A teacher in Islamic schools in the UK was radicalizing his students, preparing them to assist him in massive terror attacks on 30 targets across London.
Umar Haque, 25, planned to raise an “army” of jihadi children, The Telegraph reported.
Haque was employed at two schools and a mosque in East London. “And he tried — and he did, we believe — radicalize vulnerable children from the ages of 11 to 14,” said Commander Dean Hayden, head of the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command.
“His plan was to create an army of children to assist with multiple terrorist
attacks throughout London.”
Haque had access to 250 children, 100 of whom he tried to radicalize by showing them extremist videos, which included beheadings. The children were told that they would meet a similar fate if they told anyone about what they were being taught.
Haque planned to prepare the children for martyrdom when they were older. He planned to teach them how to drive, presumably to carry out vehicular suicide operations at iconic sites in London like Big Ben and Heathrow Airport.
No one reported his activities. When police tried to investigate, they were met with a “wall of silence” from the schools, said Hayden, which has made the investigation all the more difficult.
The children, for their part “were paralyzed with fear … He threatened them that if they were to talk to teachers, parents or to allude to anybody outside of that classroom of what was going on, that they would meet a similar fate. It doesn’t appear that any of those children raised the alarm bell of what was going on.”
One child spoke to the police. On a video of his testimony, the child said, “He is teaching us terrorism, like how to fight,” he said. “If you fight for the sake of Allah, on Judgment Day, when you get judged for your good deeds and bad deeds, fighting is good.
“He wants a group of 300 men. He’s training us now so by the time I’m in Year 10 [age 15] we will be physically strong enough to fight.”
One of the schools Haque worked at, the Lantern of Knowledge Secondary School, received excellent reports from Ofsted, the governmental agency that regulates educational institutions in the UK. Inspectors reported that the school exhibited a “strong sense of community, harmony and respect.”
Authorities originally became suspicious of Haque in April 2016 when he was stopped at Heathrow trying to board a plane to Turkey. At this point, his passport was taken away, but he still continued working at the Lantern of Knowledge school until the following September. On January 24, 2017, he was caught driving without insurance. It was at this point that police started digging deeper into his activities.
Thirty-five children are now under care of long-term support from social services under programs that involve the police, local authorities and the Home Office.
Meanwhile in the UK, a 17-year old boy from Cardiff who was “hours away from committing an act of atrocity” was arrested and will serve at least 11 years in detention.
The teenager, Lloyd Gunton, who has been diagnosed with autism,
had researched vehicular attacks, how to stab and kill people, how to create a terror attack and what getting shot feels like. He was arrested for planning an attack on the Justin Bieber concert in Cardiff.
When arrested, Gunton was in possession of a gutting knife, a hammer and a martyrdom letter, which said he was a “soldier of the Islamic State” and that “more attacks will follow.”
“Yours is not a condition from which you will recover,” said Judge Mark Wall to Gutman in court.
“It is important that, having been tempted to commit a serious offense such as this, you are under some form of supervision for the rest of your life.”
In Manchester, members of a child sex grooming gang that targeted underage girls in parks in Bury, located on the outskirts of the city, were arrested. Police had been watching the men for over a half a year. The targeted children were first plied with alcohol and drugs and then sexually abused. Similar scandals have been uncovered in other cities in the UK.