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'Terror plot' accused just trying to be 'one of the lads'

Published 27/10/2015

All three defendants deny the charges
All three defendants deny the charges

A man accused of plotting a Lee-Rigby style knife murder in the run up to Remembrance Day has told a court he made exaggerated claims in online chat groups with other Muslims to appear "one of the lads".

Haseeb Hamayoon, 28, said a claim he made about being thrown out of Australia by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) - the equivalent of MI5 - had been false and made to increase his standing among the group and was not true.

The father-of-one admitted buying a vest with an "Islamic State-style" logo but told the jury at Woolwich Crown Court he wore it only once while living in London.

He said buying it was "not clever at all" and had only done as a way of "showing off" to the group.

He also admitted posting images and videos on group chats on Whatsapp and Telegram.

He told the court: "I got sucked into it. I joined in to be one of the lads."

He added: "There was a sort of exaggeration of the sort you might get among young men, not to be taken at face value. It's like the talk you might get at a bar, you are not meant to take it literally."

Hamayoon is standing trial with cousins Nadir Syed, 22, and Yousaf Syed, 20, accused of plotting to carry out a terror attack using a Rambo-style knife.

Jurors have previously heard the three men spent six weeks between September 20 and November 7 last year plotting to carry out a terror atrocity on the streets of Britain.

It is alleged they were acting on a "truly chilling" fatwa issued by IS last September calling on Muslims to arm themselves and smash, slaughter and run over "disbelieving" Westerners.

Prosecutors claim they were inspired by Fusilier Rigby's killers Michael Adebowale and Michael Adebolajo, who ran over the soldier and hacked him to death near Woolwich barracks in south London in 2013, prosecutors claim.

All three deny preparing for an act of terrorism.

The court heard Hamayoon wrote in a message group about his time in Australia, saying: "Was there until ASIO kicked me out those basterds (sic)."

He told the jury today that that had been a lie.

He said the security service had approached him while he attended a mosque in Australia but it had played no part in his later failure to get leave to remain in the country.

While Hamayoon gave evidence he held up the black vest with the logo, which he said he bought from a contact in one of the message groups.

He said he had thrown it into his cupboard and never worn it again after being told the IS logo was illegal in Britain.

His barrister Joel Bennathan QC asked him if he had bought the vest to be part of a terrorist group.

Hamayoon replied: "I got it to show off in the group. I was trying to get one-up on the lads."

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