Woman convicted of helping future husband prepare for terror attack

Updated: 

A woman urged her future husband to kill for her and later helped him prepare for a terror attack by paying for a combat knife and life-like dummy for him to practise with.

Madihah Taheer, 21, encouraged Ummariyat Mirza by telling him before they were married that "I want you to kill ppl for me. I have a list".

In messages to each other, Mirza, 21, said he wanted to stab someone 27 times, to which Taheer replied that "sounds so satisfying". He then sent her a video of him pretending to stab a chair and asked her to buy him a knife.

A jury at Woolwich Crown Court on Thursday unanimously found Taheer guilty of the preparation of terrorist acts.

Mirza previously admitted preparing terrorist acts and two counts of possessing information useful to a terrorist, after he researched potential targets including a Birmingham military base on his phone.

When police searched the couple's home in St Agathas Road, Birmingham, they found the training dummy with slash marks across the forehead, throat and abdomen.

West Midlands Police said they believed it was likely former accountant Mirza was planning to carry out an attack in the UK.

Madihah Taheer
Madihah Taheer (West Midlands Police)

Officers arrested him on March 29 in Alum Rock Road, stopping his Ford Fiesta during evening rush hour. On mobile phones they found a "vast amount" of chatter on social media between the couple and the man's sister Zainab Mirza, 23, including Islamic State propaganda videos featuring a prisoner being beheaded and another being drowned in a fish tank.

Among the messages were several sent in September 2015, predating the couple's marriage in April 2016, in which Taheer told Mirza: "Can we get married already ffs. I want you to kill for me. I have a list."

Mirza replied: "The day of the nikkah (marriage) I'll kill em all. Give me the list. The only thing that stops me is we are not married. I will defo I'm not joking."

The CPS said the conversations showed Taheer was a "willing accomplice" who knew what Mirza wanted to use the knife for.

Ummariyat Mirza
Ummariyat Mirza (West Midlands Police)

West Midlands Police said during searches officers also found a rubber training knife, a steel hunting blade attached to a cord so it could be concealed under clothing and body armour.

Mirza's sister, of Eastfield Road, Birmingham, earlier pleaded guilty to five counts of disseminating terrorist publications, which she had sent to her brother.

Detective Chief Superintendent Matt Ward, head of West Midlands Counter Terrorist Unit, said: "Ummariyat Mirza's plan was escalating quickly so the decision to carry out arrests in a busy Birmingham street at rush hour was not taken lightly.

"The planning had begun in 2015 but quickly gathered momentum in terms of the volume and especially the nature of the shared material with the majority of videos shared by Zainub Mirza to her brother.

"The constant stream of material and supportive comments sent were, we believed, to encourage Ummariyat Mirza to begin acts of preparation for terrorism.

Madihah Taheer with a gun
Taheer with a gun (West Midlands Police)

"When Ummariyat Mirza and his sister were arrested, mobile phones were found in the car and at their respective addresses, as well as at other family addresses.

"Their devices were examined and a significant quantity of relevant mind-set material was found on them. The communications between Ummariyat Mirza and his sister reveal that they shared extremist material and praised killings carried out by Daesh.

"It is thought Mirza and his wife, encouraged by Zainub, were planning to carry out an attack in the UK, it is not known where this attack would have been, but we discovered research into potential targets, including military sites in the area."

The trio will be sentenced on December 1 at the same court.