A man has been convicted of planning to carry out a terrorist attack after a joint proactive operation by the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command and MI5.
Sahayb Aweys Munye Abu, 27, of Dagenham, ordered weapons, equipment and clothing online in preparation for an attack, while visiting websites with Daesh material and sharing his extremist views with people online.
However, MI5 and police were actively investigating Abu. He was detained during a proactive armed police operation carried out after he ordered a large sword online that he was planning to use in his attack.
Commander Richard Smith, head of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, said: “This is a prime example of how our officers and the security services are working together to keep people safe.
“Every day, counter-terrorism teams are identifying and targeting individuals and groups with violent, extremist views and those with terrorist intent. They gather the intelligence and evidence we need to identify those who pose a threat, so that we can stop their activity, bring them to justice and protect the public from harm.”
Today, Friday, March 12, Abu was found guilty of preparation of terrorist acts (contrary to section 5 of the Terrorism Act 2006), by a 11-1 majority verdict after a trial at the Old Bailey which started on Tuesday, February 9.
He is due to be sentenced on Friday, April 9.
The police investigation started in March 2020 due to concerns about Abu’s extremist mindset.
In May and June 2020 over several weeks, Abu made enquiries about and purchased a number of items that gave investigators cause for further concern – a lock knife, a ballistic vest, two balaclavas, fingerless gloves, a camouflage print fisherman’s hat with face and neck cover, and finally a large sword.
During the course of the investigation, an undercover officer met and befriended Abu online and they met in person on two occasions. During their conversations, Abu spoke about obtaining firearms.
Abu was arrested on July 9 during an armed policing operation.
His electronic devices were seized and analysed and officers found dozens of messages, including video and voice messages, where Abu recited lyrics which reflected his extremist views.
In one song, he refers to himself as a “straight ISIS supporter”, talks about “heads rolling on the ground”, and says “got my suicide vest, one click boom and I’ll see you later.”
On the day of his arrest, he posted a message in a chat group saying “we need a 9/11 2.0” – referring to the terrorist attack on World Trade Centre in 2001.
His internet search and browsing history also showed that he visited websites about Daesh, and accessed and downloaded Daesh propaganda and other extremist content.
When interviewed by police, Abu denied any intention to commit a terrorist attack and said the items he had purchased were for display purposes and for use in parody “drill” music videos.
Commander Smith added: Over several months, Abu sought to obtain weapons and the equipment needed to commit a terrorist attack. He is an extremely dangerous individual, but we were able to intervene and arrest him before he was able to carry out his attack.
“This investigation took place during the COVID-19 pandemic, but our focus on keeping the public safe from terrorism has not wavered during that time. Whilst people will clearly have other things on their minds at the moment, we must also remember that the threat of terrorism in the UK is still very real and an attack remains likely. We continue to rely on the public’s help and support in our ongoing fight against terrorism.”
If you have information about terrorist activity or offences, call the Anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789 321. If there is an immediate threat, always call 999. For more information, visit www.gov.uk/report-terrorism.
If you have concerns about a friend or acquaintance who you believe is being radicalised or holds extremist beliefs, call the national police Prevent advice line on 0800 011 3764 in confidence. For more information, visit www.actearly.uk
* Muhamed Aweys Munye Abu, 32, of south London, was found not guilty of failing to disclose information about acts of terrorism (contrary to section 38B of the Terrorism Act 2000).