Black African Immigrant Found Guilty Of Plotting To Behead Soldier
By Mark White, Home Affairs Correspondent
A teenage Muslim convert who idolised the killers of Fusilier Lee Rigby has been found guilty of planning his own attack on members of the British military.
Brustholm Ziamani has been remanded in custody at the Old Bailey, and will be sentenced on 20 March.
The 19-year-old was arrested by counter-terrorism officers on 19 August last year, carrying a rucksack containing a 12-inch knife, a large hammer and an Islamic flag.
He later told a security officer at Wandsworth Prison in London that he had been on his way to “behead a British soldier at an army barracks and hold the severed head in the air” when he was arrested.
Ziamani, from Camberwell, southeast London, had been on police bail at the time he was stopped with the weapons, having been held almost two months earlier for posting extremist messages on Facebook.
At the time of his first arrest, on 27 June, officers searched his belongings and found a letter he had written to his parents.
He told his parents of his intention to fight jihad and wage war against the British Government.
It read: “You want war, you got it. British soldiers heads will be removed and burned. U cannot defeat the Muslims, we love to die the way you love to live.”
The Old Bailey heard how Ziamani had been brought up as a strict Jehovah’s Witness.
He converted to Islam at 15, but did not practise the religion until March last year when he began attending his local mosque and associating with a group of radical Muslims led by the preacher Anjem Choudary.
The court was told that his parents threw him out of the house when they learned of his conversion to Islam.
He became increasingly extreme in the messages he was posting online, condemning Jews and other non-believers, demanding Sharia law and calling on others to fight jihad.
He wrote of his admiration for Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, the two men who had murdered Lee Rigby outside Woolwich barracks in southeast London a year earlier.
Forensic examination of his mobile phone also discovered that he had searched online for information on army cadet and other military bases in his local area.
Despite this and his increasingly extremist rantings, the authorities decided not to prosecute Ziamani last June.
Instead, he was placed on a “Prevent” anti-extremism programme.
But that intervention failed to have the desired effect, and he continued to post extremist and offensive messages online.
On the morning of 19 August last year, he visited his ex-girlfriend in southeast London and told her he was going to attack a member of the military.
She gave evidence anonymously in court, claiming the defendant had opened his rucksack to show her the knife, hammer and Islamic flag he was carrying.
She told the jury: “I asked why he had these and he said, ‘Me and the brothers are planning a terrorist attack’.
“I said, ‘What, like a bomb or something?’, and he said, ‘No, a soldier or member of the government’.”
He was arrested by police later that day, purely by chance, as officers had been planning to detain him for the extremist messages he was continuing to post on Facebook.