Thanks to the hard work of counter-terrorism detectives, Mohamad Al-Bared was found guilty today of preparing acts of terrorism.
The PhD student crafted a drone intending to supply it to ISIS, a banned terrorist organisation.
Background of the Case
Al-Bared was arrested on January 31 at his home address in Kare Road, Coventry, by officers who seized a 3D printer, several devices, and, most notably, the drone he had been building.
Component parts for the drone had been manufactured using his 3D printer.
Unveiling the Sinister Purpose
Jurors at Birmingham Crown Court were told that the drone was designed explicitly to carry an explosive or chemical weapon into enemy territory.
This was no mere experiment; it revealed the disturbing intentions of someone prepared to engage in large-scale harm.
The Evidence: More Than Just Hardware
Post-arrest, detectives performed an in-depth analysis of Al-Bared’s seized electronic devices, including phones and a laptop.
This investigation revealed extremist material, violent propaganda videos, and conversations that clearly demonstrated his allegiance to ISIS.
More Than Academic Interests
During the police raid, notebooks filled with chemical equations and recipes for creating chemical weapons were found.
While Al-Bared studied mechanical and chemical engineering, authorities confirmed that the documented chemicals were not related to his academic studies but were intended for use as weapons.
Deceptive and Dangerous Strategies
The investigation also uncovered Al-Bared’s meticulous planning on smuggling the drone into a war zone without arousing suspicion.
He had even set up a bogus company to feign business travel as a cover for his nefarious activities.
This case highlights the ever-adaptive strategies terrorists are employing, making the diligent work of our law enforcement agencies all the more crucial.
The Threat Closer to Home?
While the court case focused on Mohamad Al-Bared’s intentions to supply the drone to ISIS for overseas operations, it’s worth highlighting the unsettling possibility that such a device could also have been deployed within the UK.
Given his extensive engineering knowledge, Al-Bared could create a weaponised drone to deliver chemical or explosive payloads.
It’s a sobering reminder that the skills and technologies for creating terror weapons are not confined to distant war zones but can also be developed and potentially deployed right in our own backyards.
Head of Counter Terrorism Policing West Midlands, Detective Chief Superintendent Mark Payne said:
“Al-Bared was a calculated individual, and coupled with his education and expertise in mechanical and chemical engineering he was clearly very dangerous.
“He has made a purpose-built drone able to carry explosives or chemicals to be used as a weapon in a war zone, thankfully he was unable to continue his efforts following his swift arrest earlier this year.
“The jury heard how security conscious he was going to great lengths to try to hide anything that might lead to his identification.
“Today’s verdict means a dangerous individual has been taken off our streets, there is no place in our society for individuals intent on participating in terrorism activity.
“We will continue to work with partners and the CPS to protect our communities by pursuing and prosecuting such individuals. We work tirelessly to counter terrorism. Our absolute priority is to ensure the safety and security of the people who live, work and visit the West Midlands area.”
ISIS Activities Across Different Fronts
Since the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021, ISIS has seized the opportunity to expand its footprint in the country. The group’s Afghan branch, known as ISIS-Khorasan (ISIS-K), has been responsible for multiple high-profile attacks. Notably, they orchestrated the bombing of Kabul International Airport in the same month the Taliban assumed control and carried out an attack on a Shia mosque in Kunduz in October 2021. The rise of ISIS in Afghanistan amid a power vacuum raises alarm bells about the group’s increasing capabilities and intent in the region.
Iraq and Syria:
Born out of the turmoil of the Iraq War, ISIS has been a persistent force in Iraq and Syria since 2006. While the group has been considerably weakened in these two countries, it maintains a presence. It is worth noting that despite suffering significant territorial losses, the group’s ideology and underground networks persist. The volatile situation remains a constant challenge for local and international security forces aiming to stabilise the region.
In Somalia, the ISIS-Somalia branch has been active since 2015, focusing its attacks on government and civilian targets. Among their more significant operations were the attack on the Central Hotel in Mogadishu in January 2019 and the assault on Garissa University College in April 2015. The group’s presence in Somalia adds another layer of complexity to the already intricate web of security issues facing the Horn of Africa.
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