2 Britons convicted of plot to shoot cops and soldiers

An undated photo released by London police showing Hassane (right) and Majeed while they were under surveillance.
An undated photo released by London police showing Hassane (right) and Majeed while they were under surveillance.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESS

One of them is ISIS supporter who directed plot while studying medicine in Sudan

LONDON • Two British men, one of whom had pledged allegiance to terror group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), have been convicted of a terrorism plot inspired by the militant group to kill police officers, soldiers or even members of the public in drive-by shootings.

The plan, which a senior counter-terrorism officer said bore similarities to last November's Paris attacks which killed 130 people, was to shoot soldiers at an army base in west London or police officers at a nearby station using a pistol fitted with a silencer fired from a moped.

"It does draw parallels in a way to Paris. The attackers in this case were intent on murder, they were intent on using a firearm and they were intent on causing fear, stress and disorder," Mr Dean Haydon, head of London's Counter Terrorism Command, told reporters.

Suhaib Majeed, 21, was found guilty on Wednesday at London's Old Bailey court of conspiring to murder and preparing for acts of terrorism, while Tarik Hassane, 22, admitted the same charges halfway through the trial.

Two others admitted firearms offences but were cleared of involvement in the plot.

Hassane, a medical student nicknamed "The Surgeon", directed the plot from Khartoum, Sudan, where he was studying, contacting his schoolfriend, Majeed, whom police said had set up a sophisticated system of encrypted communications.

The area where the men came from in west London was also home to a number of other militants, including Mohammed Emwazi, the Briton known as "Jihadi John", who fronted ISIS beheading videos and was killed in a drone attack in November.

When police arrested the men in September 2014, they seized 22 terabytes of data, which detectives said equated to 120km of paper, forcing counter-terrorism police to mount their biggest ever case around digital media.

It contained a vast amount of extremist material, some relating to beheadings, support for ISIS and "hostile reconnaissance" of west London's Shepherd's Bush police station and the territorial army barracks close by, Mr Haydon said.

It also showed Hassane had pledged allegiance to ISIS in July 2014, shortly after the Al-Qaeda offshoot declared an Islamic caliphate.

Mr Haydon said there was every possibility Hassane, who the court heard sent pictures of himself posing with a gun and a book on Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, had spent time in Syria and they suspected he was communicating with people there. "I don't think I can say it was directed from Syria. I think what I can say is that it was probably inspired by (ISIS)," he said.

The area where the men came from in west London was also home to a number of other militants, including Mohammed Emwazi, the Briton known as "Jihadi John", who fronted ISIS beheading videos and was killed in a drone attack in November.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 25, 2016, with the headline '2 Britons convicted of plot to shoot cops and soldiers'. Print Edition | Subscribe