19-year-old named Haroon Syed from Hounslow, west London, has pleaded guilty to the charge of making homemade bombs and to the plot to use them.
Syed researched the possible bombing of an Elton John concert or Buckingham Palace. He was at the Old Bailey when “researching, planning and attempting to source” the necessary tools for the bomb.
He attempted to acquire the weapons materials online. Then he looked for busy areas online. The intent was to inflict a “mass casualty attack” on the public in the area. He talked online with British Security Service officers.
The officers posed as extremists to help with the sourcing of the weapons. He pleaded guilty to a plot running from April to September 2016 to get materials for a bomb to stage attacks. The judge, Michael Topolski, stressed Syed this was “a grave offence, and he would consider if a life sentence was merited.”
The young man’s brother, Nadir, who is 24, was convicted and jailed for life based on the plotted beheading of a poppy-seller or police community support officer on Remembrance Sunday. The Elton John concert was on the 9/11 anniversary, when planes were flown into the Twin Towers in New York.
At a previous hearing, the court heard how key evidence was gathered from Syed’s communications with the fake contact, Abu Yusuf, via mobile phone and social media. Syed asked for ‘gear’ for his ‘opp’ and when asked to give details, he said he needed a machine gun and an explosive vest.
A police officer pretended to be Abu Yusuf when Syed and him met at the Costa Coffee in Slough. The conversation was taped. “Throughout August, the discussions continued about making or getting a bomb and acquiring a gun, even though Syed confessed he had never used one before.
Syed was looking for a portable device, saying, “I might put the bomb in the train and then I’m going to jump out so the bomb explodes on the train… So ask the brother if he can make that type of bomb with button.”
He had done extensive research into locations, prior terrorist incidents, and the Islamic State. On September 8, the police moved in, seized Syed’s phone, and acquired the password for the phone from him.
Syed was arrested in September 2016 and when detained by officers said ‘alright’. He told an undercover officer of his desire to get bomb-making material and was inspired by Isis.