An 18-year-old woman has been found guilty of plotting a terrorist attack in London as part of the UK’s first known all-women Isis cell.
Safaa Boular, who planned a grenade and gun attack on the British Museum, became the country’s youngest convicted female terror plotter.
The Old Bailey heard the teenager discussed the attack with her sister and mother using Alice in Wonderland-themed coded language after she was stopped from joining her husband in Syria.
She was found guilty of preparing acts of terrorism abroad and in the UK.
The jury took two days to deliberate before delivering a verdict. Boular did not react when the decision was read out.
Judge Mark Dennis QC put off sentencing for around six weeks for a report to be compiled.
Safaa Boular enlisted her sister, fellow Isis supporter Rizlaine Boular, 22, after Safaa was remanded in custody over an attempt to travel to Syria. Their mother, Mina Dich, 44, was also involved in discussions.
Both the 22-year-old and the 44-year-old from Vauxhall, south London, pleaded guilty to preparing acts of terrorism and will be sentenced at a later date.
They were caught out after a “proactive” investigation by MI5 and counter terrorism police.
The court heard how the women used words based on an Alice in Wonderland tea party when talking about their plots over the phone.
Rizlaine said she knew “a few recipes for some amazing cakes” for a “proper like English tea party kind of thing”.
Safaa told her sister: “You can be the Mad Hatter ‘cause your hair’s crazy.”
Mother-of-four Dich responded: “That will be fun.”
The court heard that it all began after Safaa Boular became involved with Naweed Hussain, 32 – an Isis fighter – after the pair met online when she was 16. She said they had been introduced by a female Isis recruiter after the Paris terror attacks.
They married in an online ceremony and talked of donning his-and-hers suicide belts to achieve martyrdom together.
Police uncovered Boular’s plans to join him following an airport stop in August 2016 where her passport was confiscated.
She began scoping out locations for possible attacks while she was out on bail.
As well as the British Museum, she also checked out the MI6 headquarters, all the while spurred on by Hussain, who sent her “lovey-dovey messages”.
Her husband was killed in a drone strike, but not before he had revealed his intentions to British secret service agents posing as IS supporters online.
Boular learned of his death on 4 April last year, after an agent pretending to be Hussain’s commander let her know online what happened.
The grief-stricken teenager then decided she wanted to join her husband and revealed to the undercover agent about how he had planned to attack the British Musuem.
She said he had discussed carrying out the attack with a “tokarev” Russian-made pistol and “pineapples” – code for grenades.
After her younger sister was remanded in custody, Rizlaine Boular took a more active role in the plot.
The 22-year-old bought knives and a rucksack from Sainsbury’s and scoped out the Palace of Westminster along with her mother. They did not know they were under surveillance by counter terrorism police at the time.
Rizlaine Boular shared her plans with her friend Khawla Barghouthi, 21, and practised a knife attack at her home in Willesden, northwest London.
Barghouthi has since admitted to failing to alert authorities.
Rizlaine Boular was shot when armed police moved in to arrest the gang but made a full recovery.
Safaa Boular claimed during her trial that Hussain had groomed her. She said Hussain had made three attempts to get her to attack the UK – over Christmas 2016, Valentine’s Day and around her birthday in March last year – but she declined.
She said in the past she had wanted a peaceful married life in Raqqa, where women were not called “umbrella” or “post box” for wearing Islamic dress – but said she had changed since her arrest and now opts to wear Western clothes rather than a burka.
The teenager, who had viewed graphic beheadings and discussed killing former US President Barack Obama, told the court: “Nothing online is real.”
Counter terrorism chief Dean Haydon, of Scotland Yard, described her as a “confident, articulate, intelligent and a relatively mature 18-year-old” who had been “quite devious” in hiding the plot.
He said the “dysfunctional” family had access to a “vast amount” of extremist material.
The senior national coordinator for counter terrorism said the case demonstrated a worrying rise in youngsters being arrested for terrorism.
“This was, without doubt, a major investigation, a proactive investigation. This involved a family with murderous intent, the first all-female terrorist plot in the UK connected to Daesh.
“It’s difficult to say if we will see more females. We have seen young children involved in martyrdom attacks. We have seen Daesh using young children.
“Here in the UK, we have seen an increase in young people, teenagers, getting involved.
“Arrests of youngsters have increased over the last 12 months and clearly that is a concern for us.”
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