Internet dating couple face jail for plotting an IS attack in Britain

A lonely hearts couple will be sentenced later for plotting an Islamic State-inspired bomb or ricin attack over the Christmas holidays.

Sudanese asylum seeker Munir Mohammed volunteered for a "lone wolf" UK mission as he chatted on Facebook with a man he believed was an IS commander.

He enlisted the help of pharmacist Rowaida El-Hassan, drawing on her knowledge of chemicals needed to make a bomb after seeking her out on dating website

Terrorism court case
Terrorism court case

At the time of his arrest in December 2016, Mohammed had two of the three components for TATP explosives as well as manuals on how to make bombs and ricin poison.

Mohammed, 36, of Leopold Street, Derby, and mother-of-two El-Hassan, 33, of Willesden Lane, north-west London, denied preparing terrorist acts between November 2015 and December 2016.

But following an Old Bailey trial, a jury found the pair guilty of the plot in January.

They will be sentenced on Thursday by Judge Michael Topolski QC.

The court heard that Mohammed arrived in Britain in the back of a lorry and claimed asylum in February 2014.

Terrorism court case
Terrorism court case

After being kept waiting for more than two years, he appealed to Labour MP Margaret Beckett for help with his immigration problems.

Meanwhile, Mohammed was working at Kerry Foods in Derby, making sauces for supermarket ready meals, and wooing a potential British bride he met online.

The prosecution claimed he was attracted to University College London graduate El-Hassan because she referred to being a qualified pharmacist in her dating profile.

She wrote that she was looking for a simple man whom she could "vibe with on a spiritual and intellectual level".

By the spring of 2016 the pair were in regular contact on WhatsApp and had met more than once in a London park near El-Hassan's home.

In August 2016, Mohammed was put in touch via Facebook with a man he believed was an IS commander to whom he pledged to do "a new job in the UK".

He went on to complain at the lack of instructions, asking in coded language how to make "dough" (explosives) for "Syrian bread" (a bomb) and "other types of food".

Mother-of-two El-Hassan advised fellow divorcee Mohammed on what chemicals he needed for the bomb.

In November 2016, Mohammed got hold of a video containing information on how to manufacture ricin, the court heard.

Terrorism court case
Terrorism court case

And in the days before his arrest, Mohammed was captured on in-store CCTV buying "acetone-free" nail polish remover from Asda, in the mistaken belief it was a chemical component of TATP.

When police raided his home on December 12 2016, they found hydrogen peroxide in a wardrobe and hydrochloric acid in the freezer.

Mohammed denied the chemicals were for a bomb, claiming the hydrochloric acid was to clean the alloys on his car and the peroxide was to treat a burn.

El-Hassan, who came to Britain from Sudan at the age of three, told jurors she had sulphuric acid for her drains and got face masks to wear as she dealt with a damp problem in her flat.

On the relationship, she admitted having an "emotional attachment" but said she had "mixed feelings".

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