Birmingham couple jailed for terrorist attack plot

A married couple from Birmingham who plotted and practised carrying out Islamic State-inspired knife attacks in their home have been jailed under the Terrorism Act.

Ummar Mirza, 21, was sentenced to 16 years in prison in London for preparing acts of terrorism in the UK.

Madihah Taheer, 22, was jailed for 10 years after purchasing a combat knife for her husband.

The two had long planned to carry out a terror attack, exchanging messages before they married in September 2015 in which Taheer wrote: “Can we get married already ffs. I want you to kill ppl for me. I have a list.”

Mirza replied: “The day of the nikkah [marriage] I’ll kill ‘em all. Give me the list. The only thing that stops me is we are not married. I will defy… I’m not joking.”

Taheer was convicted of preparing an act of terrorism in October this year, while her husband pleaded guilty to the charge at an earlier hearing.

When police raided the couple’s home in Birmingham, they found a life-like training dummy with slash marks across its forehead, throat and abdomen.

Prior to his arrest, Mirza had carried out a number of internet searches on the best knife to buy, how to commit the ‘perfect murder’, and how to kill someone with a knife.

After acquiring a combat knife, Mirza researched targets including Jewish areas in London and Birmingham, and barracks and Territorial Army bases in Birmingham.

Two days before Mirza was arrested he had also been searching reports about a Birmingham flat being linked to the Westminster terror attack, and on the Westminster attacker Khalid Masood.

During the trial, the Crown Prosecution Service had argued the conservations between the couple showed that Taheer was a ‘willing accomplice’ who knew what Mirza wanted to use the knife for, illustrating a ‘shared belief in violent projihad, Islamic State extremism’.

Also sentenced on Wednesday was Zainub Mirza, Mirza’s sister, who shared ISIS propaganda with the couple on social media.

The 24-year-old was sentenced to 30 months in prison, having already pleaded guilty to five counts of disseminating terrorist publications.

Matt Ward, the head of West Midlands counter terrorism unit, said: “Earlier this year we received information that they were planning to carry out a terrorist act in the UK.

“We were able to establish that they were in advanced stages of preparation. We think that they had radical extreme views for some time – back to 2015. This year they have accelerated that extremism. They had purchased a training knife to carry out a practice of the attack.

“They then bought a large hunting knife that you conceal in clothing in order to carry out an attack. We had two guilty pleas and a guilty verdict because they were sharing extremely vile and disturbing extremist material.

“We are confident that, had we not intervened when we did, they would have carried out an attack.”

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