Terror plans were just ‘jihad banter’, says man who attacked police with sword outside Buckingham Palace

Mohiussunnath Chowdhury denies planning atrocities against gay pride parade and London tourists

Lizzie Dearden
Security Correspondent
Friday 24 January 2020 19:07 GMT
An Instagram video posted by Mohiussunnath Chowdhury showing a replica airsoft Glock pistol
An Instagram video posted by Mohiussunnath Chowdhury showing a replica airsoft Glock pistol (Metropolitan Police)

Making plans to obtain a gun and fantasising about terror attacks were just “jihad banter”, an alleged terrorist has claimed.

Mohiussunnath Chowdhury, who attacked police officers outside Buckingham Palace with a sword in 2017, denies planning new atrocities after being acquitted of a terror offence and released from prison.

Prosecutors told Woolwich Crown Court that as well as discussing attacks on potential targets including a gay pride parade, Madame Tussauds and London tourists, he told undercover police officers that he fantasised about a vehicle attack on Remembrance Day.

“He stated that he thought that it would be amazing to plough a truck into the ceremony whilst the two minutes’ silence would be broken by the sounds of ‘Allahu akbar’ and then the attack,” Duncan Atkinson QC told the jury.

“[Mr Chowdhury] went on to say that it would be impossible to do due to the amount of security and ‘pigs’ at the event with blockades and road blocks.”

When questioned about his comments by a defence lawyer on Friday, the defendant said he was “very ashamed”.

“I feel very ashamed but this is the kind of stuff I would hear other prison inmates talk about – I said this kind of stuff to impress them,” Mr Chowdhury said.

“I think it’s more jihad banter, the kind of stuff you talk about in prison. I wanted to impress them about ‘look how hardcore I am’, kind of thing.”

The court heard that the 28-year-old met terror convicts including the Parsons Green bomber and other “likeminded brothers” while being held on remand at HMP Belmarsh over the Buckingham Palace incident.

He is accused of discussing numerous potential attacks with undercover police officers who posed as jihadis to monitor Mr Chowdhury following his release from prison in December 2018, when he was acquitted of preparing an act of terrorism after a retrial.

After booking a place on a firearms training course, he said to one of the officers: “Bro we’ve got the guns in our hands, what’s to stop us from turning round and using on them yeah ... have a few training sessions then all of sudden take their guns off them, take them out then cracking go on from there.”

Mr Chowdhury told the court that the suggestion was “jihad banter”, as were enquiries he made into obtaining a gun.

“I didn’t want to see these weapons, I just wanted to see if you could get them,” he said. “It’s just part of the jihad banter, innit.”

He also discussed the possibility of travelling to Israel to train with the Israeli Defence Forces, then “all of a sudden turn the guns on them”, or going “on holiday where jihad is going on”.

The defendant claimed he had been “playing along” with one of the undercover officers and did not intend to carry out a terror attack.

He claimed he was afraid of one of the undercover officers, who had offered to help him obtain a gun, and was “trying to not act like a wuss”.

Mr Chowdhury added: “I was scared he might kill me, he might kill my family. He knows where I live so I was scared for my life.”

He told the jury that he believed in a form of jihad but “when 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.”

Mr Chowdhury accused one of the undercover officers of “pressuring” him to commit an attack, adding: “I was bantering with him but every time he tries to make it real I’m backing off because I didn’t want to do anything like this at all, I just wanted his friendship.”

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

He is accused of watching Isis propaganda videos including footage of gay men being thrown off buildings and guides to “vehicular jihad”.

Prosecutors said he played undercover officers speeches by al-Qaeda-linked hate preacher Anwar al-Awlaki.

The court heard that he was acquitted of a terror charge over the Buckingham Palace sword attack after “deceiving” a previous jury. On Friday Mr Chowdhury claimed he had produced the weapon in order to commit “suicide by cop”.

Prosecutors said that after his release he engaged in physical training, acquiring wooden training swords, enrolling on the shooting training course and obtaining a replica pistol while seeking a live firearm and ammunition.

Mr Atkinson said the defendant undertook knife practice in his bedroom and sword practice with his sister, Sneha Chowdhury, who is charged with failing to inform police about his plans.

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

His 25-year-old sister, of the same address, denies two counts of failing to disclose information about terrorist activity. The trial continues.

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