UK’s first female suicide bomb plotter told ‘under cover’ detective she was planning attacks similar to last year’s Easter Sunday attacks. She smiles and makes ISIS salute as she is jailed for 14 years She was addicted to heroin and said she always wanted to ‘do something big’ and killing one ‘wasn’t enough’ This is [...]

Sunday Times 2

Sri Lanka-style attack on St Paul’s Cathedral


  • UK’s first female suicide bomb plotter told ‘under cover’ detective she was planning attacks similar to last year’s Easter Sunday attacks.
  • She smiles and makes ISIS salute as she is jailed for 14 years
  • She was addicted to heroin and said she always wanted to ‘do something big’ and killing one ‘wasn’t enough’
This is the chilling moment the UK’s first female suicide bomb plotter tells police during an interview she was planning a Sri Lanka-style terror attack on St Paul’s Cathedral as she is jailed for 14 years.

Wearing a black hijab, Muslim convert Safiyya Shaikh, 36, smiled and raised her index finger in a salute associated with ISIS as she was taken to the cells.

Shaikh, born Michelle Ramsden in Hounslow, west London, told undercover police officers she wanted to ‘do a piece of history and kill as many kuffar as possible’ in a day of carnage across the capital.

The woman pleaded guilty to plotting to bomb St Paul’s Cathedral in London (file picture)

The single mother ran a chat room dedicated to martyrs and told followers of her determination to become Britain’s first female suicide bomber.

She was addicted to heroin but said she always wanted to ‘do something big’ and that killing one infidel was ‘not enough for me.’

After setting off the two bombs, she wanted to blow herself up on the London Underground, it can be disclosed.

Shaikh told an undercover officer: ‘So this is really what I want but I would like to kill a lot brother. Until I’m killed. This is what I really want. Bi’idnillah [god permitting].

‘I am ready for jannah [paradise] but I want to do big things, insha’Allah [god willing].’

Shaikh shared images of Charles and Diana’s wedding at the St Paul’s and wrote: ‘If I had choice I blow the church to ground. With kuffar in it,’ adding a laughing emoji.

‘I want start planning. I am serious about this,’ she added. ‘It’s not only words akhi [brother] I want action and revenge deep from my heart.’

Shaikh was inspired by last year’s Sri Lanka Easter Sunday bombings which killed 259 people and wanted to strike when the cathedral was full.

Alison Morgan QC, prosecuting, described her as a ‘violent extremist’ who had pledged her support for ISIS in a written oath on pink note paper.

Shaikh (pictured giving the Islamic State salute) had told a friend in a prison call that she had not carried out the terror attack because she was ‘too stoned’, the court was told

Shaikh ‘gave the impression she was ready, in fact desperate, to launch an attack,’ Ms Morgan said.

Jailing her for life, with a minimum of 14 years, the judge, Mr Justice Sweeney, said she sought to encourage lone wolf attacks and had become ‘determined to carry out terrorist acts of your own in this country.’

The judge jailed her for another eight years, concurrently, for running the chatroom.

Jenny Hopkins, head of the Counter-Terrorism Division of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said: ‘Safiyya Shaikh chose to live her life as a violent extremist with a murderous hatred of those who did not share her twisted version of Islam.

‘She hoped to inspire others by sharing terrorist images on social media but wanted to go much further.

‘The damning evidence presented by the CPS of her planned suicide mission to St Paul’s Cathedral left her with no room to talk her way out the charges.’

The court heard how she became radicalised in 2007 and followed extremist preachers on Facebook.

At the age of 24, she started to follow preachers connected to Anjem Choudary on Youtube and began watching gory beheading videos online.

In a joint Met Police and MI5 investigation, Shaikh believed that an undercover officer would be able to help her obtain explosives and gave her two bags which she thought would be converted into bombs.

She plotted to leave one bomb in St Paul’s Cathedral, another in a nearby hotel and a third, to wear as a suicide vest, at a train station.

In one message, she told the undercover officer: ‘Even though it was first hard to see the beheading videos, but I kept watching more and more and now I love and would take a kuffar [infidel’s] head off easy lol [laughs out loud].

She previously had her daughter removed to the care of social services and told a female undercover officer that she was launching a suicide attack so that ‘Allah to forgive me for everything.’

In September 2019 she visited St Paul’s Cathedral and photographed the ceiling, sending the image to the undercover officer with the words: ‘Under this dome I would like to put bomb’.

The undercover officer arranged for Shaikh to meet his ‘wife’, known as Azra, in Fassnidge Park in Uxbridge to be fitted for a suicide vest and hand over a Pink Nike holdall and what she referred to as a ‘girlie backpack’, to be filled with explosives.

After she was arrested, Shaikh claimed she had got cold feet and was trying to back out of the plan, but in a recorded telephone conversation from prison, she told a friend: ‘I was going to go through with it, I wasn’t getting cold feet, I wasn’t having doubts.

‘The reason why I didn’t turn up on the day was that I was doing drugs. I would have arranged another appointment with them, I would have met them. That day I just didn’t wake up in time and that’s the truth.’

When she was first arrested Shaikh could not be interviewed by police because she was on a heroin comedown, a court hearing was told.

On August 18 last year, Shaikh was stopped at Luton Airport on her way to the Netherlands under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000.

Her ticket had been purchased by Yousra Lemouesset, the wife of a so-called ISIS ‘martyr’ who had returned to the Netherlands from Syria after her husband was killed.

Shaikh’s telephone was examined and her passport was seized from her. She was released but not allowed to travel.

Two days later, an undercover ‘role play’ officer, known as ‘H’, began chatting to her on Threema, an encrypted anonymous messaging app.

Shaikh told him: ‘I try to inspire others to fight Insha’Allah [god willing] but lately I fell it’s not enough.

‘I want to take revenge for Allah our Prophet. I hate the kuffar [infidels] for what they do and I fell I cannot live comfortably in this dunya [earthly life] while our ummah [Muslim nation] suffer.’

Shaikh believed the man online could get hold of explosives for her and told him she was going to conduct a reconnaissance mission around St Paul’s Cathedral.

She said she had no ‘kafir clothes’ of her own and would have to ‘take something from my daughter.’

‘Also, just in case I was ever stopped by police, what story I give them? I was thinking to say I’m visiting that church cos my gran loved it,’ she added.

On September 7 last year, Shaikh booked into the £200 a night, Great St Helen Hotel, near the ‘Gerkhin’ office block in the City of London, and the next day toured the cathedral, noting the number of American and Chinese tourists.

Interviewed by police, Shaikh confessed that she planned to carry out a suicide bomb attack like the terrorist attack in Sri Lanka in order to gain access to heaven.

Asked what she was planning, she said: ‘Obviously if I had the rucksack, you know like what happened in Sri Lanka, like that. I was going to do the same thing – blow everything up.’

She said she intended to die in the attack and added: ‘I thought that was my way into heaven. I thought that was my way for forgiveness.’

Shaikh pleaded guilty to preparing acts of terrorism and disseminating terrorist publications but claimed she would not have gone through with the plan.

© Daily Mail, London


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