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London pharmacist ‘gave bomb advice to jihadist’

A pharmacist gave bomb and ricin-making advice to her fellow jihadist love interest after the pair met online dating, a court heard today.

Munir Hassan Mohammed, 36, and Rowaida El-Hassan, 33, also shared ISIS execution videos after bonding over their extremist beliefs on, a jury was told.

Mohammed had been radicalised by an ISIS commander on Facebook and wanted to carry out a deadly terrorist attack by the time he set up a dating profile in a bid to find a wife, jurors heard.

By the Spring of 2016 he was in regular contact with El-Hassan, a qualified pharmacist, who was looking for ‘a man who fears Allah before anything else’.

The pair shared gruesome videos of ISIS fighters beheading prisoners and recruiting children on WhatsApp as their online romance blossomed, jurors heard.

And Mohammed, who arrived in Britain as a refugee three years ago, later messaged an ISIS Commander for his recipe for ‘dough for Syrian bread’, which prosecutors claim is code for explosives.

During a raid on Mohammed’s Derby home in December last year, counter terror officials found components needed to make the mother of satan explosives – known formally as the unstable triacetone triperoxide (TATP). 

Counter terror officers found bomb manuals and instructions for ricin and mobile phone detonators, it is said. 

Munir Hassan Mohammed, 36, and Rowaida El-Hassan, 33, tried to create an improvised explosive device after bonding over their extremist beliefs

When another team raided El-Hassan’s home in Willesden, northwest London, on the same day they found other ingredients used in bomb making.

Ms Whyte said: ‘Both of them possessed material useful to someone wishing to manufacture improvised explosive devices – devices that are designed to injure or kill in an indiscriminate way.

‘Both of them had also been in possession of videos which gruesomely and variously depicted the murder, sometimes multiple murder of prisoners in the custody of an organisation, familiar to you as Islamic State.

‘These videos were designed to provide ideological justification for such acts of violence.’

El-Hassan, who has a Masters degree in pharmacy from University College London, used her expert knowledge of chemicals to help Mohammed research and stockpile the ingredients needed for a bomb, the Old Bailey heard.

Prosecutor Anne Whyte, QC, said: ‘Munir Mohammed appears to have met Rowaida El-Hassan, a qualified pharmacist, through a Muslim dating website.

‘Their communications with each other demonstrated an emotional attachment and a shared extremist ideology.

‘They exchanged materials and views at the time, we say, Mohammed was planning to perform an attack of his own, motivated and inspired by what he had seen and heard on social media.

‘Rowaida El Hassan had a professional knowledge of chemicals because of her professional training and qualifications.

‘She assisted Mohammed by providing him with information about chemical components required for bomb making and how to source them and she assisted his online research about the manufacture of ricin using castor beans.

‘In doing so she supported him in his engagement with attack planning.

‘They are jointly charged with an offence under section 5 of the Terrorism Act 2006 – preparation of terrorist acts.’

The court heard Mohammed had been radicalised after speaking to a Facebook contact called Abubakr Kurdi, a suspected Isis commander who has celebrated terrorist atrocities in Nice, Normandy and Orlando and called for lone wolf attacks throughout the world.

Ms Whyte continued: ‘In his communications with Kurdi, Munir Mohammed pledged his obedience to Kurdi and therefore by implication to IS.

‘He requested, using basic code, the receipt of bomb making instructions and had expressed willingness to participate in “a new job in the UK” – in other words, in an act of terrorism involving extreme violence.’

Mohammed’s profile stated he was a physicist from Sudan who spoke Arabic and was looking for a wife and partner to have children with.

He wooed potential partners with the line: ‘Think deep about your end and day after.’

El-Hassan, also born in Sudan, told suitors she had a masters degree in pharmacy and stated: ‘I am looking for a simple, very simple, honest and straight forward man who fears Allah before anything else.

‘I am looking for a man I can vibe with on a spiritual and intellectual level.

‘Someone who can teach me new things and inspire me.’ 

The couple met and bonded on, pictured, before they shared gruesome videos of ISIS fighters beheading prisoners and recruiting children on WhatsApp

The couple met and bonded on, pictured, before they shared gruesome videos of ISIS fighters beheading prisoners and recruiting children on WhatsApp

Yet three months into their online dating relationship, El-Hassan, who was herself recently divorced from her husband in Sudan, found out that Mohammed was still married. His own wife was living in Sudan and he was trying to bring her into the UK, jurors heard.

El-Hassan said that Mohammed was a ‘friend’ and that she had seen ‘nothing to suggest he was extreme or radical’.

The pharmacist claimed to have paid the terror suspect more than £2,000 through a friend so that he would not have to borrow money and be liable to pay interest charges.

The day after Mohammed’s arrest, he told officers: ‘If you have evidence and I’m guilty, prison is my place.’

During questioning, the Sudanese refugee claimed he ‘disgreed with the ways of ISIS’ and had downloaded some of their twisted propaganda from Facebook to show others how wrong it was.

He also told officers he had purchased Hydrochloric Acid to clean the alloy wheels on his car and said El-Hassan advised him to use Hydrogen Peroxide to treat burns he suffered while working on his BMW.

The alleged jihadi said the only reason he tried to talk to another suspected ISIS commander Kurdi was to ‘engage him in debate’. 

There was also step-by-step bombing making videos found on both Mohammed and El-Hassan’s smartphones after they were arrested by police in the run-up to last Christmas. 

The footage showed how to build devices which could explode remotely using a mobile phone and used to blast metl and steel ball bearings into crowds of people.

Screenshots of a Facebook post by Hazem Al Masri called ‘remote detonation using a mobile’ were also found on Mohammed’s phone.

On December 8 – just four days before his arrest – Mohammed was caught on CCTV where he allegedly asked about pressure cookers, which can be used to build IEDs.

El-Hassan may also have bought drain cleaned which contained high-purity Sulphuric Acid from Amazon, jurors heard. 

A day before her arrest she sent Mohammed a message which read: ‘This is the first time I hear the voice of Osama Bin Laden, may God have mercy on him.’

In a prepared statement to police, she said: ‘I believe Muslims are NOT terrorists.

‘My understanding is that terrorists are those who harm innocent people.’

Charles Bott, QC, defending Mohammed, said: ‘Mr Mohammed is a refugee from Sudan. He’s an intelligent, curious, hard-working man and he is also a full, sincere Muslim.

‘He didn’t belong to Isis or to any proscribed organisation. He isn’t a radical Islamist and he has not, we say, attempted to radicalise Rowaina El-Hassan or to influence her to participate in terrorist activity.’

The barrister claimed Mohammed has worked nightshifts in a factory and traded cars after coming to the UK in 2014.

‘Like many, many modern Muslims, he is deeply and intelligently interested in the contemporary debate about Isis,’ added Mr Bott.

‘Many decent Muslims with no appetite for violence believe they are the victims of injustice and hostility.

‘They are not going to run off and fight for Isis.’

Mr Bott said many ordinary Muslims are ‘interested by an organisation [Isis] that claims to stand up for Muslims all over the world’.

Timothy Moloney, QC, defending El-Hassan, said evidence will show that his client ‘wasn’t a supporter of Isis’.

‘Her purchase of Sulphuric Acid and the face masks had nothing to do with terrorism and everything to do with the state of her flat,’ he added.

Mohammed, of Leopold Street, Derby, and El-Hassan, of Willesden Lane, Willesden, each deny one count of preparing terrorist acts between November 2015 and September last year. The trial continues.

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