LONDON: A mother and her two daughters, who were plotting to carry out terrorist attacks in the UK, had their plans thwarted by a proactive joint investigation by counter-terrorism police and the security services. One of the daughters was found guilty on Monday 4 June, for her part in the plots, with her sister and mother having previously pleaded guilty to preparation of terrorist acts.
Following a trial at the Old Bailey, Safaa Boular, 18 of south west London, was found guilty of two counts of preparation of terrorist acts, contrary to section 5 of the Terrorism Act (TACT), 2006. Hersister, Rizlaine Boular, 22 (06.01.1996), of central London and their mother, Mina Dich, 44, of south-west London both previously pleaded guilty to preparation of terrorist acts contrary to section 5 TACT, 2006.
A fourth woman who was also arrested as part of the investigation – Khawla Barghouthi, 21 of north-west London – previously pleaded guilty to having information about acts of terrorism contrary to section 38 TACT, 2000. Mina, Rizlaine and Khawla have been remanded in custody until their sentencing, which is due to take place at the Old Bailey on 15 June.
Safaa is also remanded in custody and will be sentenced on a date to be confirmed. Following an Old Bailey trial, she was found guilty of preparing acts of terrorism abroad and in the UK. Boular made no reaction in the dock as she was found guilty on Monday by a jury after two days of deliberations. Judge Mark Dennis QC put off sentencing for around six weeks for a report to be compiled.
The court heard how Boular was just 16 when she was wooed online by Coventry-born Isis fighter Naweed Hussain, 32.
The couple got married in an online ceremony and talked of donning his-and-hers suicide belts to achieve martyrdom together. Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon said: “This investigation started with Safaa, and her attempts to travel out to Syria, marry a Daesh fighter and support their terrorist activity.
Having been prevented from travelling to Syria, she then set about plotting an attack in the UK but her plans were being covered by the counter terrorism network and security services. “After Safaa was arrested and charged, her mother and sister tried to pick up where she left off. But again, working with the security services, we tracked their plans and stopped them before they were able to put them into practice. The Met’s Counter Terrorism Command launched its investigation in August 2016 when police officers spoke to Safaa during a Schedule 7 port stop on her return to the UK from a trip to Morocco. At this point, Safaa – who was 16 at the time – made indications that she was planning to travel to Syria to join Daesh.
Two days later on 22 August 2016, Mina reported them both as missing. Further enquiries led police to find and arrest both Safaa and Rizlaine at a hostel in north-west London. Both admitted that they were planning to travel to Syria in order to live under the Daesh regime, but insisted they simply wanted to live there peacefully and had no intention to carry out any terrorist acts.
Officers seized mobile phones and digital devices from the sisters and they found several conversations between Safaa and a UK national who was fighting for Daesh in Syria. The conversations showed that Safaa was, in fact, planning to marry the Daesh fighter and included discussions between them about her wearing a suicide belt.
Their enquiries also revealed Safaa was sharing and supporting Daesh propaganda material online. Safaa was subsequently charged on 12 April 2017 with preparation of terrorist acts in relation to her plans of joining and supporting Daesh in Syria.
However, whilst she had been on police bail, Safaa remained in contact with the person she planned to marry in Syria. It was during this time on bail that Safaa shifted her attention from travelling out to Syria to committing an attack in the UK.
Following their arrest, detectives recovered various electronic devices from both Rizlaine’s and Mina’s address, on which they found various Islamist extremist content including Daesh propaganda and Al Qaeda-related material. Both Rizlaine and Mina were subsequently charged with preparation of terrorist acts. Khawla was also charged with terrorism offences and was convicted as above after she admitted knowing about the plans, and not alerting the police or authorities to them.