A terrorist who groomed an ‘army of children’ for jihadi style attacks in London has been jailed for life. Islamic State fanatic Umar Haque, 25, planned to use guns and a car packed with explosives to strike 30 high-profile targets including Big Ben, the Queen’s Guard and Westfield shopping centre.
He secretly groomed children as young as 11 through terrorism role play and exercises at the Ripple Road mosque in Barking, east London. Haque also played Isis propaganda to pupils at the fee-paying independent Muslim school Lantern of Knowledge in Leyton, where he taught Islamic studies and PE between April 2015 and January 2016, a court heard. Even though he had no teaching qualifications, Haque had access to 250 youngsters at two east London schools and the Ripple Road madrassa over five years and attempted to radicalise 110 of them, police said. Following a trial at the Old Bailey, Haque was found guilty of planning terror attacks with help from two conspirators and will serve a minimum of 25 years.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon said: ‘His aim was to create an army of children to assist with more terrorist attacks throughout London. ‘It was apparent he was in the early stages of this long-term attack plan at multiple sites using multiple weapons and assisted by children he had radicalised.
'He tried to prepare the children for martyrdom by making them role play attacks. Part of that role play was re-enacting attacking police officers. ‘He is a really dangerous individual. He could have moved at any time.’ The trial had heard how police and MI5 had been on to Haque since he tried to travel to Turkey in April 2016. In bugged conversations with his conspirators, he talked about being inspired by the Westminster Bridge atrocity in March last year. Haque said: ‘We are here to cause terror, my brother. We are a death squad sent by Allah and his messengers to avenge my Arab brothers’ blood.’
His handwritten hit list included the Queen’s Guard, courts, Transport for London, Shia Muslims, Westfield, City banks, Heathrow, Parliament, Big Ben, the media, embassies and the English Defence League or Britain First. In the months before his arrest, he bragged about recruiting 16 children, telling Ripple Road youngsters he intended to die a martyr and Isis was ‘good’.
One of the youngsters later told police: ‘Umar has been teaching us how to fight, do push-ups, given strength and within six years he was planning to do a big attack on London. ‘He wants a group of 300 men. He’s training us now so by the time I’m in Year 10 (aged 14-15) we will be physically strong enough to fight.’ Fundraiser Abuthaher Mamun, 19, and confidant Muhammad Abid, 27, were convicted of helping Haque.
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