Teenager guilty of beheading plot

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Published: Thursday 19th February 2015 by The News Editor

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A teenager is facing years behind bars after being found guilty of hatching a plot to behead a British soldier inspired by the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby.

Brusthom Ziamani, 19, was arrested in an east London street in August last year carrying a 12in (30cm) knife and a hammer in a rucksack, having earlier researched the location of army cadet bases in the south east of the capital.

His Old Bailey trial heard that he “reverted” to Islam early last year and was arrested after he showed his ex-girlfriend weapons, described Fusilier Rigby’s killer Michael Adebolajo as a “legend” and told her he would “kill soldiers”.

A jury of seven woman and four men convicted him of preparing an act of terrorism on or before August 20 last year after deliberating for a day and a half.

The court had heard that Ziamani had fallen in with the Muslim group al-Muhajiroun – or ALM – who gave him money, clothes and a place to stay after he was kicked out of his home in Camberwell, south London.

He attended their talks in the basement of a halal sweet shop in Whitechapel and bought a black flag to take on their demonstrations, saying “I’m going to rock it everywhere I go in the Kaffirs’ face”.

After just months learning of the Muslim religion, he posted comments on Facebook that he was “willing to die in the cause of Allah” and saying: “Sharia law on its way on our streets. We will implement it, it’s part of our religion.”

At the time he was first arrested last June on an unrelated matter, police found a ripped-up letter in his jeans pocket in which he wrote about mounting an attack on a British soldier and expressed the desire to die a martyr.

But Ziamani denied he was planning a copycat terror atrocity like the murder of Fusilier Rigby.

On the letter, he said: “I was ranting and raging about the situation in Muslim countries which was described in these talks. I did not believe it at all.”

He explained his Facebook postings as an attempt to “fit in” with the ALM group, saying: “I did not believe it. I wanted to fit in with these people because they were giving me places to stay and they did not like moderate Islam.”

He denied that he had a terror “tool kit” of a hammer, knife and flag at the time he was arrested last August, saying he needed weapons because he felt threatened after getting out of a credit card theft operation.

And he said the black flag was packed just in case he was called to a demonstration at the last minute by text.

He rejected the suggestion that he styled himself as Mujahid Karim after one of Fusilier Rigby’s killers, saying the Muslim first name meaning “fighter, a warrior” suited his character because he used to do boxing and wrestling.

Ziamani was born in London to Congolese parents. His mother worked as a nursery nurse and his father was a psychiatric nurse.

He said he first became interested in Islam at the age of 15 through rap music and decided to convert again in the months before his arrests.

During that time, he went to the Camberwell Mosque, split up with his girlfriend and wore an Islamic robe but tucked it into his trousers when he went home to stop his Jehovah’s Witness parents finding out.

Defending, his lawyer Naeem Mian told the jury that Ziamani could not be convicted for having “offensive” or “repulsive” views and there was no evidence that he had actually carried out any reconnaissance for a terror attack.

He said: “We all have the right to have an interest in gore and grisly stuff. We have the right to have undoubtedly repulsive views, some of which he has expressed. He is not on trial for his views.”

After the verdict was delivered, Mr Mian told Judge Timothy Pontius: “Of course the sentence will be one of considerable length but nevertheless he is a young man who has no previous convictions at all.”

The judge adjourned sentencing to 10am on March 20 in order to consider all aspects of the case before deciding on Ziamani’s jail term.

The defendant, dressed in a grey and blue tracksuit, made not reaction to the conviction and sat impassively in the dock before being led away.

Published: Thursday 19th February 2015 by The News Editor

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