A man who plotted an attack on the north London Jewish community and then tried to fly to Syria has been found guilty of terror offences.
Aweys Shikhey secured a five-figure loan to fund his jihadi mission before eventually being arrested by Counter Terrorism officers as he prepared to board a flight to Turkey.
The 38-year-old, who lived in North London, hoped to travel to Syria and fight for Islamic State. But he has been found guilty of preparing for acts of terrorism at the Old Bailey. He has been remanded in custody and will be sentenced on March 15.
Commander Dean Haydon, head of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, said Shikhey appeared to be "living a normal life" in London - but all the time he was planning to join and commit atrocities on behalf of Isis.
Counter-terror officers launched an investigation in February 2017, after they received information from Kenyan authorities that a man in London was in contact with another man in Kenya discussing terrorist activity.
From a laptop seized during the separate investigation in Kenya, it showed conversations via encrypted messaging apps between the two men dating from May 2016 to September 2016, with both indicating their support for Isis the conversations.
There were also references made by the UK-based man of wanting to travel to Syria and making plans to join Isis, as well as talk between the pair about carrying out a firearms attack in the UK and targeting the Jewish community in and around the Stamford Hill area.
As a result of this information, detectives made further enquiries and established that Shikhey was the person in the UK. Whilst no further evidence was found to show that Shikhey was actually planning an attack in the UK, officers did find further evidence that he was planning to travel to Syria in order to join Isis.
In May 2017, officers became aware that Shikhey booked a flight from Stansted to Sarajevo, via Istanbul. After checking-in at Stansted for the first leg of the flight to Turkey, officers arrested Shikhey before he could board the plane.
On his arrest, Shikhey had in his possession a number of mobile phones, as well $700 (£500) and €400 (£353) in cash. He’d also taken a ‘selfie’ at the airport on his phone – something that he had previously been told to do in one of the conversations found on the laptop in Kenya, seemingly as an effort to make himself look like a tourist.
Officers seized various electronic and mobile devices from Shikhey, both in his possession at the airport and also from his home address. On these, they found further evidence of his support for Isis with various files and videos on the devices. Officers also found that he had been in touch with a woman in Norway. Through chat and audio files on his devices, it showed the pair had discussed their support and desire to join and support Isis over several months, starting in December 2016.
Detectives also found that in the weeks just before his planned flight, Shikhey applied for a number of loans – again an earlier conversation found on the laptop in Kenya showed Shikhey had been advised that he would need ‘more money’ to realise his ambition of joining Isis.
Most of his loan applications were unsuccessful, but he was able to secure a loan for £10,000, claiming it was to pay for a wedding. But in reality, he was gathering as much money as possible to fund his travel and terrorist activity once he reached Syria.
Shikhey was charged on May 30, 2017 and following a seven-day trial at the Old Bailey was found guilty as above and will be sentenced on March 15.