A FORMER Uber driver cleared of planning a terror attack at Buckingham Palace was on Thursday jailed for life after plotting a gun and knife rampage at London tourist sites.
Mohiussunnath Chowdhury was found guilty in February of planning to target popular attractions, including the annual Gay Pride march last year using a gun, knife and van.
The 29-year-old was arrested before he could carry out the attack after he unknowingly revealed his plans to undercover police.
Covert officers posing as like-minded extremists befriended and monitored Chowdhury after a jury cleared him in December 2018 of slashing police with a sword outside Queen Elizabeth II’s London residence.
Chowdhury, from Luton, north of London, had shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is greater) during the incident, but convinced jurors he only wanted to be killed by police and had no intention to hurt anyone.
However, little more than a year later a separate subsequent trial found Chowdhury guilty of the new terror plans, after hearing he was driven by “dreams of martyrdom”.
He began posting extremist messages online within a week of his release from prison, and bragged to undercover officers about deceiving the jury which had cleared him.
During a five-month surveillance operation, officers learned he was planning to attack attractions including the Madame Tussauds waxwork museum, an open-top sightseeing bus as well as the London Pride event.
He was arrested three days before the parade last year and sentenced at Woolwich Crown Court in southeast London.
The court heard how Chowdhury confided his aspirations to men he thought were his “friends”, but who actually were “brave covert officers”.
He told them he was considering targeting crowded central London tourist attractions and the Pride event, and sought advice on obtaining a gun from a covert officer using the name ‘Mikael’.
Chowdhury disclosed to the covert officers that he had intended to kill soldiers, but succeeded in “deceiving” the jury that earlier found him not guilty.
He went on to even discuss a dream he had — carrying out an attack on an open-top bus with a prison inmate — which police believed was something Chowdhury was planning to do.
Officers also recorded him at home telling his sister, Sneha Chowdhury, that he was “doing another attack”, and asking her for help to “practise stabbing people” – alarming information which she did not report to police.
Jailing for him life, with a minimum term of 25 years, judge Andrew Lees said he was satisfied Chowdhury was “dangerous” and posed “a significant risk to members of the public of serious harm”.
“The danger that you present is ongoing, it’s not possible to say when that danger will abate,” he added.
Sneha, 25, also of Luton, who kept her brother’s plans secret, will be sentenced for failing to disclose information regarding terrorist activity on a date yet to be set.
Following sentencing, Commander Richard Smith, head of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, said: “Mohiussunnath Chowdhury posed a very real threat to the lives of innocent people. The investigation team arrested him after gathering enough hard evidence to prove what he was planning to a jury, but before he could cause actual harm.
Thanks to counter terrorism police and our partner agencies, Chowdhury is now in prison, rather than seeing his terrorist attack plan through.
“As the lockdown restrictions ease and more public spaces reopen, we need everyone to play their part in keeping London safe, so I urge anyone who sees something suspicious to report it to the police.”