A man has been found guilty of preparing for acts of terrorism after he was stopped and arrested by Counter Terrorism officers as he prepared to board a flight to Turkey, intending to then travel on to Syria where he wanted to fight for Daesh.
Aweys Shikhey, 38 (1.10.79) of north London was found guilty on Tuesday, 20 February at the Old Bailey of preparing for acts of terrorism, contrary to section 5 of the Terrorism Act 2006. He was remanded in custody and is due to be sentenced on Thursday, 15 March.
Commander Dean Haydon, head of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, said: “To his friends and colleagues Shikhey was, on the face of it, leading a normal life here in London. But unbeknown to them and to his wife and family in Holland, he was a supporter of Daesh and had for about a year been planning how he could leave the UK and travel out to join Daesh.
“Thanks to the information we received from the Kenyan authorities and the good work here by my detectives thereafter, we have been able to thwart his attempts and stop him from joining Daesh and committing terrorist acts over there.”
Officers from the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command launched an investigation in February 2017, after they received information from Kenyan authorities that a man in London was in contact with another man in Kenya discussing terrorist activity.
From a laptop seized during the separate investigation in Kenya, it showed conversations via encrypted messaging apps between the two men dating from May 2016 to September 2016, with both indicating their support for Daesh in the conversations. There were also references made by the UK-based man of wanting to travel to Syria and making plans to join Daesh, as well as talk between the pair about carrying out a firearms attack in the UK and targeting the Jewish community in and around the Stamford Hill area.
As a result of this information, detectives made further enquiries and established that Shikhey was the person in the UK. Whilst no further evidence was found to show that Shikhey was actually planning an attack in the UK, officers did find further evidence that he was planning to travel to Syria in order to join Daesh.
In May 2017, officers became aware that Shikhey booked a flight from Stansted to Sarajevo, via Istanbul. After checking-in at Stansted for the first leg of the flight to Turkey, officers arrested Shikhey before he could board the plane.
On his arrest, Shikhey had in his possession a number of mobile phones, as well $700 and €400 in cash. He’d also taken a ‘selfie’ at the airport on his phone – something that he had previously been told to do in one of the conversations found on the laptop in Kenya, seemingly as an effort to make himself look like a tourist.
Officers seized various electronic and mobile devices from Shikhey, both in his possession at the airport and also from his home address. On these, they found further evidence of his support for Daesh with various files and videos on the devices. Officers also found that he had been in touch with a woman in Norway. Through chat and audio files on his devices, it showed the pair had discussed their support and desire to join and support Daesh over several months, starting in December 2016.
Detectives also found that in the weeks just before his planned flight, Shikhey applied for a number of loans – again an earlier conversation found on the laptop in Kenya showed Shikhey had been advised that he would need ‘more money’ to realise his ambition of joining Daesh.
Most of his loan applications were unsuccessful, but he was able to secure a loan for £10,000, claiming it was to pay for a wedding. But in reality, he was gathering as much money as possible to fund his travel and terrorist activity once he reached Syria.
Shikhey was charged on 30 May 2017 and following a seven day trial at the Old Bailey was found guilty as above and will be sentenced on 15 March.