British woman jailed for St Paul's terror plot

Saffiya Shaikh had plotted to blow up London's St Paul's Cathedral (above). PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP) - A British Muslim convert was jailed for at least 14 years on Friday (July 3) for plotting to blow up London's St Paul's Cathedral and then herself in a suicide attack on the London subway.

Safiyya Shaikh, 37, confessed to plotting the attacks when she was arrested after making contact with an explosives expert who was a police informant.

The heroin user, who converted to Islam in 2007, expressed no remorse as she was sentenced at London's Old Bailey, gesturing to reporters using the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) one-finger salute as she was led away.

Prosecutors also disclosed details of a call she made to a friend from prison in which she said: "I didn't get cold feet, yeah - I was ready to go through with it."

The court was told she intended to trigger a suicide vest at the nearby London underground station immediately after detonating the cathedral bombs.

Judge Nigel Sweeney sentenced Shaikh to life in prison with a minimum term of 14 years.

He said her defence team's claim that she had changed her mind about going through with the attack prior to her arrest "was a lie".

"Your intention had been - and remained throughout - strong," the judge said.

The investigation showed that she had confessed in August last year to undercover agents that she "would like to kill a lot".

She visited St Paul's Cathedral - a popular tourist destination facing the London Stock Exchange - in September on a reconnaissance mission and was arrested the following month.

London's counter-terrorism police chief Richard Smith said Shaikh "loved watching graphic videos of terror" and changed her name from Michelle Ramsden after a "truly traumatic childhood".

Britain has witnessed three terror-related attacks in the past year.

A convicted militant who was out on parole after serving a sentence for terror offences was shot dead by police after stabbing five people - two fatally - by London Bridge in the heart of the British capital in November.

Armed police killed another assailant who injured three people in a stabbing attack in the Streatham area of south London in February.

The most recent attack saw three die in a stabbing rampage in a park in Reading, west of London, last month.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.