LONDON • A British man has been found guilty of a plot to kill Prime Minister Theresa May by first detonating an explosive device to get into her Downing Street office and then using a knife or a gun to attack her.
Naa'imur Rahman, 20, of north London, was convicted at the Old Bailey court on Wednesday of preparing to commit acts of terrorism.
Rahman had planned to detonate an improvised explosive device at the gates of Downing Street and gain access to Mrs May's office in the ensuing chaos and kill her, according to police.
"Before his arrest prevented it, he was, he believed, just days away from his objective, which was no less than a suicide attack, by blade and explosion, on Downing Street and, if he could, upon the Prime Minister Theresa May herself," said prosecutor Mark Heywood.
No. 10 Downing Street is the official residence and office of British prime ministers. It is heavily guarded, with a gate at the end of the street where members of the public and tourists gather to get a glimpse of the house.
"We are talking about an individual that would have killed, injured and maimed a number of people including police officers and members of the public," said Mr Dean Haydon, head of the Metropolitan Police's Counter Terrorism Command.
Britain suffered four deadly attacks last year and the head of the domestic spy agency MI5 said in May that a further 12 Islamist plots had been foiled since the first of these in March last year.
The Downing Street plot was foiled when Rahman believed he was corresponding online with members of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group while planning the alleged attack, but was in fact talking to members of undercover officers from the United States' Federal Bureau of Investigation and Britain's MI5.
In a chat with a security service agent on the Telegram messaging app, Rahman said: "I want to do a suicide bomb on Parliament. I want to attempt to kill Theresa May."
Rahman was arrested last November shortly after meeting the officers posing as ISIS members and collecting two dummy explosive devices.
Mr Haydon said Rahman had been in contact with an uncle who had travelled to Syria and joined ISIS. He said Rahman had been encouraged by his uncle to carry out attacks in Britain.
Mr Haydon added that Rahman had been planning to carry out the attack for two years but his resolve was hardened when he heard that his uncle was killed in a drone attack last summer.
Rahman was described by police as a drifter, who lived on friends' sofas, and attempts to involve him in the government's counter-extremism programme had failed.