Isis supporter ‘worked on modifying drone for use in UK terror attack’

Hisham Muhammad allegedly collected knives and created ‘ninja eggs’ for use in attack

A construction made of lollipop sticks that experts found was a "viable" attachment to drop explosives from a drone
A construction made of lollipop sticks that experts found was a "viable" attachment to drop explosives from a drone

An Isis supporter attempted to remodel a drone to be used in a terror attack against the British armed forces or police, a court has heard.

Hisham Muhammad, 26, allegedly built a “release mechanism” for a commercial drone while researching other methods including knife attacks.

The Old Bailey heard that police found a “variety of bladed articles”, components, drawings, notes, camouflage clothing and masks at his home in Bury, Greater Manchester.

Muhammad allegedly possessed weapons including a tomahawk, machete, “bear claws” and two axes, and had practiced stabbing movements on cardboard boxes and clothing.

The defendant, who moved to the UK in 2013, is also accused of creating “ninja eggs” containing chilli and glass shards that could be used to “incapacitate or otherwise weaken” attack victims or emergency service responders.

Opening the prosecution case on Tuesday, Anne Whyte QC said: “Muhammad, who was, by all accounts a very polite man, was focusing on what he considered to be his obligation as a Muslim to act and to please his notion of his God by conducting an attack.”

She told a jury that he had downloaded extremist material that “glorified violence and martyrdom”, including Isis propaganda.

“He had researched how small drones might be adapted to drop some sort of device designed to harm others,” Ms Whyte said.

“By the time of his arrest, he was planning some sort of physical attack using knives and other weapons, possibly involving the armed forces or the police.”

Some of the weapons were allegedly paid for by money gained through a bogus escort agency set up by Muhammad and his cousin, where customers were asked for an upfront payment as a “gesture of goodwill”.

The court heard that in May 2018, Muhammad expressed a “false interest” in joining the British army in order to visit the Castle Armoury Barracks in Bury and that he had also searched military and armed police bases online.

Bear-claws found at Hisham Muhammad’s home in Bury (Greater Manchester Police )

The court also heard that both Muhammad and Abu Ahmad had admitted to setting up a bogus escort agency online, in which customers were asked for an upfront payment as a “gesture of goodwill”.

Ms Whyte alleged that money paid into fraudulently opened accounts was used to purchase items “relevant” to the case, including “axes, face masks and knife-sharpening stones”.

The alleged plot was uncovered after Muhammad’s home was visited by his landlord in June 2018, because he had fallen behind on rent.

Onkar Singh said he felt “uneasy” after spotting items including knives, a tub with wires and a soldering iron and took photos that he later showed to police.

Muhammad, of Victoria Avenue in Bury, denies engaging in conduct in preparation for acts of terrorism.

His cousin Faisal Abu Ahmad, 25, of the same address, denies failing to alert authorities of the alleged attack plan.

During his police interview, Muhammad denied being involved in a terror plot, telling officers he “liked to invent and innovate”.

The court heard he had accepted conducting searches about UK armed police and military bases, while also suggesting he did not believe that the Manchester Arena bombing or the Westminster Bridge attack had occurred.

He also questioned whether the video of the killing of the soldier Lee Rigby was real, according to the prosecution, and claimed he “wanted to research all aspects of terrorism so that he could find out the truth”.

The trial continues.

Additional reporting by PA

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