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Islamic extremist jailed for life over terror attack plan

Published 13/05/2016

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

A British Islamic extremist who idolised Jihadi John has been jailed for life for planning a terror attack on American military personnel in Britain.

Delivery driver Junead Khan, 25, was a "committed supporter" of Islamic State (IS) and plotted to kill a soldier using a "Jihadi John"-style knife.

He used his agency job with a pharmaceutical firm as cover to scout United States Air Force (Usaf) bases in East Anglia for potential victims.

Detectives discovered he had been exchanging chilling online messages with an Islamic State (IS) fighter in Syria calling himself Abu Hussain.

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.

One message described an attack on military personnel which they compared with the brutal murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby in Woolwich in 2013.

Sentencing him today at London's Kingston Crown Court, Mr Justice Edis said: "Junead Khan was not far from the commission of the murder to be committed by horrifying method in the street in order to create terror and terrorist propaganda in this country.

"His offence was so serious that a life sentence must be imposed."

Khan, from Luton, stared straight ahead as he was handed the sentence after being found guilty of preparing terrorist acts between May and July last year.

He will have to serve a minimum of 12 years.

He had also been found guilty of, jointly with his uncle, Shazib Khan, 23, preparing to go to Syria to join IS.

Shazib Khan was given an extended sentence of 13 years in prison. He will have to serve eight years in custody.

Police arrested Khan last July and discovered pictures on his phone of him posing in his bedroom with an IS-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.

Police officers had visited Khan as part of the national anti-extremism programme Prevent.

But the terror plotter had poured scorn on their attempts to speak to him and mocked the programme in a series of scathing WhatsApp messages.

Mr Justice Edis said the two men, who are of Bangladeshi backgrounds, have rejected the values and opportunities Britain gave them.

He said: "They have both received education in this country at the public expense. They have lived as citizens of a free country which is committed to equality under the law.

"They both believe that Sharia law is the only legitimate law and both reject democracy because it involves law being made by people and not by God.

"They have rejected the protection of the law of this country and education they have received by becoming committed supporters of Isis (IS) - an organisation which wishes to control the world and which will stop short of no barbarity in order to do so."

The judge said that both men knew of the sickening attacks IS, also known as Isis, had committed on civilians but were determined to fight for the so-called caliphate anyway.

He said: "They were aware of the beheadings by Jihadi John very early in their adherence to Isis and also of the burning alive of a Jordanian pilot."

The judge said the pair had been radicalised by the banned terror group Al-Muhajiroun.

Junead Khan plotted to kill American personnel with a large knife, and at one stage planned to build a pressure cooker bomb which he would detonate as a suicide device if anyone tried to arrest him.

Outlining the plot, Mr Justice Edis said Junead Khan planned to ram his victim with his delivery car and then butcher them to death in a plot chillingly reminiscent of the murder of Fusilier Rigby.

He said: "He could use his van to crash into them and then attack them with a large knife.

"He particularly wanted to have a knife like that used by Jihadi John to behead defenceless prisoners for propaganda purposes.

"The delivery time for that knife was too long so he would have to improvise with one of his father's butcher's knives if he wanted to carry out his attack during Ramadan 2015."

Highlighting how determined he was to kill, the judge added: "All Junead Khan needed was a vehicle, a knife and a target. He had all those."

He said Shazib Khan was the "more intelligent" of the two and is "thoroughly dishonest and manipulative".

The judge added: "He genuinely intends to do harm and he has the talent to succeed."

During his lengthy sentencing remarks, the judge said the pair rejected the covenant of security, which prohibits Muslims from setting out acts of violence in countries where their lives are protected.

The judge said: "The rejection of the covenant against security is a significant first step along the way to Paris, Brussels and the 7th July 2005.

"It takes his intended terror away from the battlefield."

The court heard that these plans were not the misguided musings of young men, but determined and well-thought-out plots.

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