UK

Terror grooming teenager Kazi Islam 'cunning and evil'

Kazi Islam Image copyright Metropolitan Police

A London man says a friend who tried to groom him to kill British soldiers and buy bomb-making materials was "cunning and evil".

Harry Thomas has spoken to the BBC about the trial of Kazi Islam, who has now been found guilty by an Old Bailey jury of preparing to commit acts of terrorism.

Islam, 18, had met Mr Thomas at Barking and Dagenham College in east London in autumn 2012. Because the teenagers were on the same IT course, Islam was aware that Mr Thomas had learning difficulties.

The following autumn, after they left college, Mr Thomas got in touch with Islam on social media. Mr Thomas, who is now 20, was upset because he had split up with his girlfriend.

While pretending to sympathise, Islam began the grooming process which was described in court as a combination of flattery, bullying and threats.

It was a few months after the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby in Woolwich, and prosecutors said the incident had inspired Islam.

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Thomas describes Islam's character as double-sided.

"I think he is a very, very manipulative person," he says.

"He's very cunning. He makes out he's this really kind person because that's how he comes across at first but deep inside he's evil."

Mr Thomas adds: "He thought I was stupid. He thought I was that vulnerable that I would actually make this bomb for him."

Mr Thomas, who is not a Muslim, says he resisted suggestions from Islam that he should change his name to Haroon.

'Snitches get stitches'

On the murder of Fusilier Rigby, Mr Thomas says that Islam made his feelings clear.

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Media captionThe teenager who was groomed told the BBC's June Kelly he was frightened to tell people about Kazi Islam (pictured)

"He thought that was correct that they killed that soldier, because that solder and British soldiers go out and shoot kids in the Taliban and stuff like that. He nails things into your head. He's very sick and very twisted."

The exchanges between the pair on social media and mobile messaging services that formed a part of the prosecution case show Islam growing increasingly impatient as Mr Thomas failed to do his bidding and amass bomb-making components.

"I was worried but I wasn't going to do it. I was trying to buy myself some time," Mr Thomas says.

"I didn't know what to do because I thought if I grass on him I could end up in stitches. Snitches get stitches - that's a saying that's true these days. And if I say to him I'm not going to do it he might kill me."

Counter-terrorism detectives eventually arrested Islam at his home in Manor Park, east London, in July 2014.

They seized several mobile phones and computers and found evidence of the conservations between the two men.

Mr Thomas adds: "He's not scared to go to prison, he told me that. And he says he'll end up in a better place for the crimes he's committed. He said his God will look after him and think he's done a really good thing."

In a statement, Barking and Dagenham College said it had complied fully with the government's Prevent anti-terrorism strategy and staff undertook mandatory safeguarding training.

The college added: "As part of our exemplary and ongoing Prevent training programme, key members of staff undergo the Workshop to Raise Awareness of Prevent training designed to help them identify and respond to signs of radicalisation.

"In addition, as evidence of our support for the programme, the Prevent Coordinator for London has delivered training to students at the College."

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