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Saturday, February 22, 2020

Isis supporter admits plot to blow up St Paul's cathedral

A Muslim convert has admitted plotting to bomb St Paul’s Cathedral in the name of the Islamic State terror group. Safiyya Amira Shaikh, 36, was snared by undercover officers last year as she planned to plant two explosive devices in central London, one at the historic cathedral and one at a nearby hotel.

At a brief hearing at the Old Bailey, Shaikh, from Hayes, Middlesex, pleaded guilty to preparation of terrorist acts and dissemination of terrorist publications on Telegram.

The court heard how she had carried out research before settling on her murderous plan between between August and October last year.

 She made contact with someone she believed could help make explosives online and provided two bags, one for each bomb. Shaikh travelled to central London and stayed at a hotel as part of her reconnaissance. She scoped out St Paul’s security and looked for the ‘best place’ to plant a second explosive device, the court heard.

She also prepared the words of a pledge of allegiance to IS, also known as Isis or Daesh. Meanwhile, she shared terrorist propaganda via groups using the Telegram messaging app.

The defendant, who wore black robe in the dock, spoke quietly as she entered her guilty pleas before Mr Justice Sweeney on Friday.

She was remanded in custody and the judge ordered pre-sentence reports ahead of sentencing on May 11, adding her lawyers should serve any psychiatric report beforehand.

The facts were not opened in court, but according to a prosecution case summary, Shaikh had stated her main aim was to kill as many people as possible in a suicide attack on St Paul’s. She only confided her plan to two people, the online explosives expert and his wife who she handed her bags to, unaware that they were undercover officers.

The British defendant was born Michelle Ramsden to a non-Muslim family and converted to Islam in 2007. She began to follow extremists online and by 2015 had become radicalised, the prosecution alleged.

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