Two Islamic State-inspired jihadists who grew up in the same streets as Jihadi John are facing jail for plotting to execute soldiers and police officers in drive-by shootings on British streets.
Tarik Hassane, 22, and King’s College London student Suhaib Majeed, 21, concocted the plan while in secret communication with terrorists in Syria, it is believed.
They had carried out reconnaissance missions on intended targets including Shepherd’s Bush police station and the Parachute Regiment Territorial Army Barracks at White City.
But anti-terror police stepped in when the men acquired a gun and ammunition and looked like they were close to pulling off the attack.
Police said the plot had echoes of last year’s terror attacks in Paris and marked an increase in the complexity of jihadi plans being forged by would-be extremist killers.
Hassane, nicknamed “The Surgeon”, was the mastermind of the attack, issuing directives to the rest of the terror cell while studying medicine at a university in Khartoum, Sudan.
Majeed was studying physics at the prestigious King’s College London and was chairman of its Islamic society.
He and Hassane were childhood friends, raised in the same neighbourhood in Ladbroke Grove as infamous Isis executioner Mohammed Emwazi – better known as Jihadi John.
Hassane initially denied his part in the 2014 drive-by plot but changed his plea to guilty in the middle of an Old Bailey trial, admitting planning terrorist acts and conspiracy to murder.
Majeed denied the same charges but was convicted by the jury today after nearly 30 hours of deliberation.
Their co-defendants Nathan Cuffy, 26, and Nyall Hamlett, 25, denied being linked to the jihadi plot and were both found not guilty by the jury of conspiracy to murder and preparation of terrorist acts.
Cuffy had already pleaded guilty to possessing four guns and ammunition with intent to endanger life, while Hamlett also admitted gun charges.
Following the verdicts, Commander Dean Haydon from Scotland Yard’s counter terrorism command said the plot was more complex and developed than other Isis-driven terror attacks in London including the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby.
“It is about acquiring a moped, committing a drive-by shooting and acquiring firearms and ammunition. In broad daylight they were targeting police officers, military and members of the public and making good their escape.
“That’s a real concern – we are almost seeing an escalation.”
He continued: “It does draw parallels in a way with Paris. The attackers were intent on murder, they were intent on using a firearm and intent on causing fear, distress, and disorder in a particular part of west London.
“They weren’t prepared to hang around either, leaving both the public and the police and anyone concerned wondering who has committed the attack.”
The plot was hatched after Hassane swore an allegiance to ISIS in July 2014, and the terror group’s spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani al-Shami issued a fatwa in September that year calling for followers to “strike their police, security and intelligence members, as well as their treacherous agents”.
“The issuing of the fatwa endorsed what Hassane was planning to do”, said Commander Haydon.
It is believed Hassane and Majeed “self-radicalised” using a massive cache of extremist documents, videos of beheadings, ISIS propaganda tapes, and chats using heavily encrypted software between themselves and others in Syria.
Hassane recruited his friend Majeed to the plot as the proposed gunman, and they were supplied the gun and ammunition by Cuffy with Hamlett acting as a middleman.
Three of the men were arrested after the self-loading pistol, a magazine with seven rounds of ammunition and a silencer had been acquired, but Hassane, who was still in Sudan, had not been captured.
Despite the arrests, Hassane returned to the UK and carried out reconnaissance of the targets using Google Earth before his eventual arrest.
“It shows how determined Hassane was to carry out his plot”, said Commander Haydon.
“He was the leader of the group and despite the arrests of all his associates, he was still conducting hostile reconnaissance. That tells me how dangerous he was.”
Hassane, who now lives in Dalgarno Way, North Kensington, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to murder and preparation of terrorist acts midway through the trial.
Majeed, from St John’s Wood, Hamlett, of Great Western Road, Paddington, and Cuffy, of Dartmouth Close, Notting Hill, all denied conspiracy to murder and preparation of terrorist acts.
Majeed was convicted while the other two were found not guilty.
Cuffy pleaded guilty before the trial to four counts of possessing prohibited weapons and one count of possessing ammunition without a firearms certificate, all with intent to endanger life.
Hamlett also pleaded guilty to transferring a firearm and ammunition to Majeed, who admitted possessing ammunition and a prohibited weapon and was found guilty by the jury of possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life.
Mr Justice Wilkie remanded all four defendants in custody until a sentencing hearing on a date in April yet to be set.
Source: Evening Standard