A Hounslow teenager who plotted to carry out a nail bomb attack at Elton John’s Hyde Park concert on 9/11 anniversary was handed a life sentence Monday, underlining the scale of terror plots in the U.K. as the country struggles to cope with a number of terror attacks committed just this year.
Haroon Ali Syed, 19, admitted to planning to carry out a nail bomb attack at ‘packed places in London’ including Oxford Street, Buckingham Palace, and even the 50,000 crowd at the Rocket Man singer’s gig on the 15th anniversary of the Twin Towers attack.
Mr. Syed was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum 16 years and six months term on Monday (July 3) at the Old Bailey, after he pleaded guilty to preparation of terrorist acts, joining his brother in jail.
His older brother, Nadir, was convicted in 2015 of buying a 12-inch kitchen knife and plotting to behead a poppy seller. He was jailed for life in June last year and after his conviction he threatened to behead prison officers in Belmarsh jail.
The court heard Mr. Syed used encrypted messaging app ‘Threema’ in a bid to source machine guns, pistols, suicide vests and bombs to launch an attack in the UK on the scale of the 7 July 2005 London bombings.
In an attempt to accumulate enough money to carry out the attacks, Mr. Syed hoped to take out loans to pay for weapons, but was forced to look for cheaper options, including a home made bomb, when the requests were refused.
Desperation ensued, as handed over £150 to his online contact, ‘Abu Yusuf’, with instructions to get hold of an explosive with ‘lots of nails inside’. Abu Yusuf was an undercover Mi5 officer.
Mr. Syed’s home in Hounslow, west London, was raided on September 8 last year. Officers found his mobile phone on the top bunk in his bedroom and when asked for the password, Syed said: “Yeah, I.S.I.S. You like that?”
Mr. Syed admitted preparing an act of terror at the Old Bailey between Friday April 1 and Saturday September 9, 2016, under Section 5 of the Terrorism Act 2000.
Judge Michael Topolski QC slapped down a defence application to exclude the key evidence gathered through chats with Abu Yusuf from the upcoming trial prompting him to pleaded guilty to a charge of preparing an act of terror.
The charge states Syed was engaged in “research, planning and attempting to source materials to produce an improvised explosive device with a view committing acts against persons in the UK”.