UK: Muslim Couple Meets On Online Dating Site, Then Plot Christmas Attack

From The Independent:
An Isis-supporting couple have been found guilty of preparing to launch a terror attack using a homemade bomb and chemical weapons in the UK.

Security services feared Munir Mohammed and Rowaida el-Hassan were ready to strike before they were detained in December 2016, with police saying a “significant loss of life” had been averted.

Mohammed, 36, had already amassed two out of three core components for triacetone triperoxide (TATP), the unstable explosive used in recent Isis attacks, including in Paris and Brussels.

He had also downloaded manuals on how to make mobile phone detonators and ricin, a deadly poison that can kill an adult victim with just a few grains.

Mohammed, of Leopold Street in Derby, and El-Hassan, of Willesden Lane in north-west London, denied preparing terrorist acts between November 2015 and December 2016 but a jury found them both guilty….

The Old Bailey heard that El-Hassan, a pharmacist, became a willing participant in the plot after meeting Mohammed on dating website

She had advertised “for a simple, very simple, honest and straightforward man who fears Allah” who she could “vibe with on a spiritual and intellectual level”.

Prosecutors said Mohammed was specifically drawn to her profile in late 2015 after seeing she had a masters’ degree in pharmacy, aiming to use her chemical knowledge in the attack.

Jurors were told the pair had a “rapidly formed emotional attachment and a shared ideology” and were in regular contact on WhatsApp by spring 2016, meeting in a London park near El-Hassan’s home.

Records of their messages show they shared extremist views and videos, while Mohammed was put in touch with a man he believed was an Isis commander via Facebook.

Prosecutor Anne Whyte QC said Mohammed “resolved upon a lone wolf attack”, while working making sauces for supermarket ready meals, and El-Hassan was well aware of his plan.

He pledged allegiance to the man, known as Abubakr Kurdi, and offered to participate in “a new job in the UK” – a phrase jurors were told referred to a terror attack.

In September 2016, Mohammed complained he had not received his instructions, telling his contact: “If possible send how we make dough [explosives] for Syrian bread [a bomb] and other types of food.”

El-Hassan, a 33-year-old divorcee with two children, advised Mohammed on what chemicals to buy for a bomb, the court heard.

That November, Mohammed got hold of a video containing information on how to manufacture ricin, and days before his arrest he was captured on CCTV buying “acetone free” nail polish from Asda, in the mistaken belief it was a component of TATP.

He also looked at pressure cookers at Ace Discounts, which the prosecution said could be used to contain the explosives, according to several terrorist manuals.

Police found hydrogen peroxide in a wardrobe and hydrochloric acid in the freezer of his home during a raid on 12 December 2016 but Mohammed claimed they were for domestic purposes.

He told the Old Bailey he sent El-Hassan extremist videos “mainly for the news” and claimed his intention was “to marry her”.

But Mohammed had an arranged marriage in Sudan with a woman he had never met called Fatima, who he was hoping to bring to England on a student visa.

He had arrived in Britain in the back of a lorry and claimed asylum in February 2014, the court heard.

After awaiting a decision for more than two years, he appealed to his local MP Margaret Beckett for help, but she was told his case had been referred to a “specialist unit for consideration”.

El-Hassan, who came to Britain from Sudan at the age of three, told jurors she had sulphuric acid for her drains and got face masks to wear as she dealt with a damp problem in her flat.

Asked if she had feelings for Mohammed, she said: ”It was mixed feelings at the time. Yes, there was emotional attachment.

“There were feelings developing and we were getting to know each other. I was grateful for things he helped me with. And he was grateful for things I helped him with. I liked the attention he was giving me.”

Police said it could not be proven that El-Hassan was an extremist before she met Mohammed, but could have been in no doubt about his jihadi beliefs.

Detective Chief Inspector Paul Greenwood, who led the investigation, said the website they used was a “normal place to look for a relationship”.

But Mohammed used it to get advice on where to source chemicals to manufacture TATP from El-Hassan, who was previously unknown to the security services.

“Munir shared with her some really graphic and brutal execution videos, lots of other ideological material, including children executing Isis prisoners and children involved in military training in the name of the Islamic State,” DCI Greenwood said….

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