Self-styled teacher trained ‘army of children’ for terror attacks across London

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A self-styled teacher is facing jail for training an “army of children” for terrorist attacks on 30 targets across London.

Islamic State fanatic Umar Haque, 25, planned to use guns and a car packed with explosives to strike high profile targets including Big Ben, the Queen’s Guard and Westfield shopping centre.

He enlisted helpers at the Ripple Road mosque in Barking, east London, where he secretly groomed children as young as 11 through terrorism role-play and exercises.

Even though he had no teaching qualifications, Haque had access to 250 youngsters at two east London schools and the Ripple Road madrassa over five years.

Following a trial at the Old Bailey, Haque was found guilty of planning terror attacks with help from two conspirators.

The trial had heard how police and MI5 had been onto Haque since he tried to travel to Turkey in April 2016.

In bugged conversations with his conspirators, he talked about being inspired by the Westminster Bridge atrocity in March last year.

Haque said: “We are here to cause terror, my brother. We are a death squad sent by Allah and his messengers to avenge my Arab brothers’ blood…”

Prosecutor Mark Heywood QC told jurors the targets for Haque’s “warped” ideology were civilian as well as police.

His handwritten hit-list included the Queen’s Guard, courts, Transport for London, Shia Muslims, Westfield, City banks, Heathrow, Parliament, Big Ben, the media, embassies and the English Defence League or Britain First.

In the months before his arrest, he bragged about recruiting 16 children, telling Ripple Road youngsters he intended to die a martyr and IS was “good”.

Haque made them act out the roles of police and attackers in scenarios with weapons and a car bomb.

Terror plot court case
Muhammad Abid, Umar Haque, Abuthaher Mamun and Nadeem Patel, from left (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

Nadeem Patel, 26, was cleared of plotting with Haque, but had previously admitted possessing a

Fundraiser Mamun assisted with attack planning and set about making money through trading in options.

“Confidant” Abid knew what Haque was planning and gave his support.

When the defendants were arrested in May last year, police seized a large kitchen knife from Haque’s Ford Focus and a collection of IS propaganda from his home.

In a search of Patel’s home, police found a Walther P99 pistol and a carbon dioxide powered pistol.

Giving evidence, Haque proclaimed his support for IS but said he was only “pondering” hypothetical attacks.

His co-accused told jurors they did not believe he was serious about launching an attack.

But a jury deliberated for 27 hours and 22 minutes to reach verdicts.

The judge, Mr Justice Haddon-Cave, will sentence at a later date.

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