Asylum-seeker jailed over driverless car bomb plot

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Farhad Salah was convicted of preparing to commit acts of terrorism
Farhad Salah was convicted of preparing to commit acts of terrorism

A 24-year-old Iraqi asylum-seeker, who tried to make a bomb to be used in a driverless car attack, has been jailed for 15 years.

Farhad Salah, living in Sheffield, planned the attack to spare his own life while harming “others he considered to be infidels”, a court heard.

In messages sent before his arrest, the would-be terrorist called his plot a “martyrdom operation with cars without driver”.

He was found guilty of preparing to commit acts of terrorism after a trial at Sheffield Crown Court.

Jurors heard Salah had expressed a desire to fight in Daesh occupied territory and was frustrated that he was unable to travel as a result of his unsettled immigration status. This frustration led to him exploring alternative ways to support Daesh.

The police investigation uncovered extensive evidence that Salah possessed an extremist ideology. He was possession of a wide range of extremist material, including Daesh propaganda films. Much of this material was extremely disturbing, involving horrific scenes of torture and murder.

Officers also recovered deeply concerning messages which revealed an affiliation with Daesh and a belief in violent Jihad.

At the time of his arrest Salah had been testing small improvised explosive devices in preparation for an attack.

The jury at Sheffield Crown Court reached their verdict following a six week trial.

Anne Whyte QC, prosecuting, told jurors Salah had intended to make an explosive to be placed in remote-controlled vehicle “so that no-one had to martyr themselves in the process”.

“Improvised explosive devices could be made and used in a way here in the UK that spared his own life preferably but harmed others he considered to be infidels,” she said.

Ms Whyte said that Salah, an Iraqi Kurd, was getting “increasingly desperate” to do something for IS at the time of his plotting.

Sentencing, Judge Paul Watson QC said Salah had come to the UK in 2014 after “ostensibly fleeing from conflict” in Kurdistan.

He had appeared to live a law-abiding lifestyle but “the reality was far more sinister”, he said.

During the trial, Judge Watson said, a “clear picture” had emerged of someone who had “become wedded to an extremist ideology and was preparing to take action to give effect to those views”.

Counter-terrorism police have previously said Salah of Brunswick Road, Sheffield, “posed a very real risk” to public safety.

Co-defendant Andy Star, a 32-year-old chip shop owner from Chesterfield, was cleared of the same offence after jurors could not reach a verdict.

It was the second time the pair had been tried, after a jury failed to reach verdicts last year.

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