LONDON (Reuters) - A couple, who met on a dating site and began researching how to make homemade explosives and the deadly poison ricin, were found guilty on Monday of plotting Islamic State-inspired chemical and bomb attacks on Britain.
Munir Hassan Mohammed, 37, from Derby in central England, began sharing extremist material within weeks of meeting Londoner Rowaida El-Hassan, 32, who in turn helped him find information on making ricin.
“This then rapidly escalated and El-Hassan, a qualified pharmacist, readily passed on her knowledge to Mohammed giving him the technical assistance he needed in preparing for a terrorist attack,” said Detective Chief Inspector Paul Greenwood.
“Although we do not know what Mohammed and El-Hassan’s exact intentions were, a number of concerning items had already been purchased and the pair had done extensive research regarding making TATP (acetone peroxide) and ricin.”
When arrested Mohammed already had two of the ingredients needed to make the highly unstable TATP, known as the “mother of Satan”, which was used by a suicide bomber in an attack on a pop concert at the Manchester Arena last May, killing 22 children and adults, one of four deadly attacks in Britain last year.
Prosecutors said the couple had met on internet dating site, singlemuslim.com.
“I am looking for a man I can vibe with on a spiritual and intellectual level. Someone who can teach me new things and inspire me,” El-Hassan wrote on her dating profile.
She sent messages to him on the WhatsApp messaging service with links to websites with details on making ricin. He sent back her graphic videos of IS beheadings, shootings and killing prisoners using explosives.
When police arrested him in Dec. 2016, Mohammed, who worked in a food factory making meals for supermarkets, possessed instruction manuals on mobile phone detonators, ricin and how to make explosives, prosecutors said.
He had also contacted an IS commander via Facebook and offered to carry out a “lone actor” mission.
Mohammed, who the BBC reported was Eritrean-born and had come to Britain from Sudan as an asylum seeker, and El-Hassan were both found guilty of preparing for act of terrorism at London’s Old Bailey court and will be sentenced next month.
Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Kate Holton