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ISIS supporter tried to modify drone for use in UK terror attack

The Interior Department has grown heavily reliant on drones to monitor hundreds of millions of acres of public lands, employing the devices to help respond to natural disasters as well as survey dams and other critical infrastructure. (Dreamstime/TNS)

A Daesh supporter tried to remodel a drone that he intended to use in a terror attack targeting British police or the armed forces, a court has heard.

Hisham Muhammad, 26, is said to have built a “release mechanism” for a commercial drone and researched other ways of carrying out attacks including stabbings, The Independent reported.

A “variety of bladed articles,” components, drawings, notes, camouflage clothing and masks were found at his place of residence in Bury, Greater Manchester, the Old Bailey heard.

The defendant also allegedly possessed weapons including a tomahawk, machete, “bear claws” and two axes, and had practiced stabbing cardboard boxes and clothing, the British newspaper reported.

Muhammad, who moved to the UK in 2013, is also accused of creating “ninja eggs” that were filled with chilli and glass shards.

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These eggs could be used to “incapacitate or otherwise weaken” attack victims or emergency service responders, The Independent added.

He had downloaded extremist material that “glorified violence” and Daesh propaganda, according to Anne Whyte QC, who opened the prosecution case on Tuesday.

“He had researched how small drones might be adapted to drop some sort of device designed to harm others,” Whyte said.

“By the time of his arrest, he was planning some sort of physical attack using knives and other weapons, possibly involving the armed forces or the police.”

Muhammad expressed a “false interest” in joining the British Army in order to arrange a visit to the Castle Armory Barracks in Bury, and had searched military and armed police bases online, the court heard.

It also heard that Muhammad and his cousin Faisal Abu Ahmad, 25, had admitted to setting up a bogus escort agency online in which customers were asked for an upfront payment as a “gesture of goodwill.” The payments were then used to buy “axes, face masks and knife-sharpening stones.”

The alleged scheme was exposed after Muhammad’s home was visited by his landlord in June 2018, as he had fallen behind on rent.

Onkar Singh said he felt “uneasy” after seeing items such as knives, a tub with wires and a soldering iron. He took photos of them and showed them to police.

Muhammad denies engaging in conduct in preparation for acts of terrorism, and Abu Ahmad denies failing to alert authorities of the alleged attack plan.

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© 2020 the Arab News