London terror plot accused watched IS videos, court told | UK news

A drill rapper on trial for terrorist offences watched gruesome IS propaganda videos as he plotted to kill people in central London, a court has heard.

Al Arfat Hassan, of Enfield, north London, is on trial at Sheffield crown court alongside a 16-year-old boy, both accused of preparing terrorist acts.

Hassan, 20, known as Official TS in his drill videos, used “cupcakes” as a code word for bomb among his friends as he compiled the materials to make an explosive, the prosecution said.

He is also charged with possessing an explosive substance under suspicious circumstances, while the 16-year-old, from Roundhay, Leeds, is accused of possessing a document likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing to commit an act of terrorism.

The pair watched violent IS propaganda videos in which people were murdered in gruesome ways and planned to carry out their own attacks to “martyr” themselves, said the prosecutor, Jonathan Sandiford KC.

The defendants had built a collection of knives between them, with Hassan having posed as an antiques dealer to get hold of a samurai sword, and the 16-year-old using his mother’s driving licence to order a number of knives online, the jury heard.

The jury also heard that Hassan had bought the household chemicals hydrogen peroxide and acetone on Amazon to turn into a bomb and that he had identified a target location in central London.

Hassan was part of a group he called “four lions”, Sandiford said, which also happens to be the title of a 2010 film by the satirist Chris Morris about a group of hapless terrorists whose plans are largely foiled by the authorities and by their own stupidity.

The younger defendant “had a particular hatred of people who were homosexual” and watched videos featuring the murder of gay people by stoning, beheading and being thrown from high places, Sandiford said.

The jury was told how at the age of 14, he had told his mother: “I just want to leave this world and meet Allah, I’ve had enough … all I want now is martyrdom.”

Hassan had also become radicalised in his late teens, Sandiford said, and the court heard how teachers at his school in Enfield said he had gone from being a “cheeky and likable” boy to being indoctrinated by extreme beliefs, saying he wanted to travel to Syria to fight.

“His beliefs extended to seeking martyrdom in the cause of Islam,” Sandiford said.

The court heard how the younger defendant, who cannot be named due to his age, had an argument with his mother over sharia law after she called IS militants “bastards”. In the following months, she became increasingly concerned about her son’s extremist views and warned him to stay away from Hassan, a warning he “did not heed”, Sandiford said.

On 27 February 2022, Hassan was stopped at Heathrow airport on the way to Bangladesh and his phones were seized. Six days later he was arrested after police found messages between the pair and extremist content. Hassan told police he was a “digital creator” and that everything he did was for artistic effect.

On 12 March 2022, the boy was arrested at his home in Leeds. Upon arrest, he said: “I’m a 15-year-old. I live at home, I’m chilling, why would I prepare a terrorist attack? Why would I do that? Do I look like that kind of person?”

The court heard how after being interviewed by police, he issued a statement saying he had “clearly used bravado and stupidity” and blamed the video games Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed for his “fascination” with weapons.

He told police he suffered from anxiety and depression after being assaulted by a teacher in year 6 and had previously tried to end his life. He said he thought Hassan was “cool” and he “got taken in by the hype”.

Both defendants deny being terrorists. The trial continues.

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