A judge has jailed a teenager for more than twenty years for planning to behead a soldier, describing him as “coldblooded,” intelligent,” and a “threat to public safety.”
Brusthom Ziamani, of Camberwell, planned to emulate his heroes – Lee Rigby killers Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale – by decapitating a serviceman and posing for a photograph with the severed head.
The beginnings of Ziamani’s terror plot were discovered in a flat on the Samuel Lewis Trust Estate when it was raided in June last year.
Police suspected the tenant was subletting the property out to Ziamani, who was eighteen at the time. Officers searched the recent Muslim convert and found a letter addressed to his parents saying he wanted to “do a 9/11 and 7/7 and Woolwich all in one day.”
On August 19 last year, police stopped him in East London and found he had a ‘terror toolkit’ in his rucksack comprising a knife, a hammer and an Islamist flag.
On Friday Judge Timothy Pontius sentenced the former boxing enthusiast to 22 years in prison, after he was found guilty of engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorist acts at the Old Bailey on Thursday February 19.
In summing up, Judge Pontius said Ziamani was “far from the naïve adolescent that the defence tried to portray him as. He is a man of intelligence and independent and articulate mind. He was within hours of carrying out his intention of murdering a soldier, police officer or government official to imitate the horrifying savagery carried out by the killers of Lee Rigby.”
Ziamani’s ex-girlfriend gave “clear and convincing” evidence in court about how she broke up with the former Jehovah’s Witness in April last year after he described one of Lee Rigby’s killers as a legend and claimed he wanted to die as a martyr. On the morning of his arrest he had visited her home and showed her the twelve-inch knife in his bag, saying he intended to attack and kill soldiers.
A security officer from HMP Wandsworth, where Ziamani was held in custody, also gave “compelling evidence” that the terror-plot-teen had told him he ‘loved’ Lee Rigby killer Michael Adebolajo, adding: ‘’I was on my way to kill a British Soldier at an army barracks. I was going to behead the soldier and hold his head in the air so my friend could take a photograph.’
The News revealed last month that while Ziamani was searching the streets for a soldier to slay, he was all the time living underneath a former serviceman.
When Gunner Mattless, 33, heard what his “quiet” neighbour had been planning, he said he was appalled. “I couldn’t believe it,” he said. If he wanted to do something like that they’d only have to come up the stairs. “It’s appalling really.”
In the interests of public safety, the judge said he had no choice but to give Ziamani a custodial sentence of 22 years, of which he will have to serve at least fourteen years without parole. Upon release he will be under license for the rest of his jail term plus five years. Commander Richard Walton of the Counter Terrorism Command said: “This sentence reflects the serious nature of Ziamani’s intentions and I am relieved an extremely dangerous individual has been removed from our streets. Ziamani was an impressionable young man who became radicalised then rapidly developed an extremist, violent mindset. Over a series of months he ultimately developed a desire to carry out a terrorist attack on British soldiers.
“The outstanding professional work of officers in the SO15 Counter Terrorism Command, supported by MI5, has probably prevented a horrific terrorist attack taking place on the streets of London.”
Judge’s ruling on the sentence:
In sentencing Ziamani to 22 years in prison, judge Timothy Pontius said the nineteen-year-old had a “cold-blooded” determination to carry out an act of “horrifying savagery”
His comments to the court included:
“…had he not – by sheer good fortune – been spotted and stopped by the police…[he] would have carried out the intention he had so graphically expressed to his ex-girlfriend only a few hours before.”
“…the extensive body of downloaded material and the defendant’s Facebook postings and texts, much of that material of a vile and deeply disturbing nature, made plain to the degree to which the defendant had adopted and totally absorbed the twisted interpretation of the Holy Quran that is the hallmark of the fanatical Islamic terrorist.”
“All that material dispels any doubts there can be that, had the defendant not been arrested on 19th August then within hours – at most – he would have used the hammer and knife to carry out the intention he had so clearly expressed and for which he had so determinedly prepared, with the result that an act of horrifying savagery would again have been perpetrated on the streets of London..”
“….if he couldn’t find a soldier, I have little doubt that a police officer or other figure of authority would have suited his purpose just as well. The Islamic flag also found in his rucksack would then, I am sure, have been held aloft in one hand after the defendant had carried out his intended atrocity, ideally a beheading, so that a picture could be taken of him holding his trophy in the other hand.”
“…he is an intelligent and articulate young man with an independence of mind, thought and opinion.”