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Friday, 2 March 2018
'Teacher' guilty of recruiting 'army of children' for London attacks
Umar Haque swore children to secrecy and trained them for atrocities with terror-attack role play and physical exercises.
A self-styled teacher has been found guilty of trying to recruit an "army of children" for Islamic State inspired attacks in London.
Umar Haque was convicted on Thursday of training young people, with role play and physical exercise, for attacks on 30 landmarks across the capital.
The 25-year-old plotted to target landmarks including Big Ben, the Queen's Guard and Westfield shopping centre, using guns and a car packed with explosives.
He groomed children as young as 11 at the Ripple Road mosque in Barking, showing them a violent IS video to give a more "holistic" view of the group and swearing them to secrecy, the court heard.
One victim told police that Haque had aimed to gather an army of 300 men.
"Umar has been teaching us how to fight, do push-ups, given strength and within six years he was planning to do a big attack on London," the boy said.
"He's training us now so by the time I'm in Year 10 we will be physically strong enough to fight."
A self-styled teacher with no formal qualifications, Haque was able to access 250 young people over five years at two schools and at the Ripple Road Madrassa, potentially attempting to radicalise 110 of them.
Parents at the fee-paying Lantern of Knowledge Islamic school in Leyton were "horrified" when it emerged that Haque had been teaching their children religious studies and PE.
After he was found guilty, Haque shouted "I want to say something" and was dragged from the dock by officers.
"You will clearly see Islamic State establish itself in the Arabian peninsula and that droughts will affect Europe and America," he yelled.
The plot was pursued with the help of others.
Abuthaher Mamun, 19, and Muhammad Abid, 27, were convicted of attempting to help the would-be terrorist with fundraising and support.
In bugged conversations, Haque was recorded telling conspirators they were "here to cause terror" and saying he had been inspired by the 2017 Westminster Bridge attack.
"We are a death squad sent by Allah and his messengers to avenge my Arab brothers' blood," he said.
Handwritten notes presented in court revealed a hit list of targets including Transport for London, Shia Muslims, Heathrow, City banks, the media, embassies and Britain First
Giving evidence, Haque said the hoped-for attacks were "hypothetical", and the other accused men said they did not believe his terrorism intentions were serious.
Commander Dean Haydon, of the Metropolitan Police counter-terrorism command, said work was ongoing to safeguard 35 children who were "almost paralysed with fear" following Haque's attempts to radicalise them.