An Islamic State supporter who plotted to “kill as many people as possible” in a suicide bomb attack on St Paul’s Cathedral is facing years behind bars today.
Safiyya Shaikh, 36, carried out a reconnaissance trip to central London as she planned the attack between August and October last year, attempting to get hold of two bags of explosives and selecting the landmark as her top target. She visited St Paul’s to check the levels of security and the best place to hide an improvised bomb.
Shaikh, from Hayes, had pledged allegiance to Isis and ran an encrypted channel on the Telegram messaging app urging terror attacks around the world and providing tips for extremists plotting atrocities.
Shaikh, a convert born Michelle Ramsden . . .. said: “I want to kill a lot. I would like to do church… a day like Christmas or Easter good, kill more. I always send threats. But I want to make threats real.”
Shaikh also sent a picture of St Paul’s Cathedral to the officer (the undercover officer who intercepted her) , writing: “I would like to do this place for sure. I would like bomb and shoot til death… I really would love to destroy that place and the kaffir [enemies of IS] there.”
The prosecutions said Shaikh was born to a non-Muslim family and converted to Islam in 2007 after being touched by the kindness of her Muslim neighbours. However, she later became isolated and, after apparently rejecting mainstream Islam began to follow extremists online, becoming obsessed with the extremist violent ideology of IS and other jihadist groups.
By 2016 she had stopped attending mosques, apparently worried that fellow worshippers and imams were growing suspicious of her extremist views. She was also reported to the government’s Prevent programme, aimed at stopping people being drawn into or supporting terrorism.
Shaikh, wearing a black robe, spoke quietly as she pleaded guilty this morning at the Old Bailey to preparing terrorist acts and dissemination of terrorist publications.
Mr Justice Edis adjourned the sentencing hearing until May 12 and asked for Shaikh to be assessed by psychiatrists while in custody. . . (she) faces a lengthy jail term.