Imams will condemn yet deep down they will feel happy, says thwarted London bomber
A RADICAL Islamist convicted of recruiting child terrorists to bomb London left a damning paper trail with a string of chilling claims including “the Imams will condemn us but deep down they will be happy".
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ISIS-obsessed Umar Haque used an Islamic madrasa school to recruit 110 children to his Islamic State child army which he hoped would unleash carnage on the streets of London.
The 25-year-old with no qualifications showed beheading videos to children as young as 11 and made them reenact the Westminster terror attack in which a policeman was stabbed to death.
But paperwork recovered by anti-terror police showing attempts to build a murderous army of “100 serious men” is just as terrifying including, as it does, the following claims:
“People will know the Muslims of East London are serious.
“Imams and scholars will condemn our actions yet deep down they will feel happy.
“Recruitment should be easy across Newham/Tower Hamlets.”
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Haque worked at the Hafs Academy in Newham then the independent Muslim secondary Lantern of Knowledge in Leyton, while also teaching after school in the Ripple Road Mosque and madrassa in Barking.
A court heard that initial attempts by police to investigate Ripple Road and the Lantern of Knowledge were met with a "wall of silence".
Astonishingly Ofsted inspectors gave the £3,000 a year independent Muslim school an "outstanding" report in November 2015, having been kept in the dark that Haque was teaching ISIS ideology.
He went further at the mosque where he was an administrator and teacher in 2016, by forcing boys to re-enacting terrorist attacks while swearing them to secrecy.
Of some 250 children Haque had access to since 2012, he attempted to radicalised 110 of them, of which 35 are receiving ongoing safeguarding support.
Commander Dean Haydon, of the Met's counter terrorism command said it was "concerning" that Haque was teaching when he was supposed to be an administrator and that he was showing pupils "frightening" IS videos.
On the Lantern of Knowledge, he said: "We spoke to parents and as you can imagine they were as concerned - and probably horrified - as we were.
"The parents are paying a significant amount of money to a school where you would expect them to be safe and taught by fully qualified teachers.
"He abused his position at those venues and tried, and did, radicalise vulnerable children aged between 11-14.
"It was clear he aspired to create an army of children as he called them. His plan was to teach them to drive as they got older and his intention was they would help him carry out those attacks in London.
"He had instructed the children not to say anything. He had almost paralysed them with fear. As a result of that we almost had a wall of silence."
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Jurors had appeared visibly upset as they watched taped police interviews with an ex-pupil and five youngsters from the mosque as young as 11-years-old.
A Ripple Road boy told officers: "Umar has been teaching us how to fight, do push-ups, given strength and within six years he was planning to do a big attack on London.
"He wants a group of 300 men. He's training us now so by the time I'm in Year 10 (aged 14-15) we will be physically strong enough to fight.
"Umar, apparently, he told us boys he is part of Islamic State and Islamic State ordered him to do a big attack in London.
"We took an oath like we would not tell our parents. If we did not promise, we would go down a group."
Giving evidence, Haque told jurors he had played an IS YouTube video at the request of a pupil but admitted it was "obviously not a good idea".
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On his training activities at Ripple Road, Haque claimed he was "preparing self defence" in the event of a "fascist" uprising.
After Haque was charged with terrorism attack planning, the Department for Education ordered an emergency Ofsted inspection in June 2017.
This time, inspectors found the school "does not meet all of the independent school standards".
Even though staff had been given safeguarding guidance, discussions with leaders and staff "demonstrated that they do not understand" it, the report stated.
A subsequent Ofsted report published earlier this year found the school still "requires improvement".
But inspectors noted: "Procedures to check and record the suitability of staff prior to employment have improved and meet statutory requirements."
The Ripple Road mosque is now under investigation by the Charities Commission, police said.
An NSPCC spokesman said: "This case demonstrates how people who are intent on carrying out acts of terrorism often use fear and intimidation to push their ideologies on to children and young people.
"Let's be clear, this is a form of child abuse. But the signs of radicalisation aren't always obvious.
"Adults who have concerns that a child is being radicalised can call the NSPCC's confidential helpline, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, on 0808 800 5000."
Following the verdicts, the Charity Commission confirmed it has suspended supplementary education classes at the Ripple Road Mosque while an investigation is carried out.
The inquiry will consider how Haque was able to try to radicalise youngsters, and what the trustees and others at the charity knew about it.
The commission said any failings or evidence of misconduct or mismanagement will be dealt with "by taking appropriate regulatory action".
Michelle Russell, director of investigations, monitoring, and enforcement at the Charity Commission, said: "The crimes that Mr Haque has been convicted of today are horrendous, and are likely to have a devastating effect on many of the young people exposed to this harm.
"This is one of the worst cases we have seen with children, as young as 11, being exposed to harm through attempted radicalisation and terrorist material by this man."
He added: "The vast majority of mosques and supplementary schools including madrassahs do good work and are an important resource in local communities.
"What happened clearly damages the trust and confidence the children's parents had in the charity he was employed at, as well as wider public confidence.
"We and the public expect charities, particularly those working with children and young people, to be safe places, free from abuse or harm.
"This was not the case here, where Haque grossly abused the trust placed in him because of his position and teaching role."
Ofsted's deputy chief inspector Matthew Coffey said: "It is of deep regret that this individual was able to work within the independent school system and expose his warped ideology to children.
"Umar Haque engaged in highly sophisticated grooming of young, vulnerable children. We welcome the conviction and are fully supportive of the work taking place across Government to ensure people like Haque aren't able to do this again.
"Ofsted is committed to protecting children from harm, including radicalisation. However, our ability to do so is hampered by limitations on our powers.
"We have no ability to inspect out-of-school settings, such as madrassas, and we believe greater powers in this area could help keep children safe in the future.
"We know the Government is keen to address these matters and welcome their commitment to closer working."