An alleged female jihadist has appeared in court accused of plotting to blow up St Paul's Cathedral in a suicide attack.
Safiyya Amira Shaikh, from Hayes, Middlesex, was arrested last week and charged in connection with the alleged Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) plot.
Prosecutors claim the 36-year-old carried out a reconnaissance trip to London to scope out the famous tourist attraction as a potential target. It's more than a 'tourist attraction', despite the entrance fee for tourists. It is the continuous seat of the Bishop of London since 604AD, although the present building is 17th century. The site of the earliest Cathedral is so far unknown. She would be striking at the heart of Christian London. I digress.
Ms Shaikh allegedly attempted to make contact with a bomb maker online and asked them to build two improvised explosive devices. She later met with her contact, and allegedly handed them two bags, in which the IEDs were to be placed.
Prosecutors claim Ms Shaikh intended to leave one of the devices in the hotel and then carry the other into St Paul’s, where she would detonate it, killing herself and as many other innocent people as possible. But she was arrested when it turned out that her bomb making contact was an undercover officer.
The court was told that Ms Shaikh 'intended to kill herself and as many other people as possible.'
Prosecutors also claim that, between August 19 and October 10 this year, she prepared the words of a pledge of allegiance to ISIS. It is further alleged that she shared terrorist documents via groups using the Telegram messaging app and other channels.
For a period of at least two months, she is also said to have been a 'leading operator/administrator' of at least one Telegram channel which praised ISIS, encouraged terrorism, and provided guidance and instruction on different means of committing terrorism. The channel named as 'Greenb1rds', has been reported in mainstream media on a number of occasions for publishing terrorist threats to specific locations and people in America and Europe.
Shaikh was arrested by counter terror police last week, in a case then described by Scotland Yard said as 'Islamist-related'.
A Met spokesman said yesterday: 'Safiyya Amira Shaikh, of Hayes, Middlesex, has been charged with preparation of terrorist acts, contrary to section 5 of the Terrorism Act (TACT) 2006 and dissemination of terrorist publications, contrary to section 2 TACT, 2006.'
Police have searched an address in north-west London.
Ms Shaikh appeared before Westminster Magistrates' Court in London and was remanded in custody until her next court appearance which will be before the Central Criminal Court, the Old Bailey, on November 1st.
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