A rapping jihadist who called himself the Masked Menace has been jailed for life after plotting a solo terrorist attack weeks after he had been released from prison.
Sahayb Abu, 27, from Dagenham in east London, bought a gladiator-style sword, balaclava and combat vest as he prepared his attack during the pandemic last summer.
He was arrested on July 9 after discussing guns with an undercover police officer on a group for Islamic State supporters on the encrypted messaging app Telegram.
It can now be disclosed that Abu had previously been jailed for breaking into a jewellery store in a suspected effort to raise funds to travel abroad for terrorism. He was released from prison on March 20 last year, less than four months before his arrest.
Abu denied preparing an act of terrorism when he appeared at the Old Bailey and claimed the weapons and clothing were for use in a rap video and that he had intended to emulate the rapper Stormzy, who wore a Union flag stab vest on stage at Glastonbury.
He also claimed that he was a humanitarian who was trying to launch an agricultural charity called Islamic Growth after watching videos by Alan Titchmarsh, the TV gardener. However, jurors found him guilty last month. Yesterday he was jailed for life and ordered to serve a minimum of 19 years.
His brother, Muhamed Abu, 32, of Norwood, south London, was cleared of failing to tell the authorities about the plot.
Several of Abu’s relatives had been linked to extremism in the past, including a brother, sister and brother-in-law who were jailed for collecting and disseminating terrorist documents. In 2015 his half-brothers Wail and Suleyman Aweys joined Isis in Syria, where they are both believed to have been killed.
Sentencing Abu, Judge Mark Dennis QC said that he “of all people” should have learnt from the fate of his younger brothers and jailed relatives.
“Instead, within weeks of your own release from prison you had sought out and joined other extremists committed to supporting and promoting that same violent cause, and within no time you were getting ready to carry out your own act of violence on the streets of this country,” the judge said, praising the police for their investigation.
The court heard that Abu had no previous terror-related convictions but had two convictions for battery in 2016 and one for possessing a knife in 2017.
Lyrics sent to his brother before his arrest included the line: “Man I shoot up a crowd cos I’m a night stalker, got my shank got my guns straight Isis supporter, reject democracy.”
The judge said that Abu had “actively done things” to prepare for an imminent attack. As he was sent down to begin his sentence, Abu addressed the judge, saying: “Thank you very much.”