A London man who plotted a terror attack near Parliament and made bombs for the Taliban in Afghanistan has been convicted of terrorism offences. Khalid Ali, 28, was arrested by armed police near the Houses of Parliament and was carrying a knife with an eight-inch blade and two smaller knives. Ali was questioned by officers after his arrest in April last year, and claimed that he had come to deliver a message to those in power and that the knives were for his own protection.
The prosecution told the Jury at the Old Bailey that Ali’s intention was to kill a police officer, a member of the Armed Forces or even a Member of Parliament in response to what he saw as Western aggression against Muslims around the world.
Five days before he was stopped, Ali visited high-profile places such as Vauxhall Cross, where the MI6 building is located, Westminster Bridge, the Houses of Parliament and Whitehall. He also searched online for images of police officers wearing stab-proof vests. The prosecution said that this research was conducted to target unprotected areas of the body during his attack.
Ali’s fingerprints matched those found on bomb-making components recovered in Afghanistan in 2012 and held on an FBI database. Some of the prints were on the sticky side of adhesive tape used in their manufacture which the prosecution argued indicated he had made the devices and was not merely handling them.
In a police interview, Ali boasted about how he had detonated more than 300 bombs, but then backtracked on his comments. The court heard how Ali left the UK in 2011 and spent time in Pakistan and Afghanistan where he joined the Taliban and became a bomb-maker. He claimed he had gone to the region to learn more about Islam and also to go hiking in the mountains.
Ali returned to the UK in November 2016 without his passport which he claimed he had lost in Turkey and had to travel using emergency documents provided by the British Consulate. He later gave the impression that he had returned to his former life training and working as a gas fitter and plumber, but by March last year he was planning a terror attack in London.
Ali will be sentenced at a later date.
Engaged in terrorist acts
Sue Hemming, head of the Special Crime and Counter-Terrorism Division in the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “Khalid Ali planned to carry out a vicious knife attack in London that could have injured many and endangered life. He also boasted of working as a Taliban bomb-maker in Afghanistan targeting US-led forces as well as Afghan security personnel. The Jury agreed with the prosecution that Ali was engaged in terrorist acts at home and abroad. He’s clearly a danger to the public in this country and elsewhere.”
Metropolitan Police Service Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon, the senior national co-ordinator for Counter-Terrorism Policing, said: “It’s apparent to me that Ali spent some considerable years helping the Taliban create – and maybe even detonate – bombs which could maim and kill many people in Afghanistan. All this before turning his attention to killing people in his home country. His intended targets were people who represented the UK authorities and he demonstrated a particular interest in the police service, how it works and its capabilities.”
Haydon continued: “Ali did not count on the joined-up working of the UK’s counter-terrorism network and its partners on the international stage. Together, we’ve stopped a terrorist attack and put before the courts an individual whom I suspect thought would never be held to account for his crimes overseas.”
In conclusion, Haydon stated: “I would like to take this opportunity to ask anyone who sees something suspicious to act on those suspicions, no matter how small. It could be someone showing an inordinate level of interest in a building or area or maybe someone buying a large quantity of knives, albeit with other household items. Whatever it is that’s making you feel instinctively that something isn’t right, please tell the police and we’ll assess it.”