Life sentence for teenager who plotted UK terror attack

|News, Terrorism

A London teenager has been jailed for life and ordered to serve at least 13 years in prison today (3 August) for planning a terror attack in the UK. It came after her original goal of travelling to Syria to marry a Daesh fighter had been thwarted.

Safaa Boular, 18, was convicted on 4 June of plotting a terror attack in London following a trial at the Old Bailey. Her older sister, Rizlaine Boular, 22, their mother Mina Dich, 44, and Khawla Barghouthi, 21, a friend of Rizlaine’s all pleaded guilty to Terrorism Act offences at an earlier hearing.

The court heard how Safaa Boular had been chatting online to Naweed Hussain, a Daesh fighter based in Syria, for three months before they resolved to marry and have children. She was 16 when they first started speaking and had never met face-to-face.

Safaa Boular planned to join him in Syria to support his plans including carrying out a suicide attack while holding hands. Her older sister Rizlaine, who had also planned to travel to Syria, was sent £3,000 by Hussain to pay for the sisters’ travel arrangements.

Safaa Boular was stopped by police at Stansted Airport on 19 August 2016 after returning from a family holiday to Morocco. She admitted planning to travel to Syria to join Hussain but claimed they planned to live peacefully as a married couple. Both sisters had their passports confiscated and were released on bail.

Though not able to travel to Syria, Safaa Boular continued to chat to Hussain using an illicit mobile phone she kept hidden inside a cushion at her home. They plotted for her to carry out a terror attack using grenades – which she called “pineapples” - and firearms at the British Museum in central London.

After Hussain was killed on 4 April 2017, Safaa Boular sent a message to a someone she regarded as a Daesh supporter saying “…grant me martyrdom for his sake….my heart yearns to…be reunited with my dear husband for the very first time”.  She was comforted and encouraged by her mother and sister.

When Safaa Boular was charged and remanded in custody eight days later, her sister Rizlaine took forward the plans for a terrorist attack with the knowledge and support of Dich and Barghouthi. The women talked about planning a “party” on 27 April 2017 which the prosecution argued was a code word for terror attack.

On 25 April, Rizlaine Boular and Dich went on a reconnaissance mission around major landmarks in Westminster and on 26 April purchased a pack of knives and a rucksack. The three women were arrested on the evening of 27 April.

Rizlaine Boular, Dich and Barghouthi pleaded guilty to terrorism offences on 23 February 2018 at the Old Bailey.

On 15 June, Rizlaine Boular was sentenced to life, with a minimum term of 16 years and Mina Dich was given a sentence of six years and nine months. Khawla Barghouthi was jailed for 28 months on 22 June.

At the time of Safaa Boular's conviction, Sue Hemming, from the CPS, said: “Safaa Boular’s intention was to cause serious injury and death. She first planned to do this in Syria by detonating a suicide belt with her fiancé by her side.

“When she was prevented from travelling her focus switched to an attack on the British Museum where there would be a large crowd.

“Once Safaa was remanded in custody her sister Rizlaine Boular took forward the plan with the help of Mina Dich and Khwala Barghouthi.
“They all present a danger to the public.”

Notes to editors

  • Safaa Boular (dob 29/03/2000) was charged with two counts of intending to commit acts of terrorism, or assisting another to commit such acts, contrary to section 5 of the Terrorism Act 2006. One count related to plans for an attack in Syria and the second to plan an attack in London.
  • Rizlaine Boular (dob 06/01/1996) pleaded guilty intending to commit acts of terrorism, contrary to section 5(1)(a) of the Terrorism Act 2006.
  • Mina Dich (dob 29/01/1974) pleaded guilty to assisting another person to commit an act of terrorism, contrary to section 5(1)(b) Terrorism Act 2006.
  • Khawla Barghouthi (dob 13/02/1997) pleaded guilty to not disclosing information that could have assisted in securing the apprehension, prosecution or conviction of another person for an offence involving the commission, preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism, contrary to section 38B(1)(a) Terrorism Act 2000.
  • Sue Hemming was the Head of the CPS Counter-Terrorism Division.

Further reading