An 18-year-old became the youngest female authorities have charged and convicted of a terrorist offense in the United Kingdom after she was found guilty Monday of plotting a terrorist attack in London on behalf of the Islamic State group.
The woman, Safaa Boular, was planning to travel to Syria to join her fiancee, 32-year-old Naweed Hussain, an Islamic State group fighter whom she met online. Boular corresponded with Hussain for two years online and discussed suicide bombings and other violent attacks with him through picture and instant messages, according to messages recovered by the U.K. police from Boular’s phone.
Authorities stopped her from traveling to Syria after police interviewed her in August 2016 at an airport stop as she was returning to the U.K. after vacationing with her family in Morocco.
She admitted to authorities that she had between 300 and 400 Islamic State group connections online. She also revealed her affinity for Islamic State group ideologies and her desire to die as a martyr to the caliphate, according to Sky News.
Her passport was seized by officials at that airport stop but she was released.
The U.K. police bugged Boular’s house to keep tabs on her communications. They discovered that Boular encouraged her mother, 44-year-old Mina Dich, and her sister, 22-year-old Rizlaine Boular, to plot a knife attack at the British Museum in Westminster, which they secretly referred to as the “Alice-In-Wonderland” plot.
“Whilst Naweed Hussain had undoubtedly done much to encourage Safaa Boular in these plans, the intention underlying those plans was always hers. She was encouraged, but she was willing; she was supported, but she was resolute,” prosecutor Duncan Atkinson told Sky News.
Safaa Boular continued to correspond with Hussain until she was arrested in early April 2017 for trying to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State group.
Despite being detained, she continued to encourage her mother and sister to carry out the planned attack in London.
Meanwhile, Boular pleaded not guilty after her arrest to two counts of preparing acts of terrorism
Rizlaine and Dich Boular did a preliminary survey of Westminster in the following weeks and bought six-inch blade knives to carry out the attack. The U.K. police also bugged the house of Rizlaine Boular’s friend, 20-year-old Khawla Barghouthi.
Anti-terror police recorded Rizlaine Boular at Barghouthi’s house rehearsing the knife attack inside on April 27, 2017, the day of the proposed attack. Officers raided the house and shot Rizlaine Boular twice in the stomach.
Rizlaine Boular survived the shooting and pleaded guilty with Barghouthi to planning the knife attack. Her mother pleaded guilty to assisting her.
Safaa Boular was found guilty by a jury in Old Bailey of two counts of preparation of terrorism and one count of attempting to travel to Syria to carry out acts of terrorism. The group of women represent the first all-women ISIS cell in the U.K. to plot an attack.
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