An Iranian asylum seeker tried to incite a German terror cell to carry out a mass attack by driving into a crowd and then hacking down the survivors with a meat cleaver, a court has heard. Fatah Abdullah, from Newcastle upon Tyne, also stockpiled bomb making equipment to help arm his co-conspirators.
When police raided his flat in the Arthur’s Hill area of the city in December 2018 they discovered propaganda videos showing children beheading prisoners and animations of lorries exploding at well known UK landmarks.
The 35-year-old Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) inspired fanatic used the encrypted Telegram site to encourage to German based terrorists, Omar Babek and Ahmed Hussein to carry out a bomb, vehicle and knife attack.
In encrypted chat on Telegram, the defendant encouraged the plotters in Germany to drive a car into a crowd, attack people with a meat cleaver and cause an explosion.
In one message, he said: “After you have set off the explosions, you target crowd or group of people with your car, you drive through them. Find a meat clever which is used by butchers, once you have ran them over with the car, get out of the car start attacking them with it. If you couldn’t attack them with a car after the explosion, attack them with knife, sword or meat cleaver.
“The aim is that you kill them and make them feel terrified and show them that (Islamic State), is here and Islam is here. The most important thing is that you carry out the jihad.”
We will slaughter you as you did to us. We will chop you to pieces as you did to us. Handwritten note revealed to court
The attack was foiled in January last year when Hussein and Babek were arrested in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein.
Abdullah, who had come to Britain in 2005 from Iran, had been arrested by British police the month before. His original asylum claim had been rejected and in 2007 he was sectioned after becoming mentally ill. His asylum was finally approved in 2010.
He bought more than 8,000 matches, explosive pre-cursors, fireworks, fuses and a remote control detonator, the Old Bailey heard. The court heard that ingredients to make gunpowder that Abdullah had obtained were never found, suggesting they had been used.
Following his arrest, Abdullah attempted to explain away the bomb making equipment in his flat, claiming the large quantity of sulphur was for growing flowers and an SAS balaclava was to wear when it was cold. He also told police a pocket knife he had bought on Amazon was to cut grass for his rabbits and a food mixer was to make pizza dough.
In March, Abdullah, 35, pleaded guilty to inciting terrorism overseas and engaging in conduct in preparation to assist others to commit terrorist acts.
Opening the facts of the case on Monday, prosecutor Barnaby Jameson QC said: “Mohammed Abdullah incited a terror cell, based in Germany, to commit terrorist atrocities that would have caused mass fatalities. His encouragement was not limited to words. He researched, obtained and tested explosives in order to teach the German cell to carry out the terrorist attacks to maximum effect.”
Mr Barnaby said Abdullah somehow became connected with cousins Hussein and Babek, who had sought asylum in Germany after travelling from Iraq in 2015. The men in Germany went on to attempt to get a gun and gather components for an improvised explosive device, the court heard.
Following their arrest, a court in Hamburg found that “the acquisition of a firearm, like the attempt to purchase a pressure cooker or larger quantities of individual components of black powder or fireworks, ultimately failed because the defendants lacked the financial means required for this. Until the very end, the defendants were determined to implement their proposed plan in a place in Germany that was highly frequented by people.”
Hussein and Babek pleaded guilty to the preparation of a serious act of violent subversion involving unlawful handling of explosive substances and were sentenced to four years and eight months in prison.
In mitigation, James Woods QC told how Abdullah’s facial features changed in 2010 after he was struck with a table leg, which fractured his skull. He said: “Nobody liked the way he looks and he cannot socialise with people.” He was not part of the “Geordie Muslim community” and instead sought comfort and social contact online, making him easy prey for IS, Mr Woods said.
Abdullah is expected to be sentenced at the Old Bailey on Friday.