Nineteen-year-old Haroon Syed was arrested last year after revealing to an undercover MI5 officer his plans of carrying out various attacks in London on the 15th anniversary of the September 11 attacks. Last Monday, Syed was sentenced to life in prison.
His sentence came after pleading guilty to plotting the attacks between April and September 2016, researching how to obtain and use a suicide vest and a machine gun, as reported by multiple outlets.
The radicalized teen was targeting an Elton John concert in Hyde Park, which took place on September 11 of last year, as well as Queen Elizabeth’s residence, Buckingham Palace, and Oxford Street — presumably to do as much damage as possible.
The evidence during the trial was irrefutable. Not only did he confess to his plans, but he also used social media to try and find people who believed in his cause and were more likely to help him with his task — supporters of the Islamic State.
“Two things. Number one, machine gun and we need someone who can make a vest you know the dugma [button] one. So after some damage with machine gun then do itishadi [martyrdom]… that’s what I’m planning to do.”
His plans included anything from becoming a suicide bomber to staging a gun attack, but the ill-conceived attack didn’t get a chance to materialize, thanks to the great job of the undercover officer who got his confession after weeks of posing as jihadist Abu Yusuf.
The judge who sentenced Syed, Michael Topolski, said that a life sentence was warranted in this case as the teen intended to carry out “an act of mass murder.” Of his sentence, Syed is to serve at least 16 and a half years.
“[You became] deeply committed to the ideology of a brutal and barbaric organisation that sought to hijack and corrupt an ancient and venerable religion for its own purposes and you wanted to be part of it.”
Deb Walsh, deputy head of the counter-terrorism division of the Crown Prosecution Service, said, “Haroon Syed is clearly a danger to the public who was prepared to carry out indiscriminate attacks against innocent people.”
The 19-year-old’s radicalization is said to have come as a result of the incarceration of his older brother, Nadir Syed. The 23-year-old was arrested in 2015 after planning to carry out a beheading on Remembrance Sunday. The siblings were possibly influenced by radical group al-Muhajiroun; a banned terrorist jihadist organization linked to several international attacks.
While Haroon was on the authorities’ radar since 2015 — his passport was seized back then — he was not closely monitored around the time his brother was arrested, somehow slipping through the cracks.
[Featured Image by Ian Gavan/Getty Images for Harlequins]