March 1, 2021 Faith Matters

Terror accused ‘made pro-IS posts for lockdown thrill’

An aspiring rapper accused of plotting a terror attack has told jurors he made pro-Islamic State comments online for a “thrill” in lockdown.

Sahayb Abu, 27, allegedly bought an 18in sword, knife, body armour, balaclavas and a hat in preparation for a strike last summer.

He also discussed guns with an undercover police officer he met through an IS supporters’ Telegram chat group, it is claimed.

Giving evidence at the Old Bailey, the convicted burglar claimed he had an “epiphany” upon his release from prison in March last year.

He said he made numerous searches for IS online for news of his half-brothers Wail and Suleyman Aweys, who are believed to have died in Syria in 2016.

Cross-examining Abu on Monday, prosecutor John McGuinness QC said: “You say you were not radicalised while you were in prison.

“You told the police in your interview that the memory of what happened to Suleyman and Wail haunts you to the present day.

“You told police that your view was Isis needed to answer for your brothers.”

Abu agreed he had a grudge against IS and “would not care” if the terror group was bombed to bits.

He told jurors he was no Mother Teresa or Dalai Lama, and “pro-violence” online posts were just “trolling”.

Mr McGuinness said: “How did that fit in with the new man leaving prison?”

Abu said: “This happened during lockdown. Nothing to do. The phone became a kind of portal. Being a troll.”

The prosecutor asked Abu about one post on Islam being a religion of “war”.

He said: “That post could have been posted by somebody who believes in the ideas of IS, do you agree? And those are your words.

“Bearing in mind the personal tragedy that had befallen your family because of the activities of IS, why post something like that?”

Abu replied: “Because it would bring a thrill to my life. I know it’s sad. I know it’s pathetic.”

Mr McGuinness asked: “Didn’t you think, ‘this is exactly the sort of thing that caused me to lose two of my brothers’? You chose to make those words pro-IS. It’s IS sentiment.

“Didn’t those words choke in your mouth as you were typing?

“Or the other explanation is that these posts represent the way that you felt and thought at the time.”

Abu replied: “It was just quarantine. I became pathetic. I’m sorry. I apologise.”

Mr McGuinness went on: “I’m suggesting you did mean these words at the time.

“If you were really telling the jury the truth about IS and the effect the death of your two brothers had on you, you would not have made posts like that.

“You did what your brothers did, you joined them. You became an IS supporter.”

Abu replied: “No, I did not support them at all. I wanted to do good things in my life.”

Abu, of Dagenham in Essex, has denied preparing an act of terrorism before his arrest in July last year.

His brother Muhamed Abu, 32, of Norwood, south London, has pleaded not guilty to failing to disclose information about acts of terrorism.

Read more: Rapping Jihadi Bought 18 Inch Sword Amid Lockdown