Terror plotter who planned attack on ‘Shia temple in Romford’ hid radical views from authorities for 10 years
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A Muslim convert plotted a terror attack on Oxford Street, and even weighed up committing an attack on other Muslims in Romford, despite repeated attempts by authorities to deradicalise him over the course of a decade.
Former Royal Mail worker Lewis Ludlow, 27, of Rochester, Kent, said he was filled with “animosity and hatred” when he swore allegiance to Islamic State, the Old Bailey heard at the start of his sentencing hearing today (Thursday, January 3).
All the while, he appeared to engage with the Prevent deradicalisation programme, having 16 meetings and a phone call with officers over six months before his arrest last April.
One of the meetings was on the same day Ludlow carried out reconnaissance of targets around the capital, taking photographs of Oxford Street and Madame Tussauds.
A scrap of paper found by investigators in a bin at his home also revealed he had looked into committing an act of terror at either St Paul’s Cathedral or a “Shia temple in Romford”.
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Ludlow planned to kill up to 100 people in a “ram attack” after being stopped by police at Heathrow Airport in February 2018 as he attempted to board a flight to the Philippines.
The defendant, who called himself “The Eagle” and “The Ghost”, had bought a phone under a false name and wrote down his attack plans, which were later found ripped up in the bin.
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He pleaded guilty to plotting an attack in the UK and funding IS in the Philippines when he appeared at the Old Bailey to be sentenced.
Prosecutor Mark Heywood QC set out Ludlow’s past association with extremists in Britain and abroad.
He said the Prevent programme had attempted to engage with Ludlow since November 2008, when his college had raised concern about his religious beliefs and carrying a knife.
In 2010, Ludlow attended a demonstration led by radical preacher Anjem Choudary, from Ilford, and his banned Al-Muhajiroun (ALM) group.
He was pictured with the convicted terrorist Trevor Brooks and had secret communication with British Jihadi Junaid Hussain, who was killed in a drone strike in Syria.
In June 2015, he discussed with Hussain doing something before travelling abroad and mentioned his job at Royal Mail.
He wrote: “At my job at a Royal Mail warehouse we had a book that mentions how staff look out for suspicious items like bombs.
“I’m thinking should I find this info out more as Royal Mail rarely check items. It is perfect to send something lethal through.”
Hussain told him it was a “good idea” and Ludlow promised to “look into it”.
That year he was arrested and IS material was recovered from Ludlow’s phone but no further action was taken.
Ludlow had cut off contact with Prevent two years before but resumed meetings with officers in November 2017, while keeping his true feelings under wraps.
In January 2018, he bought a ticket to fly to the Philippines on February 3 but was stopped at the airport and had his passport seized.
In March, having set up a PayPal account and an Antique Collections Facebook site, he sent money to an alleged extremist called Abu Yaqeen in an area of the Philippines with a significant IS presence.
Police went on to recover torn-up scraps of paper from Ludlow’s bin detailing potential attack sites in Britain.
On Oxford Street, he planned using a van and mounting the pavement, noting the lack of safety barriers.
He 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.”
Mr Heywood said there was evidence the defendant wanted to recruit a second attacker as he did not have a driver’s licence and was “scared” of crashing.
On April 13 last year, Ludlow’s mobile phone was retrieved from a storm drain and found to have videos of the defendant swearing allegiance to IS and evidence of “hostile reconnaissance”.
In one of the videos, the hooded defendant said: “I, the Eagle, have pledged allegiance to Dawlatul Islam and also, this is a little message to you people, there is no love between us, there is nothing between us except animosity and hatred.”
The sentencing hearing is due to go on for up to three days before Judge Nicholas Hilliard QC.