An otherwise moderate Muslim couple, a husband and wife, “interested in helping the Islamic State” (is how the boot-licking AP put it), has been convicted of planning a large-scale bombing of civilian targets in London to mark the 10th anniversary of the July 7, 2005, attacks on the city’s transit system.
They were peaceful until …. they weren’t.
Mohammed Rehman, 25, discussed targeting the London Underground and Westfield shopping centre on social media under the name “Silent Bomber”. Chemicals for bomb making were found at his Reading home, the Old Bailey heard. He and his wife Sana Ahmed Khan were convicted of preparing terrorist acts. They will be sentenced on Wednesday.
With money supplied by his 24-year-old wife, he stockpiled the chemicals needed to make a huge bomb at his family home in Reading and even filmed himself setting off a small explosion in his back garden.
“British Couple Convicted of Plotting Terrorist Bombings in London,” By Alexis Flynn, Wall Street Journal, Dec. 29, 2015
Radical Muslims prepared explosives for use in subway or a shopping mall
LONDON—A British couple who plotted suicide bomb attacks on a popular London shopping mall or the city’s subway system were found guilty of terrorism Tuesday by a U.K. court, the latest in a string of prosecutions aimed at homegrown Muslim extremists inspired by Islamic State.
Mohammed Rehman, 25, from Reading, west of London, and his wife, Sana Ahmed Khan, 24, from the nearby town of Wokingham, assiduously set about constructing explosives capable of causing mass casualties and were on the brink of executing their plans when specialist counterterrorism police arrested them in late May, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said Mr. Rehman and Ms. Ahmed Khan intended to time their attacks to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the July 7, 2005, suicide bombings on the London subway that killed 52 people and injured hundreds more.
“The pair had been very close to carrying out an attack, all they required was to purchase the chemicals to make a detonator,” said Susan Hemming, head of the Crown Prosecution Service’s counterterrorism division.
A Twitter account used by Mohammed Rehman, who used the pseudonym ‘Silent Bomber.’ ENLARGE
A Twitter account used by Mohammed Rehman, who used the pseudonym ‘Silent Bomber.’ Photo: Thames Valley Police
The husband and wife, who married in secret in 2013 and lived separately, had been under surveillance after police noticed a series of social-media posts by Mr. Rehman that made clear his intention to carry out violence in the name of radical Islam. Using the Twitter alias “Silent Bomber” in an account featuring images of Islamic State executions, Mr. Rehman called on his Twitter followers to vote on possible targets in the capital.
Mr. Rehman stockpiled fertilizer and carried out minor test blasts in his garden, the court heard. Police who raided Mr. Rehman’s Reading home found more than 10 kilograms of highly explosive urea nitrate, which prosecutors said would have caused “multiple fatalities” if detonated in the tight confines of a subway train or station. They had also considered bombing the Westfield Shopping Centre, prosecutors said.
“There is little doubt that, had Rehman and Ahmed Khan not been stopped when they were, they would have attempted to carry out an act of terrorism in London,” Ms. Hemming said after the verdict.
During the six-week trial, jurors heard how Ms. Ahmed Khan helped her husband by depositing nearly $21,000 into his bank account for the purchase of explosive chemicals. Prosecutors said Ms. Ahmed Khan was a “supporter of violent and extreme Islamic ideology” who played a key role motivating her husband.
The pair shared Islamic State video clips, which police and prosecutors said was proof of their radicalization and malign intent.
Mr. Rehman and Ms. Ahmed Khan were both convicted of preparing terrorist acts. Mr. Rehman was also convicted of an additional charge of possessing an article for terrorist purposes.
The two defendants denied the charges. They will be sentenced next year.
U.K. authorities say they are battling an unprecedented rise in extremist activity, galvanized by Islamic State’s rise amid the chaos of civil war in both Syria and Iraq. Police arrests for terrorist offenses in the most recent year are the highest on record, and now average one a day.
In response, the British government last year raised the nation’s terror alert to its second-highest level, “severe,” which means an attack is highly likely.
Police on Tuesday said the case shone a light on the diffuse nature of the threat the country now faces.
“Whilst we remain concerned about people traveling to Syria and the risk they pose should they return to the U.K, we also consider the threat posed by U.K.-based individuals and groups who have never traveled or intended to do so,” said Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale, head of the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit. “There’s no doubt Mohammed Rehman and Sana Khan were two such people.”