- Three men arrested before Remembrance Sunday, lawyer says
- One man bought a `Rambo First Blood' knife, prosecutor says
Three British Muslims who shared gruesome images of Islamic State beheadings on social media were arrested as they plotted a terrorist attack in the U.K. just before Remembrance Sunday last year, prosecutors said.
Haseeb Hamayoon, Nadir Syed and Yousaf Syed were inspired by statements issued by an Islamic State spokesman to "single out the disbelieving American, Frenchman or any of their allies. Smash his head with a rock or slaughter him with a knife." The September 2014 call-to-arms encouraged followers to carry out attacks in their home country, prosecutors said on the first day of a London trial.
“The fatwa is truly chilling,” Max Hill, the lead prosecutor, said Monday. “To people of a certain mind, by which I mean Islamic extremists such as these three defendants, the fatwa created a considerable stir.”
The men were arrested Nov. 6, days before several public ceremonies involving politicians and royalty were to take place across the country.
Hamayoon, 28, shared a picture of red poppies with the other men and said “so do not feel sorry for the disbelieving people,” and Nadir Syed said on Nov. 2, 2014 "wearing a poppy supports murdering terrorist.”
"We will invite you to conclude that the timing of this increased activity," in the days before Remembrance Sunday "was no coincidence," Hill said. One video clip found on Yousaf Syed’s phone shows two of the men stamping on a remembrance poppy in the street saying "may the poppy go to hell."
The trio bought and discussed knives on social media. Hamayoon often shared videos and pictures of Islamic State beheadings and wanted to emulate the brutal murder of a British soldier in broad daylight in London in 2013, Hill said. The three men focused on the Lee Rigby killing "again, again and again," he said.
Police found a Rambo-style hunting knife at Hamayoon’s house after his arrest.
"Many of the images are gruesome in the extreme," Hill said. "They include beheadings by knives." The men discussed the killings of U.S journalist James Foley and U.K. aid worker Alan Henning. "There doesn’t appear to be any regret" or "horror" in the communications, Hill said.
In response to a 2014 article about U.S. President Barack Obama authorizing air strikes in Iraq, Hamayoon said "Yeh that kaffir Obama..He’s gonna die soon." Another conversation referred to the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York as "happiness in the air."
British law enforcement agencies have arrested a record number of suspected terrorists in the last 18 months, and say the threat of a domestic attack continues to pose a danger to national security. U.K. courts have been inundated with prosecutions, with Britons as young as 15 sentenced to life in prison.