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Delivery driver facing life for plot to kill American military personnel in UK

Published 01/04/2016

Junead Khan has been found guilty at Kingston Crown Court of preparing to carry out a terror attack on US military personnel in Britain (CPS/PA)
Junead Khan has been found guilty at Kingston Crown Court of preparing to carry out a terror attack on US military personnel in Britain (CPS/PA)

A British Islamic extremist faces a life sentence after being found guilty of planning a terror attack on American military personnel in Britain.

Delivery driver Junead Khan, 25, used his agency job with a pharmaceutical firm as cover to scout United States Air Force (Usaf) bases in East Anglia, his trial heard.

Detectives discovered he had been exchanging chilling online messages with an Islamic State (IS) fighter in Syria calling himself Abu Hussain, including describing an attack on military personnel they compared to the brutal murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby in Woolwich in 2013.

Prosecutors claimed Hussain was British-born fanatic Junaid Hussain, who was killed in a US drone strike in the IS stronghold of Raqqa just weeks after his link with the planned UK attack was discovered.

After Khan's arrest, police found pictures on his phone of him posing in his bedroom with an Islamic State-style black flag later found in the attic. His computer was found to contain an al Qaida bomb manual and Amazon searches for a large combat knife.

Commander Dean Haydon, the head of Scotland Yard's SO15 counter-terrorism unit, said: "Junead Khan faces years in prison for the atrocious acts he planned.

"Around a year before his arrest, local officers reached out to him. They offered to help him follow a positive life path. Junead Khan's refusal spiralled into extremism and plotting acts of terrorism."

Khan was found guilty of engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorist acts between May and July last year, by the jury at Kingston Crown Court in London on Friday.

He was also convicted of a second charge, jointly with his uncle, Shazib Khan, 23, of preparing to go to Syria to join IS.

The prosecution had alleged that Junead Khan planned to travel to Syria with his relative but changed to plan a UK attack, either on British or US service personnel.

Both were convicted of engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorist acts between August 1 2014 and July 15 2015.

Neither showed any emotion as the jury returned its verdicts after deliberating for almost 24 hours at the end of a six-and-a-half-week trial.

Some of the evidence used to convict the pair cannot be revealed for legal reasons.

SO15 said it trawled through around 66,000 texts, social media messages and emails after arresting the men.

Among the material found was graphic jihadi propaganda material, including execution videos. They also found a list of equipment they would need in Syria at their home and British and US flags believe to have been stolen from a diner in nearby Dunstable.

Junead Khan's work for Alliance Healthcare legitimately took him to East Anglia in May and June 2015, the court heard.

While there he drove close to bases operated by Usaf - RAF Mildenhall and RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk, RAF Feltwell in Norfolk, and RAF Alconbury and RAF Molesworth in Cambridgeshire.

He was arrested on July 14 at Alliance's Letchworth, Herts depot.

The trial heard that in one of their July 5 conversations on the encrypted SureSpot app, Junead Khan talked to Hussain about faking a road accident before getting out to attack people directly, and carrying a bomb.

Hussain said: "I can get you addresses but of British soldiers" to which Khan replied "that could also be possible".

Hussain added: "Most soldiers live in bases which are protected. I suppose on the road is the best idea. Or if you want akhi I can tell u how to make a bomb."

Khan then told Hussain: "When I saw these us (sic) soldiers on road it looked simple but I had nothing on me or wouldve (sic) got into an accident with them and made them get out the car."

Hussain replied: "That's what the brother done with Lee Rigby."

He went on to say he would send Junead Khan a manual for making a "pressure cooker bomb", adding: "It's best to have at least pipe bombs or pressure cooker bomb in a backpack in case something happens - so you can do isthishadi bomb in case they try arrest you."

Junaid Hussain was married to Kent woman Sally-Anne Jones, a British former member of an all-girl punk rock group turned jihadi bride.

Jurors were not told this or of his senior position in IS, simply being told he was in Syria and had later been killed in an American drone strike.

Judge Mr Justice Edis remanded the men in custody ahead of sentencing on May 13.

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