ISIS terrorist who tried to radicalise ‘army of children’ for terror attacks in London jailed for life

‘We are a death squad sent by Allah and his messengers to avenge my Arab brothers’ blood,’ Haque said.

An Isis fanatic who tried to brainwash an “army of children” to launch simultaneous terror attacks across London has been jailed for life.

Unqualified teacher Umar Haque was handed a minimum sentence of 25 years at the Old Bailey by a judge who called his bloodthirsty ambitions “extreme and alarming”.

Mr Justice Haddon-Cave said the 25-year-old groomed children to join a “mini militia” and made them keep the training secret from parents who had paid for after-school classes at an east London mosque.

“Haque was a dangerous liar,” the judge said, calling the defendant a “very real” threat to the young and old alike.

“He is intelligent, articulate and persuasive, with an easy smile. He is narcissistic and clearly enjoys the power he wields over others.”

The judge told Haque had had “violated the Quran and Islam, as well as the law of all civilised people”.

He ranted about “domination”, “hunger and insecurity” as he was removed from the dock to be transferred to prison.

Haque had planned to launch simultaneous terror attacks on up to 30 targets in London including Big Ben, the Tube, Westfield shopping centre, Heathrow Airport, courts, Shia Muslims, journalists and far-right groups.

He enlisted helpers at the Ripple Road mosque in Barking, east London, where he secretly brainwashed 16 children as young as 11 and made them act out atrocities.

Haque proclaimed his continued support for Isis while giving evidence but denied plotting attacks, claiming he had only been “pondering” hypothetical atrocities, before a jury convicted him preparing acts of terrorism earlier this month.

He also admitted charges of collecting information useful for terrorism and disseminating a terrorist document.

Two co-conspirators – Abuthaher Mamun and Muhammad Abid – told jurors they did not believe Haque was serious about launching an attack but were convicted of aiding him.

Mamun, 19, was jailed for 12 years for preparing for acts of terrorism for helping attack planning and raised money through trading in options.

Confidant Abid, 27, was handed four years and three months in prison for failing to report the plot

The court heard Haque became “fascinated” by the Westminster attack in March last year and discussed bringing his own “death squad” to the capital with Mamun and Abid.

In a bugged conversation four days after the first Isis-claimed attack in London, Haque told Abid: “So what I want to personally is launch different attacks in all the different areas, one in Westminster, one in Stratford, one in Forest Gate, one…in so many different areas, yeah.

“Immediately there’s one focus to all the police. Get off the streets. Civilians get off the streets. London will be, not just Westminster attack, entire London…we’re here to cause terror, my brother.

“We are a death squad sent by Allah and his messengers to avenge my Arab brothers’ blood.”

In conversations recorded as part of an intelligence operation, Haque was heard discussing justification for killing civilians, while talking of using a car, leaving bombs in a lift, and going for “a quick spin” around Westminster.

Despite having no teaching qualifications, Haque had access to 250 youngsters at two east London schools and the Ripple Road madrassa in Barking over five years, attempting to radicalise 110 of them.

Haque was teaching pupils aged between 11 and 16 at the fee-paying independent Lantern of Knowledge School in Leyton, where he admitted playing an Isis video to boys who have been left “traumatised”.

He taught Islamic studies and PE between April 2015 and January 2016, with parents saying they were “horrified” after learning of his radicalisation attempts.

Haque also assumed the role of a teacher at the Ripple Road Mosque in Barking and “manipulated” children, telling them he intended to die a martyr and Isis was “good”.

Prosecutors said he played terrorist videos depicting the burning of passports and beheadings with a knife or sword to “encourage them into his mindset”.

Haque showed children graphic images, including one of a dead boy, saying they would meet the same fate if they did not join him and promise to become a martyr.

He made the children train and act out the roles of police and attackers in scenarios involving weapons and a car bomb, while he shouted “Allahu Akhbar”.

One of the boys later told police: “Umar wants a group of 300 men. He’s training us now so by the time I’m in Year 10 we will be physically strong enough to fight.

“Umar told us boys he is part of Islamic State and Islamic State ordered him to do a big attack in London.

“We took an oath like we would not tell our parents. If we did not promise, we would go down as a group.”

The mosque’s “Essex Islamic Academy” and Lantern of Knowledge Educational Trust are under investigation by the Charity Commission.

Prosecutor Mark Heywood QC said a specialist social worker had assessed the boys affected by Haque’s indoctrination, who have been left “confused and frustrated” about Isis, their religion, non-Muslims and war.

“Although they are clear what they saw was wrong, they are left conflicted and without answers which leads them to be particularly vulnerable to grooming,” he added.

“Some speak of having flashbacks of the videos and nightmares centred around fear of death and punishment in the afterlife, perhaps in reference to (the video) of the young boy seen buried and in a grave.”

Social services and poice assessed that Haque had attempted to radicalise 55 children aged between 11 to 14 years at the Ripple Road Mosque, were supplementary classes have been suspended.

All 55 children have received support and 35 are being given longer-term help, Scotland Yard said.

A spokesperson for the NSPCC said Haque had abused children using “fear and intimidation”.

“Haque used his position of trust as a smokescreen to try and recruit an army of young people in his care to help him carry out the atrocities he planned,” he added.

“It is thanks to the bravery of those victims who spoke out about what they endured that Haque is now behind bars for a very long time.”

Police warned that he could have struck “at any time” after investigators seized a large kitchen knife from Haque’s Ford Focus and a collection of Isis propaganda from his home.

He originally came to the attention of authorities after trying to travel to Turkey from Heathrow in April 2016, with the route closely watched after being used by hundreds of British jihadis who joined Isis in Syria.

Examination of his phone revealed searches for terror attacks and executions but police said there was no evidence to charge him with a criminal offence at the time, and he was put under surveillance.

His apparent attempt to follow them was foiled and his passport seized, making Haque one of a growing number of terrorists who have attempted domestic attacks after failing to become foreign fighters.

Haque’s plan was among 14 terror plots foiled in the past year by police and MI5, 10 of which were Islamist-inspired.

Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon said the jail sentences ensured that men “complicit in a plot to radicalise vulnerable young children and use them to attack businesses and communities in London are now in prison”.

“Haque was a dangerous man who was inspired by attacks in Europe and Westminster,” he added. “He wanted to orchestrate numerous attacks at once, using guns, knives, bombs and large cars to kill innocent people.

“We recovered a number of exercise books from his home and it was evident from his notes that his plan was a long-term one. He intended to execute his plan years later, by which time he anticipated he would have trained and acquired an army of soldiers, including children.”

Source: Independent