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Londoner found guilty of trying to recruit 'IS child army'

Umar Haque was allegedly inspired by Westminster terror attack in March 2017 [Getty]

Date of publication: 3 March, 2018

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A man has been convicted of trying to radicalise boys in east London, reportedly feeding them IS propaganda and training them physically for launching terrorist attacks in the capital.
A self-styled Islamic studies teacher who allegedly tried to groom hundreds of East London children to become future extremist fighters was convicted of a range of terrorism offences at the Old Bailey on Friday.

Umar Haque, 25, led religious studies classes at a mosque and Islamic school, despite having no previous teaching qualifications. He is thought to have had access to over 100 children, whom he trained physically and mentally to commit terror attacks. He was convicted in a British court on Friday.

Haque, from east London, allegedly tried to radicalise scores of children to commit "a multi-faceted attack on businesses and communities in London", according to a Metropolitan Police statement.

Haque allegedly showed pupils at an after-school madrasa videos of "extreme terrorist violence", such as Islamic State beheadings, and made them "role play terrorists" stabbing police officers.

Thirty-five of the children Haque attempted to radicalise are in long-term treatment. Haque allegedly forced them take an oath not to tell their parents, friends or teachers about what he had been doing with them.

He had allegedly been inspired by Khalid Masood who had recently carried out the Westminster terrorist attack in March of 2017. Secret recordings of Haque eulogising the London terrorist were played in court. 

His two accomplices, Abuthaher Mamun, 29, and Muhammad Abid, 27, were also convicted at London's Old Bailey court.

"Haque was a dangerous man who was inspired by attacks in Europe and Westminster. He wanted to orchestrate numerous attacks at once, using guns, knives, bombs and large cars to kill innocent people," said Dean Haydon, head of the Met Police Counter Terrorism Command.

He intended to execute his plan years later, by which time he anticipated he would have trained and acquired an army of soldiers, including children

"We recovered a number of exercise books from his home and it was evident from his notes that his plan was a long-term one.

"He intended to execute his plan years later, by which time he anticipated he would have trained and acquired an army of soldiers, including children."

In a phone message heard in court, Haque told Abib that he was using his role as an administrator at after-school madrasa "Lantern of Knowledge" in east London to radicalise 16 children. 

Schools watchdog Ofsted is under pressure to explain how the school received an "outstanding" rating following an inspection conducted while Haque was working there.

Further investigation revealed that Haque had also attempted to radicalise 55 children aged 11 to 14 while working at the Ripple Road Mosque.

They told police how Haque made them role play terrorists and police officers, with the children acting as terrorists being made to stab the 'police officers' to death

"When specially trained officers interviewed the children, they described being shown by Haque horrific videos of extreme terrorist violence including executions," said Haydon.

"They told police how Haque made them role play terrorists and police officers, with the children acting as terrorists being made to stab the 'police officers' to death.

"The children were paralysed by fear of Haque, who they understood to have connections to terrorists and who essentially told them that a violent fate would befall them if they told anyone what he was doing. They were too afraid to confide in anyone," he added.

Six children testified in court, and a video interview with one child was broadcast in court.

He wants a group of 300 men. He's training us now so by the time I'm in year 10 [14 to 15 years old] we will be physically strong enough to fight

"He is teaching us terrorism, like how to fight," he said. "If you fight for the sake of Allah, on Judgment Day, when you get judged for your good deeds and bad deeds, fighting is good.

"He wants a group of 300 men. He's training us now so by the time I'm in year 10 [14 to 15 years old] we will be physically strong enough to fight."

Haque was convicted by a jury of offences including plotting terrorist attacks, having previously admitted to four charges of collecting information useful for terrorism and one count of disseminating a terrorist document.

Haque, who was arrested in May, had pleaded not guilty. He said he supported IS but wasn't planning attacks.

As he was dragged from the dock by court officers, Haque said, "You will clearly see Islamic State establish itself in the Arabian peninsula and that droughts will affect Europe and America."

Haque and his co-defendants will be sentenced at a later date.

Agencies contributed to this report

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