Three found guilty of ‘child army’ terror plot
Three men who planned to carry out a terrorist massacre with an “army” of children have been convicted.
Umar Ahmed Haque was arrested last May in the middle of his attempts to radicalise 55 London children.
The 25-year-old, inspired by similar attacks in Europe, attempted to ‘train’ the children by making them pretend to stab other children acting as police officers.
He was aided by Abuthaher Mamun, 29, and Muhammed Abid, 27, who raised money and acted as confidantes while he plotted the “annihilation” of police officers and members of the public.
A court hearing on Friday (March 2) heard Haque planned to target up to 30 groups, businesses and establishments in the capital but was thwarted by officers from the Metropolitan Police Service’s (MPS) counter terrorism command.
Haque was found guilty of two counts of preparation of terrorist acts and one count of collecting information useful to terrorism, after already admitting collecting and sharing terrorist publications.
Mamun was found guilty of preparing terrorist acts, and Abid was convicted of having information about acts of terrorism.
The three men await sentencing at the Old Bailey.
Commander Dean Haydon said: “Haque was a dangerous man who was inspired by attacks in Europe and Westminster. 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 plans years later, by which time he anticipated he would have trained and acquired and army of soldiers, including children.”
Haque first came to police attention when he was stopped at Heathrow Airport trying to fly to Turkey in April 2016.
Evidence retrieved from his phone showed he had searched for terror attacks and executions, and his passport was revoked.
Haque later began discussing how to carry out a terror attack in the UK with Mamun and Abid, including how to increase the strength of a bomb and what the police response would be.
Abid, who knew Haque from a local mosque, listened to his plan and views that members of the public should be “annihilated” but did nothing to inform police.
Mamun helped Haque plot the atrocity and planned to take driving lessons so he could teach future members of the “army” to drive vehicles at pedestrians.
He also unsuccessfully attempted to invest money online to finance the plot.
A fourth man, Haque’s neighbour Nadeem Patel, was arrested on suspicion of possession of a firearm and officers recovered a handgun from his home alongside £20,000 in cash.
He was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to possess a firearm, and had previously admitted possessing a prohibited weapon. He was sentenced to 16 months’ imprisonment.
Last March, Haque told his co-conspirators that he had radicalised 16 children at the after-school madrasa where he worked.
The MPS had no intelligence to support this claim but joint work with social workers assessed he had attempted to radicalise 55 children aged 11 to 14.
Interviews with the children revealed they had been shown videos of extreme terrorist violence and executions, and made them act out stabbing ‘police officers’ to death.
All 55 children have received safeguarding support and 35 will be given longer-term care.
“The children were paralysed by fear of Haque, who they understood to have connections to terrorists and who essentially told them that a violent fate would befall them if they told anyone what he was doing. They were too afraid to confide in anyone,” said Commander Haydon.
“It’s crucial that the police, partners and communities do all they can to identify where young and vulnerable people are being radicalised and I urge anyone with concerns that this is happening to report it confidentially to police.”