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Dublin: 5 °C Friday 13 December, 2019

'Filled with hate and toxic ideology': Teen jailed for planning terror attack in London

Safaa Boular had set about plotting an attack in the UK after she was prevented from travelling to Syria to marry a Daesh fighter.

Safaa Boular
Safaa Boular

AN 18-YEAR-OLD WOMAN  has been jailed for a minimum of 13 years for planning multiple terrorist attacks in London with her sister and mother.

Safaa Boular and her family’s plans were thwarted after an investigation by counter-terrorism police and security services in the UK.

Boular had set about plotting an attack in the UK after she was prevented from travelling to Syria to marry a Daesh fighter.

After her arrest, police believe that Safaa’s mother and sister, who were sentenced in June, tried to pick up where she left off.

“All three women were filled with hate and toxic ideology and were determined to carry out a terrorist attack.

“Had they been successful, it could well have resulted in people being killed or seriously injured,” Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon said in a statement.

Suicide belt

The Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command launched an investigation in August 2016 when police officers spoke to Safaa on her return to the UK from a trip to Morocco.

At this point, Safaa, who was 16 at the time, had made indications that she was planning to travel to Syria to join Daesh.

Two days later Safaa’s mother Mina (44) reported Safaa and her sister Rizlaine (22) missing but police later found them in a hostel in North-West London and subsequently arrested them.

Police seized mobile phones and digital devices from the sisters and found several conversations between Safaa and a UK national who was fighting for Daesh in Syria.

Conversations showed that Safaa was planning to marry the Daesh fighter and included discussions between them about her wearing a suicide belt.

Police enquiries also revealed Safaa was sharing and supporting Daesh propaganda material online.

Safaa Boular court case Photo issued by the Metropolitan Police of a conversation between Safaa Boular and fiance, which was shown to the court during the trial of Boular. Source: PA Wire/PA Images

UK attack 

Safaa was charged on 12 April 2017 with preparation of terrorist acts but remained in contact with the person she planned to marry in Syria while on bail.

It was during this time that Safaa shifted her attention from travelling out to Syria to committing an attack in the UK.

Unknown to Safaa, the people she was discussing her attack with online were not fellow extremists, but online role players from the security services.

She believed she was communicating over encrypted and secure apps and discussed her plans and desire to get hold of firearms and grenades.

She also discussed with them potential targets in central London and the possibility of using a vehicle and knife to carry out an attack as an alternative to firearms.

It was during this time that both Mina and Rizlaine hatched their own plans to carry out an attack but police carried out surveillance on the pair and subsequently uncovered their plans.

unnamed (1) Rizlaine Boular Source: Metropolitan Police

On 25 April 2017, police tracked Mina and Rizlaine driving in and around the Westminster area. They passed a number of major landmarks as they carried out what officers believed to be reconnaissance on potential locations for their attack.

The following day, both Mina and Rizlaine went to a supermarket, where they purchased a pack of three kitchen knives. Officers recovered the receipt for the knives after Mina threw it away and also retrieved the pack of knives and an old rucksack that had been discarded in a bin on her journey home that evening.

The largest of the knives had been retained by Rizlaine and officers believed that this was the weapon she was planning to use to use to carry out her attack.

On 27 April 2017, still under surveillance, Rizlaine was heard discussing her attack plans at her home in north-west London, describing how she would carry out the knife attack.

Shortly after 7pm that day, armed officers entered the address to arrest Rizlaine, during the operation, Rizlaine was shot by police.

She was taken to hospital for treatment and discharged three days later. At the same time, Mina who was visiting Safaa in custody was also arrested.

Terror22-17MinaDICH Mina Dich Source: Metropolitan Police

Following their arrest, detectives recovered various electronic devices from both Rizlaine’s and Mina’s address, on which they found various Islamist extremist content including Daesh propaganda and Al Qaeda-related material.

Both Rizlaine and Mina were subsequently charged with preparation of terrorist acts.

Rizlaine was sentenced on 15 June to life imprisonment and ordered to serve a minimum of 16 years while Mina was sentenced to an extended sentence of 11 years and nine months.

A family friend, Khawla Barghouthi (21) was also convicted for her role in the terror cell.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Hayden said that “thanks to the work of the security services and counter-terrorism police, their plans never came to fruition”.

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About the author:

Adam Daly

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