Ummariyat Mirza, aged 21, his wife Madihah Taheer, also aged 21, and his sister Zainub Mirza, aged 23, have all been convicted of terrorism offences. Mr Mirza and his sister, Ms Mirza, pleaded guilty, but Ms Taheer pleaded not guilty and was convicted by a jury today at Woolwich Crown Court.
Mr Mirza procured knives with the help of his wife, and used a martial arts dummy to practice stabbing people to death. The court heard that the couple bonded over their plans to fight with ISIS in Syria and raise a family of jihadis, with Ms Taheer repeatedly telling Mr Mirza that they could execute their plans once they were married. They would watch videos of beheadings and terrorist attacks and laugh at them, constantly sending each other messages about their future as a terrorist couple, and the murders they would commit.
Ms Taheer reportedly told the court that the couple’s extensive messages and preparations for acts of terrorism were just their “humour”.
The couple’s attention shifted from Syria to the UK however, with Ms Taheer telling Mr Mirza that she had a list of people for him to kill after their wedding, which he said he would act upon for her. Ms Taheer even provided him with her bank details so that he could purchase a knife. Ms Taheer’s only concern appeared to be the cost of weapons. In one message she told her husband, when he asked for her bank details so that he could buy a £300 knife: “Can’t we wait until I get paid. Got bills to pay — baby things to buy. It doesn’t have to be bloody state of the art.” To this, Mr Mirza replied: “This isn’t a fantasy, it’s real. We are living like kuffar [a derogatory term for non-Muslims].” Eventually Ms Taheer bought him a knife for £120.
Following their wedding, they instead turned their attention to targets in Birmingham, including the RAF careers office and Birmingham Central Synagogue.
Mr Mirza and his sister were arrested by plain-clothes counter-terrorism officers on 29th March, the day after the Westminster Bridge terrorist attack, after Mr Mirza sent an emoticon of a knife via WhatsApp, which officers feared could be a signal for an attack.
Mr Mirza admitted his crimes, as did Ms Mirza, who had been sending her brother a stream of extremist material, including footage of a man holding two severed heads.
Ms Taheer was arrested on 24th April after officers seized electronic devices and analysed the messages that had been exchanged between her and her husband.
Detective Chief Superintendent Matt Ward, head of West Midlands Counter-Terrorist Unit, said: “Ummariyat Mirza’s plan was escalating quickly so the decision to carry out arrests in a busy Birmingham street at rush hour was not taken lightly. The planning had begun in 2015 but quickly gathered momentum in terms of the volume and especially the nature of the shared material with the majority of videos shared by Zainub Mirza to her brother. The constant stream of material and supportive comments sent were, we believed, to encourage Ummariyat Mirza to begin acts of preparation for terrorism. When Ummariyat Mirza and his sister were arrested, mobile phones were found in the car and at their respective addresses, as well as at other family addresses. Their devices were examined and a significant quantity of relevant mind-set material was found on them. The communications between Ummariyat Mirza and his sister reveal that they shared extremist material and praised killings carried out by Daesh. It is thought Mirza and his wife, encouraged by Zainub, were planning to carry out an attack in the UK, it is not known where this attack would have been, but we discovered research into potential targets, including military sites in the area.”
We are grateful to the police officers and intelligence officers for their life-saving vigilance.