'Silent bomber' Mohammed Rehman and wife Sana Ahmed Khan found guilty of planning London terror attack

The couple had stockpiled chemicals needed to make a huge bomb 

Loulla-Mae Eleftheriou-Smith
Tuesday 29 December 2015 17:10
Mohammed Rehman and Sana Ahmed Khan, who were convicted at the Old Bailey on December 29, 2015
Mohammed Rehman and Sana Ahmed Khan, who were convicted at the Old Bailey on December 29, 2015

A potential suicide bomber and his wife have been found guilty of planning a massive terror attack in London designed to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the 7/7 bombings in the capital.

Mohammed Rehman, 25, and his wife, Sana Ahmed Khan, 24, were discovered to have been days away from committing an act of terrorism in the capital before they were arrested by anti-terrorism police.

Rehman, who had been going by the name of "Silent Bomber," used money from his wife to buy chemicals needed to make a huge bomb from eBay and stockpiling them at his family home in Reading.

He had taken to Twitter in May to ask people for suggestions as to which target he should choose for the attack - Westfield shopping centre or the Tube - and had been found to have filmed himself setting off a small explosion in his back garden.

The prosecution said Rehman had been just days away from completing the bomb that would have caused multiple casualties in the capital before he was stopped by police.

Rehman and Khan were found guilty of preparing an act of terrorism around 28 May this year following a trial at the Old Bailey.

Rehman was also convicted of possessing an article for terrorist purposes.

The couple had shared a "common interest" in violent and extreme Islamic ideology and a keen interest in Isis, prosecutor Tony Badenoch QC told the jury. He said the pair had repeatedly researched the 7/7 bombings and that Rehman's online research had showed he approved and "wished to play his own part".

The 2005 bombings were the worst terrorist atrocity seen in the UK since Lockerbie in 1998. Fifty two people were killed in the attack and 770 were injured.

Rehman's plans were uncovered after an undercover investigator discovered his tweet, which read: "Westfield shopping centre or London underground? Any advice would be appreciated greatly," along with a link to the uncensored al Qaeda media release on the 7/7 bombings.

He had used a profile picture of Jihadi John to make the post on 12 May, and was found to have trawled YouTube for videos of London bombings and Shehzad Tanweer, one of the 7/7 bombers who Rehman had referred to as his "beloved predecessor", on the same day.

Rehman conversed with the undercover investigator in a private conversation online, asking "how dumb these kuffar are lol" and - after confiding in the investigator he was preparing for martyrdom - whether he wanted to join him or go the "lone wolf route".

He also tweeted: "Now I just make explosives in preparation for kuffar lol and when I've made the required amount I'll be wearing them on my chest."

Rehman fled to a local Co-op when police descended on him on 28 May. He was stopped by armed police and claimed there was nothing dangerous in his home before telling officers he had rigged up a bomb that could be triggered by the touch of a button at his bedside, threatening: "Nobody gets in the way of my jihad."

Officers instead discovered a Jihadi John-style hunting knife and chemicals for a massive bomb which was days away from completion, including 10kg or urea nitrate, a highly explosive chemical that could have caused multiple fatalities if detonated, jurors heard.

Rehman later admitted to making and testing explosives but denied intending to harm anyone during a police interview, saying he had used Twitter to draw attention to himself in the hope he would be arrested and put in custody.

His wife Khan, whom he had been married to in secret, refused to answer questions from police but admitted having conversations with Rehman about Isis and jihad - but denied knowing about his Twitter activities.

Khan, who studied to degree level at the University of Greenwich in south-east London, had known Rehman for 10 years. She kept their Islamic marriage a secret from her family who did not approve of drug-taking divorcee Rehman, and they lived separately with their parents and siblings.

Mr Badenoch told jurors that Rehman frequently had violent arguments with his family, causing his fearful father to spend time away and even sleep rough to avoid him.

Rehman, of Radstock Road, Reading, and Khan, of Hutton Close, Reading, denied wrongdoing but refused to give evidence in the trial.

Susan Hemming, head of the Crown Prosecution Service's (CPS) counter-terrorism division, said the intent to carry out a terrorist attack was "clear" from Rehman's threatening tweets, and that the couple had carried out "huge amounts of research" online.

She said: "The pair had been very close to carrying out an attack, all they required was to purchase the chemicals to make a detonator.

"There is little doubt that, had Rehman and Ahmed Khan not been stopped when they were, they would have attempted to carry out an act of terrorism in London."

The pair are expected to be sentenced on either Wednesday or Thursday.

Additional reporting by PA