A teenage asylum seeker has denied trying to blow up a Tube train to avenge the death of his father in Iraq, saying it was all part of a film “fantasy”.
Ahmed Hassan, 18, is accused of planting 400g of TATP and shrapnel on a packed carriage timed to explode at Parsons Green during the rush hour on September 15 last year.
Giving evidence at the Old Bailey, he claimed he did it for “attention” and only meant for the device to catch light.
The photography student, who dreamed of being the next David Attenborough, said he got a “fugitive” fantasy after watching action movies during the summer holidays when he was “bored”.
But prosecutor Alison Morgan suggested he meant to cause “maximum” damage to ease his guilt at being offered a “safe haven” in the country he blamed for his father’s death.
Even though the bomb only partially exploded, she said: “This is a very calculated act of anger, Mr Hassan. Something you planned for some time.
“You were given a safe haven to live in this country. You were given a home and an education and you felt guilty about that, didn’t you?
“You felt guilty that you had let down people in Iraq by coming here and accepting a safe haven in the country that you held responsible for your father’s death.”
Hassan denied it, saying he expressed anger about British involvement in Iraq so people would not see him as a “coward”.
He told jurors he did not blame anyone for his father’s death in an explosion in 2006.
The defendant refused to watch CCTV footage of a “huge fireball” engulfing the train, one stop after he got off, leaving the device in a bucket inside a Lidl bag.
Asked if it was what he expected would happen, Hassan replied: “I knew it would make a fire as it did in the test.”
Hassan went on to express regret at what happened, saying: “I wish I could travel back in time and stop it at once but that’s not possible. I’m very sorry but it can’t be done.”
Asked what he was sorry about, he said: “The effect that it had on people. Because I myself have mental scars and I know how hard it is.”
He said he also felt bad for “people who have supported me in this country and cared about me”.
Earlier, the court heard how Hassan’s mother died when he was young and his taxi driver father was killed in an explosion in Iraq in 2006.
He said: “It was very difficult. I did not understand what was going on. I was in a state of confusion because of fighting, because of bombing.”
When he was aged 16, Hassan smuggled himself into Britain for a chance of a “better life” and to further his education.
I was very bored, very stressed, very confused and I watched lots of movies, action moviesAhmed Hassan
He lied to immigration officials saying he was kidnapped and trained to kill by Islamic State to support his asylum claim, he said.
Hassan told jurors he enjoyed studying photography when he was at Brooklands College in Weybridge.
He said: “I wanted to go to university and my ultimate goal was to become a wildlife photographer like David Attenborough.”
On why he decided to make a bomb in the summer of 2017, he told jurors: “I was very bored, very stressed, very confused and I watched lots of movies, action movies during that time.
“It became kind of a fantasy in my head. I was thinking about it. Yes, that was it.
“I was watching documentaries as well, about fugitives and just the idea of being a fugitive got into my head. And I thought about it and that was it.”
Hassan claimed his homemade TATP went “whoof” but did not explode when he tested it on the kitchen table at his foster home, even though Ms Morgan said there was no sign of scorch marks.
He had the device by his side when his foster father Ron Jones tried to find out why he was not sleeping, the night before the attack, the court heard.
Tim Moloney QC, defending, asked if he ever intended to hurt anyone, and Hassan replied: “The idea of killing another human being never crossed my mind at all, never in my life.”
Hassan told jurors he got “scared” after the bombing, and wanted to return to his home country.
But Ms Morgan said he was “calm” as he disposed of his mobile phone, checked the headlines and changed his clothes en route to Dover, where he was picked up by police.
Hassan, of Sunbury, Surrey, has denied attempted murder and using the chemical compound TATP to cause an explosion that was likely to endanger life.