Buckingham Palace sword attacker convicted of plotting new terror attacks after being acquitted and freed from prison

Mohiussunnath Chowdhury discussed attacks on targets including London Pride, Madame Tussauds and tourists

Lizzie Dearden
Security Correspondent
Monday 10 February 2020 16:32 GMT
Statement after man convicted of planning terror attack in London just over a year being cleared of sword attack outside Buckingham Palace

A chicken shop worker has been found guilty of planning new terrorist atrocities after being released from prison over another attack.

Mohiussunnath Chowdhury had slashed police officers with a sword outside Buckingham Palace while shouting “Allahu akbar” in August 2017.

But he denied attempting an act of terror and claimed he was just trying to make the police shoot him dead because he was depressed.

After being cleared by a jury, Chowdhury was freed from the prison in December 2018 and “hit the ground running” for new attacks.

Woolwich Crown Court heard that he discussed potential targets including a gay pride parade, Madame Tussauds and London tourist bus with undercover police officers who were posing as fellow jihadis.

While consuming both Islamist propaganda and material by right-wing extremists including Tommy Robinson, he told associates that the Buckingham Palace attack really had been an act of terror and that he deliberately deceived the jury that cleared him.

Chowdhury repeatedly praised other terror attacks and claimed to be radicalising children who came into the peri peri chicken shop where he worked in Luton.

In the months after his release from prison, he engaged in physical training, by acquiring wooden swords, practising stabbing techniques, enrolling on a shooting training course and obtaining a replica pistol while seeking a live firearm and ammunition.

Chowdhury told a friend that all non-Muslims, even pregnant women or children, were “fair game” and that killing a soldier or police officer would be “instant paradise”.

On 20 June – six months after his acquittal – a covert recording showed him telling his sister, Sneha Chowdhury, that he was quitting his job.

When asked why, he told her: “I’m doing another attack bruv … I’m serious bro, it’s about time now.”

The siblings were arrested by counter-terror police in Luton 3 July, and told that their home and Chowdhury’s car had been bugged for months.

Investigators had records of Chowdhury’s conversations, his internet activity, the extremist propaganda he had viewed and the purchases he made in preparation for the attack.

The defendant had viewed numerous speeches by al-Qaeda ideologue Anwar al-Awlaki and other hate preachers, Isis propaganda and guides on carrying out attacks with vehicles and knives.

But he denied all charges and claimed talk of an attack had merely been “jihad banter” or “for attention”.

Scene outside Buckingham Palace after man arrested with 'sword'

Chowdhury told the jury that he had assimilated with terrorist prisoners at HMP Belmarsh during his time on remand for safety, having met the Parsons Green bomber and other “likeminded brothers”.

He claimed that he was not truly seeking to obtain a gun, and felt pressured by the undercover officer who offered to help him.

Chowdhury added: “I was scared he might kill me, he might kill my family.”

He told the jury that he believed in a form of jihad but not until “the antichrist comes alongside Jesus” in the “endtimes”.

“That’s the battle I want to be fighting,” he said. “I don’t want to do any terrorist acts, I don’t believe in it.”

Chowdhury claimed he had only undertaken physical training to lose weight so he could find a wife.

But the jury rejected his explanations to find him guilty of preparing acts of terrorism, disseminating a terrorist publication and possessing terrorist information.

Prosecutors told the court that Chowdhury had been viewing and posting extremist material before coming into contact with the undercover officers, and was not pushed or tricked into attack planning.

“Within days of his release, the defendant was posting on Instagram a story extolling the virtues of martyrdom for Allah and an image of the police officer who had wrestled the sword away from him outside Buckingham Palace, PC Ian Midgley, calling him a ‘cuck’,” Duncan Atkinson QC told jurors.

An Instagram video posted by Chowdhury showing a replica airsoft Glock pistol
An Instagram video posted by Chowdhury showing a replica airsoft Glock pistol (Metropolitan Police)

“He had, in reality, hit the ground running on his release from prison, and ready to pick up where he had been forced to let off in 2017 when his attack at that time had failed.”

Commander Richard Smith, head of Scotland Yard’s Counter Terrorism Command, said officers received information about Chowdhury’s extremist posts a week after his release.

He acknowledged that it had been an “exceptionally difficult balance” to gather enough evidence to ensure a conviction while mitigating the risk he posed up until his arrest – just three days before the Pride in London parade.

“I am relieved to see him convicted,” Mr Smith added. “I believe Chowdhury to be an extremely dangerous individual who is committed to kill and maim members of the public for no other reason than that he is possessed of a hate-filled ideology.”

Chowdhury’s 25-year-old sister cried as she was convicted of one count of failing to disclose information about acts of terrorism and cleared of another count of the same charge.

The siblings, both of Kirkwood Road in Luton, will be sentenced at a later date.

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