Saturday, May 18

Dental student from British Army family plotted terror attack in UK



Mohammed Awan who was jailed for 10 years at Sheffield Crown Court, for preparing for acts of… A dental student from a British Army family plotted a terror attack in the UK after learning his jihadi brother had been killed in Syria on the news.

Mohammed Abbas Idris Awan, 24, who was “radicalised” by his suicide bomber brother, was caught by police in June after purchasing 500 ball bearings online and a catapult.

Detectives found a “significant volume” of extremist material, including advice on how to be a “sleeper cell” in the West.

It included material from his brother “which celebrated brutal and depraved acts of terror such as beheadings, burning of people alive and the Charlie Hebdo murders in Paris in 2015”.

© Provided by The Telegraph His older brother Rizwan Awan, 27, killed 30 people in a bomb blast in Iraq in 2016.

Their parents were described as “dignified pillars of the community”, his father Mohammed Idrees has worked in the area as a bus driver for decades and was previously in the Army.

His grandfather had also served in the British Army in India before moving to Yorkshire in the 1960s.

Awan’s aunt, Shahida Awan, made history in 2004 when she became the first Asian woman to be elected on to Kirkless Council.

But Sheffield Crown Court heard how Awan, who was in the fourth year of a dentistry course at Sheffield University, “adopted an outwardly innocent and respectable persona with the clear intention” to “perpetrate a terrorist act without being detected”.

The prosecution said he also “rejoiced in the ritual executions and mutilation of other human beings being perpetrated by ISIS in the name of Islamic extremism”.

Police seized 11 mobile phones, 16 memory sticks and seven computers in raids at addresses in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, were he was studying at university, and at his family home in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire.

One memory stick contained a 36-minute video of a senior al Qaida leader calling on young Muslims to join so-called Islamic State (IS) and featured graphic footage of how to kill and kidnap victims.

Awan told police that he was a keen fisherman and was researching hunting with a catapult and denied preparing for an act of terrorism.

But a jury found him guilty of three terror charges following a three week trial.

Sentencing him to 10 years in prison, Judge Paul Watson QC said Awan was no “Walter Mitty fantasist” and was radicalised by his brother Rizwan.

“Once he was in Syria he was in contact with you and it is clear to me that by that time you were already well on the way to becoming radicalised yourself,” he said.

“You were creating notes on your own electronic devices which showed that you had been fantasising about taking part in fighting on behalf of the caliphate and that you were intent on engaging in activity on behalf of IS, whether here or abroad.

“You seem to have rejoiced in the ritual executions and mutilation of other human beings being perpetrated by ISIS in the name of Islamic extremism.

“I do not for one minute think that the terrorist act would have involved the use of a mere catapult. The purchase of the catapult, I am sure, was no more than part of a cover story to explain your purchase of over 500 ball bearings if the police should ever enquire.”

Judge Watson QC told Awan his family were “devastated” by his actions.

“You had all the advantages of a young man growing up in this country in a family of respectable, caring and dedicated parents,” he added.

“The devastation for them is barely imaginable.”

In a statement last night Awan maintained his innocence and said he will appeal.

“I have been desperate to clear my name and had hoped that the trial process would have exonerated me from being labelled a terrorist,” he said.

“I abhor and condemn all forms of terrorism. I sincerely hope that one day, in the near future, I will be able to show that I am innocent of the charges against me.”

His barrister Imran Khan had earlier told the court his childhood dream of becoming a dentist was “now doomed forever”.

“There was no doubt he was groomed by his older brother. He was vulnerable to that,” he added.

“His family want to make it known despite the guilty verdict they condemn all forms of terrorism.”

He was convicted of two counts of possession of a document or record containing information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism and one charge of engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorist acts or assisting others to commit such acts.