IS Jihadi Ordered Me to Launch Oxford Street Attack, Muslim Convert Tells Court

A Muslim convert has told how he was ordered by an Islamic State jihadi to launch a ram or bomb attack on Oxford Street to “make them pay in blood”.

Lewis Ludlow, 27, from Rochester in Kent, researched and scouted for targets around London and wrote down plans before his arrest last April.

The defendant, who called himself the Ghost and Eagle, also recorded a pledge of allegiance to IS, saying he had nothing but “animosity and hatred”.

He plotted the attack after being stopped from travelling to the Philippines, the Old Bailey heard.

The former Royal Mail worker has pleaded guilty to preparing acts of terrorism in the UK and funding terrorism abroad.

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

Ludlow said he wanted to travel to the Philippines in February last year to find a wife and start a “new life” but kept his plans a secret from his Prevent mentor.

When he was stopped at the airport, he felt “bitter” and “heartbroken”, he said, adding: “I felt that I was trapped like an animal unable to escape its cage.”

On learning he would not be travelling, his IS-supporting friend in the Philippines Abu Yaqeen first asked him to send money to help pay for bullets and medical supplies, Ludlow said.

The defendant, who has autism, went on to describe how Yaqeen gradually talked him into plotting an attack in Britain.

He claimed he went to London to print off a picture of the black IS flag and research “busy shopping centre” on the orders of Yaqeen.

“On this plot, it was a bit like wheeling in very slowly. I thought to myself, I don’t think he will try to make me do something stupid like try to harm someone,” Ludlow said.

Later, Yaqeen told him he had to “kill” people during a chat on an encrypted app, he said.

Ludlow said: “He said to me, ‘The reason I asked you to research busy shopping centres is because you need to do something against these kuffar in the land of the crusader’.

“I said, ‘What do you mean’. He said, ‘You have to kill them’ and then he tried to encourage me to prepare to get involved in an act.

“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’.”

Ludlow said Yaqeen mentioned targets including Oxford Street, St Paul’s Cathedral and Shia temples.

The defendant said he was told to go to London to “scout”, take pictures, make notes and prepare an oath.

He told the court he photographed various potential targets including Madame Tussauds and around Oxford Street.

Ludlow said he wrote notes about killing up to 100 people in a ram attack or using an improvised explosive device to “maximise” casualties.

Asked if he had anywhere in mind, Ludlow said: “He just said Oxford Street. There was no particular building mentioned.”

Rebecca Trowler QC, defending, asked: “Do you accept at that time you intended that the kind of attack described in these notes would at some point in the future be carried out?”

Ludlow said: “At that particular time yes but there was no date set.”

He claimed Yaqeen was persistent and put pressure on him, so he “went along with it and followed his instructions”.

In the end, Ludlow said he decided to stop and ripped up his notes because he felt “guilty at what I had done”.

The defendant told the court he suffered from anxiety attacks like “whispers from the devil”.

Judge Nicholas Hilliard QC will conclude the sentencing at a later date.