A British Muslim convert plotted to launch a terror attack on London’s Oxford Street while on bail for attempting to wage jihad in the Philippines .
Lewis Ludlow, aged 26, was arrested while boarding a flight to the Philippines in February. When questioned by police, he claimed he was visiting the country as a “sex tourist”.
As we have previously reported, it was while awaiting trial that he formulated a plan to mount the pavement to kill “nearly 100 people” outside Madame Tussauds or Oxford Street’s Disney Store.
At a hearing before Judge Nicholas Hilliard at the Old Bailey yesterday (Friday, August 10), he pleaded guilty to plotting an attack in the UK and funding Islamic State (IS) abroad.
Prosecutor Mark Heywood said it would not be in the public interest to pursue a trial on the charge of attempting to join IS in the Philippines, which the defendant denied. That charge will lie on the court file.
According to a prosecution summary, Ludlow 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 group. When he was arrested in 2015, IS material was recovered from his electronic devices but no further action was taken.
In January this year, he bought a ticket to fly to the Philippines on February 3 when he was stopped at Heathrow 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, from an undisclosed region of the Philippines said to have a substantial terrorist presence.
In March, Ludlow sent him money via PayPal and created a Facebook account called Antique Collections. It purported to be an antiques business in Maidstone but 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, close to the Disney Store, using a van mounting the pavement. He made note of 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, Ludow’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”.
Meanwhile, undercover officers engaged the Filipino Yaqeen in online chat, in which he 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 South East Counter Terrorism police in April.
The defendant appeared at the Old Bailey via video link from Belmarsh prison wearing a green prayer cap and black T-shirt.
Following his guilty pleas, sentencing was adjourned until November 2.
Ludlow is not the first British muslim convert to plan joining the Islamic State in the Philippines. In February last year, we reported on the case of Ryan Counsell, who was found guilty of planning to join Abu Sayyaf. The Nottingham supermarket worker had already booked flight tickets to Zamboanga and amassed a hoard of military kit when arrested.
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