A British man who tried to raise an army of young jihadis to carry out attacks across London was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison for multiple terrorism-related offenses.
Umar Haque, 25, was convicted in London’s Old Bailey court earlier this month for two counts of preparation of terrorist acts and one count of collection of information useful to terrorism.
The self-confessed Islamic State supporter took advantage of his position as an administrator at a private Islamic school to form a cadre of young militants who would be used to strike 30 high-profile targets, including Big Ben and the Queen’s Guard. Even though he had no qualifications as an educator, Haque used the pretext of teaching Islamic Studies at an after-school madrassa in East London to recruit and brainwash the children, some of whom were as young as 11.
Haque attempted to radicalize as many as 110 children by showing them beheading videos and other violent Islamic militant propaganda, British police say. Of those, 35 have been placed in long-term psychological support.
At sentencing, Justice Charles Haddon-Cave called Haque a “dangerous liar” who went to great lengths to raise a “mini militia.”
“You have violated the Qur’an and Islam by your actions, as well as the law of all civilized people,” the judge told Haque, according to the Guardian. “It is hoped you will come to realize this.”
Haque first came to the attention of British authorities in April 2016, when police officers stopped him at London’s Heathrow Airport as he attempted to board a flight to Istanbul. A subsequent search of Haque’s phone found detailed information on terrorist attacks and executions, and police eventually confirmed that he had begun planning attacks in Britain.
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Haque was assisted by two co-conspirators — fundraiser Abuthaher Mamun, 29, and confidant Muhammad Abid, 27 — who were also convicted earlier this month. Mamun was sentenced to 12 years and Abid to four years and three months, according to Sky News.
Haque’s life sentence carries a minimum term of 25 years.
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