Khalid Ali, a British plumber from Edmonton in north London who had spent years making bombs for the Taliban in Afghanistan, was found guilty on Tuesday of planning a terror attack in Westminster.
The 28-year-old was caught carrying three knives near Westminster Palace in April 2017 and arrested. Ali denied terror offences and said he was carrying the knives in "self-defence".
A month earlier, a British-born convert to Islam had ploughed a car into pedestrians on nearby Westminster Bridge, killing four people, before stabbing a policeman to death in the grounds of parliament.
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In June 2011, he had told his family that he was moving to Birmingham for work but instead Ali had gone to Afghanistan to join the Taliban. His family would not hear from him for more than five years. There he went to a "Taliban training camp affiliated to Al Qaeda where, for several years, he helped terrorists make hundreds of bombs capable of mass murder," said Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon.
In a televised interview Ali said he had detonated more than 300 bombs. During the trial, the court heard how his fingerprints had been found on component parts of explosive devices handed over to US forces in Afghanistan in 2012. During the interview Ali also said he wanted British leaders to leave "Muslim lands", destroy the state of Israel and release prisoners of war.
He was described by the Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon as an "incredibly dangerous individual". Adding that his arrest and sentencing show "how close the UK counter-terrorism network works with partners and allies to bring to justice those seeking to harm others across the world".
The jury convicted Ali of preparing an act of terrorism in the UK, and two counts of possessing an explosive substance with intent.
“I would consider myself as a mujahid [Islamic warrior],” said Ali. “Jihad is what we do…and I am here to let you know the reason why I have come with the message, for you to make the right decisions, if not…we have a lot of time. UK is next on the list".
Sue Hemming from the Crown Prosecution Service said: “Khalid Ali planned to carry out a vicious knife attack in London that could have injured many and endangered life". He will be sentenced at a later date.