Brusthom Ziamani found guilty of plotting to behead British soldier

The court said the 19-year-old was inspired by the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby

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Brusthom Ziamani has been found guilty of plotting to behead a British soldier.

The Old Bailey today convicted the 19-year-old of preparing an act of terrorism on or before 20 August last year, after he was inspired by the murder of soldier Lee Rigby.

The Fusilier was attacked in May 2013 by Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale near the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich, south east London.

When police arrested Ziamani on an east London street last August, they found him carrying a 12in (30cm) knife and a hammer in a rucksack, after he researched the location of army cadet bases in the south east of the capital.

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The court heard that Ziamani had “reverted” to Islam early last year. Just months after discovering the religion, he wrote on Facebook that he was "willing to die in the cause of Allah" and said: “Sharia law on its way on our streets. We will implement it, it's part of our religion.”

He would go on to tell his ex-girlfriend that Adebolajo was a “legend”, show her weapons and tell her he would “kill soldiers”.

Born in London to Congolese Jehovah's Witness parents, Ziamani was welcomed by the Muslim group al-Muhajiroun  (ALM) - who gave him money, clothes and a place to stay after he was kicked out of his home in Camberwell, the court heard.

He attended ALM talks in the basement of a sweet shop in Whitechapel, east London, and bought a black flag to carry on their demonstrations, saying: "I'm going to rock it everywhere I go in the Kaffirs' [non believer's] face."

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A Shahada flag which was shown in court during the trial of Brusthom Ziamani

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A hammer police found on Ziamani (PA)

When police first arrested Ziamani on an unrelated matter last June, police discovered a torn up letter in his jeans pocket in which he wrote about mounting an attack on a British soldier and expressed the desire to die a martyr.

But Ziamani denied that he was planning a copycat attack like the murder of Lee Rigby.

He said of the letter: "I was ranting and raging about the situation in Muslim countries which was described in these talks. I did not believe it at all."

Ziamani also said that his Facebook posts were an attempt to "fit in" with ALM.

 “I did not believe it. I wanted to fit in with these people because they were giving me places to stay and they did not like moderate Islam," he said.

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A knife which was shown in court during the trial of Brusthom Ziamani

He denied that he had a terror "tool kit" of a hammer, knife and flag at the time he was arrested last August, and said he needed weapons because he felt threatened after getting out of a credit card theft operation. Ziamani added that the black flag was packed just in case he was called to a demonstration at the last minute.

Ziamani said he first became interested in Islam through rap music aged 15, and decided to convert again in the months before his arrests.

Defending, his lawyer Naeem Mian told the jury that Ziamani could not be convicted for having “offensive” or “repulsive” views and there was no evidence that he had actually carried out any reconnaissance for a terror attack.

After the verdict was delivered, Mr Mian told Judge Timothy Pontius: "Of course the sentence will be one of considerable length but nevertheless he is a young man who has no previous convictions at all."

Ziamani will be sentenced on 20 March.

Additional reporting by PA