19-year-old Brusthrom Ziamani has been sentenced to up to 22 years in jail following his conviction last month of “preparing an act of terrorism” – consisting of a soldier murder plot. The teenager, who converted to Islam in 2014, was described to BBC News by Commander Richard Walton of the U.K Counter Terrorism Command as being “an impressionable young man who became radicalised, then rapidly developed an extremist, violent mindset.”
Ziamani was raised in Camberwell, South London, by parents who were Jehovah’s Witnesses. When he rejected that religion in favour of Islam, his parents asked Ziamani to leave the family home. It was at this point, according to BBC News reporting of the trial, that his susceptibility to the grooming techniques of the extremist organisation al-Muhajiroun increased dramatically, and Ziamani began posting extreme comments on his Facebook page.
The police placed Ziamani under arrest for a different matter in June 2014 – then released him on bail – leading to the discovery of a five page letter he had written to his parents expressing his extremist views and hinting at a desire for a soldier murder plot. In light of the content of the letter – printed in full by The Telegraph – authorities attempted to engage the young man in the anti-radicalization program, Prevent, but Ziamani resisted.
When he was finally stopped in the street by police on August 19th 2014, they found a hammer, a large knife, and a black Islamic flag in the bag he was carrying. The ensuing investigation, recounted by The Guardian, uncovered the fact that Ziamani had been researching the location of nearby Army cadet bases. Ziamani detailed to an ex-girlfriend his gruesome plan to emulate the soldier murder plot perpetrated against Fusilier Lee Rigby in Woolwich, London, in 2013.
In sentencing Ziamani at the Old Bailey in London, Judge Timothy Pontius reiterated the fortuitous nature of the young man’s arrest – highlighting that catastrophic actions had been averted, and a soldier murder plot foiled.
“A realistic and sensible assessment of the whole of the evidence leads inescapably to the conclusion that this defendant, had he not by sheer good fortune been spotted and stopped by the police on the street in East London, would have carried out the intention he had so graphically expressed to his ex-girlfriend just a few hours before.”
Giving an assessment of the defense strategy employed during the soldier murder plot trial, Judge Pontius was clear in stating that the facts presented by the prosecution directly contradicted the portrait of a manipulated youth painted by Ziamani’s legal team.
“Ziamani’s coldblooded deliberation under the malign influence of ALM [al-Muhajiroun], of whom he was a willing student, showed in court that he was far from the naïve adolescent that the (defence) tried to portray him as.”
“He’s a man of intelligence and independent and articulate mind. He was within hours of carrying out his intention of murdering a soldier, police officer or government official, to imitate the horrifying savagery carried out by the killer of Lee Rigby.”
Brusthrom Ziamani will be eligible for parole after serving 15 years of his 22 year sentence for his foiled soldier murder plot.
[Image: Oli Scarff/Getty Images]