Isis supporter ‘worked on modifying drone for use in UK terror attack’

An Isis supporter attempted to remodel a drone to be used in a terror attack against the British armed forces or police, a court has heard.

Hisham Muhammad, 26, allegedly built a “release mechanism” for a commercial drone while researching other methods including knife attacks.

The Old Bailey heard that police found a “variety of bladed articles”, components, drawings, notes, camouflage clothing and masks at his home in Bury, Greater Manchester. Muhammad allegedly possessed weapons including a tomahawk, machete, “bear claws” (photograph left) and two axes, and had practiced stabbing movements on cardboard boxes and clothing.

The defendant, who moved to the UK in 2013, is also accused of creating “ninja eggs” containing chilli and glass shards that could be used to “incapacitate or otherwise weaken” attack victims or emergency service responders.

Opening the prosecution case on Tuesday, Anne Whyte QC said: “Muhammad, who was, by all accounts a very polite man, was focusing on what he considered to be his obligation as a Muslim to act and to please his notion of his God by conducting an attack.”

Some of the weapons were allegedly paid for by money gained through a bogus escort agency set up by Muhammad and his cousin, where customers were asked for an upfront payment as a “gesture of goodwill”. Ms Whyte alleged that money paid into fraudulently opened accounts was used to purchase items “relevant” to the case, including “axes, face masks and knife-sharpening stones”.

The court heard that in May 2018, Muhammad expressed a “false interest” in joining the British army in order to visit the Castle Armoury Barracks in Bury and that he had also searched military and armed police bases online.

The alleged plot was uncovered after Muhammad’s home was visited by his landlord in June 2018, because he had fallen behind on rent. Onkar Singh said he felt “uneasy” after spotting items including knives, a tub with wires and a soldering iron and took photos that he later showed to police.

Muhammad, of Victoria Avenue in Bury, denies engaging in conduct in preparation for acts of terrorism. His cousin Faisal Abu Ahmad, 25, of the same address, denies failing to alert authorities of the alleged attack plan.