- Lewis Ludlow, 26, from Rochester ranted that he loves death and hates the UK
- He scoped out Oxford Street for an attack, taking pictures of pedestrians
- First flagged up to police when he was spotted marching with Anjem Choudary
- He admitted plotting an attack in the UK and funding Islamic StateA British Muslim convert who plotted the slaughter of scores of Oxford Street shoppers after vowing to 'destroy all that you hold dear' has been jailed for life.
Lewis Ludlow, from Rochester in Kent, planned to kill innocents in Oxford Street, central London, made videos saying how much he hates the UK and loves death.
In one of the videos, the 26-year-old, who called himself 'The Eagle', said into the camera: 'I pledge allegiance to the Islamic State. We love death as much as you love life.'
He added that he has 'nothing for this country' and: 'I spit on your citizenship, your passport - you can go to hell with that.'
The Islamist signs off his sick clip by growling that he hopes to 'establish the sharia (Islamic law) over your necks whether you like it or not and may we destroy all of what you hold dear.'
Ludlow was handed a life sentence at the Old Bailey today and ordered to serve at least 15 years behind bars. He hung his head as his sentence was read.
In a second video he recorded he says: 'This is the eagle. I pledge allegiance to Islamic State,' before ranting: 'I grew up amongst you people and learned about your debauchery your kufr (non-belief) shirk (idolatry/polytheism) and i have made my allegiance clear, who I stand with.'
Referencing the terror group's leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, he says: 'May his name strike terror and fear into your hearts always.'
Between March 15 and April 19, Ludlow prepared to drive a van through busy crowds, bought a phone under a false name and wrote down attack plans later found ripped up in a bin.
Ludlow, who also nicknamed himself The Ghost, researched potential targets, including St Paul's Cathedral and a Shia mosque in Romford, East London.
But he identified Oxford Street as an 'ideal' target, writing: 'It is expected nearly 100 could be killed in the attack'.
Chilling CCTV footage shows Ludlow visiting London on March 13 as he scoped out the capital wearing a green jacket and black woolly hat.
Despite boasting of his loyalty to the Islamist organisation from underneath a hood in his bizarre clips, he then gave a 'no comment' answer when police asked if he was a terrorist in videos made available today following his sentencing.
Ludlow formulated his plan after being stopped by police at Heathrow airport in February as he attempted to board a flight to the Philippines.
It was alleged he also set up a Facebook account called Antique Collections as a front to send money to south-east Asia for terrorism.
The defendant was due to face trial in the autumn on two charges of preparing acts of terrorism and one of terror funding.
But at a hearing before Judge Nicholas Hilliard QC at the Old Bailey, he pleaded guilty to plotting an attack in the UK and funding Islamic State abroad.
Today Judge Hilliard said Ludlow planned to carry out a 'spectacular', multi-casualty attack 'with the intention of causing death or terror'.
'Your commitment at the time we are concerned with to violent extremism ran very deep and for some time,' he said.
'There could be no other explanation for your preparing to kill innocent people in a vehicle attack for ideological reasons.
'You were seeking ingratiate yourself with very dangerous people indeed. I think these things were seriously contemplated by you.
'I do accept that you were bullied at school and you have difficulty forming relationships with others.
'But instead of joining a mosque and finding community there, you attached yourself to those who promoted violent extremism. You were well able to resist the prevent program and did so.
'It shows that you are perfectly capable of exerting yourself when you want to. You are nobody's fool. You were no one's unwilling instrument or tool.
'There was nothing about those videos that show you were acting reluctantly on the direction of Abu Yaqeen.
'I have seen no sign that you were anything other than an enthusiast participant in the plan.
'I'm not saying you were the leading role but you took a leading role here in London. I have no doubt multiple deaths would have been caused.'
Prosecutor Mark Heywood QC said it would not be in the public interest to pursue a trial on a charge of attempting to join the terror group in the Philippines, which the defendant denied. That charge will lie on the court file.
The extremist first came to the attention of police in 2010 when he attended a demonstration led by radical preacher Anjem Choudary and his banned Al-Muhajiroun (ALM) group.
He had also been in contact with Mizanur Rahman, known as Abu Baraa, who was jailed for encouraging support for ISIS, and backed Ludlow when he was accused online of being a spy.
Police realised Ludlow was in contact with Junaid Hussain, a British ISIS fighter in Syria, in July 2015 who was killed in a drone strike. Ludlow was also part of a Telegram chat group which contained conversations about how to make a remote-controlled bomb.
When he was arrested in 2015, officers recovered Islamic State material from his electronic devices but took no further action.
In January this year, he bought a ticket to fly to the Philippines on February 3 but was stopped at the airport and had his passport seized.
When spoken to by police, he claimed he was going to the country as a sex tourist.
But in a search of his home, officers found he was in communication with a man named Abu Yaqeen in an area with a significant IS presence.
In March, Ludlow sent him money via PayPal and created the Facebook account Antique Collections.
It purported to be an antiques business in Maidstone but, the prosecution alleged, was really a front to raise money for IS in the Philippines.
On March 21, police recovered torn-up scraps of papers from Ludlow's bin detailing his plans.
They were pieced together to reveal 'potential attack sites' including 'Madame tussauds', 'Oxford Street - busiest time...', 'St Paul's cathedral' and a ''Shia temple in Romford'.
It added: 'Further locations scouted for the kil. (sic).' He also detailed a potential attack on Oxford Street using a van mounting the pavement, noting the lack of safety barriers.
It said: 'Wolf should either use a ram attack or use...on the truck to maximise death...it is a busy street it is ideal for an attack. It is expected nearly 100 could be killed in the attack.'
On April 13, Ludlow's mobile phone was retrieved from a storm drain. It contained videos of the defendant swearing allegiance to IS and pictures of crowded areas, said to be evidence of 'hostile reconnaissance'.
Videos of beheadings and a Jordanian pilot being burnt alive, were found on his phone.
Meanwhile, undercover officers engaged Yaqeen in online chat, in which the IS fanatic called for 'lone wolf' attacks and funds to be sent to the Philippines.
Yaqeen put the undercover officer in touch with Ludlow, implying they could work together on an attack in Britain.
Ludlow was arrested by counter terrorism police on April 18 but refused to explain himself when interviewed.
He was diagnosed with autism after his arrest and was prescribed Ritalin as a child for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). He was home schooled from the age of 14 and converted to Islam at the age of 16.
Giving evidence in January 2019, Ludlow said he was 'bitter' and 'heartbroken' when he was barred from travelling to the Philippines.
He said: 'I felt that I was trapped like an animal unable to escape its cage.'
Ludlow said he wanted to travel to the Philippines not for terrorism purposes but because he always had an attraction towards 'Asian, oriental females..'
'I wanted to go and get married. I always felt that I could start a life there and find a wife and a job,' he said.
Rebecca Trowler QC, defending, said his risk of future harm and his culpability were reduced because of the 'unsophisticated' nature of the plans and his mental health and autism.
She said: 'There are significant doubts in relation to the defendants culpability of driving a van.
'The likelihood of this defendant successfully carrying out this attack was therefore very small. The defendant has no previous convictions.
Ms Trowler said there was a 'change of mindset' before his arrest and he was often under direction of Abu Yaqeen rather than taking a 'significant leading role' in preparations.
'The defendant has expressed remorse with recognition of wrong doing and shame,' she said, adding his 'depression and mental disorder at the period of time.
'The autism creates social isolation and a greater need for social inclusion and thus more vulnerable to manipulation.'
But Judge Hilliard today told the defendant: 'I do not regard you as suggestible or easily taken advantage of. You were well able to resist the Prevent programme.'
And Detective Chief Superintendent Kath Barnes, head of Counter Terrorism Policing South East, has previously described him as 'a serious danger to the public' who 'considers himself a soldier fighting for Daesh (Islamic State) in the UK'.
Ludlow attended a series of 17 meetings of the Prevent de-radicalisation programme between October 20 2017 and March 2018, including one on the day he conducted his surveillance on Oxford Street, but agreed in one online conversation that he would 'fake it'.