Alleged terror plotter told police he joined pro-Isis chat group ‘to find wife’

‘I was just there to try and get a girl, it’s nothing to do with Isis ,’ Sahayb Abu said

Lizzie Dearden
Security Correspondent
Friday 19 February 2021 19:16
Sahayb Abu, seen in a selfie sent to his brothers, denies preparing acts of terrorism
Sahayb Abu, seen in a selfie sent to his brothers, denies preparing acts of terrorism

An alleged terror plotter told police that he joined an Isis-supporting chat group because he was “trying to find a wife”, a court has heard.

Sahayb Abu, 27, is accused of buying a sword, knife, body armour and balaclavas while preparing for an act of terrorism last year.

The Old Bailey heard that he joined a group called Servants of the Unseen on the encrypted Telegram app on 23 June, after applying with messages including one reading: “Time for talk over 100 per cent. Talking is over. The kuffar [non-Muslims] aren’t talking, that’s for sure.”

Jurors have been told that around 30 members of the group shared messages and images that actively displayed support for Isis, including terrorist propaganda.

In a police interview following his arrest, Abu said he had been invited into the group by an American man and felt that “55 to 60 per cent of [the material shared] was Isis methodology” and the rest was imams and scholars.

The court heard that Abu said he tried to “steer them to be a more Islamic group” and “help them become better Muslims”.

Reading a summary of his remarks during police interviews on Friday, prosecutor John McGuinness QC said Abu claimed he had “been trying to find a wife for a while”.

“As a single man looking to get married through many platforms he thought ‘let me show myself off, a macho big man and my ego with some words’,” said Mr McGuinness, paraphrasing Abu’s words.

“He thought one of them might like him and he was just showing off as a soldier-type, like bravado, strong macho Muslim. He was just telling people what they wanted to hear, it's nothing to do with his beliefs.”

Abu told police there were female members of the group who had flowers as their icons, and he thought “maybe behind that screen is a flowery princess, you know, who wouldn’t mind marrying a beast like me”.

He added: “I was just like really I’ll find a modest girl on here, because a lot of brothers do get married like that ... lot of brothers met their wives like that on WhatsApp groups but this was the wrong group, wrong chat.”

Alleged terror plotter raps about being a 'straight Isis supporter'

Abu said he did not believe a lot of the things he wrote on Telegram, and “does not remember half the messages he sent”.

“I was just there to try and get a girl, it’s nothing to do with Isis,” he added.

Jurors were told that he used rhetoric against non-Muslims and Shia Muslims, and outlined his support for extremist preachers including Anwar al-Awlaki, Sheikh Faisal and Anjem Choudary.

Writing about Isis’ deadliest single massacre, at Camp Speicher in Iraq, Abu posted a message saying: “They hit the jackpot that day.”

An undercover police officer known as Rachid had infiltrated the group, and the court heard that the pair discussed smuggling a gun into the UK in private chats and meetings.

When interviewed by police, Abu denied planning a terror attack or supporting Isis.

“I am against terrorism in all its shape and form,” he said. “I am against attacks in the UK or anywhere in or around the world. I am a humanitarian, I have a heart and I want to see people live and be prosperous.”

Abu told police that he had a “grudge” against Isis because his two half-brothers, Wail and Suleyman Aweys, died after joining the terrorist group in Syria in 2015.

“Ae have already lost two brothers to terrorism, who became terrorists, they became Isis,” he said.

Abu’s haf-brothers, Wail and Suleyman Aweys, travelled to Syria to join Isis in 2015 and are presumed dead

Abu said he watched Isis propaganda videos because he was looking for glimpses for his brothers and did not want to believe they were dead.

He told police he had called himself a “straight Isis supporter” in a rap video sent to two of his surviving brothers “just because the words rhymed”.

The jury previously heard that Abu’s said his violent lyrics were parodies of drill music, and that he claimed to have brought the combat vest, balaclavas and other clothing for that purpose.

The defendant told police that he had purchased a sword with a 17in blade because he could use it as a prop in videos, and that he enjoyed YouTube videos of people cutting everyday objects.

Abu added: “I want something that can cut through a piece of paper ... I wanted to slice a bottle in half. Some people get rolls of carpet they get like a rug, roll it, Sellotape or something and slice that in half and it cuts clean, you know, and that looked quite cool when I saw it on YouTube.

“So I wanted to just imitate that and also obviously then there’s the reasons why some of it can be used as prop, the bulletproof vest and all that those were props for my up and coming idea of making a movie.”

Abu told police that he did not want to “f*** up” his life by becoming involved in terrorism, and had business ideas including making fruit drinks and irrigation projects for developing countries.

Abu, of South Norwood in London, denies preparing an act of terrorism. His brother, Muhamed Abu, of Dagenham, denies failing to disclose information about acts of terrorism. The trial continues.

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