Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

Terrorist 'teacher' who trained 'army of children' to carry out attacks faces jail

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Paul Davies

A self-styled teacher and supporter of the so-called Islamic State terror group is facing jail time for attempting to train an "army of children" to carry out attacks on 30 high-profile targets across London.

Umar Haque, 25, secretly groomed children as young as 11 through terrorism role-plays and exercises.

Although he had no teaching qualifications, he had access to 250 youngsters at two east London schools and the Ripple Road madrassa over five years.

He planned to use guns and a car packed with explosives to strike targets including Big Ben, the Queen's Guard, Heathrow and Westfield shopping centre, his trial heard.

But he was rumbled by police and MI5 who had been on to him since he tried to travel to Turkey in April 2016.

In bugged conversations with his conspirators Haque said: "We are here to cause terror, my brother. We are a death squad sent by Allah and his messengers to avenge my Arab brothers' blood..."

Haque was found guilty along with two co-conspirators Credit: PA

In the months before his arrest, he bragged about recruiting 16 children, telling Ripple Road youngsters he intended to die a martyr and IS was "good".

Following the trial's conclusion, Essex Islamic Academy, where Haque had worked as an administrator, quickly distanced itself from him.

"We utterly condemn the activity of Umar Ahmed Haque and are concerned for the children and families affected by his crime," the mosques management said in a statement.

Schools inspection body Ofsted expressed "deep regret" that Haque had been able to operate, but said the agency would require extended powers to tackle such issues.

"We [Ofsted] have no ability to inspect out-of-school settings, such as madrassas, and we believe greater powers in this area could help keep children safe in the future," said Matthew Coffey, Ofsted's deputy chief inspector.

Ofsted said it had received no complaints about Haque prior to his arrest.

From the left: Muhammad Abid, Umar Haque, Abuthaher Mamun and Nadeem Patel Credit: Elizabeth Cook/PA Wire/PA Images

Following his trial at the Old Bailey, Haque was found guilty of planning terror attacks with help from two conspirators - Abuthaher Mamun, 19, and Muhammad Abid, 27. Both were convicted of helping Haque.

Nadeem Patel, 26, was cleared of plotting with Haque, but had previously admitted possessing a gun.

Fundraiser Mamun assisted with attack planning and set about making money through trading in options, while "confidant" Abid knew what Haque was planning and gave his support.

Giving evidence, Haque proclaimed his support for IS but said he was only "pondering" hypothetical attacks.

His co-accused told jurors they did not believe he was serious about launching an attack.

But a jury deliberated for 27 hours and 22 minutes to reach verdicts.

The judge, Mr Justice Haddon-Cave, will sentence at a later date.