Muslim convert facing jail for Oxford Street terror plot

A Muslim convert nicknamed “The Eagle” will be sentenced later for planning a terror attack on Oxford Street in London.

Lewis Ludlow, 27, swore allegiance to Islamic State as he prepared to drive a van through London’s shopping district or Madame Tussauds.

The former Royal Mail worker, who called himself “The Eagle” and “The Ghost”, researched potential targets around the capital.

He bought a phone under a false name and wrote down his attack plans, which were later found ripped up in a bin.

Lewis Ludlow court case
Lewis Ludlow’s notes about a “ram attack” on Oxford Street were recovered (Counter Terrorism Policing South East/PA)

He identified Oxford Street as an “ideal” spot, writing: “It is expected nearly 100 could be killed in the attack.”

Ludlow, from Rochester in Kent, formulated his plan after being stopped by police at Heathrow Airport in February as he attempted to board a flight to the Philippines.

He also set up a Facebook account called Antique Collections as a front to send money to south-east Asia for terrorism.

Ludlow first came to the attention of police in 2010 when he attended a demonstration led by radical preacher Anjem Choudary and his banned Al-Muhajiroun (ALM) group.

When he was arrested in 2015, IS material was recovered from Ludlow’s electronic devices but no further action was taken.

In January 2018, he bought a ticket to fly to the Philippines on February 3 but was stopped at the airport and had his passport seized.

Having set up a PayPal account and the Antique Collections site, he sent money to a man named Abu Yaqeen, allegedly living in an area with a significant IS presence, in March.

Police later recovered torn-up scraps of paper from Ludlow’s bin detailing potential attack sites, including Madame Tussauds, Oxford Street, St Paul’s Cathedral and a “Shia temple in Romford”.

He detailed a potential attack on Oxford Street using a van mounting the pavement, noting the lack of safety barriers.

He said: “Wolf should either use a ram attack or use… on the truck to maximise death… it is a busy street it is ideal for an attack. It is expected nearly 100 could be killed in the attack.”

On April 13, Ludlow’s mobile phone was retrieved from a storm drain and found to have videos of the defendant swearing allegiance to IS and evidence of “hostile reconnaissance”.

Lewis Ludlow court case
Ludlow carried out hostile reconnaissance, taking photos of shoppers on Oxford Street (Counter Terrorism Policing South East/PA)

Ludlow was arrested by counter-terrorism police on April 18 but refused to explain himself when he was interviewed.

Last year, he pleaded guilty to plotting an attack in the UK and funding IS abroad.

Giving evidence in January 2019, autistic Ludlow told how he rejected an MI5 advance in March 2017 but agreed to engage with the Prevent programme.

He was “bitter” and “heartbroken” when he was barred from the Philippines, he said: “I felt that I was trapped like an animal unable to escape its cage.”

At first his IS-supporting friend in the Philippines Abu Yaqeen asked for money then talked him into plotting an attack in Britain saying “you have to kill them”.

Ludlow said: “I said no at first, I did not want to because I felt this was a bit scary and then he said, ‘You have to do it. You have to kill them, make them pay in blood, you must get revenge. They are not innocent. They deserve to die’.

“He said the best way to do so was using a ram attack. He said in order to achieve such a spectacular attack we should use a truck bomb attack to achieve the necessary effect.

“He said to me, ‘Don’t you want to die a martyr? They deserve it’.”

Judge Nicholas Hilliard QC will sentence Ludlow at the Old Bailey on Wednesday.

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