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Buckingham Palace sword attacker said killing pregnant women is ‘fair game’ if they weren’t Muslim, court hears

‘I’m doing another attack bruv,’ Mohiussunnath Chowdhury told sister after being freed from prison

Lizzie Dearden
Security Correspondent
Monday 27 January 2020 17:10 GMT
Scene outside Buckingham Palace after man arrested with 'sword'

The Buckingham Palace sword attacker told his sister he was about to launch “another attack” months after being acquitted of a terror offence, the court has heard.

Mohiussunnath Chowdhury allegedly trained for an attack on potential targets including a gay Pride parade and Madame Tussauds after being freed from custody at the end of a retrial.

Woolwich Crown Court heard that the 28-year-old told undercover police officers of his intentions and said that any non-Muslims were “fair game”.

On 20 June – six months after his release from prison – a covert recording showed him telling his sister, Sneha Chowdhury, that he was quitting his job at a chicken shop in Luton.

“I’m doing another attack bruv,” Mr Chowdhury said. “I’m serious bro, it’s about time now.”

But giving evidence at his trial, he claimed he made the comment “for attention” and did not mean it.

The defendant was arrested by counterterror police days later and charged with planning a terror attack, which he denies.

Prosecutors told a jury that the defendant was “to unleash death and suffering on non-Muslim members of the public who happened to be present, using a firearm, sword and even a van as part of an attack”.

The court heard that Mr Chowdhury boasted to undercover police of “deceiving” the jury that cleared him of a terror offence after he attacked officers with a sword outside Buckingham Palace in August 2017.

At trial, he claimed that he drove to London with a large sword and drew it on police while shouting “Allahu akbar” because he felt suicidal and wanted to be shot dead.

After his release, Mr Chowdhury was recorded telling undercover police, his cousin and a friend that his real intention had been to kill the officers in a terror attack.

But being questioned by prosecutor Duncan Atkinson QC on Monday, he claimed his original defence was true.

“I said what I said to impress [the undercover officers],” he said. “The defence was entirely true.”

The court heard that Mr Chowdhury had debated terrorism with his friends, telling one man that killing a soldier or police officer would be “instant paradise innit”.

When the friend said that he could not condone the murder of a pregnant woman or children, he replied: "Allah answers it very clearly in the Quran."

Mr Chowdhury added: "It’s halal [permissible] because it is not sacred. if they’re not Muslim then they’re fair game.”

The defendant allegedly used western military campaigns in the Middle East as justification for attacks, saying: “When you fight in war you fight men to men, yeah, but the war has come to a stage now where it’s like they are bombing our women... pound them equally as they pound you.”

PC Ian Midgley carrying a sword after disarming Mohiussunnath Chowdhury outside Buckingham Palace on 25 August 2017 (Metropolitan Police)

He cited Isis propaganda that declared all non-Muslim civilians targets for terror attacks and said “everybody above puberty” could be killed.

The court heard the he praised previous terror attacks, calling the Charlie Hebdo massacre “epic” and the murder of Lee Rigby “amazing”.

Asked about his remarks on the Charlie Hebdo attack, Mr Chowdhury said the gunmen had “stood up” for Islam and that the magazine had been “warned not to draw pictures of the Prophet Mohamed".

“It was beautiful that they stood up and attacked them,” he told the jury. “I don’t think it’s right that they did that [but] it’s like they put their foot in it.

“They were warned not to do these things, so it’s hard for me to have sympathy for people who insulted my prophet.”

The court previously heard that Mr Chowdhury engaged in physical training for an attack, acquiring wooden swords, enrolling on a shooting training course and obtaining a replica pistol while seeking a live firearm and ammunition.

But giving evidence at court, he claimed he had not intended to carry out an attack and was “going along with” undercover police officers who were posing as jihadis because he was intimidated by them.

Mr Chowdhury said he had just “played” with his young cousins and sister using the wooden swords, and cancelled the firearms course.

Sneha Chowdhury leaving Woolwich Crown Court in London on 6 January 2020 (PA)

When presented with photos showing canvas with apparent knife marks from his home, he admitted using it for stabbing practice with his sister, who is charged with failing to inform police about his plans.

Mr Chowdhury admitted that they practised stabbing motions together, with a knife kept under his bed, but said it was for “protection against intruders” after their neighbours were burgled.

In a recorded conversation in April last year, Mr Chowdhury allegedly told his sister that he “needed to practice decapitation techniques”.

While being questioned in court, he said he was referring to a move in a video game called Afro Samurai.

“This comes from my interest in martial arts and video games,” Mr Chowdhury added.

He denied seeking to radicalise other people and encouraging terror attacks, including by posting Isis propaganda online and sharing speeches by al-Qaeda linked ideologue Anwar al-Awlaki.

A recording showed him telling his sister that he was targeting children who came into the chicken shop were he worked after prayers at a nearby mosque, adding: “They come in the shop and I start radicalising them.”

Mr Chowdhury told the court that he was “just messing around” and the claim was “nonsense”.

He also said that his physical training was “for fitness” and that he only wanted to fight jihad “in the end times”.

In a tense exchange with Mr Atkinson, the defendant accused prosecutors of failing to “understand” him and police officers of lying.

“You haven’t shown me any preparation, all you’ve shown me is a list of targets and stuff that I’ve said,” he added.

Mr Chowdhury denies preparing acts of terrorism, disseminating a terrorist publication and possessing terrorist information.

His 25-year-old sister denies two counts of failing to disclose information regarding terrorist activity. The trial continues.

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