Twelve years in jail for Willesden mother convicted of plotting terror attack with man she met on dating website

Pharmacist Rowaida El-Hassan. Picture: Counter Terrorism Policing North/PA Wire

Pharmacist Rowaida El-Hassan. Picture: Counter Terrorism Policing North/PA Wire - Credit: PA

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

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 dating website

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 were found guilty of preparing terrorist acts between November 2015 and December 2016 following an Old Bailey trial in January.

The court heard Sudanese asylum seeker 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 very simple, honest and straightforward man who fears Allah”.

He enlisted her to help find the ingredients for a bomb after he had volunteered for a “lone wolf” UK mission in a Facebook chat with an IS commander, the court was told.

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At the time of his arrest in December 2016, Mohammed had two of the three components needed for high explosives as well as manuals on how to make bombs and ricin poison.

Even though Mohammed introduced extremism into their relationship, El-Hassan “embraced it and became more and more absorbed by it to the point she became an enthusiastic and encouraging partner”, Judge Topolski said.

Summing up, he told Mohammed: “You decided that yours would be a lone wolf attack. You decided the means of your attack would involve you making an explosive device.

“You had not decided whether that would be made with an ordinary bomb or whether you could do more damage and more terror by exploding a device containing ricin,” he added.

He “carefully and deliberately drew El-Hassan in to the point where her commitment was “consistent and sustained”, the judge said before highlighting Mohammed’s “vast store” of IS propaganda depicting the “abhorrent” acts of murder, including nearly 26,000 images on his phone. El-Hassan never objected to being sent the material as her two children slept in her bedroom, and even asked for more, the judge said.

Judge Michael Topolski QC sentenced El-Hassan to 12 years in jail plus five years on licence.

Mohammed was jailed for life with a minimum of 14 years.