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Man found guilty of plotting terror attack using a driverless car

Man found guilty of plotting terror attack using a driverless car

Farhad Salah (pictured) was found guilty at Sheffield Crown Court on Friday of preparing to commit acts of terrorism

An Iraqi-Kurd asylum seeker has been found guilty of planning a Christmas terror attack using a bomb in a remotely-controlled vehicle.

Farhad Salah, 24, was found guilty at Sheffield Crown Court on Friday of preparing to commit acts of terrorism.

Jurors heard that wannabe ISIS jihadi Salah posted on social media about using a driverless car in an attack.

Police discovered gunpowder and nitrate-based explosives, three air rifles and three Samurai swords, lengths of copper piping and electronic devices in which Salah discussed his plans.

Salah posted a message on Facebook titled ‘I am not snow to be melted’ on December 11 that read: ‘My only attempt is to find a way to carry out martyrdom operation with cars without driver. Everything is perfect only the programme is left.’

He had expressed a desire to fight in ISIS occupied territory and was frustrated that he was unable to travel as a result of his unsettled immigration status. This frustration led to him exploring alternative ways to support Daesh.

But the jury cleared his co-defendant, Chesterfield chip shop owner Andy Star, 32, who was charged with the same offence.

This is the second time Salah and Mr Star have been tried on these charges.

A jury failed to reach verdicts on either man following a trial last year.

Judge Paul Watson QC told Mr Star a decision had been made that he should not face a second retrial and a not guilty verdict was recorded in his case.

He said Mr Star could go free but was informed that he will continue to be detained on immigration matters. Salah will be sentenced on July 24.

Prosecutors told the five-week trial that Salah and Mr Star were in the early stages of testing small improvised explosive devices when they were arrested in high-profile raids on their homes in a Sheffield community centre and a Chesterfield fish and chip shop in December 2017.

Star claimed in court that he had been fascinated by fireworks since 1992, when he lived in Kurdish Iraq, and had been revisiting his old hobby, using different mixtures because some had failed to launch. 

Black powder found in pot at Salah’s home. He was possession of a wide range of extremist material, including Daesh propaganda films

Salah was found guilty on a majority of 10 to 2 after the jury deliberated for almost three days.

When the judge recorded Star’s formal acquittal, a woman shouted ‘terrorist’ loudly from the jury box.

Counter-terror police said Salah was not close to achieving his aim of putting a device in a vehicle but officers believe he was a ‘very real risk to the safety of the public in the UK’.

The raids in Sheffield and Chesterfield happened in the months following the Manchester Arena explosion, the terror attacks on Westminster and London Bridge, and at a time when there were fears that another atrocity was being planned for the Christmas period.

But police said they have never been able to identify Salah’s intended target.

The police investigation uncovered extensive evidence that Salah possessed an extremist ideology.

He was possession of a wide range of extremist material, including Daesh propaganda films.

Much of this material was extremely disturbing, involving horrific scenes of torture and murder.

Officers also recovered deeply concerning messages which revealed an affiliation with Daesh and a belief in violent Jihad.

Farhad Salah’s bedroom is pictured in a police photograph taken during a raid of his home

The judge told Mr Star he could go free but informed that he will continue to be detained on immigration matters

Opening the case, prosecutor Anne Whyte QC told the jury: ‘The intention was to manufacture a device which would be placed in a vehicle but controlled remotely so that no-one had to martyr themselves in the process.’

She said that, a week before he was arrested, Salah messaged a contact on Facebook saying: ‘My only attempt is to find a way to carry out martyrdom operation with cars without driver, everything is perfect only the programme is left …’

The prosecutor said: ‘Farhad Salah had decided that improvised explosive devices could be made and used in a way here in the UK that spared his own life preferably but harmed others he considered to be infidels.’

He said Mr Star could go free but was informed that he will continue to be detained on immigration matters.

The judge said Salah will be sentenced on July 24.

Prosecutors told the five-week trial that Salah and Mr Star, 32, were in the early stages of testing small improvised explosive devices when they were arrested in high-profile raids on their homes in a Sheffield community centre and a Chesterfield fish-and-chip shop in December 2017.

Farhad Salah (pictured in a court sketch with co-defendant Andy Star) has been found guilty at Sheffield Crown Court of preparing to commit acts of terrorism

But Mr Star has always insisted that gunpowder and other items found in his flat above the chip shop were all connected to his long-standing interest in fireworks.

Detective Chief Superintendent Martin Snowden is the Head of Counter Terrorism Policing North East. He said:

‘During the course of this case Salah has been inconsistent in his explanation of the evidence.

‘He tried to defend his possession of extremist material and the content of his online communications, claiming his account was hacked and he was merely curious about the ideology of Daesh.

‘Today the jury saw through these justifications and agreed that these Salah was in fact a dangerous individual, who was preparing for acts that may have resulted in loss of life.

‘Salah clearly had an extremist mind set and communication from him indicates that he saw his situation as critical. He claimed he was a terrorist, who would be judged by God.

‘While our investigation did not establish the target of a potential attack, Salah posed a very real risk to the safety of our communities. We’re grateful we were able to disrupt his plans before he’d identified an opportunity to see them through.’

But Mr Star has always insisted that gunpowder and other items found in his flat above the chip shop (pictured) were all connected to his long-standing interest in fireworks

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