Police officer or soldier 'target in IS-inspired London terror plot'

Tarik Hassane (left), Suhaib Majeed (centre) and Nyall Hamlett (right) are three of the four men on trial. Credit: ITV News

Video report by ITV News' Rebecca Barry

Four men plotted to murder a police officer or soldier in one or more Islamic State-inspired terrorist attacks in London, the Old Bailey has heard.

Tarik Hassane, 22, Suhaib Majeed, 21, Nyall Hamlett, 25, and Nathan Cuffy, 26 from London, were arrested by counter-terrorism police in raids in late September and early October 2014.

The men, who are all British citizens, have been charged with conspiracy to murder and preparation of terrorist acts.They have denied the charges.

Prosecution: Men inspired by Islamic State "fatwa"

The prosecution claim the men plotted to kill a police officer, a soldier or possibly even a civilian, in one or more terrorist attacks.

They are alleged to have been inspired by an Islamic State (IS) fatwa posted on YouTube by an IS spokesman to kill disbelievers in the West.

"You must strike the soldiers, patrons, and troops of the tawaghit [tyrants]. Strike their police, security, and intelligence members, as well as their treacherous agents".

Prosecutor Brian Altman QC told jurors that at the time of their arrests the plot had got to the stage where a gun and ammunition had been acquired.

Although the finer details of the plot may not have been worked out and finally agreed upon, the defendants had sufficiently advanced their plans to the point where, the day before the first arrests in late September 2014, they had acquired a self-loading pistol, a magazine with ammunition suitable for use in it and a silencer

Brian Altman QC, prosecuting

The alleged roles of the defendants

A court sketch of Tarik Hassane, Majeed Suhaib, Nyall Hamlett, and Nathan Cuffy (left-right). Credit: Priscilla Coleman
  • Tarik Hassane is said to have been the plot's ringleader

  • The prosecution said Majeed Suhaib, who was studying physics at King's College London, was an "essential cog" in secret communications.

  • Nathan Cuffy is said to have supplied the weapon, ammunition and silencer but the prosecution say that is not the limit of his guilt. He previously pleaded guilty to some firearms offences after police found four guns and ammunition in his bedroom.

  • Nyall Hamlett was the alleged "middle man" between Cuffy and the other conspirators, passing on a weapon to Majeed.

  • There are believed to be more plotters involved who are not on trial, the court heard.

"Hostile reconnaissance"

Medical student Mr Hassane, who is said to have had pledged his allegiance to IS, is alleged to have carried out "hostile reconnaissance" of Shepherd's Bush police station and the Parachute Regiment TA barracks, in the days before his arrest in October.

Shepherds Bush Police Station and the Parachute Regiment TA barracks in London were allegedly scouted as potential targets. Credit: PA

Hassane and Majeed also discussed the purchase of a moped that could not be traced back to them, as well as a garage to store the moped with the gun.

"So the evidence points to this being a plot to kill, a plot to execute a policeman or a soldier or as I say even an ordinary member of the public in one or more assassinations either involving a drive-by shooting or a shooting on foot and then a speedy escape by moped", Mr Altman said.

"Turnup Terror Squad"

Two of the defendants are alleged to have been members of an extremist online chat group. Credit: PA

Both Hassane and Majeed were members of an online chat group called "Turnup Terror Squad", the court heard.

On July 10 2014, Hassane allegedly posted a message saying "Make dua that Tarik gets a free fat strap".

The prosecution cited it as an example of mixed Arabic and street slang taken to mean "pray that he gets a free cool gun".

Police later discovered pictures on Majeed's iPhone of Hassane apparently posing with a gun. In one image he also held a book on Osama bin Laden, the court heard.

The trial continues.