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Man who ‘wanted to throw grenade at police station’ convicted of terror and explosives offences

A man who said he wanted to throw a grenade at a police station has been convicted of terror and explosives offences.

Mohammed Chowdhury, 24, was arrested after meeting with an undercover police officer who was posing as an arms dealer at a Costa Coffee branch in London.

Chowdhury paid £300 for what he believed to be a real grenade, but was immediately arrested in a sting by armed police.

He was convicted of attempting to possess an explosive with intent to endanger life or property on Wednesday, following a trial at the Old Bailey.

Chowdhury had previously pleaded guilty to four counts of possessing documents likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism, but was not charged with planning a terror attack himself.

Following his arrest on 5 February, 2020, he made several phone calls to relatives from prison where he told them what he wanted to do with the grenade.

In one call to his mother and sister, he said he wanted “to chuck it in the station area”, adding: “I wanted to do something serious like on the TV.”

Speaking to his mother in March 2020, he said: “I don’t care about the judge or the police and that. I wanted to hurt one of them, innit. I was getting annoyed. That’s why I went, that’s why I went to get the thingy.”

Chowdhury suggested he could have concealed the grenade in a place where it would have “blown up in their face”, but then added: “If I would have got that I would have chucked it at the station, innit, I don’t care.”

He said he wanted to do “something bad” and told his mother: “I don’t care if I see any legs or anything or someone’s legs coming off. Something like that.”

Prosecutor Alistair Richardson told jurors: “When Mr Chowdhury did try to come into possession of the hand grenade, he was clearly intending to use it to put life in danger or to cause serious damage.”

Chowdhury had previous dealings with the police in November 2019, when he was prosecuted after brandishing an axe outside Stepney Green Underground Station in east London.

The court heard that he had been pushed by a man and returned with the weapon, waving it around.

Chowdhury was given a suspended prison sentence, which he breached by trying to buy the grenade.

Having been caught on CCTV for the axe incident, Chowdhury appeared to direct his rage against the police. The Old Bailey heard the likely target for his grenade attack was Bethnal Green police station.

In a search of his flat, police recovered a “shopping list” including handcuffs, nitrite gloves, and strong acid.

Chowdhury appeared to have attempted to buy a balaclava, lock picks, a stun gun and a handgun online, jurors heard.

In a note saved on his mobile phone, he had written about wanting his family dead, “feeling homicidal” and attacking students in a college.

“I feel I want to commit mass murder and kill myself before the police get a chance to arrest me,” Chowdhury wrote.

An examination of the device indicated that he had downloaded information on making explosives, including terrorist documents.

Chowdhury had also searched the internet for terms including IED, pipebomb and the phrase “let’s make a bomb”.

Commander Richard Smith, head of the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command said: “Chowdhury downloaded a number of extremely concerning documents and manuals, containing details of how to create and deploy explosives and lethal weapons. What’s more, he then made very serious attempts at trying to get hold of a hand grenade.

“These are extremely serious offences and the public are undoubtedly safer following this investigation and outcome.

“This case is a reminder to everyone that the threat from terrorism remains and I want to remind the public that their continued vigilance and support is needed.”

Chowdhury will be sentenced on 23 March.