pin k.’
Hussain then told her ‘it is us vs’ followed by a photo of former US President Barack Obama.
‘This was not a conversation in which Mr Hussain was bullying Safaa or tricking her,’ said Mr Atkinson.
‘This was a conversation in which she was signing up to what he was suggesting.’
When Hussain was killed on April 4 last year, she allegedly arranged to receive weapons in order to conduct an attack in the UK, and received instructions on how to train and use weapons, the court heard.
Mr Atkinson, told the Old Bailey: ‘Based on her preparation and discussion, it appears she planned to launch an attack against members of the public, selected largely at random, in the environs of that cultural jewel and most popular of tourist attractions, the British Museum, in central London.
‘This would have been an attack that would, at the very least have caused widespread panic, but was intended to involve the infliction of serious injury and death.’
She also told a police officer posing as an ISIS fighter that all she needed was a ‘car and a knife to get what I want to achieve’, the court heard.
After Safaa, 18, was remanded in custody she encouraged her older sister to carry out an attack instead, referring it to as a ‘party’, it was said.
Prosecutor Mr Atkinson said Boular had intended to carry out an attack using a ‘Tokarev’, a type of Russian pistol, or a grenade, referred to as ‘pineapples’.
Mr Atkinson told the Old Bailey: ‘This was therefore a plan to unleash violence and terror in the heart of London, and more particularly at a location busy with members of the public and tourists.’
Boular allegedly told an undercover officer Hussain she ‘mentioned something about a British Museum and the tokarev and pineapple.’
Boular was remanded into Medway Secure Training Unit in Kent on April 12, but phone calls with her older sister and their mother showed the plan was to be handed over to Rizlaine.
Within a week they were discussing having a ‘party’, which the prosecution suggested was code for a terrorist attack.
Rizlaine Boular later told her they would be having a ‘party’ on April 27, the court heard.
References were made to ‘recipes’, to what people would wear, as well as to ‘mad hatters tea party’ and ‘Alice in Wonderland’, jurors were told.
The prosecutor said: ‘Rizlaine Boular admitted she was going to carry out an attack on that day.’
On April 25 Rizlaine and her mother went on a reconnaissance journey around the major landmarks in Westminster and the next day bought a pack of knives, including one with a six inch blade, and a rucksack, jurors heard.
In his opening speech, defence barrister Joel Bennathan QC said: ‘Safaa Boular was groomed. She was a child who was sexually groomed.
‘Someone who was groomed to be radicalised. That’s what happened to this young person.
‘She was at the age of 15 in ill health with badly controlled diabetes, from an unhappy, very difficult home background. An unloved 15-year-old when suddenly she found new friends.’
But the woman she had befriended was actually an ISIS recruiter, jurors heard.
She also found a man, Naweed Hussain, who appeared to ‘like her and love her’, the QC added.
But he was a married man in his 30s with ISIS in Syria. ‘He made it his business to recruit and radicalise women. A number of women over the internet, groomed, sexually groomed we say,’ Mr Bennathan said.
He added: ‘You might think she suddenly got what she never got before – which was approval, warmth, admiration and love.
‘Even with a very normal teenager talking on their phone, it’s probably a mix of some truth, some exaggeration, some make belief fantasies about what they think will impress people.
‘You really can’t take what she is saying literally as the prosecution would have you do.’
He said the evidence of her allegedly plotting a UK attack ‘doesn’t get close to showing she had that real genuine intention’.
He added: ‘Did her family stop this process happening? No, they encouraged it, they celebrated it.’
Safaa Boular denies two charges of preparing acts of terrorism between January 1 2016 and April 13 2017.
Her mother, Mina Dich, 44, and sister Rizlaine Boular, 22, previously pleaded guilty preparing acts of terrorism.
Source: Daily Mail