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Willesden woman guilty of plotting terror attack with man she met on dating website

PUBLISHED: 12:01 09 January 2018

Willesden pharmacist Rowaida El-Hassan. Photo: Counter Terrorism Policing North East/PA Wire

Willesden pharmacist Rowaida El-Hassan. Photo: Counter Terrorism Policing North East/PA Wire

A pharmacist from Willesden has been found guilty of plotting a “devastating” Islamic State-inspired terror attack with a man she met on a Muslim dating website.

Munir Mohammed.  Photo: Counter Terrorism Policing North East/PA Wire Munir Mohammed. Photo: Counter Terrorism Policing North East/PA Wire

Mother-of-two Rowaida El-Hassan, 33, of Willesden Lane, used her knowledge of chemicals to try to create a homemade bomb after falling for Munir Hassan Mohammed, 36, on SingleMuslims.com.

Sudanese asylum seeker Mohammed volunteered for a “lone wolf” UK mission as he chatted on Facebook with a man he believed was an IS commander and enlisted the help of El-Hassan to plan the Christmas bomb or ricin attack, the court heard.

The pair had denied preparing terrorist acts between November 2015 and December 2016 but were found guilty of the plot on Monday following an Old Bailey trial,

Judge Michael Topolski QC remanded the pair in custody and warned them they faced jail when they are sentenced on February 22.

Following the verdicts, he said: “Munir Mohammed, you have been convicted of planning a potentially devastating terrorist attack by creating an explosive device and deploying it somewhere in the UK targeting those you regarded as enemies of the Islamic State.

“Rowaida El-Hassan, you share the extremist mindset with Munir Mohammed and you were ideologically motivated to provide him with support, motivation and assistance.

“You knew he was engaging and planning an attack. You knew he was planning an explosion to kill and maim innocent people in the cause of Islamic State.”

The court heard how when the couple met online Mohammed was drawn to UCL graduate El-Hassan because of her Masters degree in pharmacy in her dating profile.

She wrote that she was “looking for a simple, very simple, honest and straightforward man who fears Allah” who she could “vibe with on a spiritual and intellectual level”.

Jurors were told the pair had a “rapidly formed emotional attachment and a shared ideology” and by the spring of 2016 were in regular contact on WhatsApp and had met more than once in a park near El-Hassan’s Willesden home.

As well as arguments, jokes and everyday concerns, they also shared extremist views and videos.

Prosecutor Anne Whyte QC said Mohammed “resolved upon a lone wolf attack” and El-Hassan was well aware of his plan.

Mother-of-two El-Hassan, who came to Britain from Sudan at the age of three, advised fellow divorcee Mohammed on what chemicals to buy for a bomb, jurors were told.

When police raided his home on December 12 last year, they found hydrogen peroxide in a wardrobe and hydrochloric acid in the freezer.

It was “difficult to say” whether Rowaida El-Hassan was an extremist before she met Munir Mohammed on a dating site or whether she was radicalised through their romance, anti-terror police said.

Det Ch Insp Paul Greenwood, who led the investigation into the pair, said “I think both El-Hassan and Munir were looking for a relationship but, on that website, in each other found a shared ideology and together became even more dangerous.

Sue Hemming, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “Munir Mohammed and Rowaida El-Hassan were clearly attracted to each other through their support for Daesh’s violent ideology and its intolerance of those who do not subscribe to its views.

“They planned to kill and injure innocent people in the UK and had the mind-set, the methodology and almost all the material needed for Mohammed to carry out an attack.

“Both will be in prison, where they cannot plot together and will no longer be a danger to the public.”

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