Teenager convicted of planning to behead soldier

Brusthom Ziamani was carrying a knife, a hammer and a black Islamic flag when he was arrested. Picture: PA

Brusthom Ziamani was carrying a knife, a hammer and a black Islamic flag when he was arrested. Picture: PA

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A TEENAGER is facing years behind bars after being found guilty of hatching a plot to behead a British soldier inspired by the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby.

Brusthom Ziamani, 19, was arrested in an east London street in August last year carrying a 12 inch knife and a hammer in a rucksack, having earlier researched the location of army cadet bases in the south-east of the capital.

His Old Bailey trial heard that he “reverted” to Islam early last year and was ­arrested after he showed a former girlfriend weapons, described ­Fusilier Rigby’s killer Michael Adebolajo as a “legend” and told her he would “kill soldiers”.

A jury of seven woman and four men convicted him of preparing an act of terrorism on or before 20 August last year after deliberating for a day and a half. The court had heard Ziamani had fallen in with the Muslim group al-Muhajiroun or ALM, who gave him money, clothes and a place to stay after he was kicked out of his home in Camberwell, south London. He attended their talks in the basement of a halal sweet shop in Whitechapel and bought a black flag to take on demonstrations, saying: “I’m going to rock it every­where I go in the Kaffirs’ face.”

After just months learning about Islam, he posted comments on Facebook that he was “willing to die in the cause of Allah” and saying: “Sharia law on its way on our streets. We will implement it, it’s part of our ­religion.”

At the time he was first arrested last June on an unrelated matter, police found a ripped-up letter in his jeans pocket in which he wrote about mounting an attack on a British soldier and said he wanted to die a martyr.

But Ziamani denied he was planning a copycat terror atrocity like the murder of Fusilier Rigby. On the letter, he said: “I was ranting and raging about the situation in Muslim ­countries which was described in these talks. I did not believe it at all.”

He explained his Facebook postings as an attempt to “fit in” with the ALM group, saying: “I did not believe it. I wanted to fit in with these people because they were giving me places to stay and they did not like moderate Islam.”

He denied that he had a terror “tool kit” of a hammer, knife and flag when he was arrested last August, saying he needed the weapons because he felt threatened after getting out of a credit card theft operation. And he said the black flag was just in case he was called to a demonstration at the last minute by text.

He rejected the suggestion that he styled himself as Mujahid Karim after one of Fusilier Rigby’s killers, saying the Muslim first name meaning “fighter, a warrior” suited his character because he used to do boxing and wrestling.

Ziamani was born in London to Congolese parents. His mother was nursery nurse and his father a psychiatric nurse.

He said he first became interested in Islam at the age of 15 through rap music and decided to convert again in the months before his arrests. During that time, he went to the Camberwell Mosque, split up with his girlfriend and wore an Islamic robe but tucked it into his trousers when he went home to stop his Jehovah’s Witness parents finding out.

Defending, his lawyer, Naeem Mian, told the jury that Ziamani could not be convicted for having “offensive” or “repulsive” views and there was no evidence he had carried out any reconnaissance for a terror attack.

He said: “We all have the right to have an interest in gore and grisly stuff. We have the right to have undoubtedly repulsive views, some of which he has expressed. He is not on trial for his views.”

The judge adjourned sentencing to 20 March in order to consider all aspects of the case before deciding on a jail term.

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